Birds of the West Coast - May 2023

Join the Raincoast Education Society for their popular Birds of the West Coast course!


May 05 - 07, 2023


Raincoast Education Society


Mark Maftei


Multiple locations (Ucluelet & Tofino)
Ucluelet Community Center
Hotel Zed
& others TBA


May 5 @ 7:00 pm - May 7 @ 1:00 pm PDT

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.

Expansive mudflats near Tofino 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. A little further south down the coast, Amphitrite Point in Ucluelet offers some of the best sea watching opportunities on Vancouver Island.

In this weekend workshop (Friday evening until Sunday afternoon) offered by the Raincoast Education Society, participants will be introduced to the general ecology and biology of birds with an emphasis on commonly encountered species. This course is specifically scheduled to overlap with the peak shorebird migration as well as the presence of large numbers of other migrating species.

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.

About the instructor:

Mark Maftei serves as Executive Director of the Raincoast Education Society and he draws on nearly 20 years of experience as a field biologist specializing in the ecology of birds. From the Arctic to the Antarctic to the open ocean, Mark has traveled the world studying birds. His research has included work on migration ecology, population biology and the census of poorly known species. His work in BC (including several years spent working with the Wildife Research Division of Environment and Climate Change Canada) was focused on colonial seabirds and migratory shorebirds. One of Mark’s greatest pleasures is sharing his passion for birds with like-minded nature lovers, and there is nowhere he’d rather doing that than his home on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

Weekend Schedule (subject to change):

Friday Evening (7:00 pm – 9:00 pm)
George Fraser Room at the Ucluelet Community Centre (500 Matterson Drive, Ucluelet, BC)

  • Opening night lecture introducing birds in BC.

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 – 4:00 pm)
Tofino, locations TBA

  • · Basic ID skills – what to look for in the field
  •   We will spend the day outside looking at birds in a number of habitats around Tofino
    • Forest Birding in the morning
    • Shore Birding on the mudflats in the afternoon
  • These sessions will be informal and focus on helping participants identify common birds as well as put these species into an ecological perspective.

Saturday Evening (6:00 pm – 8:00 pm) Hotel Zed

  • 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)

  • You will spend the day on the water observing and learning more about seabirds, the coolest birds of all!
    • Half day boat adventure in Barkley Sound (some offshore if weather permits) with Jamies Whaling Station!

Recommended Equipment and Reading

  • Any good bird guide (Sibley’s, Peterson’s, National Geographic)
  • A decent pair of binoculars
  • Field notebook and pencil
  • Camera
  • Appropriate clothing for all day in the field—rain or shine
  • Bring lunch, snack, water both days


Extensive birding experience is NOT required.

Course fee:

$300 per person, and includes Sunday’s boat trip.

How to register:

Follow the link below!