Naturespeak 

Summer resident birds and other unusual passersby

By Karl Ricker and Heather Baines,

Whistler Naturalists

This is the third in a four-part series on Whistler’s birds. In the first article the meagre list of winter residents was noted. In the second, the spring migration count and new surprise visitors were listed. At the close of spring migration, the question was: What species stop to hunker down at Whistler for the summer, noting also that autumn out-migration for a few species begins in August?

South-bound migration is now in full swing with new arrivals every day replacing both residents and those that have come from afar for a brief stopover.

Of the residents, the obvious success story is the ever-astonishing osprey nesting site, located on the opposite side of the highway from the Meadow Park Sports Centre. Two youngsters were successfully reared to full-fledge flying stature and the family should be heading south at any moment. Ospreys have used this nesting area for the last 80 years.

Another site is at Daisy Lake, and yet another is downstream of Garibaldi Station. While most summer residents breed here, according to the Checklist of Whistler Birds , our observations did not confirm such for several species (Common Loon, for example), but it is known that Great Blue Herons and Glaucous-winged Gulls do not nest in this area, despite their presence throughout the summer.

The Checklist of Whistler Birds indicates 134 species to be seen over the summer months – some of these, however, are early migrants, vagrants, or accidentals blown off course – while 85-95 are bona fide residents, at least in year 2002. Confirmed residents, 85 in total, are the following:

Waterfowl : Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Canada Goose, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, and Hooded and Common Mergansers.

Waders/Shorebirds : Great Blue Heron, Virginia Rail, Common Snipe, Spotted Sandpiper, and Glaucous-winged Gull.

Raptors : Osprey, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Merlin, and Great Horned and Barred Owls.

Game Birds : Ruffed, Spruce, and Blue Grouse, plus White-tailed Ptarmigan.

Woodpeckers : Red-breasted Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, and Downy, Hairy, Three-toed, and Pileated Woodpeckers.

Flycatchers : Olive-sided and Willow Flycatchers.

Swallows : Tree, Violet-green, Northern rough-winged, and Barn Swallows.

Corvids : Steller’s and Gray Jays, Clark’s Nutcracker, Northwestern Crow, and Common Raven.

Chickadees : Chestnut-backed, Black-capped, and Mountain Chickadees.

Thrushes : Townsend’s Solitaire, American Robin, and Swainson’s, Hermit, and Varied Thrushes.

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