There was one odd duck at the Kelowna bird count this year—and an unusual fly-eater, too.
Chris Charlesworth organized the Kelowna Christmas bird count this year and said it went particularly well with more species spotted and a couple rarities thrown in the mix.
“We had it the day before the weather turned, Dec. 16, and there was no snow and all the little ponds were still open,” said Charlesworth, who also runs Avocet Tours.
“We had 105 species, which is a little more than normal. The weather helped. And a few more skilled observers were out, which always helps.”
The odd duck that had birders excited was a blue-winged teal— it’s a small duck that usually stays through the summer and leaves for Southern California by this time in the year.
Another is the Say’s Phoebe. That’s a summertime fly catcher that should have gone south as well.
“Those were a couple of interesting birds that decided to hang on and make it through the winter,” he said.
Their extended stay in the Okanagan could be put down to a warming climate, or a desire to get ahead of the spring migration.
Another possibility is that forest fires displaced a lot of winged creatures, and they’ve found refuge in new areas.
Regardless, they’re considered a special find for the time being. If they stay for a few more seasons, they’ll be trendsetters, like hermit thrushes and yellow rumped warblers before them.
They were once oddities, but they’ve become pretty ordinary in the last 15 to 20 years.
Birdcount data goes back in Kelowna to about 1960; with some counts the data goes back to 1900.
All the information gathered gives a good overview of species diversity.
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