Victoria is home to a number of Migratory Bird Sanctuaries. Be sure to check them out – especially during the spring and fall migration!
Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is situated 30 km north of Victoria, British Columbia, in a protected bay near the eastern tip of Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. The area, along with numerous small islands and sheltered marine waters stretching between the southern tip of Vancouver Island and Comox, constitutes the habitat of the Gulf Islands Biotic Area. The shoreline within the MBS itself alternates between rocky outcrops and beaches of sand, gravel and silt.
Freshwater running into Shoal Harbour creates an estuarine and mudflat region rich with the flora and fauna birds love. Two thousand, four hundred birds of 51 species depend on the 143 hectare sanctuary. The sanctuary is lined with marinas and residential neighbourhoods scattered with parks and many beach access points.
Many would be surprised to know that downtown Victoria’s busy working harbour is a MBS. More surprising may be it’s size – 1841 hectares! This sanctuary stretches from the eelgrass beds of Portage Inlet, through the harbour around the waterfront past both Oak Bay and Cadboro Bay and terminates near the tip of Ten Mile Point. Public access to this sanctuary are many, including Esquimalt Gorge Park, Songees Walkway, Ogden Point Breakwater, Willows Beach and Cattle Point. An estimated 4,200 birds of 21 species rely on this sanctuary.
This lagoon is not located in Esquimalt at all, but in the city of Colwood, below Royal Roads University and adjacent to Fort Rodd National Historic Site. The saltwater lagoon, beach and sandy spit are part of the 134 hectare sanctuary providing habitat for many seabirds and shorebirds.