Bird Count: February 1st

After this unusually cold and snowy winter (which may not be over yet!), it was nice to “hear” the first signs of approaching Spring. Two Red-winged Blackbirds have returned to the north end of the Highland 4 pond. Their strident “Onk-ka-REEE-ah” song will be heard there through the summer as more return and nest.  Redwings are one of the earliest birds to show up in Spring. They quickly establish nesting territories in marshes and swampy areas that support cattails, those tall spikes with the brown wiener on top, often incorrectly called bullrushes. Little of this cattail habitat exists on the edges of our water hazards, but more may appear with time.

My count today was brief, confined to the Highland course and followed placement of 4 new nest boxes by Sean Valikoski and Bob Flood (maintenance staff) and myself. These boxes are designed to attract Western Bluebirds, a species that disappeared from Vancouver Island and the Gulf Island almost 30 years ago. A program by a group in the Duncan/Cowichan area to reestablish a breeding population of bluebirds is still underway. Our goal is to attract and intercept potential breeders as they return north to the Cowichan area or to a similar and successful program on San Juan Island. 

Total Birds Identified:  229

Total Species Identified:   19

New Species Added:  Nil

The numbers of Canada Geese on the course is difficult to determine…they move around frequently; today there were as few as 19 to as many as 33. The 41 Ring-necked Ducks and 43 American Wigeons seen spend most time in the water and rarely inconvenience golfers. Two Hooded Merganser, a diving duck species, have returned. Look for the immaculate male in breeding plumage.

A female American Kestrel was present….perhaps a mate to the male seen on January 25. Nest boxes for this species will be installed soon.

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