Program is for the birds

Program is for the birds
Darren Handschuh - Apr 3, 2019
Castanet

This program is for the birds: bluebirds that is.

The Vernon North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club has established hundreds of man-made nests for the beautiful bird and they are inviting others to get in on helping the feathered friends.

A workshop and information session on the Bluebird Trail Program is planned for Saturday, April 6 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Vernon branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.

The NONC joined the Bluebird Nest Box Program more than 25 years ago to help increase the dwindling numbers of bluebirds.

NONC manages 18 nestbox trails on farms and ranch lands with some 400 nest boxes.

Each trail has from eight to 40 boxes which are maintained and monitored weekly.

Birders flock to Salmon Arm

Birders flock to Salmon Arm to catch a glimpse of incredibly rare bird
Ben Bulmer, InfoTel News

The fieldfare has only been spotted in B.C. once before.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Claude Rioux
January 28, 2019

SALMON ARM - It may look like a small brown bird to some, but to birders with a keen eye for the unusual arrival of a fieldfare just south of Salmon Arm is causing quite the stir in twitching circles.

The fieldfare is native to northern Europe and is not supposed to be seen in North America. The bird was first spotted about 15 kilometres south of Salmon Arm in November and has attracted hordes of birders to the quiet rural area since.

Former president of the North Okanagan Naturalists' Club Claude Rioux said the arrival of the bird was very exciting for birders as the species had only been spotted once before in B.C.

"For someone who is really into birding it is like a new discovery. Like an archeologist who has discovered a new dinosaur," said Rioux. "There are birds that hard to spot, but this bird was very unusual."

Ordinarily the bird migrates from Eastern Russia to Western Europe. Rioux said it's assumed the bird was blown off course from northern Russia and found itself in Alaska before continuing its journey down the B.C. coast and stopping in the North Okanagan. The fieldfare has now been adopted by a group of robins who seem to have accepted it, said Rioux.

"It won't be able to find its way back home, [so] it's going to continue living its life with the adopted family of American robins, it can't do much else," said Rioux.

The bird hasn't been identified as male or female but either way does have one problem. "Will he [or she] have a boyfriend or girlfriend in the future? I doubt it," said Rioux.

Terry Robinson lives in the area where the bird was spotted and says since mid-December the quiet dead end rural road where he lives has been inundated with birders. At least a few people turn up daily, said Robinson, usually first thing in the morning and stay for a few hours. And with the exception of a couple of minor intrusions, the birders have been respectful not to trespass on private land.

Rioux said part of the birders' code is to respect peoples property and that most birders follow the code. "Then there are the few that believe rules do not apply to them and the few tarnish the many, like anything," she added.

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Count reveals more eagles

Count reveals more eagles in North Okanagan

More majestic birds observed in annual Swan and Eagle Count

Vernon Morning Star StaffJan. 22, 2019

Eagle numbers have soared to new heights in the North Okanagan.

The Vernon area recently completed the 39th annual count for swans and 25th annual count for eagles with a total of 210 eagles counted – substantially more than typical of years past.

“It may have been the single largest tally of eagles that we’ve ever had, certainly in the past decade anyways,” said Aaron Deans, terrestrial ecologist.

Dean said 30 per cent of these were immature birds and a majority of all eagles observed were concentrated adjacent to several chicken farm operations in Armstrong and Grindrod.

“Evidently, these farms have grown in size during the past few years and it appeared the timing of cleaning out offal from the barns coincided well with the count day,” said Deans.

A total of 22 observers took part in the 2019 count on Jan. 13, complete with seven routes around Vernon and the North Okanagan.

Temperatures ranged from -7 to a mild 2C. Patches of low fog occurred in areas on an otherwise calm and mostly overcast day throughout the region.

“Lots of open water throughout the region presented swans that were more dispersed than normal,” said Deans. “Even the north end of Otter Lake had open water and swans dabbling this year.”

Participants counted a total of 117 trumpeter swans, which is up a little from the past year but still represented by a relatively low proportion of juveniles with 13 per cent of those observed cygnets.

“Thanks again to all those that participated,” said Deans.

Eagle numbers soar

Eagle numbers soar in annual North Okanagan bird count
Ben Bulmer
InfoTel News
January 18, 2019 - 7:30 AM

VERNON - It appears that 2019 is a bumper year for eagles living in the North Okanagan.

The North Okanagan Naturalists Club annual Swan & Eagle Count recorded the highest number of eagles spotted in a decade, and possibly the highest number ever seen in the 25 years the annual eagle count has been running for.

Twenty-two volunteer ornithologists headed out to seven different routes around the North Okanagan Jan. 13 and spotted a total of 210 eagles - a number the group says is significantly higher than last year. It also appears that those eagles living in the North Okanagan have a fondness for chicken. A media release from the group says the majority of the eagles counted were located around several large chicken farms located in Armstrong and Grindrod. The club says the timing of the annual count day appears to have coincided with the cleaning out of offal from the barns attracting a large number of eagles.

Of the 210 eagles counted on Jan. 13, 208 were bald eagles with two golden eagles also spotted. Around 30 per cent of the eagles spotted were immature birds.

This year's event marks the 39th year of counting swans with numbers up slightly over last year with 117 trumpeter swans recorded in total. The club says the number of juveniles counted only made up for 13 per cent, a relatively low proportion of all the swans counted. The mild winter and lack of frozen water also meant the swans were more dispersed this year than normal.

The North Okanagan Naturalists Club counted the birds in seven different areas around the North Okanagan with the vast majority of both swans and eagles being spotted between Vernon and Sicamous, with high concentrations in the Lumby, Enderby and Mabel Lake area.

Big birds flock together

Big birds flock together
Darren Handschuh - Jan 17, 2019
Castanet

Birds of a feather are flocking together and they are doing it in the North Okanagan.

The North Okanagan Naturalists Club completed the 39th annual count for swans and 25th annual count for eagles and found there are a lot of the big birds living in the area.

“Substantially more eagles were tallied in the North Okanagan this year than typical of years past. It may have been the single largest tally of eagles that we've ever had, certainly in the past decade anyways. We counted a total of 210 eagles,” said Aaron Deans, terrestrial ecologist. “Thirty per cent of these were immature birds and a majority of all eagles observed were concentrated adjacent to several chicken farm operations in Armstrong and Grindrod. Evidently, these farms have grown in size during the past few years and it appeared the timing of cleaning out offal from the barns coincided well with the count day.”

While more eagles than ever were counted by the observers, the only a few more swans were spotted.

“Lots of open water throughout the region presented swans that were more dispersed than normal. Even the north end of Otter Lake had open water and swans dabbling this year,” said Deans. “We counted a total of 117 trumpeter swans, which is up a little from the past year, but still represented by a relatively low proportion of juveniles with 13 per cent of those observed cygnets.”

The count was done by 22 observers who covered the entire North Okanagan and up to Sicamous.