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Birds Of British Columbia: Top 30 Unique Species

Birds-Of-British-Columbia_2

Last Updated: September 21, 2022

There are over 500 recorded bird species in British Columbia. Although learning about them can be exciting, it'll take forever! We could only fit 30 of them in this list —some are common backyard birds, others are only found deep in forests, while a few are only accidental visitors in the province.

That being said...

Let's familiarize ourselves with some birds of British Columbia. Read on!

30 Various British Columbia Birds

1. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

American Robin
Male
American Robin
Female

American Robins are relatively large songbirds: dark gray above and bright orange below. Females are usually duller than males.

You can find them around various habitats, such as cities, suburbs, fields, deciduous forests, and more.

They're abundant in British Columbia during breeding seasons, although some occur year-round in the south.

American Robins mainly eat berries and insects, usually foraging in huge flocks. You may also see them tugging earthworms in your backyard.

2. Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

Barn Owl

Barn owls are buff and gray above and white below, but they're best recognized through their ghostly face.

You can find them in woodlands and large, open areas for hunting, such as farmlands, marshes, and fields.

They occur year-round in BC, but only in the southwestern edges of the province.

Barn Owls consume many rodents, usually hunting during nighttime. You can attract them by installing a nest box before breeding seasons.

3. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles are among the largest raptors, sporting their dark brown body, white head and tail, and yellow beak.

You'll usually find them near bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, swamps, and fish processing plants.

They're present year-round in eastern BC and only during breeding seasons for the rest of the province.

Bald Eagles eat various animals but feed heavily on fish. They may even steal fish from other birds.

4. Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadees are best recognized by their pale body and black cap, paired with their white cheeks and black bib.

These common birds reside in deciduous and mixed forests and neighborhoods with trees and shrubs.

You can find them throughout BC year-round, except on the province's islands.

Black-Capped Chickadees consume various insects, seeds, and berries. They're easily attracted to bird feeders containing seeds and suet.

5. Black-Throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens)

Black-Throated Blue Warbler
Male
Black-Throated Blue Warbler
Female

Black-Throated Blue Warblers are small birds about the size of a sparrow. Males are easily recognized with their black, blue, and white colors, whereas females are grayish olive green.

They're usually located in hardwood forests, especially those that have dense undergrowth of shrubs and vines.

However, these birds are an accidental species that may wander into BC during summer.

Black-Throated Blue Warblers feed on insects but may visit hummingbird feeders for sugar water.

6. Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Brown Pelican
Breeding
Brown Pelican
Non-breeding

Brown Pelicans are huge birds with a gray-brown body, white neck, and pale yellow head. During the breeding season, the back and sides of their neck turn reddish-brown.

These pelicans are often in colonies around shallow waters near coastal areas. 

They usually nest in isolated islands to avoid inland predators.

They're an accidental species in British Columbia that may migrate to its southwestern coasts.

Brown Pelicans feed almost entirely on fish, where they plunge into the water to catch prey.

7. Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrashers have reddish-brown upperparts, pale brown underparts with black streaks, bright yellow eyes, and a long tail.

You can usually find them in low growth, such as shrubbery, thickets, scrubs, and hedges from suburban neighborhoods.

These brown birds are another accidental species that may wander to BC when they migrate to other parts of Canada during summer.

Brown Thrashers usually eat insects, berries, and nuts, where they mostly forage on the ground. They may visit feeders for fallen seeds.

8. Buff-Breasted Sandpiper (Calidris subruficollis)

Buff-Breasted Sandpiper

Buff-Breasted Sandpipers are buff-colored overall, although their head and upperparts have a dark scaled pattern.

You'll usually find them around dry, grassy habitats, such as prairies, fields, pastures, and other open ground.

These birds are accidental migrants in British Columbia, although they're expected occasionally.

Buff-Breasted Sandpipers primarily consume insects, where they make a short run to catch insects on the ground.

9. Chestnut-Sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)

Chestnut-Sided Warbler
Male
Chestnut-Sided Warbler
Female

Chestnut-Sided Warblers are black-streaked above and white below, combined with their yellow crown and chestnut sides. Females are usually duller.

They typically reside in deciduous second-growth, where trees and shrubs have regenerated after logging, fires, or storms.

However, they're accidental in BC, wandering outside their range in eastern Canada.

Chestnut-Sided Warblers primarily eat insects, hopping and hovering around branches to find food.

10. Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrows are brown-streaked above and gray below, although they have a prominent rufous crown.

They're common around open coniferous woods, farms, suburbs, city parks, and other altered habitats.

You can find them throughout British Columbia during breeding seasons.

Chipping Sparrows often forage on the ground for insects and seeds. You can attract them with various birdseed and shrubs in your backyard.

11. Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

Downy Woodpeckers
Male
Downy Woodpeckers
Female

Downy Woodpeckers have a black-and-white plumage, most prominent in their wings and outer tail feathers. Additionally, males have a red nape, whereas females don't.

They occur in both wilderness and residential habitats, favoring areas with deciduous trees and weedy edges.

These small woodpeckers are also common throughout BC year-round.

Downy Woodpeckers mainly eat insects, climbing trunks and branches of trees. They visit many feeder types, although they prefer suet.

12. Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Eurasian Collared-Doves are pale gray overall. You can identify them through their darker wingtips and black collar.

You can find them around residential areas and farmlands that offer a combination of trees, open ground, and grains.

They're an introduced species in British Columbia, present year-round in the southern regions of the province.

Eurasian Collared-Doves usually walk on the ground, searching for seeds, insects, and berries. You can attract them with birdseed, especially millet.

13. Golden-Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)

Golden-Crowned Sparrow
Breeding
Golden-Crowned Sparrow
Non-breeding

Golden-Crowned Sparrows have brown-streaked upperparts, gray underparts, a black cap, and a yellow forehead. Non-breeding birds are duller overall.

These birds are usually around forest edges, shrubs, and brushy habitats like parks and gardens.

They're also widespread, occupying British Columbia during the breeding season.

Golden-Crowned Sparrows usually eat seeds and insects, often foraging on the ground in flocks. They'll readily visit ground feeders but may also nibble on your garden plants.

14. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Herons have a blue-gray back, pale brown neck, yellow bill, and a white head with thick black eyebrows.

They exist in various freshwater and saltwater habitats, including marshes, lakes, rivers, and backyard ponds.

Additionally, they're year-round residents of western BC.

Great Blue Herons mostly eat fish, where they walk slowly on shallow waters to stalk prey. They also consume insects, small mammals, and other animals.

15. Green Heron (Butorides virescens)

Green Heron

Green Herons have deep green upperparts, chestnut-brown neck and breast, a light brown belly, and a white central breast spot.

They're most common around bodies of fresh water, especially those around trees and vegetation.

These birds visit the southwestern edges of BC during summer, although they're relatively uncommon.

Green Herons primarily hunt fish and amphibians, where they stand motionless at the edge of shallow waters. Be careful, though, as they may visit ornamental fishponds.

16. Hooded Warbler (Setophaga citrina)

Hooded Warbler
Male
Hooded Warbler
Female

Hooded Warblers are bright yellow beneath and yellow-green above. Males have a black hood, whereas females don't.

They prefer living in mature deciduous forests with dense undergrowth but may also use small forest patches.

However, these birds are accidental visitors to British Columbia.

Hooded Warblers hop around low areas to feed on various insects. They may visit backyards containing native trees and shrubs during migration.

17. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

House Sparrow
Male
House Sparrow
Female

House Sparrows are brown-streaked above and gray below. Males also have a gray crown and black throat, whereas females don't.

These sparrows are heavily associated with humans, and you can find them anywhere with manmade structures.

Additionally, they're common in BC year-round, except for the province's northwestern regions.

House Sparrows mostly forage on the ground for seeds and often visit bird feeders. They may also scavenge leftovers from humans.

18. House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

House Wren

House Wrens are small, compact birds with brown bodies. Their wings and tail have a dark bar pattern.

They reside in semi-open habitats, such as open woods, forest edges, thickets, suburbs, and city parks.

They're also found in southeastern British Columbia during breeding seasons.

House Wrens primarily consume insects, actively foraging in dense vegetation. You can try putting up nest boxes to attract them.

19. Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

Indigo Bunting
Male
Indigo Bunting
Female

Breeding male Indigo Buntings are blue overall with some black spots. However, females are simply brown.

They're often in brushy rural areas, especially where fields meet forests. You may even see them perched along roadsides.

However, these birds are only accidental in BC.

Indigo Buntings eat seeds and insects, usually foraging alone during summer and in flocks during winter. You can attract them with small seeds like thistle.

20. Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

Pileated Woodpeckers
Male
Pileated Woodpeckers
Female

Pileated Woodpeckers have black bodies with white stripes along the face and neck. They also have a prominent red crest. Males have a red cheek, whereas females don't.

They prefer living in mature deciduous or mixed forests with dead or downed trees. They may also visit wooded suburbs.

Additionally, the Pileated Woodpecker is a year-round species in BC's southern half.

They usually pry and excavate dead wood for insects, especially ants. However, you can try attracting them with suet.

21. Prairie Warbler (Setophaga discolor)

Prairie Warbler
Male
Prairie Warbler
Female

Prairie Warblers are yellow overall that's brighter below, and darker above. Males have a reddish-brown patch on the back and black streaks on the sides, whereas females have a gray head and fewer streaks.

Despite their name, these birds aren't found in prairies but in brushy, growing areas after forest clearings or fires.

Meanwhile, they're classified as an accidental species in British Columbia.

Prairie Warblers mostly eat insects, grabbing them from branches and leaves or catching them mid-air.

22. Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)

Purple Finch
Male
Purple Finch
Female

Purple Finches are brown-streaked birds that are lighter beneath and darker above. Males have a red wash over their body, whereas females lack red.

You can find them in coniferous and mixed forests, although they may also occur in shrublands, fields, and suburbs.

They're present in BC during breeding seasons, although some stay year-round in the south.

Purple Finches usually eat vegetable matter and insects. You can best attract them with black oil sunflower seeds.

23. Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)

Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeons have many color variations. However, the typical coloration has a light gray body, dark gray head and breast, and an iridescent throat.

These non-native birds are closely associated with human settlements, where they're most populous in cities and towns.

You can see them year-round in the southern half of BC, as they don't migrate.

Rock Pigeons usually forage on the ground for seeds. They often visit bird feeders and may even feed on junk food.

24. Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egrets are slender birds distinguished by their all-white body and long, lacy plumes at the back of the head.

You'll find them in various aquatic habitats, including coasts, marshes, swamps, and wetlands. They often nest in colonies with other herons.

They're considered accidental in British Columbia, visiting the province's southern regions during breeding seasons.

Snowy Egrets eat various aquatic creatures, running back and forth through shallow waters.

25. Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus)

Snowy Plover

Snowy Plovers have white underparts, light brown upperparts, and dark patches around the face and neck.

They're usually around sandy beaches and flats with little vegetation. However, they're considered near-threatened by the IUCN Red List.

Additionally, Snowy Plovers are accidental visitors to BC.

They usually eat coastal creatures like crustaceans and marine worms, where they run and peck at the ground whenever prey is spotted.

26. Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Tree Swallow

You can recognize Tree Swallows through their iridescent blue upperparts, dark gray wings, and white underparts.

They prefer living around open areas near water, including fields, wetlands, marshes, and meadows.

They're also widespread throughout British Columbia, although you can only find them when breeding.

Tree Swallows feed on many aerial insects and some berries. You can also attract them by building a nest box before the breeding season.

27. Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vultures are large raptors with dark brown feathers with a red featherless head.

You may see them soaring high around open areas in forests, roadsides, farmlands, countryside, landfills, and more.

Additionally, they're present in the southern regions of BC during breeding seasons.

Turkey Vultures primarily feed on dead animals, especially those that died recently. They can use odor to locate food, unlike other birds.

28. White-Winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)

White-Winged Dove

White-Winged Doves have a gray-brown body, white tips on the wings and tail, and a blue ring around the eyes.

These doves exist in many semi-open habitats, including brushlands, open woods, towns, and farmlands.

They're accidental in British Columbia, where they irregularly wander throughout the continent after breeding.

White-Winged Doves forage on the ground and shrubs for seeds, berries, and fruits. They will also eat various seeds from elevated bird feeders and use birdbaths.

29. Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)

Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Male
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Female

Yellow-Rumped Warblers are black-streaked birds, gray above and white below. They also have a yellow crown, sides, and rump. Females look brownish above.

They usually inhabit coniferous forests and edges, especially during summer.

Furthermore, they're present throughout BC during breeding seasons.

Yellow-Rumped Warblers consume insects and berries, but you may attract them with sunflower seeds, peanut butter, suet, and raisins.

30. Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)

Yellow Warbler
Male
Yellow Warbler
Female

Yellow Warblers are yellow overall, paired with their black-streaked wings. Males also have brown streaks on the breast, whereas females don't.

They're usually around shrubby woods and thickets, especially those near water. You'll see them near the tops of shrubs and small trees.

You can also find them throughout British Columbia during breeding seasons.

Yellow Warblers mainly consume insects, so they don't visit bird feeders. Instead, you can try attracting them with native plants.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many species of birds are there in British Columbia?

According to eBird, there are 517 species observed in BC, while Wikipedia states 593. These records imply that there are at least 500 species in the province.

What is British Columbia's bird?

The Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) was voted the most popular bird by BC citizens and was officially titled the provincial bird in 1987.

Are there Robins in British Columbia?

Yes. The American Robin is the only robin species found in BC.


Conclusion

These 30 species show that BC has a wide variety of beautiful birds, from small songbirds to large raptors. 30 is just a small part of over 500 species. If you want to see more, we recommend visiting BC's parks and forests and joining local organizations. With that out of the way, we hope these 30 birds of British Columbia helped kickstart your birdwatching experience!

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