HP Bird Report- Late Spring

Bird sightings, songs and sounds dominate the golf course at this time of year. Identification of a bird by sight is one challenge, but the ultimate challenge is to identify the species by sound. Territorial songs and varied alarm notes can be utterly confusing to anyone. My recommended technique is to locate the bird, study its features, then “watch the sound come out of its mouth”.  Once the sound is “seen” along with the bird, the two can be associated in your mind, among the most vocal birds on the course this spring is the the House Wren. Widely distributed during breeding season, from as far north as the Peace River district and across south central and southern BC, it nests in selected habitats on the south and east sides of Vancouver Island. Highland Pacific seems to have prime House Wren habitat, at least this year.
Unfortunately, this presents a problem. In February of this year four nest boxes designed to attract Western Bluebirds back to Vancouver Island were placed on the course. House Wrens have taken possession off all four!  And by “possession” I mean they have filled the boxes with small twigs to the point where no other species is likely to be able to oust the wrens. (Photo).  The usurpers may add a few feathers, grasses, hairs or moss as a flimsy “nest” among the twigs. Or they may already have an active nest in a tree cavity nearby and may simply be filling our new boxes to prevent other cavity-nesting birds from invading their territory. It will be interesting to record the results later this summer.
May 24th survey: total  Birds Identified:  122Total Species Identified:  28New Species Added:  NilMay 29th survey:  Total Birds Identified:  83Total Species Identified:  26New Species Added:  Nil (Total remains at 89).Note that fairly high numbers of species, but relatively low numbers of total birds, are seen during May. That is to be expected, as few young birds have taken flight as yet, and the autumn and winter flocks of south-bound migrants are yet to arrive. 
A pair of Belted Kingfishers has returned to nest between Highland 3 and 4 (listen for their harsh, rattling call); Olive-sided Flycatchers are back (listen for their “Quick -THREE beers” call); and a male Purple Martin was calling over Highland 4, hopefully showing interest in the martin nest tower there, where a pair of Violet-green Swallows has claimed one of the four boxes on the tower.

Bryan Gates

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