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10 Columbia River Canoe from Petes Marina Invermere BC Bird Trail 1024x684 1

Where to Go Birdwatching in the Columbia Valley

The Columbia Valley is a birdwatching mecca! Grab your binos and get ready to see the sights. Whether you’re ready to lace up your boots, grab your paddle, or take in the views, you’ll find it here.  

Want to experience more? Mark your calendars for the on your birding journey and join one of the 100 nature events during the annual Wings over the Rockies in Invermere, Radium Hot Springs, Fairmont Hot Springs and Canal Flats, BC.

Birdwatching in the Columbia Valley is a captivating experience that offers you a glimpse into the rich avian diversity of the region. This area, nestled between the rugged Rocky Mountains and the pristine waters of the Columbia River, is a birdwatcher’s paradise. With 267 documented bird species, the Columbia Valley has a wide range of habitats that attract many different bird species throughout the year. From Radium to Canal Flats, find some of the best spots to birdwatch in the Columbia Valley below.

merganser chicks
Merganser Chicks - Crowley Photography

The Wilmer Wetlands

One of the key attractions for birdwatchers in the Columbia Valley is the variety of waterfowl and shorebirds. The calm waters and lush reed beds of the Columbia Wetlands create an ideal setting for observing these aquatic species in their natural habitat. The Wilmer Wetlands hiking trail winds along the western edge of the wetlands, a vital habitat along the Pacific Flyway. It’s not uncommon to spot an impressive number of birds here, with as many as 19,925 birds counted in a single day! The many trail options allow for a wide variety of birdwatching opportunities as well as an ideal family-friendly hike that you can make longer or shorter as you like.

36 Wilmer Wetlands Trail Invermere BC Bird Trail
Wilmer Wetlands - BC Bird Trail

Kootenay National Park

In the nearby Kootenay National Park, the lush forests and rugged mountains provide a haven for forest-dwelling birds. Hikers and birdwatchers alike can explore the trails while keeping an eye out for charismatic species such as the mountain bluebird, varied thrush, and northern pygmy owl. The abundance of vegetation also attracts hummingbirds, including the dazzling rufous hummingbird, which adds a splash of color to the landscape. Whether you’re new to the hobby or a seasoned searcher, Kootenay National Park hikes are some of the best for birdwatchers.

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Olive Lake, Kootenay National Park - Tour the Triangle

Old Coach Trail

Prefer to spot new species from the saddle of your bike? Embark on a 9-kilometer journey along the bike and hike friendly Old Coach Trail, where you don’t have to complete the whole trail to enjoy the view. As you traverse this scenic path, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the wetlands and the majestic Purcell Mountains. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles soaring above, listen for the melodious songs of forest birds, and have your binoculars at the ready to spot other fascinating wildlife such as bighorn sheep and deer. The Old Coach Trail is one of the best Radium bike trails you’ll find in the area!

oldCoach

If you want to dip your toe in the pond of water sports, rent a kayak, canoe, or stand up paddle board from Columbia River Paddle or Far Out Gear Rentals and leisurely explore the Columbia River. Birding by boat allows you to immerse yourself in the nesting, feeding, and resting grounds of Columbia Valley’s avian inhabitants while comfortably exploring the marshes and river. This gentle float from Invermere to Radium is a fantastic way to observe numerous bird species, as well as fish and other wildlife. Columbia River Paddle offers guided and self-guided tours with shuttle service in this area as well.

The Hoodoos Trail

The hikes around Fairmont Hot Springs can also be very fruitful for birdwatching. Embark on a hike up the iconic sandstone cliffs, also referred to as the Fairmont Hoodoos, to catch a glimpse of white-throated swifts and many forest birds. Additionally, you’ll be rewarded with unique panoramic views of the Fairmont range.

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The Hoodoos - Mat Loyola

Birdwatching in the Columbia Valley, BC, offers an exceptional opportunity to connect with nature and witness the diverse avian life that thrives in this stunning landscape. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or a novice enthusiast, the region’s natural beauty and rich birdlife make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a memorable birdwatching experience in Canada.

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In the Columbia Valley, there’s no shortage of remarkable birdwatching experiences. Explore the Columbia Valley Bird Trail to immerse yourself in the renowned birdlife of this beautiful region.

Source of the Columbia Trail

See the starting point of mighty Columbia River at Columbia Lake and the adjacent wetlands in Canal Flats. Take a leisurely stroll along this 1.8 kilometre loop, interpretive trail featuring elevated boardwalks that provide excellent opportunities to spot unique bird species.

Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or a newcomer to this delightful hobby, we encourage you to spread your wings and explore the birdwatching opportunities during your next visit to the Columbia Valley. Visit one of these locations and test your bird identification skills.

TCV Headwaters CanalFlats

Bonus Spot: Greywolf Pond

The Markin-MacPhail Westside Legacy Trail, a multi-use, non-motorized paved trail connecting Invermere and Fairmont, offers an array of outdoor activities. Segment 4 of the trail provides parking, scenic benches, and a pond with interpretive signage highlighting various bird species and other wildlife such as frogs and dragonflies. Whether you prefer walking, running, or biking, further explore the trail to enjoy views of Lake Windermere, and don’t forget to make a stop at Greywolf Pond to read the informative signs and watch for birds.

Get started! Find Birdwatching Resources here:

Merlin: Identify the birds you see and hear with this free app.

ebird: Explore birds and hotspots near you, all based on the latest sightings, then contribute your own.

Birds of the Columbia Valley Checklist: Find a digital checklist of all the possible birds you could see.

The BC Bird Trail: Check out the Columbia Valley Bird Trail along the BC Bird Trail. 

iNaturalist: Similar to eBird, this free app helps you identify animals and plants while recording and submitting your observations.

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