Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey

The 2017 fall migratory bird counts for the Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey (CWWS) have recently wrapped up.  FINAL RESULTS ARE IN and 50,820 individual birds were counted during the three fall bird counts on Sept 29th, Oct 5th and 15th!  This includes data for at-risk bird species such as the Western Grebe, Horned Grebe and California Gull that are utilizing Columbia Wetlands habitat.  In order to count and identify all of these birds, we had 87 volunteers go to 95 survey stations located throughout the Columbia Wetlands, from the south end of Columbia Lake northward to Donald.  We graciously thank each and every one of our incredible volunteers as these surveys would not be possible without citizen-scientists!   The CWWS also conducted an aerial migratory bird survey this fall in order to start understanding how inaccessible areas of the wetlands are being utilized by birds.  From the aerial survey conducted on October 8, we estimate that about 7150 birds were utilizing Columbia Wetlands habitat in areas not previously covered through the 95 CWWS ground-based survey locations.

We are now working on a CWWS Interim Report (2015-2017) that will be available to the public by the end of the year, and which will detail more of our findings to date.

2018 spring waterbird surveys are set for April 3rd, 10th and 16th (0800-1100).  If you are keen to get involved in these surveys, please contact CWWS Program Biologist Rachel Darvill at, or call 250-344-5530.


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 and Biodiversity Area (IBA).


Important Bird and Biodiversity 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 can influence land-use planning and decision-making; it allows for the collection of baseline data leading to on-the-ground habitat action projects, and it can increase tourism around birding.



The CWWS program has many additional benefits:

  • We deliver school-aged and adult educational opportunities so that community members can learn more about wetlands and birds.
  • Helps fulfill Ramsar and Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area responsibilities.
  • Connects local residents with the Columbia Wetlands ecosystem by getting them engaged in citizen science.
  • 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.
  • We are learning where specific and significant habitat parcels are located in the Columbia Wetland that are utilized by at-risk birds such as the Western Grebe, Horned Grebe and Eared Grebe.
  • We form partnerships and develop collaborations with other birding and wetland conservation organizations.


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


Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey_2017 Progress Report_FINAL_Dec2017








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:

RDEK 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 Gaming Grant, as well as the financial and in-kind contributions of individuals Steve and Lynda Conway.

We also graciously thank GIS guru Jan Pindroch for his volunteer services as he helps us substantially with our spatial data.
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.