>> By Giles Shearing
Spring 2015, Issue #39
Wipe off those bino lenses. Clean and fill the bird feeder (out of reach of bears). Prep your birding garb. It’s spring, the birds are aplenty and more and more humans are flocking to a hobby growing in popularity: bird watching.
With relative minimal expense, the hot ticket being a nice set of binoculars as well as a note pad, guidebook and some good all-weather gear, anyone can start.
According to Avibase, a world bird database run by Bird Studies Canada, there are approximately 10,000 species and over 22,000 subspecies of birds in the world. According to Parks Canada, over 183 of those species are found in Glacier and Mount Revelstoke National Parks.
There are about 330 species of breeding birds in B.C. (not including those just flying through) and 173 of those were found in and around Revelstoke between 2008 and 2012.
The B.C. Bird Breeding Atlas (BCBBA) says there are about 330 species of breeding birds in B.C. (not including those just flying through) and 173 of those were found in and around Revelstoke between 2008 and 2012.
On March 17, 1976, BCBBA regional coordinator Dr. John Woods, wrote in the Revelstoke Herald three great reasons to participate in the sport of bird watching:
(1) Birds are one of the most colourful, lively and conspicuous groups in the natural world. (2) Bird watching provides an incentive to spend many healthy days in the outdoors. (3) Bird watching is something of a treasure hunt; you never know what you might find. (4) Bird watching provides an intimate connection to nature, where not only birds are the subject but their habitat as well, helping one improve their plant identification, understand an array of habitats, meteorological happenings and view other wildlife.
Although bird watching is growing in popularity, the number of bird species continues to decline. To ensure that your bird watching activities don’t put more pressure on birds, consider the welfare of the bird above all, minimize disturbance and harassing birds, avoid the use of playback (playing birdsong) and phishing ( similar but human-made, like a moose call) and be mindful of who you tell about rare birds.
Bird watching makes exploring nature exciting.
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GET TO KNOW THE ORNITHOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE OF REVELSTOKE
The local birding elite (which isn’t really a thing because birdwatchers are, by nature, down to earth) answered the following questions:
1.What is you favourite bird and why?
2. Where is a great spot for bird watching?
Michael Morris, Ret. Parks Canada Naturalist
Ravens. They are the only birds around here that play. Watch them soar as the winds pick them up or out among the paragliders on a warm afternoon enjoying the thermals. // Mackenzie Outpost at Revelstoke Mountain Resort for an up close encounter with gray jays.
Jackie Morris, Ret., Exec. Dir. of the Columbia Mountains Inst. Applied Technology:
Swainson’s thrush. Their rolling flute-like song is very distinct. They are a bird of the forest. They put me in a happy place. // Along the Columbia River, including the west side of the river near the bridges upstream and downstream.
Cat Mather, Revelstoke Bird Watchers
Varied thrush for it beautiful ethereal whistle and the hermit thrush who live in the subalpine where I like to be. // Greely Road area has lots of variety and good vantage points into the trees from the road.
Cory Bird (aka SeaBird) Wildlife Biologist
Black swifts because they are amazing aerialists to observe. // Skunk Cabbage Trail is pretty awesome for observing birds. Sadly, not the quietest place, though.
Don Manson, Naturalist, Wildlife Photographer
The common loon because of its song and it is great to photographer. // Machete Island is a good spot because of the variety.
Ryan Gill, Wildlife Biologist
Black terns are pretty. You also can’t beat the corvids, especially ravens for their smarts. // Definitely around the airport. The habitat is really diverse with swamp, grasslands, shrubs and pure wetland.
Ellen Tremblay, Bird Watcher
The mountain bluebird still stirs me like no other bird I usually see on a yearly basis // The Greenbelt area around the Downie Sawmill. Spring can be spectacular for migrating warblers. A large variety of waterfowl feed and rest in the ponds. Late winter and spring is a reliable spot for northern shrike.
Jennifer Greenwood, Ph.D. Candidate in ornithology
American redstarts. They’re bold, beautiful, fun and easy to find in the canopy. And pretty darn cocky for a seven or eight gram bird. // The Greenbelt, Machete Island and Drimmie Creek.
Harry Van Oort, Ornithologist
Song sparrow because of their great personality and they’re fun to watch. Common yellow throats are great, found May until September. // Airport Marsh and Downie Marsh are great places to see birds. Lazuli bunting, a bird common to the Okanagan, is found frequently near Downie Marsh.
Russell Cannings, Ornithologist
Veery for its lovely song, brings me back to the forest at my boyhood home. Black swifts that power across the Revy sky each summer like mini jet-fighters. And magnolia warblers. // Migration birding is wonderful in Revy, so basically anywhere with valley bottom willows and birches can be chock-full of warblers and sparrows. The 4×4 trails south of Big Eddy, a walk out to Cartier or 9-Mile Point are good.
Dr. John Woods, Ret. Parks Canada Biologist
I never tire of watching American dippers, a perching bird that swims, flies underwater and sings from a rock in the rapids throughout the winter; my definition of a “mountain bird.” // For the shear excitement of expecting the unexpected, the river flats around the airport are hard to duplicate. April through June you can expect to see more species here than almost anywhere else in the local mountains.
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