Despite the ongoing cool springtime weather, the birds are flooding back northward with migrant warblers, thrushes, sparrows and other bird families represented. As a general statement, the migration might be delayed a couple of days by the weather, but it’s a hard fact to isolate. Individual species are on different schedules, depending on where they are coming from and where they are going. Within a species, there are individual birds that push the envelope and they might arrive a day or two, or even a week, before the mass arrival of their cohort. For example, the first black-throated gray warbler of the year was reported on the early date (for the species) of April 10, with nine days elapsing before the second report. Then, suddenly on the 24th, the species was “everywhere” with large numbers reported from various locations around the Sunshine Coast. This scenario indicates to me that this species was about five days late arriving this year as in many years, the mass arrival has been the April 19.
We have eight species of wood warblers in coastal B.C. and they are a delight to birders, with their colourful plumage, differing songs and vocalizations, and the identification challenges they offer. Many people may not even be aware of their presence among us, for they are small and can be hard to detect among the vegetation. All of our eight species have yellow in their plumage, except for the orange-crowned warbler, which has orange and green, and the yellow in black-throated gray warbler is restricted to a small patch in the lores of the male. Five of the eight warbler species are already with us, and we await the arrival of Wilson’s and MacGillivray’s about May 1, and the last to arrive, yellow warbler around mid-month.
In other migration news, it has been a good year for Townsend’s solitaire with many reports, possibly caused by the cool weather keeping the birds close to sea-level, rather than up on the cold mountain slopes. Flocks of Canada geese and snow geese have been flying overhead, with one small flock of the rarely reported brant. The first osprey appeared in the Egmont area on April 22 (Sandra Bosch) and the first purple martins were at their nestboxes in Porpoise Bay on the 24th. There have been two rare sparrow sightings, a vesper sparrow on Ryan Dempster field in Gibsons (Karen Holland photo) and an American tree sparrow at Barbara Lee Fraser’s bird feeder in Selma Park (photo Rand Rudland).
In a non-bird sighting there were over 200 Steller’s sealions on the White Islets on the 22nd.
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