Yellow-breasted Chats breeding in Metro Vancouver!

A significant breeding record has occurred in Metro Vancouver. On May 25, 2021 Danny Tyson found a single Yellow-breasted Chat. The bird stayed around for months and from time to time some people would report to me that they thought they had seen 2 adult birds at once. However no one was able to confirm this with a photo. On July 31st Mari Petznek reported she saw one adult chat. She said the adult was really moulty. I asked to see her photos because the adult shouldn’t be moulting too much at this time of year. When she sent me the photo it confirmed my suspicions that she had photographed a fledgling!. This finally confirmed that the birds successfully bred in Pitt Meadows. 

The BC population of Yellow-breasted Chats are listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). They normally breed in the southern okanagan, so this is a very significant breeding record. They have only been reported  breeding in Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley a small handful of times before. The first being in 1966 in Mission and now in Pitt Lake in 2021. They have also been reported to have bred decades ago in Agassiz in the Fraser Valley. I checked with the Canadian Wildlife Service and this record from Pitt Meadows is the first photo-documented confirmed breeding record for Metro Vancouver county.

It would be amazing if they bred here again but this may be a one off. Whatever it may be we can be sure it’s a very good thing!. I am very grateful to have seen it. I went back on August 1st and was able to see the adult feeding the young one and we got a couple of photos of them together. Note the adult carrying food in one shot.

Adult Yellow-breasted Chat with Juvenile in Pitt Meadows - Photo: Ilya Povalyaev

Adult Yellow-breasted Chat carrying food with fledgling - Photo: Ilya Povalyaev

Sturgeon Slough is a special spot with breeding Chipping Sparrows, Lazuli Buntings, Eastern Kingbirds and Gray Catbirds. Also this year on June 2nd, Monica Nugent found an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron there and shortly after Jim Palmer found a juvenile. It was very rare for the time of year and away from Reifel. We can’t confirm they bred there but wouldn’t it be cool if they did in the future. The Night-Herons juvenile that was found this year was seen too early in the season to have fledged this year and since they retain immature plumage into first spring, it was likely from last year.  I’ll definitely be watching for both of these species next year and grateful to know we have documented and confirmed breeding of Chats at Sturgeon Slough in Pitt Meadows. I informed COSEWIC, the federal government at CWS and the BC Government about this special occurrence. It is important to put it in the SPI for BC because it is one of the tools the provincial government uses to track species at risk. It can be used to inform setting critical habitat (although that’s done by federal government for this species) or for identifying important habitat for conservation or recovery of species at risk.

Juvenile Yellow-breasted Chat in Pitt Meadows (the photo that confirmed they bred) - Photo: Mari Petznek

Steve Juhasz went to look for the Chat family on August 5th and got some beautiful photos of one of the youngsters. You can see the fledgling has now acquired much more adult plumage. This was the last day the birds have been seen by anyone. It is assumed they fully fledged and the family unit dispersed from the area! 

Immature Yellow-breasted Chat in Pitt Meadows - Photo: Steve Juhasz


  1. THis is such exciting news! It must have been exhilerating to see this resourceful birds close to Metro Van. I always learn about the technical side of reporting sightings from you; you're a wealth of practical knowledge for documentation. Granted, those government bodies are different in the States, but it goes to show how important it is to document.

    1. thanks bryony it is a really cool record for sure!

  2. this is fascinating I recently read an article on cbc about this endangered chat and why it depends on wild rose. I used your rare bird alert blog to go and find the chat today. thank you for your generous wealth and information spread to birders. i check your rare bird alert blog every single day and ive met really nice people while out birding who told me you helped them get into birding and feel comfortable outdoors. im excited to meet new friends this way and thank you again for being so generous with me with your time while you were shorebirding. i will take you up on your offer to email you with identification help. i heard from other birders your dowitcher identification page is really excellent. i will plan on using it and reading it tomorrow!

    1. thank you for your kind words joyce! was nice meeting you.


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