Bird Watching

The Sounds of Nature: Identifying Kelowna’s Birdsong

A small owl sitting inside a tree cavity in Kelowna.


The gentle rustle of leaves, the soft whisper of the lake, and above all, the melodious symphony of birdsong – this is the essence of a day spent in Kelowna's great outdoors. For both the seasoned birdwatcher and the casual nature enthusiast, the city's rich mix of landscapes becomes an acoustic wonderland. Each chirp, warble, and call is a note in nature's grand orchestra, offering an auditory map to the avian world around us.

Mastering the Art of Bird Listening

Birdsong fills the air in Kelowna, turning every walk into an opportunity for discovery. The key to unlocking this natural symphony lies in sharpening your ears. Start by tuning into the familiar. The raucous caw of a crow or the playful chitter of a Steller’s Jay might already be sounds you recognize. These common bird sounds form the first notes of your avian audio journey.

But the true joy comes in learning to distinguish the less familiar. Picture a spring morning, the air filled with the complex serenade of the Lazuli Bunting – a jumble of squeaky and chirping notes, each male giving his unique twist to the melody. Or imagine the sweet, accelerating whistle of the Yellow Warbler, often described by the mnemonic 'sweet sweet sweet, I’m so sweet'. Each bird's song is a unique fingerprint, a distinct call that, once learned, becomes an old friend calling your name in the wilderness.

A Seasonal Symphony

Kelowna's birdlife is as varied as its seasons, each bringing its own set of avian vocalists to the fore. In spring, the air is alive with the songs of migratory birds. The Great Blue Heron offers a squawking 'roh-roh-roh' as a greeting to its partner, while the Tree Swallow blends chirps, whines, and gurgles into a high-pitched liquid song. Summer paints the landscape with birdwatching opportunities: the soft, hesitant song of the Western Bluebird, and the sharp 'kips' of the Western Kingbird announcing its territory at dawn.

Fall brings a shift, as migratory birds like the California Quail rummage in the underbrush, and the skies fill with the soaring silhouettes of Turkey Vultures and Ospreys. Winter, though colder, is no less rich, offering sights and sounds of species like the Downy Woodpecker and the haunting calls of the Great Horned Owl.

Birdwatching Resources and Communities

For those seeking to deepen their birdwatching experience, Kelowna offers a wealth of resources. The annual Okanagan Birding Festival in May is a celebration of feathered diversity, with tours, seminars, and photography contests. The Central Okanagan Naturalists' Club, meanwhile, provides educational programs and guided walks, perfect for both beginners and experienced birders.


In Kelowna, every chirp, every whistle, and every call is an invitation to connect with the natural world. Whether you're gazing through binoculars, consulting a field guide, or simply closing your eyes to listen, the birdsong of Kelowna offers a melody for the soul and a reminder of nature's enduring song.