Virtually all of the Sunshine Coast’s migrant and breeding birds return on a predictable schedule, often within a day or two each year. Thus we can predict from past records that cedar waxwings will appear around May 15, or western tanagers between May 10 and 14.
As we reach the last days of May, all of the Sunshine Coast’s regular migrant birds have now returned for the summer.
There was an early report of a single common nighthawk, but this is the only species of our breeding birds that has not yet reappeared in numbers. It is always the last species to arrive from its winter quarters in South America.
Other late arriving species in the last week of May were the usual suspects: willow flycatcher, red-eyed vireo and black swift.
A few relatively rare species have been reported on the Sunshine Coast this spring. Calliope hummingbird is an Okanagan species that occasionally strays to the Coast in migration and there have been two separate reports of male birds at feeders in Pender Harbour and Wilson Creek.
The calliope is the smallest North American bird, marginally smaller than our rufous hummingbird, and the male has a striped, pinkish gorget or throat patch, rather than the golden-orange of the rufous.
Penny Hall photographed a Say’s phoebe, a very scarce coastal migrant, at the Robert’s Creek pier on May 24.
Two separate western kingbirds, another interior species that occasionally wanders to the Coast, were reported this spring.
On the water, Russ Tkachuk spotted a yellow-billed loon offshore at Roberts Creek on May 13 that was subsequently seen by others. Arnold Skei observed Two whimbrel at Mission Point on May 27. Lazuli buntings are uncommon migrants that frequently appear for a day or two at feeders in late May. These beautiful finches always attract attention with their lazuli and orange plumage. They are reported more frequently than in the past, but whether there are more birds or just more people reporting them is unknown.
On Redrooffs Road on May 26 two people sent me photos of chukars. These are a game bird introduced to North America, and not a naturally occurring species on the Sunshine Coast. These distinctive birds have either escaped or were released from captivity, but I would appreciate any further reports of the birds.
To report your sightings or questions contact Tony via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-885-5539.