Two folks stand back to back with binoculars in the woods.

Photo Credit: Canva

Birder is the Word

NorthIsle to become a new migration route

Add it to your tourism dictionary

If you’ve ever met a “Birder,” then you know they’re some of the most passionate hobbyists in existence.

A birder is a bird watcher or general bird lover. They can be found worldwide, but the NorthIsle draws in flocks of them.

From Auklets to Bald Eagles to Canadian Geese—we’ve got a bird for every letter of the alphabet 20x over. It’s the perfect nesting grounds for birders and a truly untapped market for tourism.

“I think it’s an unsung destination for birders up here,” said Port Hardy Mayor Pat Corbett-Labatt in a recent meeting between the Regional District of Mount Waddington board of directors and Vancouver Island North Tourism (VINT).

They were discussing a request by VINT to spend $20,000 to become a part of the BC Bird Trail (BCBT).

The BCBT is a tourism guide to exploring birding, conservation, and community. It gives people a ton of bookable experiences from one resource.

Natalie Steward is the VINTAC Coordinator, or the Vancouver Island North Tourism Advisory Committee. “This will highlight our entire region with community birding itineraries, original visual content, and engaging marketing messages shared via BC Bird Trail website, mobile app, social and digital media campaigns,” she sai in her report.

Basically, it’s a universal signal for birders to migrate.

Stewart reached out to current BC Bird Trail communities on VanIsle as well as VINTAC stakeholders, local birders, tourism Port Hardy, Port McNeill, and Alert Bay for their thoughts on the program.

The response was overwhelmingly positive.

“I’ve got a friend who has a lodge, and they regularly would get buses of people coming up and using their lodge as a staging (area) to go out and do birding,” said Port Hardy Mayor Pat Corbett-Labatt. “So, I think this is a wonderful opportunity.”

Pat English, Manager of Economic Development, seconded the untapped market that’s been demonstrated for birding tourism.

“One of the kayak tour operators is now putting together specific targeted tours for birdwatching and has been quite successful in marketing that especially to our European visitors,” he said.

After the initial $20,000 investment, it’s $3,000 per year to be included in BC Bird Trail campaigns and marketing initiatives.

The money will come from VINT reserves from the Municipal & Regional District Tax (MRDT) program, which are currently more than $220,000.

The regional district approved the withdrawal, confident that it will quite quickly pay itself off. The North Island BC Bird Trail will be taking off next year.

So to any and all birders out there, get ready for a flyover!