For the Birds: A Guide to the Best Birding in Kimberley BC
With plenty of sunshine, a moderate climate, and many lakes, rivers and streams to enjoy, Kimberley is a good place to be for bird species and bird-watchers alike. Come in the warmer months to take in the cacophony of birds that call our forests, our waterways and our meadows home. Or, come in the colder months to view the many different species of birds that choose to winter here. No matter what time of year you choose to visit, any birder or budding ornithologist is sure to soar into plenty of feathered fun.
Psstt… be sure to bring your binoculars, and don’t forget to look up.
The BC Bird Trail
You’ve likely heard about the Powder Highway and the BC Ale Trail, but have you heard about the BC Bird Trail? The BC Bird Trail is a celebration of the expansive bird-watching opportunities in British Columbia, and a guide to discovering birding, conservation, and community within BC. Proudly a part of the Columbia Valley BC Bird Trail, Kimberley is a bird-watcher’s mecca, with over 100 different species of birds and year-round opportunities to bird-watch and make memories. Birding can be done at one of our 3 established trail networks or at the Marysville Falls & Eco Park. Species you can expect to see here include everything from blue jays and song sparrows, to house finches and american robins.
Tip: For more information on the BC Bird Trail, be sure to check out their website. There, you can learn more about the BC Bird Trail initiative, and dive a little deeper into the bird-watching magic that can be found along the Columbia Valley Bird Trail.
The Birds of the Kimberley Nature Park
Here in Kimberley, we’re home to the largest urban park in British Columbia, which boasts over 800 hectares of forested land on the eastern slopes of the Purcell Mountains. The Kimberley Nature Park is home to 97 different species of birds, and acts as the perfect year-round basecamp for birders to enjoy. Of the 97 species of birds that call the Nature Park home, approximately 25 bird species reside here year-round. Birds to view in the winter here include woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, grouse, grosbeaks, and crossbills. Our spring and summer birds tend to begin their migration back to town in late March, with the arrival of the varied thrush and the winter wren. Later on in April, ruby-crowned kinglets and sapsuckers add their distinctive rhythms to the soundtrack of the Nature Park, while warblers and mallards also opt to join the party. By late May, our last migrant from South America, the swainson's thrush, add their own flute-like songs to the park. With over 50km of established trails to wander, the Kimberley Nature Park is a great place to start any birding adventure.
Off the Beaten Bird Path
For those looking to get off the beaten trail, Kimberley’s waterways and further-out birding areas offer a diversity of bird species and landscapes alike.
- For the perfect further-out birding itinerary, start your day on the shores of St. Mary Lake and the St. Mary River, 20 km west of Kimberley. Bohemian waxwings, american goldfinch, and black-capped chickadees like to play along the shorelines of both St. Mary Lake and St. Mary River, while keen-eyed birders might be lucky enough to spot the northern pygmy owl or the golden-crowned kinglet in the nearby forests.
- Next, head north out of Kimberley to discover the shores of the Kootenay River and the bird species that frequent the marshy lands there. Expect to see larger, migratory birds and waterfowl here, such as Canada geese, great blue heron, osprey and eagles.
- Following your trip to the Kootenay River, continue along Highway 93/95 to discover the Elizabeth Lake Wildlife Sanctuary at the southwest end of Cranbrook BC. Elizabeth Lake is a 6 hectare wildlife reserve consisting of wetlands, grasslands, a lake and a forest. This area is one of only two known locations in Canada where the dione copper butterfly can be viewed, and is home to many migratory bird species, such as the spotted sandpiper, the horned grebe, and the yellow-headed blackbird.
The Bird’s the Word
As part of the BC Bird Trail, Kimberley is a birders’ true delight. Come winter, spring, summer, or fall, and discover why our home is shared with many diverse, feathered friends. Looking for more? Birding isn't the only activity to fill your time whilst in Kimberley. Check out some of our other curated itineraires, which give insight into the many varied experiences that can be enjoyed here. Let the birding begin!