Wildsight Golden has just completed the first-ever Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey (CWWS), conducted during the spring bird migration. Nearly 40 volunteers set out to count and identify birds on three dates and at 64 sites located along the Columbia Wetlands, from Canal Flats to Donald.
Over 90 species of bird were spotted, and nearly 15,000 birds were counted over three mornings, great results for this citizen science project. Spring survey data details are posted at: http://wildsight.ca/columbiawetlandswaterbirdsurvey.
“The most wonderful thing about the Waterbird Survey is the citizen science aspect. Local bird enthusiasts have a great excuse to get a bit more serious about bird watching, enjoy the sights and sounds in the wetlands and contribute valuable information,” said Joan Dolinsky, president of Wildsight Golden.
The Columbia Wetlands are home to numerous species of waterfowl. As part of the Pacific Flyway, they provide crucial habitat for migratory birds. Every year, at least a billion bird species travel on the Pacific Flyway, flying from as far south as Patagonia and north to Alaska. During spring and fall migrations, waterbird species — from the mighty Trumpeter Swan to the little Pie-billed Grebe — flock to the marshlands in the Columbia Valley to breed, nest and feed in its precious clean waters. But despite the recognized importance of the Columbia Wetlands for birds and other wildlife, there is little information about the biodiversity found there.
Seeing the lack of bird data available for the Columbia Wetlands, local biologist Rachel Darvill with Goldeneye Ecological Services and Wildsight Golden set out to collect baseline data on birds.
One of Darvill’s goals is to have the Columbia Wetlands recognized with Important Bird Area (IBA) status. IBA’s hold important conservation value internationally; they recognize significant areas of bird habitat and promote international collaboration for the protection of the world’s birds. The CWWS aims to run for at least five consecutive years in hopes that we can gather enough data to achieve IBA, as well as to educate and engage citizens.
“I am so thrilled with the amazing amount of regional participation, interest, and bird data already gathered through this fantastic program,” said Darvill. “Spring came early this season and you can’t tame Mother Nature, so the survey dates did narrowly miss the peak of the spring migration. However, we were able to get numerous locals involved and trained, we did count and identify many thousands of birds this spring, and we took 133 kids outside in Golden on birding field trips to Reflection Lake… I’d say that these first accomplishments are definitely worth celebrating.”
Are you keen to get involved? Dates for the fall Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey are already set. Birding gear, bird identification and training are provided. Fall surveys dates are October 5th, 15th and 25th, from 8:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to participate.
This program is funded by the Columbia Basin Trust, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, the Vancouver Foundation (Stewart Fund), and the Lake Windermere District Rod and Gun Club.