Photo courtesy Spenser Smith Local birder Spenser Smith photographed this juvenile great horned owl in central Nanaimo. He recently launched a birding website featuring photos and articles about birdwatching on Vancouver Island.

Online meeting place created for Nanaimo birders

Nanaimo photographer Spenser Smith launches Vancouver Island birdwatching website

A Nanaimo photographer is hoping to nurture the birding community on Vancouver Island.

Spenser Smith had been photographing landscapes for much of the last decade, but this spring the Vancouver Island University student was tipped off about the location of a great horned owl nest in the city. He grabbed his camera to investigate and discovered a new passion.

“Once I got to experience that, watching an owl family and watching the mama owl interact with the babies, that kind of got me hooked,” Smith said.

“It’s just one of those things where, for me as a photographer, wildlife became much more exciting than shooting landscapes, which was kind of stagnant for me. Once I got into that, I just kinda got hooked on it.”

Last month Smith decided to set up a website,, to chronicle and compile his birding photography and already he’s starting to amass a following. So far he’s caught the attention of Tourism Nanaimo, his Facebook page has grown by 300 followers and people have been reaching out via his online contact form. He said a couple from Seattle travelled to the Island after inquiring about a birding spot in Parksville.

“I thought that was a pretty cool connection and response has been great. I think the biggest thing is I’ve met a lot of people through [the website], other birders, and then kind of in a selfish way those relationships have helped me find new birding spots that I otherwise wouldn’t know about,” Smith said.

“I think in the birding and photography community, for wildlife it’s really important to know people because that’s how you’re going to find out about spots. But then on a more personal level, it’s been great to meet new, like-minded people and kind of develop new friendships.”

Smith said he’s hoping his webpage attracts other birders, as well as a wider audience of people who may be curious about the hobby or have a passing interest in wildlife observation. He said one of his most popular posts is called ‘Morrell Nature Sanctuary: How to Find a Barred Owl,’ a step-by-step guide on spotting the birds including pictures, videos, a map and a recording of an owl cry. As a creative writing student, Smith said it was important to him to include written pieces along with his photographs.

Smith foresees Birds and Bark as a venue for other local birders to share their work. His inaugural contributor was a birder who contacted Smith to inform him of the location of a falcon.

“I asked him if he wanted to contribute a story and he actually wrote a little story for me and had a bunch of photos in it so it was kind of cool to have that,” he said. “I’m hoping to make a submissions page and … encourage other people to submit as well.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Bookfest helps fill school library shelves leading up to next week’s event

Vancouver Island Children’s Book Festival is June 1 at downtown Nanaimo venues

Students get a look at some of the City of Nanaimo’s inner workings

Hundreds of students participate in Public Works Day

Young Nanaimo man dies after losing control of ATV

Accident claimed the life of a 23-year-old south of Nanaimo over the long weekend

B.C. man’s failed bid to bar People’s Party name from byelection ends in $20k order

Federal judge shut down ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of party name in Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection

Christmas morning burglar sentenced in Nanaimo

Justin Redmond Feusse, 20, sentenced to 240 days in jail for Christmas day break-and-enter

UPDATE: Suspected drunk driver crashes into line-painting truck on the highway in Nanaimo

Crash happened at 1 a.m. Wednesday on the Trans-Canada Highway near Duke Point Highway

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Canada stripping citizenship from Chinese man over alleged marriage fraud

The move comes amid severely strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing

Nevada court orders former Vancouver man to pay back $21.7M to investors

The commission says Michael Lathigee committed fraud over a decade ago

Nanaimo astronomers can hear about ultraviolet telescope’s galactic calculations

Canada’s space telescope to look at blue end of light spectrum to unveil mysteries of the universe

Most Read