Comox Valley

Country/territory: Canada

IBA Criteria met: A4i (2008)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 30,000 ha

Protection status:

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description
The Comox Valley lies along the east-central coast of Vancouver Island, near the town of Courtenay. The site is bounded to the north by the Oyster River, to the south by the Trent River and Comox Harbour, to the west by the Beaufort Mountains, and to the east by the Strait of Georgia. The estuaries, backshore areas and associated lowland valley bottoms provide an extensive network of habitats. Inland valley lowlands are a mixture of agricultural areas and forested land. Low elevation forests are dominated by Douglas Fir and Western Hemlock forests. Within the valley are three urban centres, as well as a 10,000 hectare estuary. The valley has a relatively mild climate, with winter temperatures above freezing point, but generally less than 10°C on average.

Key biodiversity
The Comox Valley is ornithologically noteworthy for the numbers of Pacific Trumpeter Swans that over-winter there. The flocks of swans seemed to have been increasing over the last few years, as indicated by regular surveys being conducted. The peak counts for the winters of 1991/92, 1992/93 and 1993/94 were 1,007, 1,225 and 1,191, respectively. On December 17, 1996, however, the peak count was a record maximum of 2,009 birds. This number represents as much as 10% of the world population of Trumpeter Swans, and 12.5% of the Pacific population of this species. The swans arrive in early November and are mostly gone by the end of March. They have been seen to feed on discarded vegetables or corn cobs, green forage between harvested corn, and seedlings of various winter cover crops, as well as native vegetation.

Waterfowl numbers reach nationally significant numbers in winter (10,000). Congregations are composed of many species, most notably American Wigeon, Mallard, Northern Pintail, and Black, Surf and White-winged Scoter. The valley and estuary are important feeding areas for migrating Black Brants. Also several thousand shorebirds of mixed species use the estuary flats and farm fields for winter feeding. And, up to 425 Bald Eagles can gather to feed along the valley, shoreline and estuary during winter.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Comox Valley. Downloaded from on 03/12/2020.