Steeves/Trail Mix: Do your bit to conserve bird populations

It's fallen to volunteers now to monitor fish and wildlife and their habitat so step in and do your part and you'll find you enjoy it.

An evening grosbeak perches in a pine tree adjacent to a feeder.

One of the most unfortunate things about government budget cutbacks is that when you delete a monitoring program you’re not only throwing out the data from a single year, but you’re throwing out all that you’ve invested over decades.

Regular monitoring is vital to keeping tabs on the status of species and establishing trends, then to figuring out what has caused the trend and whether there’s anything we can do about it, if it’s a negative trend.

Without it, species will disappear quietly off the face of the earth, perhaps due to causes we can manage and thus prevent their extirpation.

In lieu of government, because politics plays such an unfortunate role in consistent monitoring, non-profit groups are now taking on the job.

For instance, Bird Studies Canada has compiled data from the last 40 years to put together a picture of how this country’s birds are faring, and there are some warning signs.

Not surprisingly, there are fewer birds now than in the 70s on average, but some species are doing well, while others are declining.

Severe declines have been recorded amongst grassland birds, migratory shorebirds and aerial insectivores, or birds that catch insects in flight.

Loss of habitat is to blame for declines in birds such as longspurs, meadowlarks and the Greater Sage Grouse while it’s not known why numbers of aerial insectivores have taken a steeper dive than others.

Conservation actions, including controls on pesticides, have led to an increase in populations of raptors such as the peregrine falcon.

There have also been increases in waterfowl populations due in part to successful management of hunting and wetlands.

Healthy bird populations indicate a healthy ecosystem, so even if we’re not bird lovers, we should be concerned about and interested in their numbers. At the same time, they play a major role in control of insect pest populations as well as rodent numbers; and they are responsible for dispersing seeds and for pollination.

Because of migration, often their survival depends on the efforts of people in more than one country.

Certainly, as individuals, our efforts can help make a difference, whether that’s by participation in such programs as the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count or in BCS’s Project FeederWatch.

In fact, there are dozens of ways you can become involved listed on the BSC website:

The FeederWatch program, which is run jointly with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, begins Nov. 10 (close to the time bears should be thinking about hibernation and we can safely put out the feeders again), and runs until early April and anyone  can get involved for just $35.

That enrolment fee includes membership, four issues of BirdWatch Canada magazine, educational materials, a bird calendar, information and data booklet, bird feeding handbook and articles on bird behaviour.

As a member, you will be part of a massive effort to chronicle winged visitors to your yard and feeder to form a vast picture of trends in bird populations around North America.

As part of this citizen science project you will become part of noting such events as the decline in populations of evening grosbeaks and fluctuations in winter finches such as the common redpolls, pine siskins and pine grosbeaks which feed largely on tree seeds.

To register, call toll-free 1-888-448-2473; e-mail or go to:

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.


Just Posted

Accident reported at Hwy 97C exit

Police was searching a nearby field but left after 30 minutes

Get rid of the kids for spring break

Check out the Okanagan Heritage Museum and Kelowna Art Gallery

Truck destroyed by fire in West Kelowna

A fire destroyed a truck at Wheel’s Truck Parts Friday

Central Okanagan MLAs plan public meeting on new B.C. taxes

Speculation Tax and Employer Health Tax will be the subject of panel discussion in Kelowna March 25

Sally Ann in Kelowna looking for emergency team volunteers

Information session planned for April 5 at the organization’s Community Church

What’s happening

Find out what events are taking place this weekend in the Okanagan and Shuswap

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Correction: Museum fashion tour to be held Saturday

A mistake was in Wednesday’s edition of the newspaper incorrectly stating a different day

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

SAY WHAT? Readers weigh in on high-speed rail to U.S.

B.C. to contribute $300,000 to a million-dollar business study on the proposed project

Most Read