T+L | The Best North American Destinations for a Bird-watching Trip

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Shawna Gardham
By Shawna Gardham, Public & Media Relations Manager
In the Media27 August 2023


Original article by Alexandra Marvar for Travel + Leisure

Perhaps you’ve heard about the bird-watching boom? Newcomers are flocking to the hobby, which studies have shown has the power to boost happiness. Another upside: unlike many outdoorsy pursuits, this one requires little in the way of specialized equipment or physical fitness.

Serious aficionados often plan their vacations around migrations, visiting spring hot spots such as Nebraska’s Platte River Valley or the shores of Utah’s Great Salt Lake. But if you’re still easing into the hobby — or traveling with friends or relatives who don’t know a warbler from a woodpecker — these five alternatives have plenty to offer in addition to bird-watching bliss.

Vancouver Island, BC

Summer is the best time to visit this densely forested destination, where the “fall” migration season starts as early as July for some species. Along the island’s serene eastern coast, check out the BC Bird Trail between Parksville and Qualicum Beach, where black oystercatchers, tufted puffins, and bald eagles are commonly seen. On the wild western coast, between Tofino and Ucluelet, visitors can spot soaring albatross while scouting for humpback whales, orcas, and other marine life. “May and September are also prime time for migrating seabirds,” says Mark Maftei, executive director of the Raincoast Education Society. “The nearshore and offshore waters host hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and seabirds that are moving up or down the coast in those months,” he adds.

Bragging Rights

Despite only weighing the equivalent of four nickels, the plucky western sandpiper migrates thousands of miles between Alaska and South America.

Besides the Birds

Outdoor adventures of all sorts can be had on the island. Milner Gardens & Woodland, on the eastern coast near the BC Bird Trail, has a “hidden” teahouse and trails that thread through its 70 acres of gardens and forest. In Tofino, the oceanfront Wickaninnish Inn is a family-owned Relais & Châteaux property known for its fireplaces and the dramatic views from its picture windows.

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