Birding in British Columbia

A starting place for birding information for British Columbia, Canada. This web site features a birders discussion forum, links to birding newsgroups, articles and book reviews, checklists, regional hotspots, photo gallery, weather reports, and visiting birder information.
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 Post subject: Missing birds
PostPosted: Apr 19 6:15 pm 
New Member

Joined: Apr 19 6:05 pm
Posts: 1
Does anyone know what has happened to my birds? For years I have had lots of birds, particularly chickadees and bush tits. Up to a couple of months ago my feeders were crowded and flocks of bush tits would visit several times each day. Recently there have been no bush tits and only a couple of chickadees. Last year I had three families nesting in my chickadee boxes, but no interest so far this year. Has there been a massive die-off?

 Post subject: Re: Missing birds
PostPosted: Apr 19 9:52 pm 
Junior Member

Joined: Apr 08 10:42 am
Posts: 7
What area are you in? I'm in the Capilano area of North Van and I have noticed fewer birds this winter and spring. But things vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood (and week to week) so it's hard to generalize.

Lately I'm getting one pair each of house finch, chickadee, song sparrow, and towhee, plus a very small flock of juncos, and a single white-crowned sparrow. There's a single Anna's hummingbird around, but he won't come to the feeder although we've faithfully kept it fresh all winter. We've had a couple of quick sips by presumably migrating hummers last month, but that's it. Last year we had a pair of Anna's at the feeder constantly all winter!

 Post subject: Re: Missing birds
PostPosted: Apr 20 9:08 am 
Senior Member

Joined: Jul 07 2:34 pm
Posts: 1382
Location: Vancouver
Sparse data.

As we look out over our domains, we see through our eyes, not the eyes of the birds.

Suppose you were an Anna's Hummer and commonly made use of a certain feeder. Then someone put up a new feeder, that you, the Anna's preferred because of its location and/or its particular mixture of nutrients. Then you wouldn't bother with the old feeder.

I am new to this activity, but recognize the difficulty of separating three elements of bird populations: normal year-to-year variation, trends and cycles.

I don't know what to expect as a normal year-to-year variation. I have noticed such population variations, but draw no conclusions.

I expect that cycles occur. For example, a certain species may have a successful breeding season and the population increases. Then its predators notice and their populations subsequently increase. The prey bird population then declines and subsequently the predator population declines as well. I imagine that such cycles occur. Probably much more complex than the above.

Trends, or permanent changes also likely occur. Again, my experience is too limited to determine if such are occurring for certain birds in the local area. And, if so, would such permanent changes be "good" or "bad"? Just like humans migrate when seeking better opportunities, I expect that birds do too. That is, if permanent changes are occurring, are the birds fleeing ("bad") or finding better opportunities elsewhere ("good")?

Here's an example from the memory banks. When I was a kid growing up in Vancouver, I and almost every friend had a BB gun. In those days, the local feed store, Buckerfields had a bounty on Crows. We received 5 cents for handing over a pair of Crow's feet. Not surprisingly, there were no Crows to be found in any park or neighbourhood at that time. When the bounty was discontinued, the Crows returned, almost instantaneously (and other bird populations declined).

On the whole, birds are very successful. They live on every continent. They function in the air, on land and on water. They can function underwater, on the water and over the water. I think Canada Geese have been observed flying at 20,000 feet elevation. Only humans via the use of tools can claim the same breadth of use of the environment.

The data are too sparse to make any conclusions locally.


 Post subject: Re: Missing birds
PostPosted: Apr 20 11:04 am 
Veteran Member

Joined: Nov 19 4:15 pm
Posts: 130
I also live in the Capilano area of North Van and this year the Bushtits seem to be missing. I've had feeders and suet out all winter and early spring, but no Bushtits. Last couple of years there were plenty in large winter groups.

I've had lots of Junco's this year also Black-capped Chickadee's including Chestnut-backed Chickadee's, a few Song Sparrows, my resident Spotted Towhee's and only a few Anna's who come in for a quick drink then gone for a week then back again.
The Rufous Hummingbirds seemed to have scared off the Anna's with their arrival the last couple of weeks.

Rob Alexander
North Vancouver

 Post subject: Re: Missing birds
PostPosted: Apr 22 10:02 am 
Intermediate Member

Joined: Jul 31 4:48 pm
Posts: 53
Location: West Vancouver
I live on the West Van side of Capilano river. I have not seen any bushtits but I have heard them in the Cap Pacific Trail system.
I have found most birds have been a few weeks behind in their movements through the area. Both the Thrush and Siskins have been late to the feeders this year. I am assuming the Bushtits are along the same timeline.
I have no explanation as to their tardiness however.
As with most things in nature, change one variable and the effects are dramatic.



My gear is worth more than my truck.

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