Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Are you an avid birder? Then you are in the right place! Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, a world-class birding haven for over 300 bird species, will steal your heart. The park’s diverse habitat – from sandy beaches to mud flats, rocky shorelines to dense coniferous rainforest, and bogs to meadows – supports a great variety of bird life.

Look and listen 

Shorebirds at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve


[Text on Screen: Carlo Pavan, Visitor Services, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve]

Hi I’m Carlo Pavan. You may recognize me as the ‘barking man’ from the dogs-off-leash video.

Anyway, part of my job here at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is to help people understand why our beaches are so important for migrating shorebirds. Not everyone is aware aware that these incredible little birds, like the Western Sandpiper, and Whimbrel migrate huge distances from their wintering grounds, sometimes as far south as Latin America to their breeding grounds in the arctic.

Being smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Flyway migration route, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a critical stop-over for globally significant numbers of these little avian marathoners looking to fuel up and rest up on our sandy beaches and food-rich mudflats.

They’re usually exhausted from flying non-stop from Mexico or California and their next stop may not be until Alaska!

So, you can see why this stop-over is such an important one. One way you can help them out is by keeping your dog on leash when at the beach, especially during peak migration months, from May to September.

Arctic foxes are a main predator at the breeding grounds of most shorebirds, and to them, your dog looks awfully similar and can disturb them from vital feeding and resting time, leaving them too weak to reproduce when finally do reach their summer destination.

So now that you know the story of these miraculous little transcontinental migrators , pass it on! And come see if you find some of them here at Pacific Rim. Just remember to keep Fido on a leash!

[Text on screen: Visit:]

Spring (March-May): Many migrations

The park is located on the Pacific Flyway—a super highway for migratory birds connecting the tundra of Alaska and the Canadian north with the tropics and subtropics of central and South America. Late April and early May are peak northward shorebird migration periods. Up to 0.5 million shorebirds stop in and around the Long Beach Unit of the national park reserve during this time to rest and feed before continuing their journey to their breeding grounds. For resident birds and some migrants, the park is also where they look for mates and raise their young.

Summer (June-August): The young and the restless

Summer brings the juveniles (young birds), along with adult shorebirds that begin migrating south as early as mid-July. Migration to the south however peaks in early August and early September. This is also an excellent time of year to see various species of gulls.

Fall/Winter (September-February): Winter visitors

Fall and winter see the arrival of other winter migrants, including waterfowl that journey from the cold interior regions to the balmy ice-free waters of the coast. Winter storms will occasionally bring sightings of rare migrating birds blown off course.

Bird species
(Mar - May)
(Jun - Aug)
(Sep – Feb)
  • Bald Eagle
  • Common Raven
  • Steller's Jay
  • Chestnut-backed Chickadee
  • Black Oystercatcher
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Winter Wren
  • Common Loon
  • Pelagic Cormorant
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Killdeer
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Geese: Canada, Greater White-fronted, Brant
  • Shorebirds: Sanderling, Western Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black-bellied Plover
  • Warblers: Orange-crowned, Townsend's, Wilson's
  • Rufous Hummingbird
  • Shorebirds: many adults will still be in breeding plumage
  • Juvenile birds of many species
  • Gulls of many species 
  • Osprey
  • Trumpeter Swans
  • Harlequin ducks
  • Bufflehead
  • Common and Barrow's Goldeneyes
  • Three species of scoters
  • Rare migrants blown off-course by winter storms
  • Snowy Owl
  • Shorebirds

Birding tips

Migratory shorebirds

Migratory and resident birds depend on the park for resting, feeding and breeding.

  • Birds’ priority: To survive and reproduce.
  • Your priority: To ensure your bird watching does not endanger the birds.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of birding while protecting our feathered friends all year round:

  • Speak to Parks Canada staff to find out what species you are likely to see, recent sightings, wildlife warnings and area closures. They can also share a bird checklist with you. Be sure to report rare, injured or dead birds to Parks Canada staff.
  • Keep dogs on a leash. Birds are easily disturbed, and disturbance while feeding could cause them to lose time and energy critical for their survival.
  • Prepare for the weather and habitat you're birding in. Dress appropriately and know the tides if birding on the shore.
  • Give birds space. Allow at least 25 m of space (5 car lengths) between you and birds foraging and resting on the beach. Binoculars, zoom lenses and spotting scopes help to observe birds from a distance.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. The park is home to large carnivores such as cougars, wolves and bears. Since birding often involves standing still and being concealed, be aware that YOU may be watched!

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