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Thousands of birds make for spectacular sight above Kamloops

Bohemian waxwing.
Image Credit: Keith Williams via Flickr
February 15, 2016 - 8:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - If you’ve turned your eyes to the sky in recent weeks you may have noticed a rather large flock of birds flying back and forth over parts of the city, but don’t be alarmed, those birds don’t usually cause much damage and aren’t known as pests.

The bohemian waxwings, as they are commonly known, often travel in flocks easily numbering into the hundreds, and eat the fruits on trees such as mountain ash and crab apples.

Local wildlife enthusiast and provincial WildSafe B.C. coordinator Frank Ritcey estimates the flock flying over the Aberdeen area in recent weeks could be at 5,000 birds. He says there are several smaller flocks in and around the Kamloops area and likely came together for the large formations recently seen overhead.

“The smaller flocks will at times join up and then it is very impressive to see,” he says.

Ritcey notes the birds are a natural part of our ecosystem and they tend to cleanup the fruits from mountain ash and crab apple trees during the winter months and are gone by the time the summer birds return.

The small bird has distinct markings that can be hard to see while they are quickly flying from one spot to another, but if you do catch them resting you will notice a black mask with cinnamon, yellow and red details.

Bohemian waxwings, named for their tendency to be nomadic, can be as long as 23 centimetres with a wingspan of 33 cm and weigh in around 55 grams. The songbirds do live year-round in some areas but most migrate to northwestern Canada in the summer, according to Nature Canada.

The ornithology lab at Cornell University notes the bird can be found wherever fruits can be found in the winter, including gardens, parklands and cities. The birds can be found across northern North America, Europe and parts of Asia and it is estimated the breeding population at about four million.

A large flock of bohemian waxwings forms over Aberdeen last week.
A large flock of bohemian waxwings forms over Aberdeen last week.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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