tofino bird watching

Tofino Birdwatching

by George Bradd


Who are these people walking around with binoculars hanging from their necks, sometimes armed with huge tripods, spotting scopes and cameras?

Are they mad? No, they are just part of the fastest growing outdoor activity in North America: Bird watching. In the last ten years in the us alone, the number of bird watchers has grown from 22 to 55 million.

Birds are found in just about all habitats. Having the ability to migrate and navigate, bird populations are never static and here lies the challenge in birding. Finding them takes skills in not only visual identification but knowledge of bird sounds. A small "cheep" in the bushes might not mean anything to the non-birder but to the skilled birder it could be the only clue to the existence of a furtive species. Since native bird populations are best found in undisturbed habitat and these areas are often not easy to access, avid birders will go to extreme efforts to get to the hot bird spots. Kayaking rainforest rivers that cannot even be safely rafted or paragliding into roadless areas of Nepal in search of rare birds is all in a days birding nowadays. Anyone who thinks that birders are all armchair recreationists had better think twice today.

Birders vary greatly in their approach to the sport. Some birders are very competitive and try to get as many new bird species as unreasonably possible in one year, or in a life time. This requires a big travel plan and budget to accomplish these goals. Some are called "twitchers" and try to list their new species but don't risk life and limb to get their birds. Others take a less competitive approach and just enjoy the birds they see, not paying much attention to lists and records.

Tofino has prime bird habitat and protected areas, and is situated on the Pacific Flyway. Huge eel grass beds are the resting and feeding grounds for thousands of shorebirds and geese. This area is known for storm blown rarities, and Tofino has the first Canadian record for Oriental Turtle Dove and the third Canadian record for Rustic Bunting.

Visitors to Tofino have opportunities to have world class birding in the protected habitat of the Clayoquot Sound area.

Tofino Birdwatching Articles

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Tofino bird watching article by Tofino birding guide George Bradd. Published in Tofino Time Magazine in October 2003.

tofino time october 2003

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