Birdwatching Canada

A voice for the northern birds

BC Breeding Bird Atlas On The Road

Join the British Columbia Breeding Bird Atlas team as they tour BC providing workshops, meeting with regional coordinators, doing atlas blitzes, and conducting point counts. Christopher Di Corrado will tour the Dease Lake/Telegraph Creek area from June 8-14, then proceed to Whitehorse (from where activities in some parts of remote northern BC are coordinated). Christopher will give a presentation on the atlas in the Whitehorse Library on June 14 at 7 p.m., and at the Northern Lights College in Atlin on June 15 at 7 p.m., continuing to atlas the region until June 19. Contact Christopher at for more details.

Dick Cannings will be the guest speaker at the 27th annual Manning Park Bird Blitz on the evening of June 12, and will be on hand with regional coordinator Alan Burger to provide an atlas flavour to the bird blitz from June 13-14. Rob Butler will atlas the Bute Inlet area with regional coordinator Art Martell from June 7-14, and then the Pacific Rim region of Vancouver Island through mid-June.


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Wings Over The Rockies

Invermere valley

Invermere valley

If you’re up for a great week of birdwatching, you should hop on over to Invermere, British Columbia this coming week.

From May 4th to 10th, 2009, the 13th Annual Wings Over The Rockies Bird Festival is taking place.

Over 265 bird species have been recorded in this 150 km stretch of the Columbia Valley Wetlands, in habitats as diverse as grasslands, forest and alpine meadows. It is one of the longest systems of continuous wetlands in North America.

The festival includes over 50 educational events and activities such as guided nature walks, river trips, horseback riding in the grasslands, evening presentations and much more.

This year’s theme is Citizens for Science,  where the public gathers valuable information for bird conservation. The keynote speaker is Dick Cannings, an active naturalist, conservationist, writer, broadcaster and scientist since his childhood days where he roamed the wild places of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.

For full details on Wings Over The Rockies, check their website

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Nest Watchers Needed


Do you have any feathered friends nesting in your yard? If so, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology would like to hear from you.

They have established a Nest Watch program to help gather breeding bird information across the North American continent.

Nest watchers are invited to register their nest box (or boxes) at  the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Register Your Netbox program. It’s free and yields valuable information about breeding birds and how their natural rhythms may be changing.

Everything you need to register your nest box and get started is available online, including directions on how you can monitor nest boxes without disturbing the birds.

Popular NestCams are back in action! Peek into nests and nest boxes via live cameras focused on Eastern Bluebirds, Barred Owls, Wood Ducks, Barn Owls and more.


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Okanagan Big Day Challenge

Get ready for the 24th annual Okanagan Big Day Challenge on May 17/09. This year we\’re going human-powered, so teams will have to bike, run, walk or sit to see their birds. We will have a motorized category, but that will be for the Little Big Day only, and those teams will have to remain within one of the valley\’s Christmas Bird Count Circles. Get your teams together and come to the Okanagan for a great weekend of birding.

The 24th Annual  Okanagan Big Day Challenge

Sunday, May 17, 2009 — Victoria Day Weekend

Big Day Challenge is one of the main events of the 11th annual Meadowlark Festival. Teams of birders regularly come from all over Canada and the Pacific Northwest to participate. The Okanagan Big Day Challenge is a friendly and fun-filled competition to see which team can see and hear the most species of birds in one day-midnight to midnight on Sunday, May 18-in the Okanagan Valley. Winning teams usually tally about 160 bird species. The all time record is 174! This year we\’re making teams bike, run, walk or sit to count birds–so the winning total will likely be in the 145 species range.

You don\’t need to be an expert to join in the fun! All that you need are some willing sponsors, a pair of binoculars, a group of people who love to walk around outdoors and try to identify birds, and someone to record what you see and hear.

New fossil-fuel-free rules

Birds can only be counted while biking, walking, running or sitting. You can drive to your starting point and get picked up at the end point, but your Big Day list can only include those species seen while under your own power.

Little Big Day

For those not wanting to deal with sleep deprivation, there is the \”Little Big Day,\” which involves 8 consecutive hours of birding on Sunday (this was formerly set from 0400 to noon, but we\’ve decided to relax this rule a bit). Birders in this category are allowed to use motorized transportation, but must remain within a Christmas Bird Count circle (24 km diameter).

If you\’d like further information about the Okanagan Big Day Challenge, contact Dick Cannings at

For more information on the Meadowlark Festival (or a copy of the Festival\’s brochure):

Meadowlark Festival, P.O. Box 20133, Penticton, BC, V2A 8K3   Email:


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Goose Overload

What would you think is the most common bird in Canada? If you guessed Canada goose, you would at least be in the correct family!

According to Environment Canada, our snow goose population now stands at over 4.5 million breeding birds, and has tripled over the past 20 years. While it’s nice to see a large, healthy population of any wild creature, these birds are actually eating themselves out of a home.

Snow geese flock

Snow geese flock

The fragile sub-Arctic and Arctic ecosystem where they nest in the summer cannot sustain this many geese. Some coastal salt marsh habitats have been severely degraded already. The geese feed by pulling grasses up by the roots, stripping the ground bare. This leads to erosion, increased evaporation of soil moisture, and an increase in soil salinity that prevents re-growth of vegetation.

There is evidence the birds are now moving inland to feed, threatening other ecosystems such as fresh water wetlands. Due to intense competition for food, thousands of goslings starve to death or die from disease each year.

Several factors appear to have contributed to the huge snow geese population. On their twice-yearly migrations, they eat a rich and plentiful diet of agricultural crops like winter wheat, rice and corn. This readily available food has likely increased survival rates. Warmer temperatures due to climate change in the Arctic may have increased the survival rate of the young birds each spring.

Now authorities are faced with a unique conservation situation. In the past, the snow goose population was low, and hunting quotas were reduced. Management decisions aimed at protecting the geese worked  – maybe too well.

So yes, it is wonderful to read about a conservation success, in this case it may be more of a ‘be careful what you wish for’ scenario. Although I suspect Arctic foxes are happy about the way things are, as adult snow geese, eggs and young birds feature prominently on their menu.


The Edmonton Nature Club is promoting the Snow Goose Chase, a guided tour to pre-scouted birding locations to view snow geese, swans, cranes, eagles and many more species. The tour of central Alberta takes place April 25 & 26/09, and pre-registration is required. For more details, contact The Edmonton Nature Club, 19 Woodlake Road, Sherwood Park, AB. T8A 4B3 Phone (780) 464-5814.

For more details, contact them at


Filed under: Birdwatching Events, Waterfowl, ,

Brant Goose Festival

Brant goose

Brant goose

After a cold, snowy, winter most of us are chomping at the bit to get out there and start birding in comfort again. If you’re thinking of a holiday, there’s no better place to be this month than on Vancouver Island, BC.

The Brant Wildlife Festival celebrates nature, particularly the return of Brant geese as they rest and feed on British Columbia shores before flying to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. The early part of the festival coincides with the dramatic herring spawn event, which attracts huge numbers of birds to parts of the east Vancouver Island shoreline. The festival’s many events, include wildlife viewing, marsh walks, nature photography, Big Day birding, eagle release, and Voices of Nature concert.

The 2009 festival runs from March 6 to April 26 in Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. More details at their website.


Filed under: Birdwatching Events, Waterfowl, , ,


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