Weighing in PacRim wildlife

Updated: Feb 7, 2020

My first “proper” field trip to the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (PacRim) on Vancouver Island is coming to the end, so I thought I’d share quickly what I’ve seen in the way of wildlife (listed in order of size where possible, and guessed if not).

  • Golden-crowned kinglet Regulus satrapa (4-7g) - tinkling in the canopy with their aptly named golden crown, set in like a little mohawk between two black go-faster stripes.

  • Brown tree creeper Certhia americana – creeping up tree trunks.

  • Pacific wren Trodlodytes pacificus – chattering amongst themselves in a miniature machine gun war.

  • Black-capped chickadee Poecile atricapillus (9-14g) – a North American member of the tit family. Not quite as great as the great tit, but still cute.

  • Stellar’s jay Cyanocitta stelleri (100-140g) – this black and blue iridescent bird has hair gelled up like the boys from school and is about as naughty too.

  • Western terrestrial garter snake Thamnophis elegans (140g) – black- and red-backed with a pale dorsal stripe, coiled and ready to strike, but thankfully they're only mildly venomous and would be no match against my wellies (not that I bothered him enough to find out).

  • Northern flicker Colaptes auratus (86-167g) – flies like a woodpecker and pecks like a woodpecker.

  • American red squirrel Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (200-250g) – slightly less tufty and slightly less red than Beatrix Potter's Squirrel Nutkin.

  • Common raven Corvus corax (0.7-2kg) – almost as common over here as crows, they laugh and squawk among the treetops and bounce along the sand in search of prey they can scavenge.

  • Great blue heron Ardea herodias (1.8-3.6kg) – sitting like a homeless woman in her grey-blue ruffled coat.

  • Bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus (3-6.3kg) – THE bird of North America.

  • Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (4.5-22kg) – returning to freshwater rivers weary after their arduous journey to spawn.

  • Colombian black-tailed deer Odocoileus hemionus columbianus (40-100kg) – much like a roe deer but with less of a moustache and more of a black tail. They are habituated and docile; and hang out in the kids play park, and along the sidewalk, and along the highway (look at me using all the Canadian English).

  • American black bear Ursus americanus (40-250kg) – two cubs and a mum hotfooted themselves off the forest road as we turned a corner, they were gone before we even needed to beep the horn.


Everything I saw behaved exactly as it should; the birds went about their business and the bears buggered off into the bush. The only exception was the black-tailed deer, that have become habituated and urbanised, which is all fun and games until a cougar follows them into town.

I didn't take any photos, but if ever I do, I make sure to use a zoom lens and keep my distance (© James Fleming)

I’ve got one more office-based week on the island, so maybe I’ll see some new birds out the window.


Edit: The common eider is on hold until a more senior birder goes and looks for it, because it turns out they're not usually found around here and I may have misidentified it... watch this space I guess.

  • Common eider Somateria mollissima (0.8-3.4kg) – these have the coolest “ah-oo” call and made my face light up on my coastal walk. Check it out.

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Photo Disclaimer: All photographs are property of Sophie May Watts or James Fleming unless otherwise stated.

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