Bird watching is all about habitat and Tofino just happens to offer world class birding habitats. Tofino provides a great variety of bird species in the realms of sea, shore and forest with migrant breeding residents and migrant residents alike sharing the small, yet ideal habitats that are home to Tofino. The protected habitat of the Clayoquot Sound has ideal bird habitats such as ocean, mudflats, rocky shorelines and old growth rainforests giving visiting bird watchers opportunities for world class birding. There are guided tours for bird watching in Tofino that are both land based such as walking and hiking tours and water based with your choice of canoe, kayak and boat tours.
Tofino boasts of hundreds of species of birds including bald eagles, great blue herons, Steller jays, Rufous hummingbirds, western sandpipers, lesser yellowlegs, black oystercatchers and Pacific loons. For those who are less trained in bird watching, bald eagles and great blue herons will be the most easily recognizable to the untrained eye.
There are a great variety of sea and shore birds that one will see in Tofino such as Brandt’s and pelagic cormorants, Glaucous-winged gulls, Red-throated loons, Black oyster-catchers and the aforementioned Bald eagle and Great blue herons. Some of the more popular forest species of breeding residents include the Chestnut-backed chickadee, Brown creepers, Red crossbills, Steller jays, Golden-crowned kinglets, Pileated woodpeckers and Winter wrens. Some other breeding migrant birds of Tofino include Rhinoceros auklets, Rufous hummingbirds, Marbled murrelets, Leach’s and fork-tailed petrels, Band-tailed pigeons, Tufted puffins, Swainson’s thrush and Orange-crowned warblers. A couple, more popular migrant birds of Tofino are the Western Sandpiper which can be seen flying in large flocks during the Spring months and the Semipalmated Plover.
Tofino is nothing short of a year round birding paradise offering three distinct habitats. The beaches and rocky shoreline give way for a variety of shorebirds and those more familiar with exposed open shore waters such as the Tufted Puffin, Marbled Murrelet and the Black Oystercatcher. These birds are a part of the shore as well as the hiking guide tours that one can enjoy when visiting Tofino.
The Tofino mudflats, while protected from the public and designated an “Important Bird Area of Canada”, plays host to one of the most critical landing spots for migrating Western Sandpipers. A numerous variety of other species of birds can be found throughout the Tofino Mudflats including Dowitchers, Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlin, Sanderling, Whimbrel, Least Sandpipers, American Black Oystercatchers and Greater Yellowlegs. A few of the more abundant species of waterfowl located in the adjacent areas which is known as an important wintering area are the various species of loons and grebes as well as Mallard, Northern Pintail, Trumpeter Swan, Surf Scoter, American Wigeon and Bufflehead. The intense Tofino winter storms have even been known to send in a variety of exotic bird species some reaching as far as the coast of Asia. The birds located on the Tofino mudflats can be viewed by kayak, boat or canoe and guided tours are available.
Offshore, there are a number of pelagic birds such as the Rhinoceros Auklet, Laysan and Black-footed Albatross and Brown Pelican that can be spotted by boat. There are guided tours to check out and view the many pelagic bird species that Tofino has to offer whether by boat, canoe or kayak.
Bird watching on the Clayoquot Sound is one of the best if not the best locations in Tofino for birding. This protected habitat provides ample nutrition in the soil with many organisms and small worms giving birds the critical fats they need to store up and feed their young with. The Clayoquot Sound hosts a great number of bird species year-round due to its unique provision of three different habitats that appeal to a great variety of species from forest to offshore species.
If you are looking to see different and distinct types of bird species that you did not think possible to view from North America’s west coast then head up to Tofino during the stormy winter months, enjoy watching a storm or two and head out on a boat tour off the coast to see what exotic species of bird you may just be able spot. If you prefer warmer weather, the Spring in Tofino offers a great variety of bird species during those months as well.
Tofino has such an affinity for birding that a Hollywood movie about birding was recently filmed there. Birding in Tofino is a passion for many and is simply a hobby for many others. Whether you are a passionate bird watcher or simply enjoy it as a hobby Tofino is the place to be for birding any time of year with its numerous varieties of bird species, well-informed tours and its sometimes unexpected way of playing host to a random, exotic species of bird.