Friday April 18, 2014

question of the week

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Hummingbirds have big presence

Good Birding

I have had many calls this fall about the continued presence of hummingbirds on the Sunshine Coast.

Beginning with the first records in the late 1970s, Anna’s hummingbirds have become a well-established part of our local avifauna and are now quite common year-round residents of our urban and suburban areas including Gibsons, Sechelt, Davis Bay and West Sechelt.

During the winter they will stay close to their “home” feeder, visiting it regularly throughout the day. However, they are not totally dependent on feeders as they also forage for insects and nectar. These are very hardy birds that can withstand freezing temperatures as long as they can feed regularly. If we do get freezing weather, it is best to bring your feeder in overnight and put it out again first thing in the morning so the birds can feed, and also attempt to keep it thawed during the day. During freezing weather it is a good idea to boost the sugar content as the birds will appreciate it and it also lowers the freezing point of the liquid.

Anna’s hummingbirds withstand cold overnight temperatures by lowering their metabolic rate and essentially hibernating every night, and as long as they can feed when they resume activity in the morning they are happy. Surprisingly, Anna’s are one of the earliest nesters on the Sunshine Coast and may have eggs in their nest as early as February.

The other local hummingbird is the rufous hummer, which is with us from late March to late August. All of these birds should be in Mexico for the winter.

Rare birds to appear on the Sunshine Coast during November have been a female ruddy duck discovered by Kai Bosch at the Sechelt golf course from the Nov. 7 to 11 and a rock wren found by John Hodges at the Roberts Creek pier Nov. 10 and 11. Rock wrens breed in the Okanagan and only rarely appear on the Coast, but the rocky berm of the Roberts Creek pier is a suitable substitute for the rock slides they frequent in the interior. Other uncommon birds recorded during the month have been a flock of pine grosbeaks on Redrooffs Road, a yellow-billed loon in Halfmoon Bay, and a Harris’s sparrow at the Wilson Creek estuary. There have also been three reports of northern shrikes.

Since Nov. 11, there has been much excitement among B.C. birders over the appearance in a wet pasture in Comox of a citrine wagtail. This is among the very rarest of rare birds that have ever appeared in the province; so rare that it is the first of its species to ever appear in Canada and only the second ever in the whole of North America. The species breeds in Russia, as far east as central Siberia and winters to the south in India and Burma.

Obviously this one took a wrong turn — to the delight of the B.C. birding community.

To report your sightings or questions contact Tony at or call 604-885-5539.


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