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Flora & Fauna

This is your detailed guide to the amazing flora and fauna of Sun Peaks Resort.

Here you will find information on how to identify plants and animals, as well as facts on each species.

The area in and around Sun Peaks is home to several species, ranging from the noble blue heron and majestic bald eagle to the haunting loon and delicate hummingbird.
Bald Eagle Bald Eagle
The Bald Eagle is Canada’s largest bird of prey. Their wings span more than 2m, their height measures about 76cm and their weight is 7kg. Other prominent physical characteristics include a blackish body, white head, and yellow bill. This bird is a hunter and scavenger, assisted by a massive beak, sharp talons, spikes on their oversized feet and excellent vision – eagles can see four times farther than people.
Black Capped Chickadee Black Capped Chickadee
The Chickadee has conspicuous markings. Its body is grey above with a white underside shading to light brown flanks and a long grey tail. This small bird has a black head with white cheeks and a black throat patch. During the coldest winter days, the chickadee can often be observed emerging from its roost singing its signature “chickadee-dee-dee,” from which it got its name.
Downy Woodpecker Downy Woodpecker
Woodpeckers have unique anatomy features that allow birds to excavate wood. Their straight, chisel shaped bill, formed of strong bone overlaid with a hard covering, is broad to spread the force of pecking. A covering of feathers keeps pieces of wood and dust out of their nostrils. The downy woodpecker is the species most common in Canada and is known as an excellent tree climber.
Great Horned Owl Great Horned Owl
These large and powerful birds are identifiable by their prominent ear tufts. Another notable characteristic of the owl is its enormous yellow eyes. The colour of the owl varies from dark browns and greys but all are mottled and streaked with a white throat. This bird is an excellent nocturnal hunter, preferring medium sized mammals, such as rabbits, and smaller birds.
Grey Jay Grey Jay
The Grey Jay is a bird of a thousand names. Until just recently, its official name was Canada Jay as its range is mostly Canadian. Its other names include Whiskey Jack, wis-ka-chon, venison hawk, grease bird, lumberjack, and meat bird, which refers to the bird’s petty thievery habits and taste for carrion. In search of food, this little bird will appear at the camps of lumberman, trappers, hunters, and farmers.
Osprey at Sun Peaks Osprey
The Osprey, sometimes known as the sea hawk, fish eagle or fish hawk, is a fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 60cm in length and 180cm across the wings. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings. The Osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply.
Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon
This large, robust falcon is actually designated as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. The falcon has suffered a decline in population due partly to the use of pesticides. The falcon, a true predator, specializes in direct pursuit in the open. Hunting from the skies of tundra, river valleys and moors, the falcon dives down on its prey. The top speed of its dives is estimated at over 300 km/h.
Red Tailed Hawk Red Tailed Hawk
This large bird of prey is recognizable by its brick red tail and unique patagial marks on the under wing. Like all hawks, this species is a deadly predator that uses sharp talons as weapons. Relying on its eyesight, which is about eight times more powerful than human sight, the hawk can spot the slightest movement of prey on the ground below. The Red Tailed Hawk is known as an aggressive bird that defends its territory.
Ruffed Grouse Ruffed Grouse
This chicken like bird thrives in a forest thrives in a forest with dense undergrowth and scattered clearings. Most notable about the grouse is the drumming mating call of the male bird. The male grouse will cup his wings and rapidly beat them against the air, usually while standing on a log. This is to warn away other males and attract females.
Rufous Hummingbird Rufous Hummingbird
The hummingbird family consists of the smallest birds, which are named after the signature humming sound made by their tiny wings. A notable characteristic of the hummingbird is its capability of rapid forward flight but also its capability to remain stationary and fly backwards for short distances. The rufous species is described as feisty and is identifiable by the abrupt high pitched call and various squealing noises.
Steller's Jay Steller's Jay
The Steller's Jay is a handsome bird with bright blue colouring, as its name would suggest. But perhaps more notable than vivid blue markings, is the little bird’s voice. At times it seems that the steller's jay will break into song just for the pleasure of making noise. Their most characteristic sound is an unrelenting cold scream, but they have a variety of other calls. The steller's jay has a sweet warbling and a mellow whistle that is quite musical.
The spectacular mountains of Sun Peaks are at their best in the warm months of summer. During this time the mountains become a kaleidoscope of colour as the multitude of wildflowers blossom from the village to the alpine.
Alpine Pussytoes Alpine Pussytoes
Alpine Pussytoes, a mat-forming perennial, is often confused with umber and rosy pussytoes.  The distinguishing factor between the different variations is the color of the disk flower. The alpine variety has whitish flowers with several overlapping bracts that are sharply pointed, woolly underneath and dark brown to black above.
Arctic Lupine Arctic Lupine
The lupine is one of BC’s most common wildflowers. With the ability to form huge colonies, these blue to pinkish flowers can provide a breath-taking display in mid-summer. The lupine, a member of the pea family, is the perennial that grows more than 70cm, and sprouts flowers in clusters. The lupine doesn’t just look good, apparently it tastes good- this plant is the marmot’s favourite food.
Balsamroot Balsamroot
All parts of this perennial plant are edible and traditionally provided an important addition to the diets of the Interior First Nations people. The leaves were eaten raw and steamed or smoked like a tobacco. The taproots of the plant, which are strongly aromatic, were roasted, steamed, and dried. The seeds, similar of those to the sunflower, were dried and pounded into flour. Various species of plant are often mistaken for balsamroot.
Canada Goldenrod Canada Goldenrod
A member of the sunflower family, this perennial plant can grow from 30cm to 175 cm, and has bright yellow flowers that grow in clusters. The goldenrod is well known for its medical uses. In fact, its scientific name means to restore or cure. The most popular medicinal use of the goldenrod was to sooth colicky babies by externally using a tea made from the plants stems and flowers.
Canadian Thistle Canadian Thistle
The Canadian Thistle, a perennial plant that grows 30cm to 120 cm in height, has pink-purple disk flowers that grow in small groups. Unlike other thistles, this variety lacks prickles on the stem and has only weak prickles on the plant’s bracts. This plant is also very unique in that it is the only thistle with male and female flowers on separate plants. Butterflies are particularly fond of the Canadian Thistle.
Columbia Lily Columbia Lily (aka 'Tiger Lily')
The vivid color of this perennial plant makes it easy to spot on the mountain side. The columbia lily has large, bright-orange flowers that dangle down like bells from the central stem. The petals, which curl back, are delicately sprinkled with dark coloured spots, like the fur of a tiger. The spots, which originated the plant's name, also gave rise to the superstition that smelling the tiger lily will give you freckles.
Dwarf Dogwood Dwarf Dogwood
This plant resembles the dogwood tree in everything but size. Originally introduced from Europe, the plant is a low, trailing perennial found through out Canadian forests from coast to coast. The bracts of the plant are often mistaken for flowers, but these white or purplish-tinged flowers, petal-like leaves actually surround the dogwood blossoms, which are a cluster of tiny, white or purplish flowers.
False Solomon’s Seal False Solomon’s Seal
False Solomon’s Seal, a perennial plant often found in bunches, is the only lily to have the distinctive large clusters of tiny white flowers. These flowers are star-like in shape and strongly perfumed. The plant, which also produces edible red berries, is thought to have been named in reference to the plants seeds, which when cut, bare surface markings that resemble the seal of Solomon, a six pointed star.
Fireweed Fireweed
This plant is the floral emblem of the Yukon. Remarkably, it is the first plant to grow after a forest fire and is often found thriving in areas that are burned or have a high vulnerability to fires, hence it’s name. This plant, a perennial that grows up to 3m high, is recognizable by its large clusters of rose, mauve or purple flowers. Apparently bees are able to use these flowers of the fireweed plant to produce an especially delicious honey.
Fireweed Forget Me Not
With roughly 200 species in the genus, significant variation can be seen in these widely distributed flowers. Blue, pink, or white in colour, flowers are small and flat, tolerating partial sun and shade. Seeds are found in small, tulip-shaped pods along the stem to the flower, and can be collected by putting a piece of paper under the stems and shaking until they fall out.
Indian Paint Brush Indian Paint Brush
This plant, a member of the figwort family, is a perennial that grows up to 60cm tall. The greenish, red-tipped flowers, set in clusters, are partly concealed by the brush like leaves. These red leafy bracts resemble a brush dipped in red paint, giving the plant its name. Indian paint brush is found in mid to high elevations across the province, but thrive in moist areas such as the forest and mountain slopes.
Larkspur Larkspur
The larkspur, which contains delphinine, is highly toxic. The plant seeds are highly poisonous, and the plant is especially during the spring. Oddly, humans and cattle are susceptible to the plant’s poison, but sheep are unaffected. Thus, sheep have been used to eradicate the plant from infected areas of the range. Larkspurs are easily identified by their irregular blue and violet flowers.
Mountain (Leafy) Aster Mountain (Leafy) Aster
The aster, which is the Greek word for “star”, is a perennial plant strongly resembling a daisy.  However, this plant can be differentiated from the daisy by its multiple composite heads and purple color, which can range from pale shades to vibrant hues. The aster, traditionally used by First Nations people as a stomach remedy, is especially common in moist sub alpine and alpine meadows.
Orange Hawkweed Orange Hawkweed
The orange hawkweed is a perennial plant that grows 20cm to 60cm tall. The stems, which are solitary, are bristly-hairy and exude a milky juice when broken. The stems boast the bright, vivid red-orange ray flowers.  The orange hawkweed flowers, which grow in clusters, are abundant at mid elevations and thrive in open meadows and pastures.
Prickly Rose Prickly Rose
The prickly rose is the provincial emblem of Alberta. This wild shrub, which can grow up to 1.5m tall, is famous for its prickly stems and beautiful pale, pink flowers. The rose hips, or berry like fruit, of this shrub are extremely high in vitamin C. In fact the amount of vitamin C in one rose hip is the equivalent of 15 oranges. The hips, used by humans to make tea, jam, and jelly are also eaten by bears and coyotes. 
Red Columbine Red Columbine
This plant is among the most familiar in BC’s native plants. The columbine’s flowers, irregular red sepals with yellow long petals and a long erect bulbous tip, have sweet nectar at their base, which is an attraction for both humming birds and butterflies. The Interior First Nations people used this unique plant as a good luck charm for love.
Stinging Nettle Stinging Nettle
Be careful not to get too close to this plant, which was named after its ability to cause an irritating rash on skin. This 3m perennial, identifiable by its inconspicuous green flowers and jagged leaves, secretes formic acid through its hollow hairs. Although the plant is untouchable, its leaves can be cooked and eaten. The plant can even be used for medical purposes, including treatment for diabetes.
Sub Alpine Daisy Sub Alpine Daisy
This flowering plant, a perennial that grows between 10cm and 60cm in height, is more like an aster than a daisy. The flowers are solitary composite heads with pink, lavender, or reddish-purple ray flowers. The First Nations people in the surrounding areas called this plant the star-flower, and commonly used it as a decorative pattern in their basketry.
Yarrow Yarrow
Yarrow, an aromatic perennial, is most notable for its healing and multiple medical uses. First Nations people used the roots for toothaches, the leaves for rheumatism and concoctions of the roots were gargled to stop sore throats. Today, many herbalists name it as their herb of choice if they were forced to choose only one for multi-purpose use. Yarrow leaves can also be placed in a fire to repel mosquitoes.
The mountains of the area abound with animals free roaming in their natural habitat. Catch a glimpse of the area’s natural wildlife as you hike through the blossoming mountain or relax on the Sunburst Express Chairlift.
Black Bear Black Bear
The black bear ranges across forested Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia. These creatures are omnivorous, and their love for honey is well known. Bears, solitary creatures for most of the year, have a keen sense of smell, acute hearing, but poor eyesight. These creatures, most active at night, have few enemies. The only animal they fear is the grizzly bear.
Canadian Lynx Canadian Lynx
This member of the felid family is distinguished by a short body, long legs, short tail and large, padded feet well adapted to travelling across snow. The lynx, often confused with the smaller bobcat, can be identified by the prominent tufts of hair on its ears. The lynx is nocturnal and a solitary hunter, preferring ducks, foxes, and sometimes deer. The main enemies of the lynx include cougars and wolves.
Chipmunk Chipmunk
The chipmunk is the widest occurring species in Canada, but it does prefer sagebrush deserts, pastures, piney woods, rocky cliffs, and open coniferous forests. The chipmunk’s coat varies from muted yellowish grey with dark tan stripes to brownish grey with black stripes. Their main foods include acorns, seeds, berries, fruits, and grasses. The chipmunk is hunted by all forest carnivores.
Cougar Cougar
Next to bears, the cougar is the largest, most powerful Canadian predator. The fur of this animal is short and reddish brown to grey in colour. It has a white underside and a black tipped tail. The cougar, the largest wildcat native to BC, is a strong solitary hunting species that thrives in undisturbed game rich wilderness. Despite their size, these animals are extremely wary and are infrequently seen by man.
Coyote Coyote
This intelligent, social animal is about the size of a small collie. The coyote feeds on small mammals, such as mice, hares and carrion, but packs of coyotes will occasionally hunt deer. Enemies of the coyote include wolves, cougars, and bears. The coyote is one of the few wild animals whose vocalizations are commonly heard. At night, coyotes howl a high quavering cry and emit a series of high pitched yips.
Marmot Marmot
The marmot lives throughout BC in talus mountain slopes but prefers alpine and sub alpine meadows, and avalanche slopes. The coat of the marmot is silver grey with a brownish rump, and white belly. Its tail, similar to a squirrel, is large and bushy. The marmot is known for its high pitched whistle, which often welcomes visitors to the alpine country and warns others marmots of approaching danger.
Moose Moose
This horse sized animal is the largest member of the deer family. It has notable long, dark brown hair, high, humped shoulders, and long legs. The moose is a strong swimmer and has been known to dive and remain submerged in search of underwater roots. Moose are unpredictable, especially during mating season.
Mule Deer Mule Deer
This creature, named for its ears which resemble a mule, has the widest distribution of all deer in BC. It is known for its honed senses, including sharp hearing, smell, and sight. This animal is also known for its distinct bound, in which all four feet come down together as if on springs. Although the mule deer is a good swimmer and runner, it falls prey to a number species, including cougar, wolf, and coyote.
Raccoon Raccoon
The raccoon is a highly intelligent animal known for its signature ringed tail, masked face, and dexterous forepaws. It inhabits hollow trees and logs near water, where they can easily find their favourite foods. Mainly nocturnal, the raccoon has few natural predators. Generally mild mannered and easily tamed, they fight bravely against great odds if cornered.
Red Fox Red Fox
The red fox resembles a small, slender dog. It has a rusty red coat with white under parts, chin, and throat. The ears are prominent while the tail is long and bushy with a white tip. The red fox can be found in Canada from Coast to Coast, including alpine tundra, farmland, and the edge of forests. The red fox is a shy animal and, for the most part, tries to stay hidden from view.
Red Squirrel Red Squirrel
The red squirrel, recognizable by a long and bushy tail, is rust red to greyish red in colour. The squirrel’s coat is brightest on the side and white below. The red squirrel is abundant in any kind of forest throughout BC, constructing its nest in the branches or cavities of trees and stumps. The diurnal habits of this active little creature make it one of our most frequently seen wild animals.
Skunk Skunk
This creature, notorious for its noxious odour, is similar in size to a housecat. The animal’s best known feature is its ability to discharge twin streams of mildly fluid from the anal orifice. It does this with uncanny accuracy when it feels threatened. Skunks are primarily nocturnal and have few natural enemies. Skunks prefer the natural desert, woodlands, grassy plains, and suburbs and can be found throughout the Interior.
Wolf Wolf
The wolf has been associated with First Nations people for centuries and remains a creature of folklore and superstition today. This fairytale villain ranges in colour from white to black, including all shades of cream, grey and brown. Wolves are strict carnivores and prefer deer, elk, caribou, moose and bison. These creatures, which live in a pack, are well known developed social hierarchy, which is dominated by an alpha male.