Birds of the West Coast
with instructor Mark Maftei
April 26 - 28, 2019
The west coast of Vancouver Island features some of the best birding opportunities in North America. Lying directly along the Pacific Flyway, this region hosts huge numbers of migrating birds of all kinds each spring and fall. In the winter, the diversity and abundance of non-breeding birds remains high thanks to wide range of habitats and a mild climate. Tofino in particular is well-known birding hot-spot. Expansive mudflats provide an ideal stopover site used by tens of thousands of shorebirds each spring and fall, highly productive coastal waters sustain several large colonies of seabirds, and a mix of coastal rainforest and deciduous forest habitats attract a wide variety of breeding songbirds.
In this three day workshop (Friday evening until Sunday noon), participants will be introduced to the general ecology and biology of birds with an emphasis on the species commonly found in and around Clayoquot Sound. Topics covered will include basic ID skills, breeding biology, physiological adaptations, migration ecology, and conservation issues. This course is designed as a way to learn more about birds in general rather than how to ID specific species. Although participants will certainly learn how to ID common species, extensive birding experience is NOT required.
Course instructor Mark Maftei’s passion for birds has taken him around the globe, from Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic to South Georgia Island in the Southern Ocean. Although he specializes in Arctic species, Mark’s more recent work with Environment Canada focused on ecological studies of colonial seabirds along the BC coast. Mark has been involved with several projects right here in Clayoquot Sound, and he has a unique insight into the ecology of the region. Mark is also the Executive Director of the Raincoast Education Society.
Weekend Schedule (subject to change):
Friday (7:00 pm - 9:00 pm)
Darwin's Cafe at the Tofino Botanical Gardens
- Introduction to the general biology and ecology of birds.
- What makes birds unique?
- How have they adapted to the habitats in which they live?
Note: this evening talk will be open to the public. Course participants do not have to pay admission as it is included in the cost of the course.
Saturday (8:30 am - 10:00 am)
- · Basic ID skills – what to look for in the field
(10:00 am - 4:00 pm) Field
- We will spend the day outside looking at birds in a number of habitats around Tofino
(6:00 pm - 8:00 pm) Darwin’s Café
- Life History – what are the strategies and adaptations birds have evolved to thrive in virtually every single habitat on earth?
Sunday (6:00 am - 1:00 pm)
- Boat trip! We will spend the day on the water observing and learning more about seabirds, the coolest birds of all!
Recommended Equipment and Reading
Any good bird guide (Sibley’s, Peterson’s, National Geographic)
A decent pair of binoculars
Field notebook and pencil
Appropriate clothing for all day in the field—rain or shine
Course Registration is $280 per person, and includes Sunday’s boat trip and lunch on Saturday and Sunday.