Table of Contents Show
Are you a birdwatcher or a photographer? Are you that ‘dude’ who dip-out the birds for birding? Do not worry, the article will flood you with sufficient information and details related to the birds of British Columbia in this simplified guide.
British Columbia serves as a home to many birds. From several species of resident birds that live year-round to the species of migratory birds, the wintering birds, and the breeding birds, it becomes difficult to carry so much data to identify birds.
Next time you go birding, you will easily be able to identify the birds you are looking to take pictures of.
Species of Birds of BC
Do you know there have been over 588 species of birds recorded in British Columbia over the past 150 years? This is more than any other state of Canada.
The article has brought to you a few of the common birds, yet the most fascinating birds of BC to discuss.
1. American Robin
If you see a hopping bird in the bright green grass on the lawn or an evening song of cheerful chirrupings then there it is, the American robin.
American Robin is a large songbird and a long-lasting symbol of spring. It is one of the common birds of BC which is also found in southern Canada.
It is known for its dazzling orange paunch, long legs and tail, and melodious voice. Bounces around the yard and stands erect with its bill-tilted upwards in the sky.
Female robins are a little duller than males. They are about the size of the European Starling. These breeding birds have a nest that contains 2–3 blue eggs.
As the sun sets, the male American Robin climaxes the evening stage of the sky with their delightful tune. They are easy to find on the lawns and backyards during spring.
Their diet comprises 40% of small invertebrates, chiefly bugs, and worms, and 60 percent consists of wild cultivated fruits. They savor sweets and love to feed on fruits, berries, cakes, and even pastry dough.
Is the American robin a drunkard? They sometimes feed largely on fermented berries, which makes them feel dizzy. As they walk, they keep falling to the ground.
Juvenile and eggs are gone after by squirrels, snakes, and a few birds, for example, blue jays, California scour jays, Steller’s jays, American crows, and normal ravens.
Mammals such as wild dogs and foxes get to prey on the young ones from the ground while raccoons grab them upon nests.
2. Cedar Waxwing
Another beautiful treat to see from your binoculars will be the Cedar Waxwings.
Some of them are found in the southeast of Canada. They are often found in open forested areas, orchards, and even residential areas near wooded regions.
They got a black masks, making them look handsome just like the popular anime character ‘Roronoa Zoro’. Adults have a smooth pale brown crest, pale yellow wash on the belly, and tail feathers with a yellow tip. Females lay eggs that are blue-gray in shade and both the parent feed the young ones.
You will be amazed to know that the social and migratory behaviors of these birds are affected by berries. They are found in groups all the year because they are sociable. You can spot them in flocks of dozens to hundred.
“Berrylicious” as they say, they love to feed on berries like strawberries, elderberries, and raspberries. They also feed on insects in summer like beetles, caterpillars, and ants, and sometimes fly over waterbodies looking for insects to prey upon.
Just like the American robin, they can get drunk by feeding on fermented berries, or in the worst case, they will die.
3. Rufous Hummingbirds
They breed in the Northwestern U.S. and Canadian woodlands and spend winters in the Mexican highlands along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Rufous hummingbirds are small birds, with long, straight, and slim bills. Although compact in size, they are warriors, readily attacking the other birds or insects, their senses could be a threat to their territory.
An adult male Rufous has a white patch below the throat, a bright orange coat on his back, and a stomach with an iridescent red throat. The back of a female rufous is in the emerald shade with ruddy brown (rufous-shaded) sides and tail.
Age is just a number because all of them are aggressive. They don’t prefer to socialize or interact with other members of their species. They might cause problems for some other birds too.
They feed mainly on sucrose-rich floral nectar and possess a high-protein diet, which they fetch from small insects.
They fetch their nectar from red tubular flowers such as penstemon, red columbine, paintbrushes, scarlet sage, gilia, and many others. They likewise feed on sugar-water mixtures in hummingbird feeders.
4. Downy Woodpecker
Wuk wuk wuk. Visit some open woodlands and you will hear some shorter calls or the pecking noise among the deciduous trees nearby a water source, in the woods.
Downy woodpeckers have adapted to human development and can also be found at home in orchards, cemeteries, and city parks. They are one of the most common woodpeckers and backyard birds.
Downy woodpeckers have bodies with black and white checkered patterns. The dark upperparts are checked with white on the wings, the head has white stripes like a Zebra, and the back has an expansive white stripe down the middle.
Male birds have a unique red spot on the rear of their head. The outer tail feathers are white, with a couple of dark spots, and have a shorter bill.
They are one of those birds that would love to visit backyard bird feeders. In spring and summer, they are a nuisance to peace. They love to drum on wood and make noise with their shrill whinnying call.
They prefer to feed on insects, like beetles and ants. They can also readily consume caterpillars and gall wasps. They easily get attracted to suet feeders and love chunky peanut butter, black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts.
They are unaggressive but naive enough to be preyed upon by many other species. The American Kestrel, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Cooper’s Hawk are a few of their predators. They can also be caught during their flight. Black rat snakes prefer to feed on their eggs and the juveniles.
5. House Sparrow
Adorable from their appearances to their nonstop chirrupings, House Sparrow will have your heart.
The house sparrow is another introduced species in the list of birds. Distributed over western Canada and Alaska, these noisy, cheerful, and companionable house sparrows are the loveliest birds of all.
House sparrows are small birds, with black streaks on their backs. A male house sparrow has a dark brown shade, with a black bib, a gray chest, and white cheeks, whereas a female house sparrow has a light brown body, and no bib, crown, or white cheeks. Their eggs are oval-shaped and of bluish or green shade with small dark spots.
House sparrows prefer to take shelter in artificial structures like street lights and walls.
They have no complex diet or taste buds. They feed on everything like seeds, waste grains, insects, grass seeds, weeds, and if they find leftovers by humans, they will feed on it too.
If you are willing to attract them, you can use a small piece of sandwich to feed them. During the breeding season, adult house sparrows feed insects to their young ones.
Not only do they steal your heart, but are known for stealing food from the American robin. Versatile and aggressive, it survives on city sidewalks where few birds can get in provincial regions, and it can evict local birds from their homes.
These birds can impact severely the number of native birds, such as bluebirds, chickadees, cliff swallows, and some woodpeckers.
Take a romance lesson from the Romeo of the Birds, the pileated woodpecker. The pileated woodpecker is a protected species and not an endangered species. They are broadly distributed in the south of British Columbia becoming relatively sparse across central BC, north through the Peace Lowlands towards the northeastern areas of the territory.
They are crow-sized, and male pileated woodpeckers have a bright red crest on their head, whereas females are black. They have a shark-like long bill to prey on insects.
They have a black body, a black throat with white stripes on the side, and, white shades under the wing feathers during their flight.
The pileated woodpecker is known for its extravagant romance since they just mate forever and even have charming rituals to draw in their mates. They drum on the wood hard to attract their mates.
Their diet involves feeding on wild fruits, berries, and nuts and eats carpenter insects and beetles (reside in the woods) that are removed from down woody material and from standing live and dead trees.
It uses its pointy bill to make holes in the bark to find ant colonies and the long tongue is used to drag out the ants.
The major threat to these birds is the removal of large-diameter dead and living trees in the forests as they eradicate their nests and affect their roosting and feeding sites.
The fragmentation of forests has affected more as they are more likely to become the prey of the predators owing to less forest density.
Isn’t it so adorable and delightful to see a bird just hop around? They are highly adaptable birds and can breed in all vegetation zones where suitable cover, humidity, or access to water exists.
Song sparrows are medium-sized birds, with a round belly, bulky shape, round head, and back and chest brown streaks. Their face is dim with an earthy colored streak through each eye.
You can identify their nests with 3–5 eggs of brown shades that have greenish-white spots. They also got a long tail, which is frequently held positioned up and pumped up and down during the flight.
All day long, they just hop, hop and hop. They walk and hop through branches, grass, and weeds. They remain at a low level, but males often go on small trees to sing. They fly only short distances.
These are the birds that eat seeds and fruits year-round. It also feeds on many insects during summer and spring, but they switch to seeds during fall and winter. They have even been noticed picking at the droppings of Glaucous-winged Gulls.
Most of them are migratory and face human-caused threats like collisions. These are the prey of cats and pesticides. They are the most noted hosts of the brown-headed cowbird. Song sparrows are very aggressive around feeders and might take over bigger sparrows and other birds.
In the eastern portion of the United States and Canada, the main goldfinch birds you will find are the American Goldfinches.
The American goldfinch is a small finch, with a little head, long wings, that has a short tail and a sharply pointed bill. In summer, it appears in a pink shade, whereas in winter, it turns pale brown.
In spring and summer, adult males have bright yellow bodies except for the black cap and wings. Females are pale yellow underneath and a little olive above.
They are dynamic and acrobatic as they can balance themselves on plants to pluck seeds. Therefore, they are found clinging in weedy fields, cultivated areas, roadsides, orchards, and backyards.
They love attention. As they take a flight in a bouncy undulating pattern, they frequently bring in their Po-ta-to-chip calls.
These are the only birds who are granivores in the diet and you will catch them feeding on sunflower seed, thistle, and elm seed. They also feed on insects, but to a limited extent during summers.
Predators like blue jays, American kestrels, weasels, eastern garter snakes, and cats hunt and eat American goldfinches.
You will be startled to watch a topsy-turvy bird species feeding and hanging out on branches. These are the adorable, cute little birds, the chestnut-backed chickadees. About 36% of the total population of this bird species is found in British Columbia.
A chunky small chickadee, with a black-brown head and white stripes on cheeks. They have gray wings with pale fringes.
Carefully observe, and don’t mix them up with the black-capped chickadees, as the Chestnut-backed chickadee has a brown cap and not a black cap.
Noisy, sociable, and active, they fly in a flock through the dense and moist coniferous forests. They are so friendly and playful that they can be good pets.
Like any other birds of British Columbia, they feed on seeds, insects, and wild berries. They prefer insects like caterpillars, moths, beetles, and leafhoppers. They are known for their peculiar behavior of storing food during the fall and consuming it in winter.
They aren’t aggressive but if they sense threats, they can make a ‘dee-dee-dee-dee’ call in aggression.
Another common bird is the brown-headed cowbird, with its abundance and habitat widespread in the southern coastal, southern interior, central, and northeastern regions of British Columbia.
Heavy bill, short tail, and stocky body. Males are lustrous dark with a chocolate-brown head. Females are dark earthy colored generally speaking, without striking streaks, however, they have a marginally paler throat.
You can easily spot them in meadows with low and scattered trees, as well as forest edges, brushy shrubberies, prairies, fields, river groves, orchards, and residential areas. They don’t prefer dense forests.
The males are fond of singing in chorus or alone. They raise their back and chest feathers, lift their wings and spread their tail feathers, and bow forward as they sing along.
If you scatter some grains in your lawn or garden, they will flock with other birds to feed on them. Since the eastern US forests are under fragmentation and development, they have preferred to extend their range of habitat eastwards.
A quarter of the bird’s diet consists of these bugs and other grassland insects like beetles and grasshoppers. They mainly eat seeds and insects. As females lay eggs, they should meet their calcium requirements. Hence, they feed on snail shells and eggs from other nests they visit.
(d) Threats (To Other Species)
These birds of BC are an absolute nuisance to the other species and jeopardize them by pushing them into the category of ‘endangered.’ It is often called a trickster because it neither builds its own nest, nor does it brood its eggs nor does it raise its own young.
They track down the territories of other birds or attempt to flush birds from their nests. When their eggs hatch, they will possibly roll the other eggs out of the nest.
Interesting Facts About the Birds of BC
1. In the past, robins were killed for their flesh. Later, the Migratory Bird Act of the US protected them.
2. Bird Studies Canada is a charitable and non-profit organization that has a mission to conserve and protect not only the birds of BC but also all birds around Canada. They work to increase the appreciation, importance, and conservation of birds in Canada.
3. Usually, hummingbirds are difficult to catch, but there are records of Rufous Hummingbirds caught by a Brown-crested Flycatcher and by a frog.
4. House sparrows can swim if they are compelled to. Once, an adult house sparrow swam for its life when chased by a hawk. Nestlings that have fallen into the water from the trees can also swim back to land.
5. The smallest birds of BC are the Calliope Hummingbirds, which are only about 3 inches in length.
6. Song sparrows believe in the concept of a ‘one-man army.’ While looking for food, they will go alone rather than being in a flock. They shall accompany not more than 3 birds with them if needed.
7. American goldfinches breed in late June or early July, later than many birds of other related species because the seeds of thistle, milkweed and other plants grow late. They use these to incorporate into their nests and to feed their young ones.
8. Cedar Waxwings which are found in the southeast region of Canada, have tail feathers with an orange tip.
Without a doubt, British Columbia is an important destination as well as a habitat. The reason is, major biogeographic units of Canada like the Pacific coast, Great Basin, western Cordilleran, eastern Boreal, and the subarctic have served as a junction and a habitat for many birds.
But according to E Fauna BC, the count of birds has been declining. The reasons may vary from human interference to drastic climatic changes. Bird Studies Canada and many other organizations have been working to conserve and protect these species.
There are many major conservation parks in Canada to explore nature and witness the elegance of the wildlife in a less harmful manner. The rise of awareness and concern for their conservation will bring a wider and deeper difference in the upcoming decades in form of numbers and the health of birds.
The goal and aim of all the conservation parks will remain the same- a positive force for the birds of British Columbia and other regions of Canada.