ISLAND WILD: New birdwatching season begins

Mergansers are year-round residents on Vancouver Island.  - Photo by Brian Kyle
Mergansers are year-round residents on Vancouver Island.
— image credit: Photo by Brian Kyle

Vancouver Island birdwatchers are exceptionally blessed to live in an area with Canada’s highest number of over-wintering species.

According to Audubon’s Christmas Birdcount statistics, a whopping 140 species were identified at Victoria last winter, while Riverites tallied a very commendable 92.

Birdwatching is great fun for all ages, and the local abundance is a bonanza for those wishing to improve their identification skills. It’s easy to do so – and help Canada’s top ornithologists – by volunteering to watch birds for a national project called FeederWatch.

From November through April, volunteers count the kinds and numbers of birds at their backyard feeders, and noting their observations. This program requires observations from your home every two weeks.

A new FeederWatch season began on Nov. 10 but participants can sign up at any time to receive a kit with handbook, calendar, instruction booklet and western bird-identification poster.

Internet enthusiasts enjoy the added bonus of access to online maps and charts to check on what others in their area or elsewhere are reporting.

Participation is free for Bird Studies Canada members ($35 to join). Benefits of this low cost membership abound: a bi-weekly e-newsletter, four issues (annually) of BirdWatch Canada magazine, free participation in any BSC volunteer program, and a charitable tax receipt for the full amount of membership.

Contribute to a continent-wide bird research project. Learn more online at: or register by phone: 1-888-448-2473. Project FeederWatch is a continent-wide bird research project by Bird Studies Canada and Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


Find the Vancouver Island Backyard Bird poster at Coho Books and Campbell River Museum. E-mail Christine at:

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