Bald Eagles, gulls, and mergansers feast on salmon in fall and winter at this beautiful park west of Victoria, which is also home to American Dippers, Winter Wrens, Steller's Jays, Townsend's Warblers, and Red-breasted Sapsuckers.
By Glenn Bartley | Published: 2/19/2010
Natural beauty — especially birds — can be found everywhere you look at this temperate rainforest oasis.
The river that the park is named for is an important spawning site for chum, coho, and chinook salmon. Each fall, the fish return to lay their eggs and complete their life cycle. Once they die and begin to decompose, Bald Eagles, gulls, and mergansers swoop in to feast on the bounty of food.
I often hike or jog through the park early in the morning. As I run along the river, I scan for American Dippers and listen to the enthusiastic songs of Winter Wrens. I almost always hear the raucous calls of troops of Steller’s Jays as they scavenge for food. Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Brown Creepers, and kinglets are ever present, chattering high up in the towering Douglas-fir trees, and ravens are never too far away.
Goldstream is also an excellent place for bird photography. I’ve captured images of dippers, herons, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Townsend’s and Wilson’s Warblers, Red-breasted Sapsucker, sparrows, and Varied Thrush, including the photo shown above. — Glenn Bartley
Glenn Bartley is a professional bird photographer and a nature-photography tour leader from Victoria. A frequent contributor to BirdWatching, he also wrote about Riding Mountain National Park, Wasagaming, Manitoba, Hotspot Near You No. 190.
At a Glance
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Coastal temperate rainforest dominated by Douglas-fir trees.
Flat, gravel trails from parking lot to visitor center and into the forest. Steep trails up Mount Finlayson.
Spring and summer: Townsend’s and Wilson’s Warblers, Winter Wren, Steller’s Jay, Common Raven, Rufous Hummingbird, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Spotted Towhee, American Dipper, Fox Sparrow, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Swainson’s Thrush. Fall and winter: Bald Eagle, Varied and Hermit Thrushes, Common Merganser, Glaucous-winged, California, Western, and Mew Gulls, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Barred Owl. Year-round: Common Merganser, Great Blue Heron, Pileated Woodpecker, Song Sparrow, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Bushtit.
When to go
Year-round. December to February is the peak period for Bald Eagles.
Restrooms and picnic facilities are available near the main parking area. Visitor center offers guided walks, exhibits and programs on birds of prey, and an excellent bookstore.
Provincial park. No entrance fee. The visitor center is open daily 9-4:30.
The salmon spawn occurs from mid-October through December. During the spawn, visit the park early in the day to avoid the crowds of tourists and school groups.