Chris Charlesworth, Regional Editor
British Columbia is Canada’s third-largest and westernmost province. The area was traditionally inhabited by several tribes of Indigenous peoples, and the first documented arrival of Europeans was by James Cook in 1778. Now, the province is home to just over 5 million people, most of whom live in the Lower Mainland, on southern Vancouver Island, and in the Southern Interior.
British Columbia’s coastline is dotted with over 40,000 islands and is nearly 28,000 kilometers long. Heading east from the Pacific, one will encounter many mountain ranges, valleys, lakes, and rivers. The tallest peak in British Columbia is Mount Waddington, in the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains, at 4,019 meters in elevation. Geologically, British Columbia can be divided into five vertical sections; each roughly coincides with a mountain range has its own type of rock. Much of the province’s geology has been strongly influenced by glaciers, rivers, and volcanoes.
More species of bird (530 as of December 2020) have been recorded in British Columbia than in any other Canadian province. Coastal areas are home to vast numbers of breeding seabirds, some of which are detected on sporadic pelagic trips off the west coast of Vancouver Island. The southern Okanagan Valley and its arid, semi-desert habitat are home to a number of species of birds found regularly nowhere else in Canada; these include Canyon Wren, Flammulated Owl, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Sage Thrasher, Lewis’s Woodpecker, and Williamson’s Sapsucker. In the northeast, the Peace River region lies east of the Rocky Mountains and is home to an array of species, such as Connecticut Warbler, Philadelphia Vireo, and Nelson’s Sparrow, found nowhere else in the province. British Columbia also boasts a long and mouth-watering list of Asian vagrants due to its position in the northwestern quadrant of North America; among these are Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Red-backed Shrike, Citrine Wagtail, and Yellow-browed Warbler.
The ABA gratefully acknowledges the contributions of British Columbia Regional Editor Chris Charlesworth to promoting knowledge and understanding about the birdlife of the continent.