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Parksville Qualicum Beach’s diverse natural landscape provides plenty of opportunities to spot birds and wildlife.
Hundreds of bird species, mammals, and amphibians migrate through and live in Parksville Qualicum Beach. Get tips for maximizing your birding and wildlife watching experience, including answers to frequently asked questions, where to go, what seasons are best, and which species to seek.
Tap into your inner birdwatcher and check out Parksville Qualicum Beach’s native birds and dozens of visiting species during the spring and fall migration periods. Migration season brings stunning waterbirds, including Scooters, Scaup, Goldeneye, and Wigeon, as well as shorebirds, particularly Yellowlegs, Dunlin, Black Turnstone, and Western Sandpiper. From October through April, you can even see the occasional Trumpeter Swan.
“ In April, you can welcome the arrival of migrating Brant, which we celebrate with the Brant Wildlife Festival every year. ”
Beginning in March, many gull species can be seen specifically during the Pacific Herring spawn. In April, you can welcome the arrival of migrating Brant, which we celebrate with the Brant Wildlife Festival every year. To learn more about Brant Geese, stop by The Faye Smith Pavilion. Just north of Qualicum Beach on Island Highway, this interpretive site offers plenty of background information about the migrating geese and what attracts them to this staging area.
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is an ideal location to bird watch during the spring and fall migratory seasons. Brant Geese famously use the nearby beaches for their spring migration north, and you can spot Eagles, Osprey, Hawks, Vultures, and Owls near Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park year-round. Hamilton Marsh is another local favourite for bird watching with more than 130 species of birds recorded there, including many water birds.
Learn more about birdwatching spots along the Parksville Qualicum Beach Wildlife Management Area Bird Trail.
When the tide pulls away from the land, marine invertebrates remain on the coastal sand flats. Bring your family to the beach to hunt for sand dollars. Stellars, or Northern Sea Lions, are visible all year round on our coastlines and California Sea Lions and Harbour Seals are most prevalent between November and March. Local tour companies like Haida Gold Ocean Adventures can take you out to view sea lions from a safe distance.
Parksville Qualicum Beach has recorded sightings of all five species of Pacific Salmon. The most populous are Chum, Coho, and Chinook, with Sockeye and Pink Salmon spotted less frequently. Head to Little Qualicum and Big Qualicum Fish Hatcheries in the fall to observe the spawning season and even see fish at eye-level in a dedicated viewing area. The Englishman River and Little Qualicum River systems are a perfect environment for the early spring spawning of the Pacific Herring, while salmon spawn in the lower stream areas in late fall.
Tour companies in both in Parksville and nearby Campbell River, Tofino, and Ucluelet offer whale watching experiences where you can head out for a day on the open water and observe Humpback Whales, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, and porpoises in their natural habitat. Watch as these majestic marine mammals breach, hunt, and play. If you visit between March and October, you may even spot Killer Whales!
The Parksville Qualicum Beach area is home to several educational facilities for learning more about local marine and wildlife. The Rathtrevor Beach Nature House is a perfect stop for families and offers interactive displays, tours, and environmental educational programming. The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington is a rehabilitation centre for animals. Get a closer look at many species and learn about the animals from the knowledgeable staff. At the Deep Bay Marine Field Station on the Southern end of Baynes Sound in Bowser, you can visit a working research station and experience interactive touch tanks and ongoing educational programming.
When you’re ready to plan your outdoor getaway to Parksville Qualicum Beach, plan your trip with us. Find the perfect places to stay, dine, and play on our website. Please request a copy of our Discovery Guide to get inspired.
No matter what outdoor activity you are planning, be prepared. Follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials. AdventureSmart is a great resource to help you get informed before heading outdoors.Learn More
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Parksville Qualicum Beach