Vaseux Lake Area

Country/territory: Canada

IBA Criteria met: -
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 2,900 ha

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description
Vaseux Lake lies in a very narrow section of the Okanagan Valley, between the towns of Okanagan Falls and Oliver. The lake, which is 4 km long and 1km wide, is fed and drained by the Okanagan River. It is surrounded by a diversity of habitats, such as a cattail-bulrush marsh at the north end where the Okanagan River feeds into the lake, and some water birch woodlands surrounding the marsh. Arid grassland benches to the east and west give way almost immediately to rugged rock cliffs and ponderosa pine woodlands. To the east, the pine forests change to Douglas-fir and western larch forests above 1000 metres. Interesting fauna found in the site include Bighorn Sheep, Pallid and Spotted Bats, Great Basin Pocket Mouse, Night Snake and Racer.

Key biodiversity
This area of the Okanagan Valley is one of Canadas top birding spots. Many species of birds that are found in few other locations in Canada can be found here, including four species that occur in nationally significant numbers. One of the most sought-after is the White-headed Woodpecker (nationally endangered) which occurs in Canada only in the southern Okanagan Valley. One or two individuals are seen year-round but irregularly in the Vaseux Lake area. Lewis Woodpecker also regularly nests in the area. Twenty-five individuals of this nationally Special Concern species can be found here, (2.5% of their Canadian population). As many as ten Flammulated Owls (nationally Special Concern) breed in wooded hillsides, which is about 1% of the Canadian population. Finally, small numbers of Yellow-breasted Chats breed in the valley (2 or more per year). This is 1% of the Okanagan population of this nationally endangered species. McIntyre Bluufs at the south end of the lake historically held two to three Peregrine Falcon eyries.

Other birds in the area are: Western Screech-Owl (breeding), Trumpeter Swan (winter), Barn Owl (nationally Special Concern - all year), and Williamsons Sapsucker (breeding). Marshes at the north end of the lake are one of the last remnants of a once significant chain of wetlands found in the Okanagan valley bottom, harbouring species such as American Bittern, Northern Harrier, Virginia Rail and Yellow-headed Blackbird.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Vaseux Lake Area. Downloaded from on 28/06/2022.