Squamish Birders

The Squamish Birders organize monthly estuary bird counts, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), and other birding activities.

The Squamish River Area is identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA BC023) under Important Bird Areas Canada. Here is a link to a recent report: Annual report for 2021.

Monthly Estuary Bird Count

Visit the Estuary’s hidden places, through all seasons, tides and weather. Learn to identify birds by sight and sound. No experience necessary!

The Squamish Estuary provides nesting sites, feeding and resting areas for migrants, and year round homes for over 235 bird species. Squamish Estuary Birding Checklist

2024 dates and times January 14 – 8:00 am , February 11 – 8:00 am, March 10 – 8:00 am, April 14 – 7:00 am, May 12 – 7:00 am,  June 9 – 7:00 am, July 14 – 7:00 am, August 11 – 7:00 am, September 8 – 7:00 am, October 13 – 8:00 am, November 10 – 8:00 am, December 1 – 8:00 am (earlier because the annual Christmas Bird Count takes place mid-month).

  • Counts usually take place the second Sunday of the month. See dates and times above or check our Facebook page.
  • Meet at the Howe Sound Inn/Brew Pub (37801 Cleveland Ave) where we will form four groups to cover four different areas of the estuary.
  • The count takes four to six hours, with a mix of walking and driving. Results are tallied at the Howe Sound Inn/Brew Pub over lunch, which is of course optional.
  • Habitats include: floodplain forest, rivers, sloughs, Carex sedge meadows, tidal mudflats and open water.
  • Count leaders are local birders. Most have spotting scopes.

For more info, please contact Judith Vetcsh at: Squamish Birders

History and Count Data

Monthly Squamish Estuary  bird counts are based on surveys conducted in the early 1970’s, as part of a comprehensive biological assessment of the Squamish Estuary. The assessment informed a multi-agency land use planning process, initiated in response to a development proposal for a multi-berth deep-sea terminal. If constructed, the port would have eliminated most of the productive habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife.

Community initiated, amateur bird counts were started in 1991 and have taken place every month since then. The resulting bird data is one of the most detailed and complete compilations in the province. Monthly bird count data is available on request.

Christmas Bird Counts

The Squamish Environment Society (SES) sponsors the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count for the Squamish area. Audubon Christmas Bird Counts are held around the world during a four week period in December and January. Hardy Squamish counters brave the elements and generally record around 70 species. CBC data (count code = BCSQ)

Those who are interested but not able to join the counters in the field are welcome to conduct a count in their own back yards. The count date is usually announced by December 1. Please check our Facebook page. For information about how to participate, contact Marcia Danielson .

Special Surveys

SES sponsors the spring nocturnal owl count. Dedicated owlers traverse a preset route, recording any owls that are calling. The Squamish breeding bird survey, held in June, is also sponsored by SES. Birders follow a preset route from sunrise to record the breeding birds in this area.

Squamish birders contributed hundreds of hours of field surveys (and data entry!) to help compile the first-ever BC Breeding Bird Atlas. The five-year project was one of the largest volunteer-based initiatives in British Columbia’s history, creating a major new resource for conservation. A huge thank you goes to regional coordinator Marcia Danielson.

Photo courtesy of Brian Aikens: Tree Swallow pair in the Squamish Estuary, March 2022.