High counts seen at Vaseux Lake bird station in South Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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High counts seen at Vaseux Lake bird station in South Okanagan

The migratory bird count at Vaseux Lake near Okanagan Falls in the South Okanagan is seeing exceptionally high bird counts so far this year.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED
August 26, 2019 - 4:00 PM

The Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory is counting a lot of migrating birds this year.

Matthias Bieber, who is the bander in charge, says it has been busy this year relative to past seasons, with a new record set in the third week of the count at 305, compared to an average of 164.

"It’s interesting for sure. We don’t know why we can only speculate at this time. The count is only one third over, so we still have a long way to go. We won’t really know until we have completed the season, and have talked to other counting stations in B.C. to compare their results,” Bieber said today, Aug. 26.

“They might have had really good breeding seasons, they’ve probably had a lot of birds this year, we’ve had a warm summer and a pretty warm spring with rain in June that probably created a more successful breeding season,” he said.

The first two weeks of the count saw 1,055 birds banded.

Bieber says the first two weeks of the banding operations this year saw “a surprising surge of birds with an unprecedented number of birds being banded," with some species recorded at four times the number normally seen in week one of the count.

The numbers have dropped off a bit since then. Bieber figures the count is now around 1.5 times last year’s count at this date, and it was a high number count as well.

Bieber says it appears a number of species are migrating earlier this year. He says a lot of birds have been caught already who should be migrating later in the season.

“We’re not sure why they migrating a little earlier this year, climatic variables, maybe,” he said.

Species diversity has also been high, with 38 species banded this year compared to the average of 25.6.

The top three birds in numbers so far this year include:

  • Yellow Warbler 302, the highest previous count was 158
  • Gray Cat Bird 162
  • Cedar Waxwing 150

The Vaseux Bird Observatory is located on the shore of Vaseux Lake about four kilometres south of Okanagan Falls. The bird station is open from dawn until noon each day from Aug. 1 to Oct. 15 and is a member of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network.

Members of the public are welcome to visit the station.

Anyone wishing to volunteer can sign up at this website.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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