Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey

The CWWS recently completed its third round of spring migratory bird surveys and together we were more successful than ever! Thanks to the amazing volunteer efforts of 83 citizen scientists, we were able to visit 100 different survey sites in the Columbia Wetlands located between Canal Flats, north to the Moberly River near Golden. Despite a late start to spring this year, we still managed to survey 26,627 birds! Some of the highlights of this spring’s count include American Coots with 2426 individuals, Mallards with 1820 individuals, and American Wigeons with 1376 individuals. Also with notable numbers were Swan species at 402 individuals (72 confirmed as Trumpeter Swans) and 456 Common Mergansers.

2017 CWWS fall survey dates will occur on Friday September 29, Thursday October 5, and Sunday October 15 from 10 am to 1 pm.  Mark your calendars!  Free training sessions (including field training sessions) will occur in September, in both Golden and Invermere, and are available to all CWWS participants.  Do you want participate in the CWWS this year?  Please see the contact info below.


What is the Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey?

The CWWS is a coordinated bird count that uses extraordinary citizens to gather baseline data. There are many important outcomes of this project, including scientific contributions for species at-risk.  Beyond data collection, this community-based project aims to enhance and maintain the biodiversity and habitat of the Wetlands through increased awareness (e.g. school-aged education programs) of its ecological significance.  By providing an active citizen-science role, volunteers are becoming directly engaged with wildlife and local landscapes making them better informed to make sustainable personal decisions with positive actions in the wetlands.

It is our hope that this data will also result in the Columbia Wetlands being designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA).


Important Bird Areas hold significant conservation value for the habitat they provide to birds. The goal of the IBA Program is to identify, monitor and protect the most vital areas of bird habitat in Canada so that conservation action can be directed in the most effective way possible.  Canada’s IBAs are part of a global system of more than 10,000 sites worldwide, which gives them a conservation currency that transcends borders and promotes international collaboration for protecting the world’s birds.  Designation as an IBA has profound benefits: it encourages the completion of other legal conservation designations; it can influence land-use planning and decision-making; it allows for the collection of baseline data and it can increase tourism around birding.

The CWWS program has many additional positive impacts :

  • We offer and promote wetland and bird education programs including field trips
  • Contributes to assessing distribution patterns for species-at-risk
  • Helps fulfill Ramsar and Wildlife Management Area responsibilities
  • Connects local residents with the Columbia Wetlands by getting them engaged in citizen science
  • Provides hands-on place based learning opportunities for school-aged children, and we aim to develop educational opportunities for university students
  • We are investigating possible locations for Columbia Wetlands birding infrastructure, e.g. bird blinds, board walk
  • Before further conservation actions are recommended or implemented for the Columbia Wetlands, we need to determine where the the most significant migration stopover habitat units are located; we are doing this.
  • Forming partnerships and collaborations with other birding and wetland conservation organizations
  • Additionally, the CWWS team is monitoring federally threatened Lewis’s Woodpecker in partnership with Canadian Wildlife Service for the northern portion of the East Kootenay region. Monitoring Lewis’s Woodpeckers works towards an overarching goal of the CWWS— achieving IBA for the Columbia Wetlands.


Ready to get involved? We are actively recruiting volunteers for this exciting large-scale citizen-science initiative. If you would like to volunteer or learn more about the program, please contact:

Rachel Darvill, BSc., MSc.
Program Biologist – Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey
Ph: 250.344.5530








To read our new Spring 2017 newsletter, click here.

To read the magazine article in PHOTONews Magazine featuring CWWS, click here.

To see our CWWS brochure that is being distributed throughout the regionclick here.


This program is supported by: Bird Studies Canada, Windermere Rod and Gun Club, Canadian Intermountain Joint Venture, BC Provincial Government (Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations), Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service, Windermere District Farmers Institute, Columbia Basin Watershed Network, Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners, Ducks Unlimited, Lake Windermere Ambassadors, Wings Over the Rockies, Tourism Golden, College of the Rockies (Golden campus), Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network (CBEEN) and Columbia Shuswap Regional District.


Thank you to our funders:

Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund

CWWS is supported by the James L. Baillie Memorial Fund of Bird Studies Canada with funds raised through the annual Great Canadian Birdathon. We also acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia as well as individuals Steve and Lynda Conway.



Ring-necked duck image.  Photo Credit: Brent Wellander at


Our Golden branch focuses on the following programs:

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Branch Information

Box #25
#203 - 421 9th Street N
Patlar Building, Golden BC V0A 1H0

Join The Team

Want to protect wildlife, clean water and wild spaces? Volunteer with us! Wildsight volunteers are a very special group of people who give generously of their time to stuff envelopes, attend rallies, help run events, put up posters, keep tabs on forestry practices in their communities and participate in citizen science initiatives.