The swan and eagle count is in

The swan and eagle count is in

The North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club has been busy counting swans and eagles

Vernon MorningStar Feb. 18, 2018

Naturalists all over the North Okanagan took part in the 2018 Swan and Eagle Count, and the results are in.

The count took place in the greater Vernon area Jan. 14 with the results as follows:

Bald eagles — 125 (100 adults, 25 sub-adult)

Golden eagles — 2 (2 adults)

Trumpeter swans — 118 (109 adults, 9 immature)

Tundra swans – zero

We had 31 participants covering four routes with a total of 127 eagles and 118 swans observed during this year’s count, with three of the four focal species seen. These numbers were down from 2017 when we had 184 bald eagles, eight golden eagles and 160 swans.

The majority of the birds were observed on the Vernon-Sicamous route with a count of 66 bald eagles and 98 trumpeter swans.

The other routes were Coldstream, the south end of Mabel Lake, Enderby-Kingfisher, Mabel Lake and Vernon area where 59 bald eagles, two bald eagles and 20 trumpeter swans were counted. Sub-adult eagles were observed on all of the routes while immature swans were only seen on the Vernon-Sicamous route and in the Vernon area.

Join us again next year when we convene on Jan. 13, 2019 to count swans and eagles! Until then, happy birding and enjoy yourself enjoying nature. For more information, please contact Aaron Deans, Swan & Eagle Count coordinator for the North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club.

Big Bird Count is Back

Big bird count is back
Jon Manchester - Feb 13, 2018

The Great Backyard Bird Count is back.

The 21st annual event is exactly as it sounds – participants count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more of the count days (Feb. 16-19), then report their sightings online.

Claude Rioux of the North Okanagan Naturalists' Club says tens of thousands of volunteers around the globe will take part.

The count is an important snapshot at the health of the ecosystem and an annual tradition for birding enthusiasts across the country.

"Many members of our local naturalist club participate every year," said Rioux.

If wintry weather keeps you indoors, you can count the birds outside your window.

To learn more, visit the GBBC website or email Canadian co-ordinator Kerrie Wilcox at

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.

Counting down to the Great Backyard Bird Count

Counting down to the Great Backyard Bird Count

Naturalists around the world will take part in the 21st annual count

Feb. 8, 2018
Claude Rioux

Special to The Morning Star

Show how much you care about birds by participating in the 21st annual Great Backyard Bird Count! Simply count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more of the count days (Feb. 16 to 19, 2018) and report your sightings online.

Around the globe, tens of thousands of volunteers – of all ages and birding skill levels – will participate. If wintery weather keeps you indoors, you can count the birds outside your window!

This free, family-friendly event is fun, provides opportunities to learn about birds and connect with nature, and supports bird conservation. To learn more, visit the GBBC website or email Canadian coordinator Kerrie Wilcox at

You may also be interested in the GBBC photo contest. Visit to find out how to participate, and to see some of last year’s top entries.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.

Many Members of our local naturalist club, the North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club, participate every year. Check out the website

Birders take the North Okanagan by storm

Birders take the North Okanagan by storm, counting highest number of species in five years
By Charlotte Helston

January 08, 2018 - 8:30 PM

VERNON - An increase in wild turkeys is just one of the trends birders in the North Okanagan are reporting after this year’s Christmas bird count.

Marnie Williamson, with the North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club, says 60 people were out on Dec. 17 and recorded 93 different species — the highest since 2012.

The group has been holding bird counts for at least 20 years, and Williamson says the origins of the Christmas bird count date back to 1900 in North America.

“The data is given to Bird Studies Canada,” Williamson says. “They keep track of the stats year over year to determine what’s happening with bird species.”

She says it’s an exciting project to be part of, although it can be disheartening at times to see certain bird species on the decline.

“It’s hard to say if it’s cyclical or not, but one that seems to be shrinking is the Rufous hummingbird,” she says, noting a bird count is also done in the warmer months.

One species that seems to be expanding its range is the wild turkey. It’s native to B.C., but in the past has usually been seen more in the Southern Interior and Nakusp, Williamson says.

“In the years I’ve been here, it seems to be increasing,” Williamson says.

The count is made possible through dedicated volunteers who cover the North Okanagan on foot, with snowshoes and by car.

“They’ll listen for calls of birds too, because those are counted too even if there isn’t a sighting,” Williamson says.

There’s special recognition at the end of the day for the person with the “sighting of the year” (this time, a Canyon Wren).

“There’s some friendly competition with Kelowna to see who gets more,” Williamson says.

The competition takes a back seat to a love of birding, however, with lots of volunteers partaking in both the Vernon and Kelowna counts, which are held on different days.


Northern Shoveler and Northern Pintail (not seen at every count)

1,011 Common Mergansers (unusually high number for the count)

12 Wild Turkeys (seem to be increasing)

1 Pacific Loon on Okanagan Lake

3 Great Blue Herons (usually a few stay over the winter)

5 Golden Eagles

1 Peregrine Falcon

1 Glaucous Gull (rare gull for our count)

1 Northern Saw-whet Owl

2 Northern Shrike

1 Canyon Wren (voted Bird of the Day)

7 White-throated Sparrows (seem to becoming more common)

1 Yellow-headed Blackbird

220 Common Redpolls (not seen at every count)

Naturalists count swans, eagles

Naturalists count swans, eagles

North Okanagan club hosts annual event Jan. 14

Roger Knox
Vernon Morning Star
Jan. 5, 2018

It’s a rite of January.

The North Okanagan Naturalists Club is gearing up for the annual Swan and Eagle Count, a citizen science program that occurs each year mid-January.

The count monitors the current population status of eagles and swans in B.C.’s southern Interior, with the North Okanagan club contributing to the tally annually.

“The count is in its 38th year for swans and 24th year for eagles,” said event coordinator Aaron Deans.

The Vernon-area count is slated for Sunday, Jan. 14.

The North Okanagan count zone covers four areas with a total of nine different routes throughout this region.

The routes are covered by different groups with one group going as far north as Sicamous, another to the south end of Mabel Lake via Lavington and Lumby and a third group counting from Enderby through Kingfisher and out to Mabel Lake.

In the Vernon area, several groups scout the north and south end of Kalamalka Lake, Vernon arm of Okanagan Lake and the Head of the Lake area.

“The count numbers are compiled with others from the B.C. Interior and elsewhere and form a database used by university students and graduate ornithologists in various bird research programs,” said Deans.

All interested people (new and experienced birders alike) are welcome to participate in this year’s count. Contact Deans at 250-542-5122 or, and organizers will do their best to match you with a group of experienced naturalists.