Learn about birds

Pre-eminent ornithologist Robert Butler, a director of the Nature Trust of B.C., will give a free talk in Kelowna Tuesday about birds.

Restoration is far more difficult than protecting natural areas right from the start says Robert Butler, renowned conservationist and science advisor to Bird Studies Canada, who will be the guest speaker for the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club next week.

“The Okanagan has changed so much from when I was a kid. With natural areas you can walk the same trails you walked as a kid, with your grandkids, but houses and roads don’t have such a long history.

“We scurry around; live busy lives and what can we leave for those who follow us? With growth and expansion everywhere, there are many changes; even species being lost,” he commented.

Instead, it’s important that we preserve habitats that are rapidly disappearing in the Okanagan such as wetlands and grasslands.

He’s heartened with the interest in such movements as citizen science where anyone can get involved in programs such as feeder watch, the Christmas Bird Count and observe such days as World Migratory Bird Day on May 12.

It gets people out and about and learning about the habits and the habitat needed for birds and other wildlife.

He noted the Okanagan has a rich diversity of birds, with more than 300 species recorded here, more than anywhere else in Canada, so it’s especially important to set aside land to protect this area’s biodiversity for both birds and wildlife.

It’s particularly important that we put the pieces together so there is connectivity for bird and wildlife travel corridors, he noted.

Butler was a senior research scientist with the Canadian Wildlife Service where he worked for 28 years. He is now a member of the board of the Nature Trust of B.C., which is holding a fund-raiser called Earth Wind and Fire 2012 in Kelowna June 1 at the Delta Grand.

He is also a fellow of the American Ornithologists Union, a fellow of the International Explorers’ Club, president of the Pacific Wildlife Foundation and an author and speaker.

He began as coordinator for the B.C. Breeding Bird atlas, a project that’s now in its final year and which he will talk about next week as well.

His illustrated talk to the CONC meeting on Tues., May 8 at 7 p.m. is entitled Life Among Birds and everyone is welcome to attend. It’s at the Evangel Church, 3261 Gordon Dr.

Butler was also involved as a director of the Young Naturalists’ Clubs. “As adults I hope they will have more respect for nature,” he comments.

He’d like to encourage more people to get interested in birds, and he’d like to see civic governments use a bird filter over planning projects, to assess what impact they will have on bird communities.