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Showing posts from July, 2017

Update on the most famous Red-tailed Hawk from Sidney

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Well all the predictions from the experts that worried that the Hawk would die from starvation did not come true. The experts said he thought he was imprinted on Bald Eagles and would likely attempt to mate with an eagle and be killed by one and only act like a bald eagle by eating only fish are thankfully disproved! National Geographic came out with a video on the hawk today saying the old news that he is still acting like an Eagle. You can watch that video below. This is great news for the little Hawk who is proving to us all just how much of a survivor he is. He is hunting rodents now and no longer only eating fish. He has travelled 1mile away from the nest now that the Eaglets have fledged and the Bald Eagle adults have left. The Eaglets were really harrassing him apparently before they fledged. It has been just over a month since the hawk fledged from the Sidney nest.  It seems clear now that this little Hawk thinks he is a Red-tailed Hawk and not a Bald Eagle. This is the best …

Is this the coolest scope on earth? It's always best to look at nature through both eyes.

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Swarovski the manufacturers of the leading scopes on the market has come out with a revolutionary scope that allows you to look at birds through both eyes. You can read about the specs at swarovski's website HERE. This scope in the 65mm objective with binocular eyepiece is selling for 3718$US and you can buy it HERE when it's back in stock.

Before this, scopes required the observer to look through one eye only, squinting with the other. With this new scope you can look at birds as if you are using top notch binoculars but allowing for closer views through magnification and great glass that is fog, water and weather resistant. For people who already have an ATX or STX Swarovski scope they can buy the binocular eyepiece module to add to their scope but it comes at a heavy price tag of 3300$ Cad. You can purchase that and read more on the eyepiece module HERE.

You can read an excellent review of this scope with the pros and cons from another great blog "10000 Birds" HE…

Comic Relief

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Every heard of the Crow Mystery?

Researchers for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority found over 200 dead crows near greater Boston recently, and there was concern that they may have died from Avian Flu. A Bird Pathologist examined the remains of all the crows, and, to everyone's relief, confirmed the problem was definitely NOT Avian Flu. The cause of death appeared to be vehicular impacts. However, during the detailed analysis it was noted that varying colors of paints appeared on the bird's beaks and claws. By analyzing these paint residues it was determined that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with trucks, while only 2% were killed by an impact with a car.

MTA then hired an Ornithological Behaviorist to determine if there was a cause for the disproportionate percentages of truck kills versus car kills. The behaviorist very quickly concluded the cause: when crows eat road kill, they always have a look-out crow in a nearby tree to warn of impending dan…

Updated* - Young Birder interview I did with Maclean's Magazine is out.

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I did an interview about Young Birders for Maclean's magazine recently and it was published online today. The print article will be published in their September 2017 issue. Maclean's Magazine is a national well recognized current affairs and news magazine that has been running since 1905. I was honoured to be asked to do an interview for them.

We discussed the Young Birder Field Program that I started and continue to lead under the British Columbia Field Ornithologists Association (BCFO).

They used a photo of a Gray Jay at Seymour by Ian Harland. Ian is a 16 year old young birder from North Vancouver who is currently in my program. The photo they used was also used by a Canadian Geographic magazine in a feature on Canada's proposed national bird.

To read the full article please click HERE.

News 1130am tweeted about it as did Maclean's Magazine which was cool! Nice to see so much interest in youth birding.






Flammulated Owls, Great Grays and Poorwills, a great way to spend a birthday.

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Young Birder Bridget and I decided at the spur of the moment to head up to the interior for a girl's weekend away. She got some great lifers and we had an amazing time.

Bridget ended up getting a lifer Canyon Wren, Flammulated Owl and Boreal Chickadee. She also got a BC bird which was a Veery. It was really cool to see the Veery feeding young as well.

We went poorwilling one night and found 10 Common Poorwills. I finally got a semi decent shot of one of these guys. Night photography and I don't meld well. Shortly after taking this photo I heard the call of a Flammulated Owl. Bridget didn't hear the low hoots right away but eventually she did. She thought the owl sounded far but I explained to her that Flams tend to throw their voices. They can appear really close when they are far away and be really close when they sound far. We ended up getting fabulous views of this  Flammulated Owl but at that point it was too dark for my photographic skill level. For the Poorwill phot…

Steve Cannings a BC Naturalist we should be thankful for

The Penticton Herald published an article today on the late Steve Cannings. Steve Cannings is the father of well known biologist, author and MP Richard Cannings. He is also the grandfather to my friend, naturalist Russell Cannings.

This article is well worth a read as it depicts Steve's incredible and varied life and all the things he did in the Okanagan and the province of BC to preserve nature and the birds we love. If it weren't for him several of the birding spots we visit may not even exist or be urban developments. He had the foresight to see an plan ahead and protect this valuable area for all future generations to enjoy.

His love of nature and birds was passed down to his children and grandchildren continuing his legacy.

To read the article please click HERE

*Updated* - New documentary on Famous Vancouver Crow named "Canuck"

The new documentary "Canuck and I" came out today about the famous Crow, that is capturing the hearts of all Vancouverites and those around the world. Ornithologist Rob Butler is also in the film which discusses the mental health benefits of the human to bird (animal) bond.

Audubon Magazine also did a piece about Canuck and the documentary film, which you can see HERE

Click HERE to watch the full video.

Beware of bug glue traps that are killing birds!

Thanks to Guy Monty for sharing this article today that was featured on CBC News. Unfortunately wasp and bug glue traps that are being sold all over North America are trapping and killing birds at an alarming rate. This lady who put it up in Ontario who is featured in the article had 7 adorable chickadees stuck to it. They tried to rip the birds off but could not and all 7 died a painful and stressful death. Please do not put up these traps in your yard. Kudos to Loblaws for making a proactive decision and removing them from their shelves. Let's hope this company "Trapstick" goes out of business or at least rebuilds the product so that birds can't get stuck. Perhaps they could put fine metal bars around it so only bugs can get in and not birds. Until such a thing happens I hope the product is recalled and removed from all store shelves.

To read the full CBC arcticle please click HERE


Young Birder Trip to Mount Cheam

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Yesterday, 7 of us hiked up Mount Cheam in Chilliwack in search of White-tailed Ptarmigan. We were inspired by my friend Dave Beeke who recently went up there and got Ptarmigan. He actually goes every year and usually gets the bird. In 2006 Roger and Andrew Foxall, Carlo Giovanella and Ilya Povalyaev found 5 Rock Ptarmigan and 11 White-tailed Ptarmigans on the mountain! I rented a 4wd SUV because the road is not passable for a 2WD. This is not an exaggeration, it was the worst road I have ever driven. Even with a 4WD you need to be very cautious, as some 4WD drivers got stuck. It is a narrow winding high mountain gravel road with large rolling hills and ditches where you can bottom out with huge potholes and large rocks. It was an adventure that is for sure, and this year the road is particularly bad.


We made it safely to the top with our 8 seater, 4WD Ford Expedition SUV that the kids call "The Tank". The parking lot was full at the top but we found a spot further down the…

*Updated - The most famous Red-tailed Hawk is eating fish on the ground just like a Bald Eagle!

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Update - There are plans in the works to make a documentary film on this young Red-tailed Hawk who thinks he's an Eagle. You can read the latest news about that on CBC HERE.

Watch this incredible footage of the little Red-tailed Hawk who grew up in a family of three Eaglets and 2 Bald Eagle Parents. He is imprinted now on Bald Eagles. He looks and acts just like one, as you can see here in the video below. He is standing over a large salmon carcass, just like a Bald Eagle would and he's eating the decaying flesh. Red-tailed Hawks like to eat voles and rabbits etc. not fish! Imprinting is usually irreversible according to raptor expert David Bird. However, I hope it's reversible so that he doesn't attempt to mate with a Bald Eagle, as the Eagle would kill him because it would view him as a Hawk.


Eagle expert David Hancock said that the bird will likely starve and get killed by an eagle. He said this possibly can be prevented if someone grabs it and takes it to OWL.
At …

Magic Moments with Red-necked Grebes and a Great Gray Owl

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Well I went for a hike in the interior yesterday and came across some incredible things. As I was traipsing through the woods I ran into a sleeping beauty, a Great Gray Owl. His eyes look black here because he is just squinting to see who I am. I left him so he could resume his slumber. I have had some great moments with Boreal Birds recently. You can see my previous post on the ones I've seen, including a Northern Hawk-Owl HERE.

I also wanted to share a moving moment I had with a family of Red-necked Grebes. I saw 2 chicks but there could have been one more under the adult's wings. One little baby was poking his head out of mom or dad's back. I love watching Grebes, Loons and Swans with the young riding around on the adults' back, it's so special. One of the adults was out collecting food for the family. I am always amazed to see how good parents most birds are. I feel the same way when I watch this with loons. If you want to see my loon photos with chicks on the…

Bird Predation By Praying Mantises: A Global Perspective

The Wilson Journal of Ornithology published an article about how Praying Mantises kill Hummingbirds. It is absolutely horrible as the hummer suffers terribly as it is eaten alive. The Mantis is just being an effective predator but if you see one on your feeder immediately remove the Mantis from the feeder.You can read the full paper HERE.You can read a news story on it HERE.

Horned and Tufted Puffins near to Vancouver (Tix Available) and an accommodating Red-necked Stint! Also news on WA pelagics.

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If you booked a trip with San Juan Cruises to Smith Island out of Bellingham, WA on July 21st you should be in for a good time. My friend Bill Tweit told me that the WDFW reported on July 9th that they had 14 Tufted Puffins and 1 Horned Puffin! The Horned Puffin has been seen twice in a week which is absolutely incredible as it is a real rarity in the area.

The July 21st trip is now sold out but there is an August 4th trip running and you can buy tickets and read more info about the upcoming trip HERE.

I took this trip with friends last year on July 30, 2016 and absolutely loved it. We saw over 20 puffins in breeding plumage right up close, Ancient and Marbled Murrelets and a Long-tailed Jaeger. You never know just what you will find out there!

To read more about my incredible experience and see my photos please click HERE.

Also my friend Ryan Merrill along with Adrian Lee found a Red-necked Stint at Crockett Lake on July 8th at Whidbey Island in WA. The bird is still showing wel…

Has the mystery of the famous Sidney Red-tailed Hawk been solved?

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Raptor experts David Hancock and David Bird sit down for their perspective on the issue. They believe it was brought to the nest with its sibling as live prey and they had a change of heart. David Hancock answers the question I had which was "how can they can carry a Red-tailed Hawk chick with those mighty talons and not maim or kill the chicks?." You can see the answer at the link below. It is very interesting to know that this hawklet is imprinted on the Bald Eagles and thinks he is an Eagle. I hope he doesn't try to mate with one because that will not end well as they explain. David Hancock unfortunately thinks it will be killed by a Bald Eagle or will starve to death; since it doesn't know how to hunt like a Red-tailed Hawk. They also believe the bird is a male. You can see the full interview below:


By the way, this is not the first time a Red-tailed Hawk has been found in an Eagle's Nest. Miles Brown found one in Michigan in 2011, when he was banding Bald E…

The birds of the Boreal

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It seems that I have been chasing a Boreal Chickadee in Southern BC for a few years now. They are no longer easy to see at Manning Park and few have been photographed and reported there in several years. They used to be seen on the Heather Trail and at Strawberry Flats. Traditional sites to see them in the Okanagan have been Silver Star in Vernon, Big White in Kelowna, Shuttleworth Creek Rd in Okanagan Falls and Apex Mountain in Hedley.  They are normally easier to see in winter (when they come down to lower elevations) than in the summer. They prefer to spend most of their time in the interior of dense spruces making them harder to see. Because they like spruce and balsam fir forests it is harder to  find Boreal Chickadees in the southern BC near the southern limits of their range where the forests are mostly deciduous. They are mostly insectivores but also eat conifer seeds and fruit. In the fall they store their food on the underside of branches in caches that are held in place w…

Did you know Rufous Hummingbirds in Southern BC are declining? Pesticides may be the cause.

Christine Bishop is studying the effect of pesticides on declining Rufous Hummingbirds in the Fraser Valley and Southern BC. She found that the same pesticides that are proven to kill Bees have been found in extremely high concentrations in the urine of Rufous Hummingbirds. She fears that the insecticides, may affect their memory and prevent them from finding food.

The Rufous population on the Pacific Coast has dropped an average of 2.67% per year.

She has presented her findings to Health Canada but her study is not complete for 3 more years. Health Canada said they would publish their findings in 2018. 

If insecticides can kill off Hummers, what can it do to us? We should be very concerned, not just for us and the Hummers but for the Bees, that affect the whole food chain. 

We need to push our MP's to put pressure on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada to thoroughly investigate this. Our health and the environment's is at stake. How sad a world it would be, if w…

The 2017 Audubon Photography Award Winners are out

Every year, I eagerly await to see what great photos made the list! As usual, this year, they did not dissapoint!

To see this year's award recipients and the 1st place Grand Prize Winner see HERE.

Several birds in BC are featured and two of my friends made the top 100, Mick Thompson and Greg Gard.

To see who made the top 100 and all the fantastic photos, please click HERE.

Congrats to all the award winners!

The Red-tailed Hawklet is all grown up and flying to visit the neighbours!

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The little hawklet (correct term for a baby hawk is Eyas) has fully fledged the nest and has ventured around the neighbourhood. Yesterday, he stopped and visited an old friend Kerry Finley. Kerry was one of the first people who observed the bird when he was one of 2 tiny Hawks in the Bald Eagle nest.  One of the hawklets died either from starvation or by the Bald Eagles. Kerry calls the hawk a "strangeling" and the hawk is tough, surviving unlike his genetic sibling. He is holding his own against his 3 twelve pound Bald Eagle siblings. He only weighs about 2 pounds himself. The Bald Eagle parents are still feeding this hawk and usually Red-tailed Hawks are fed for 4 months, after fledging the nest. We will see how long the Bald Eagles continue to feed him and how long his siblings tolerate him. So far, they are giving him the best love and care possible.
This story has been fascinating to follow. A real miracle to see this Red-tailed Hawk surviving against such odds and sho…

Updated - The way birds help our mental health and well being

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In 1984, Edward Wilson, a biologist from Harvard, developed the theory of Biophilia. The theory of "Biophilia" suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek out connections with nature and other forms of life, like birds. He believed that our love of nature helped sustain life.

One thing you don’t often hear too much about; is the benefits that birds can bring to those suffering from such things as grief, loss, stress, anxiety and depression.
Studies were completed this year by the University of Exeter, The British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Queensland. They found that in 10,000 people they studied, of varying ages, races and incomes; their mental health was benefited from watching birds, while being out in nature. The levels of cortisol from stress were reduced as were the heart rates in people who watched birds outdoors. Blood pressure decreased as did anger, fear, anxiety and muscle tension. It showed that looking at birds not onlyreduced…

*Updated July 6/17 - Full text of comments on proposals of 58th supplement to the AOU checklist are out.

As I stated in my previous post (see HERE), I said I would post the full text with all the deliberations and comments on all proposals to the 58th supplement to the AOU checklist. It has been officially published and you can read the full text Here and the deliberations on the AOU checklist proposals  HERE.

We already knew they lumped Thayer's Gull with Iceland, they didn't approve any of the splits that concern us here, Lesser Redpoll was added as a species in North America and is distinct from Hoary and Common and we gained a new species of Crossbill called the Cassia Crossbill. Northern Harrier and Northern Shrike were split from their old world cousins. Yellow-breasted Chat is no longer a warbler but in its own family. Songbirds in field guides will be rearranged in a new sequence, North American Sparrows have their own family now, called Passerellidae

We also now know that Ring-necked Duck will not have a name change to Ring-billed Duck. I am quite happy with this on…