Bird Count Report March 2024

The changing seasons are a great incentive to get out and enjoy the natural cycles within our ecosystems. Technically it is still winter here, but to many birds, it is spring.

Early morning golfers should listen for the sounds of birds: Robins warbling their territorial song; Juncos issuing a subdued trill; Red-winged Blackbirds screeching their harsh “Onk-a-REEE-ya”.  Some migrant species have arrived back, but many are still to come, either to stay to nest or to continue northward to their preferred habitats. Many of these migrants will seek boggy forestlands or Arctic tundra—habitats that produce great hatches of insects. Watch for these transients; most will remain silent until they are “home” in their place of hatch.

Most of our wintering waterfowl have now moved north, including four Redheads, a duck that is a rare migrant on our coast. They were decoyed-in by other waterfowl on the driving range pond on November 24, 2023, to become Species Number 101 on the course bird list.

Pairs of our local Canada Geese have picked out potential nesting sites near the water hazards; and a pair of Hooded Mergansers present today may remain to nest here.

Local Northern Flickers are chattering loudly, searching for a spongy snag into which they can excavate a nest hole with a deep pocket. The groups of ground-feeding Golden-crowned Sparrows (a strictly western bird) that spent the winter with us, have left to nest in northern scrub forests or at timberline. They will be replaced here by White-crowned Sparrows that will nest on our out-of-bounds rock outcrops or in the deep rough.

But the surest signs of spring today were the 5 or more Violet-green Swallows swirling and chirping around Pacific 2 green. Early arrivals from southern Mexico or Central America, they will find old woodpecker holes or man-made cavities around the course, or may again nest in the Highland 4 Purple Martin tower.  And a pair of Belted Kingfishers is again excavating a deep nest tunnel in a tall sand bank in the compost area.

Total Species Identified on March 15, 2024:     20

Total Birds Tallied:   95

New Species Added:    Nil

The number of species seen on the course this day (20) is the same number tallied on the course during my December 16, 2023 annual Christmas Bird Count (although 7 were different species this time). On that long, very foggy day, I identified 203 birds of 20 species…impressive for a B.C. golf course in winter!

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