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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Snow Geese!

We were at my sister's house, close to the dyke in Steveston, looking out her front windows watching the rain fall, when the noise began. Birds of North America Online refers to it as "the distant sound of baying hounds". Soon the sky filled with hundreds and hundreds of snow geese. We were awestruck. The geese circled several times before landing across the road in fallow agricultural fields.

Snow Geese. Photo by James Ritchie.

After watching the geese through binoculars until we thought we were sated with the experience, we decided to brave the elements and walk to the coffee shop down the road for lunch. Half way there, the snow geese lifted from the fields. We stood in the rain, looking up, mesmerized by the hundreds (or more - some flocks reach one thousand) of gorgeous white geese with black wing tips circling overhead, just above us. Wow.

It's possible that these geese, having migrated from their arctic breeding grounds, are wintering in the Fraser Valley. A small group do, while others head much farther south. But wherever they are going, I am thrilled they happened to stop here while we were visiting. It was a sight I will never forget.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Birds & Windows: A Dangerous Combination

Have you ever heard the dull thud of a bird flying into one of your windows?
I have, and I hate it.

Pine siskin, stunned after hitting our glass patio door. I put the chairs over top of him
to provide a little shelter and protection while he recovered on his own.

Most sources say that between 100 million and one billion birds die in North America every year in collisions with windows and other human-built structures. Even those that manage to recover and fly away often die later of their injuries or because they’ve become much easier prey.

You can minimize window strikes by reducing the reflectivity and transparency of the glass with a product such as CollidEscape film. Or with decals that adhere to the glass placed very closely together on the outside of the window or strips of tape on the outside of the window or long strips of material hanging in front of the window, on the outside, no more than 10” apart. Or, just in time for Christmas, fake snow!

Here are a few other simple, cost-effective strategies:
  • cover windows with taut netting 2-3” from the glass so that birds bounce off
  • keep blinds or curtains partly closed whenever possible – especially if two windows face each other, creating an apparent ‘flyway’
  • do not place inside plants close to the window
Preventing as many window strikes as possible is, of course, a responsibility of anyone who feeds wild birds. The links below offer more information:

If you have a sure-fire way of minimizing window strikes, something that's worked for you here on Gabriola, plesae tell us about it by leaving a comment below.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bald Eagle rescued; now recuperating in Errington

GROWLS got the call on November 1 just before dusk. An eagle had been spotted hopping along North Road near Bertha dragging a wing. A rescue team was organized.

Our feisty healthy bald eagle. Photo by Carmel B.

Since GROWLS rescuers most often see eagles when they are sick or injured, they were surprised by the feistiness of the big, healthy five year old male with a broken wing. The cause of the injury has not been determined.

Ready for transport. Photo by Carmel B.

After capture he was taken to Twin Cedars Veterinary Clinic for the night before being transported the next day to Island Veterinary Hospital in Nanaimo where he was assessed and surgery was performed. Later the eagle was taken to North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington where he will recuperate in their 42.5 metre long rehabilitative flight cage - which I happened to see last weekend on my first visit to NIWRC.

Check it out here:

During my visit, there were several eagles in the flight cage, a safe environment that gives a recuperating bald eagle the opportunity to regain strength and practice flying until it is healthy again before being returned (usually) to the location where it was found. Our feisty Gabriola eagle is just one of approximately 60 eagles admitted to the Centre each year, mostly with gun shot wounds, lead shot poisoning, injuries from car collisions, or suffering from starvation. He will - if all goes well - be returned to Gabriola in the future for release back to the wild near the spot where he was found.

In addition to the rehab flight cage for eagles, NIWRC runs the Museum of Nature (a fascinating educational museum), the Vancouver Island Black Bear Rehab Program, and a treatment centre. There is also a large public viewing area where non-releasable wildlife are cared for. They also offer a year round education program for schools and community groups and have a lovely Gift Shop where I found some great Christmas presents. 
NIWRC is definitely worth the trip. And if you go soon, please say hello to our eagle and wish him well!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Snowy Owl Sighting!

Two islanders reported seeing a Snowy Owl in the Twin Beaches area today! These unusual owls, which breed in the far North, move south in search of food (rodents, small waterfowl, marine birds) as the temperatures in the Arctic plummet.

Snowy Owl*
The male is almost pure white, with just a little dark flecking. The female, shown here, has dark barring on its upper parts and breast. If your binoculars are strong enough you may be able to make out the owl's yellow eyes and black bill.

Although the Snowy owl is generally quiet on its wintering grounds, you may hear deep hoots or harsh clicking, and sometimes it makes a loud hammering sound. You can listen here:

I'd love to know if you see our rare visitor!

*Creative Commons License Photo

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top Ten 2010

Are you ready? Project FeederWatch begins Saturday. If you haven't already signed up, there's still time to do so on-line through the Bird Studies Canada website.

Why participate? Because it's an enjoyable way to contribute to our growing understanding of the lives of birds, especially as climate change continues to affect populations in both devastating and sometimes surprising ways. The data submitted by feeder-watchers tells the scientists at BSC and Cornell about irruptive migrations, range shifts, invasive species, and population trends. Citizen Science data from the 2010-2011 Project FeederWatch program identified, for example, the "Top Ten Birds" in the Pacific Northwest last year. Care to hazard a guess?

If you guessed, in this order: Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Flicker, Black-capped Chickadee, House Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Downy Woodpecker, Song Sparrow, Pine Siskin, and Steller's Jay - you were right!

Dark-eyed Junco: Numero Uno

Northern Flicker: Number 2

House Finch: Number 4

How does this list compare with your backyard bird population? One difference will certainly be that Black-capped Chickadees, which reside mainly on Vancouver Island and the coast, will be replaced by the Chestnut-backed Chickadees that live here on Gabriola. In our back yard these fearless chattering little bundles of energy are second in number only to Dark-eyed Juncos.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee - common on the Gulf Islands: Number 15!

Speaking of Feeders!
As winter seems to be truly settling in to stay (and many Gabriolans are following the birds that have already migrated to Mexico and other climes south of the border) those of us who are staying put (like the Dark-eyed Juncos and Chestnut-backed Chickadees and even a few Anna's Hummingbirds) need to be vigilant about keeping our feeders CLEAN. Moldy seed and contaminated bird poop can cause disease and death. So clean out the feeders regularly. A solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water will do the job. Just be sure to RINSE well.

Keep your feeders clean!

Happy birding!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Birds, Steve Martin, and BC scenery: it's a go!

I'd been looking forward to The Big Year, a movie based on a book of the same title by Mark Obasmick, and starring Steve Martin, for close to a year. I had read and thoroughly enjoyed the book, a humorous tale of three wildly competitive birders obsessed with winning a 'big year'. What's a 'big year'? Basically it's a year (Jan 1 - Dec 31) spent travelling all over a continent hunting for as many species of birds as you can find - and keeping track. The goal is to see or hear more species than any other 'big year' competitor.    

Obasmick's book chronicles the true story of three men who competed in the 1998 Big Year in North America - which has over 700 different species, many of which inhabit one particular region or coast. Birders (with money!) have been known to hop on a plane at a moment's notice ('hot lines' play a role here) in order to see a specific bird on the other side of the continent. And to traipse through sleet and snow seeking an elusive species; and to get up in the middle of the night to track down a particular rare owl; and to stand around a garbage dump for hours waiting for the next 'missing bird'. Not my cup of tea. But it was a lot of fun to read about.

When I learned that The Big Year was being shot in BC I was even more eager to see it. It opened about two weeks ago in Vancouver, and it happened that (as luck would have it) I was going to be in Vancouver the following week. Yes!! But my excitement was short-lived as reviews started showing up in the bird blogs. A lot of birders were not impressed. There were, of course, the inevitable complaints about ornithiological inaccuracies. And criticisms of Fox Studios for their lack of support for 'the birding community'. But many said it was just a dud, in spite of the subject matter.

Nevertheless I went. And took my friend Mary (who is definitely not a birder) with me - after warning her about the reviews. She said she'd already heard from friends who'd seen it that, in spite of Steve Martin, the movie wasn't worth seeing in a theatre. ("Wait for the video, if you must see it" seemed to be the consensus.) Still, off we went!

I thoroughly enjoyed it. To all the people who said it wasn't funny, I can only shake my head. I thought it was hilarious. Maybe that's because I could identify just a little with the wacky things obsessed birders do. But it was more than funny. The relationship between one of the birders and his father was touching. And I liked that there was, in Mary's words, a "villain" - the guy who "wins" also loses. And of course, there were a lot of birds! Yes, some of them, apparently, were computer-generated images. But I couldn't tell. And really I don't care.

No, it won't win an Academy Award. Or any awards. Yes, it had a lot of cliche moments. This is not a movie for intellectuals or film buffs. But it is, in my opinion, worth seeing - and even on the big screen. And my non-birder friend, Mary, thinks so too. It's playing in Nanaimo now. If you see it, I'd love to know what you thought.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Yes we have an Anna's ...

If you are seeing a hummingbird in your yard these days, it is almost certainly an Anna's. (The rufous have left for the warmer climes of Central America, along with large numbers of Gabriolans.)

Male Anna's humminbird. Photo by Lee Karney*

Someone asked me yesterday how to tell the difference between our common rufous hummers (which arrive in March to breed and stay for the summer) and an Anna's. Other than the sure-fire solution - if it's here now it's an Anna's! - you can tell by its colouring. The male Anna's has an iridescent rose red bib covering its head and throat, and an emerald green back. There is no rufous (brownish) colouring anywhere. The female Anna's has a small rose red throat patch only and a green head. Again, no rufous colouring anywhere. Both have a partial white eye ring. The Anna's female now visiting the fuschia in our backyard (and our feeder, from time to time) seems a little longer (taller?) than the rufous hummers we're used to seeing.

A Tail with a Song
The male Anna's "sings" complex songs, especially during mating season. During it's courtship diving display (who could resist?) it "sings" a special tune with it's TAIL. Read all about it here:

Are you feeding Anna's this winter?
Feeding the Anna's in winter is a more serious responsibility than feeding the rufous in the spring and summer when natural food sources are plentiful. When the temperature falls close to freezing, be sure to bring your feeder in after dark (so that it doesn't freeze then crack, and to warm up the nectar a little) and put it back out early in the morning for the Anna's to breakfast on. (Anna's also feed on small insects and spiders when they're available.) And be sure to keep your feeder clean - as always.

*Photo courtesy US Fish & Wildlife Service. Thank you.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Project FeederWatch starts soon!

Project FeederWatch, a joint program of Bird Studies Canada (BSC) and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (the Lab), begins on Saturday November 12 and finishes Friday April 7. If you’d like to contribute important information about winter bird populations and yet do so from the comfort of your (warm, snow-free) living room, this is the program for you! The information gathered from FeederWatch participants all across North America provides the Lab and BSC scientists with invaluable information about winter bird populations and longterm trends in bird abundance and distribution.   

As a FeederWatch participant you provide food, water, and shelter for birds then observe the birds at your feeder(s) two consecutive days each week or every two weeks, or whatever time frame suits you. During each observation period you record the data then submit it by email to the Lab at the end of each session. Or, if you prefer to send your data by snail mail, you do so at the end of the season.

For more information go to  Be sure to watch the instructional video, “Feederwatch Instructions” and read all the pages about the project. If you decide to sign up (I hope you do!) there's a $35 fee, but that gets you a membership in Bird Studies Canada (which has its own benefits), as well as a research kit, a poster, support from Lab staff, a subscription to the Lab’s quarterly newsletter, BirdScope, and Winter Bird Highlights, a report on the findings of the project’s findings. If you're already a member of BSC, there's no fee to join Project Feederwatch - just let them know you want to participate and they'll send you all the materials.

Let's make sure Gabriola is well represented!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Squirrels: do they drive you nuts?

Let me introduce you to Q, our resident squirrel. Like all red squirrels, she specializes in being a chatterbox, an acrobat, and a flying trapeze artist.
She also enjoys relaxing on the back deck.

And, of course, raiding the bird feeders.

This homemade number was designed to be raccoon-resistant, meaning we wouldn't care if a raccoon ripped it apart. Q was delighted. So accessible! 

The finch feeder was a snap once she got it off the hanger.
That took about 30 seconds.

Here Q is filling her cheeks with black-oil sunflower seeds - again.

Chattering at me - from a bird house, of course.

So I bought this SQUIRREL-PROOF feeder at The Commons Swap 'n Shop last weekend. You can see how very effective it was. (Luckily, the price was right.) However, the tale has a happy ending. Being of superior intelliegence to a rodent (did you know squirrels are members of the rodent family?) my husband stretched out the coil that allowed the cage around the feeder to slide up and down just enough to actually cover the openings when Q climbed aboard. Success! I was very impressed. With Q too. She gave up quickly - since there are a dozen other feeders for her to choose from. I mean, really, why knock yourself out?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Big Sit - a lazy birder's dream come true

For a lazy but obsessed birder (like me) it's the perfect event.  On Sunday October 9, thousands of people from all over the world will sit - and watch birds. The event is called The Big Sit. Founded by the New Haven Bird Club, hosted by Bird Watcher's Digest (BWD), and sponsored by Swarovski Optik, The Big Sit is free, non-competitive, and open to every single person on the planet. That means YOU!!

To participate: Decide if you're going to sit alone or with friends. (Latter option highly recommended!) Then, sometime before October 9 choose your spot. It should be comfortable enough to hang out there all day long (or as long as you can manage) and yet bird-friendly. (The parking lot of FolkLife Village probably isn't "the spot to be". By the sea or in the 707 might be good. Or in your own back yard, even, if lots of birds hang out there.) Once the spot is chosen, draw a 17-foot diameter circle around the 'anchor spot'. (The line can be real or imaginary). Then, count every species of bird you see or hear from the circle for as long as you last. The count starts at one minute past midnight and ends at 11:59 pm so there's plenty of time! But you can choose to "sit" for as little as an hour if you like - just for the fun of it.

You can participate with or without registering, but if you register, be sure to read the official rules by clicking the link below. You might win prizes! But more importantly, your data will be be collected and used for a good purpose.

Pray for sunny skies! Organize food and drink and friends! Have fun!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Swifts' nest for lunch?

Looking for a sure-fire investment? You could try swifts' nests. Apparently, nest prices rose from $30 per kilo in 1970 to $1,500 per kilo last year. It's about supply and demand. (Thanks to 10,000 Birds for the heads-up.)

Who eats a swift's nest? Many many people, in Asia mostly. I don't know, though, if this is what 'bird's nest soup' is all about. The Viet Nam News explains that Swift nests are high in protein, low in fat, contain various amino acids essential to the human body and other beneficial substances”. You can read about it here:

I don't know what species of swifts are big business in Viet Nam but here in BC, we might see black swifts nesting if we happen to be in the vicinity of a cliff near a waterfall. Nesting is the only thing they do on land; everything else happens in the air, including feeding and mating. 

We're more likely, though, to see the Vaux's swift, a small cigar-shaped swift that arrives in BC in the spring and leaves in September. Although believed to breed in BC, only a few nests have ever been found, usually in human-made structures rather than tree cavities, their natural nesting site. 

If you have a photo of a Vaux's swift, I'd love to post it here ...   

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Turkey in a hammock - and lots of other places too

At first I was enamoured of Gabriola's "wild" turkeys . ('Wild' is in quotation marks because I understand they are actually feral, not the true 'wild turkey'.) The first time a flock of nine visited our back yard, a couple of years ago, I ran for my camera, delighted, and took dozens of photos. I still have more photos of wild turkeys on my computer than of any other species.

Alas, the love affair has faded - mostly because of the amount of turkey poop they leave behind and the number of geraniums they eat. But I still like living on an island where wild turkeys so often rule the road - North Road, at least. And I admire their spunk. Whenever they fly over our fence for their early morning stroll through our garden, Dennis hauls himself out of bed, grabs a walking stick or an old broom - something to make him feel like the warrior he isn't - and shoos them back over the fence. But they're invariably back again the next day. Such persistence.

Here's to the turkeys!

Happy well-fed Gabriola turkeys.

Quite a specimen!

A whole lotta preenin' goin' on

Check out that plumage!

A wistful turkey hen?

Nap time!

What's a turkey gotta do around here to take a nap in peace?

Turkeys in the snow last winter

Up close & personal
 Got any Gabriola turkey stories you'd like to share?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Noteworthy Nests of Gabriola

During our first spring on Gabriola, in 2007, a family of dark-eyed juncos nested under the eave of our back deck, right over the hot tub. I had thought the parents would have preferred somewhere quieter to raise their babies. But maybe they decided the additional heat from the pool was worth any hassles? Whatever their decision-making process, I have to assume that the benefits outweighed the potential risks. It’s not like potential nest sites were few and far between! That nest placement piqued my curiosity, though, and I ended up taking the Cornell Lab of Ornithology online course, “Courtship and Rivalry in Birds.”

In that course I discovered that nest selection is an extremely risky business for a bird. In comparison (which is ridiculous, but fun), the selection of a house by a human is a snap. If you rent it, then wish you hadn't after a week, you give your 30 days notice and try again. And even if you buy it before discovering the walls are full of termites (or some equally distasteful scenario), the worst that can happen is you lose some money. But for a bird, selection of the wrong nest site, or the right site at the wrong time, can spell death. And often does.

When home is a sailboat
A couple of weeks ago Iaian and Kristin stopped by the bookshop to tell me about a nest in the boom of their sailboat at Pages Marina. The boat was for sale, and they wanted to do a little work on it, and they wondered what birds had decided to call their sailboat home and when they might leave.

Iaian and Kristin's sailboat - home of the nest. 

Good questions! Off I went to have a visit - camera, binoculars, and three ID books in hand. Unfortunately, I went in the heat of the afternoon, when mama birds slow down their feeding, and my patience ebbs. But I heard the babies peeping away. They appeared to be located in the middle of the boom, far from the entrance, and I thought about our violet-green swallows who spend much of their final few days taking turns sitting in the opening of the nest box. How would these birds be able to do that? Was that necessary?

The opening in the boom.
The nest is in the middle of the boom (we think) about where the FOR SALE sign is in the previous photo.

I focused the binos on the entrance to the boom, hoping to see the parent arrive with food. But it seemed that every time I looked away from the entrance (distracted by other birds!), the mother or father would slip in, laughing at my folly. In the end, however, I did manage to see both the male and female at least once and to identify the birds as tree swallows (tachycineta bicolor). 

Tree swallow. Photo by Dr. Thomas G. Barnes, courtesy US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Never having seen a tree swallow before, I went on to do some research and discovered all kinds of fascinating things about these birds. But that’s for another post. (Stay tuned.) Certainly, this was the most unusual nest site I’ve seen on Gabriola, but I could defintely see the value of the location, since most predators would be unable or unwilling to enter. 

Nest, nests, nests

This adventure got me to thinking about nests again. So I sent out a call to a few islanders for photos of their nests. Here are some of them: 

Baby hummers in a Gabriola nest. Photo by elen.

Empty robin's nest. Photo by Carol Martin.

Towhee nest. Photo by elen.
Violet-green swallow hatchlings ready for a mouthful - under the eave at FolkLife Village.

Violet-green swallows in our nestbox fitted with a camera so we could
spy on them all day long - and half the night!

It's not a bird nest but it's pretty spectacular! Taken in the 707 yesterday.
Do you know what it is? If so, please tell!

Junco nest in a fish! Photo by Dee Jacobsen.

Not a Gabriola nest, but definitely worth watching ...  
I hope you enjoy this video of bufflehead babies leaping from their nest!

Please send your Gabriola nest photos!
Do you have a photo of a nest you’re willing to share, and maybe a story to go with it? If so please send it to I'd love to add photos to this post until ALL the birds of Gabriola are represented!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tawny's California Quail

Well, the three families of California quail don't actually belong to Tawny, but they've been visiting her yard, and she sent me these delightful photographs to share with you. (Thanks Tawny!) She estimates 14 young in all. California quail nests, usually placed on the ground in grasses or at the base of shrubs or trees, generally have 12-16 eggs. Some have been known to contain up to 28 eggs, though, as a result of ‘egg-dumping’, a practice where female quail lay eggs in nests other than their own. Maybe it's not so suprising, then, that sometimes several families of California quail get together shortly after the babies hatch and care for the young together, kind of kibbutz-style. Apparently, quail parents that raise their young this way tend to live longer than those that do not. I wonder if Tawny's quails are doing the group-parenting thing? 

Male California Quail - can you see the babies hiding under those colourful wings?
Photo by Tawny Capon

The babies venture out. Photo by Tawny Capon.

Incubation, usually by the mother, takes 18 to 23 days. The babies leave the nest shortly after hatching but stay with the parents on the ground for about 28 days.
California quail (callipepla californica) rarely move more than ten miles from where they hatch. And when they do move, they prefer walking and running to flying - unless there's a predator on their tail. Then they'll fly! In the fall they'll gather in coveys of up to 100 birds, where one 'sentinel' bird stands guard while the others eat for an hour or two before and after sunrise and sunset. Their diet is about 70% vegetarian.  

If they're calling one another, you can hear California quail coming long before they're in sight. In spite of their name, their most well-known call sounds like "Chi-ca-go!" You can hear this call plus three others at Search for California quail then go to the "Sound" page.

Off we go! Photo by Tawny Capon.

California Quail on Gabriola and around the world

Although there appear to be many families of California quail on Gabriola, they are considered an uncommon local resident in the southern Vancouver Island region. But clearly, they do live and breed here, as well as in the Okanagan Valley. Their habitat also includes certain parts of the western states (especially California), the Baja peninsula, Chile, and Argentina. And because these quail are a popular game bird, they were long ago successfully introduced to other parts of the world including New Zealand, Hawaii, and Europe. Every year between 800,000 and 1.2 million California quail are shot by hunters in California alone. In spite of this, numbers are not dwindling.

Male California Quail - in California.
Photo by Dave Menke courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service.

The head plume (aka topknot) of the California quail looks like a single large feather but is actually composed of six overlapping feathers. Dennis wonders what Mother Nature was thinking when she designed this. Any ideas?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Barred owl comes home to Gabriola

On May 1 a barred owl was discovered unable to fly in the vicinity of Fleet Road on the island. Thanks to two young people who discovered it and called GROWLS, the owl was taken to North Island Wildlife Recovery in Errington for care. While there, it became a mentor in the flight barn for some owlets who had lost their mother, so was kept a couple of extra weeks to provide this care and teaching.

Last evening, the now-healthy owl was returned to Gabriola for release. (The Ministry of Forests, Lands  and Natural Resource Operations prefers that all rescued and rehabilitated animals are returned to the habitat where they were found.) Members of GROWLS were informed of the pending release and many showed up to celebrate the owl's release back to the woods where it came from.

Waiting for the owl on Fleet Road.

Before the owl was released Andy said a few words in celebration, Jean read a poem for the owl, and Liz Ciocea read the following words:

Owl you have travelled far. From being found in the road injured, cold and confused, rescued by kind and caring people. Other kind folks took you to a place where you were healed and made well. Then owl you stayed on awhile to help some wee owlets who had lost their mother and lost their way. Now you are home, free at last to fly silently through the forest. Fly well, fly free brave Owl

Iain and Andy prepare to release the owl.

Owl heading for the forest. Photo by Tawny Capon.

"Wow. I remember this!" Photo by Tawny Capon.

"It's good to be home again!" Photo by Tawny Capon.

(Forgive all the blatant anthropormizing. I seem unable to resist.)

Safe in a tree! Photo by Tawny Capon.

Barred owls are very common on Gabriola. Their "Who, who, who cooks for you all?" song is unmistakable. In the spring, during mating season, you might hear the sound of barking and whooping and hollaring in a tree near you. If so, it's probably a barred owl or two involved in ensuring the continuation of the species.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sign petition to prevent hunting of sandhill cranes!

An eight member commission of Kentucky's Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources have passed - unanimously - a proposal to allow hunting of sandhill cranes. The proposal now goes to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for approval or denial. The public - and that's the public from ALL OVER THE WORLD - is invited to make comments until August 1 - just 13 days away!

Sandhill Crane. Photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Sandhill Crane is not common on the Pacific Coast, but can be seen during fall migrations. It can be mistaken, especially in flight, for both the very rare whooping crane and the Great Blue Heron.

Here are two quotations about the Sandhill Crane from Birds of Coastal BC by Nancy Baron and John Acorn:

"Although never abundant on the coast, Sandhill Cranes are a thrill to see, whether in the air or on the ground in an open field."

"Cranes mate for life reinforcing their pair bond each year with an elaborate mating dance. It has often been equated with human dancing, but the comparison seems forced until you see the real thing. Only the right dance steps, by each bird in turn, will take them to the next step in their courtship."

For background information go to today's entries at (see link under Blogs I Enjoy). Or go directly to

Here's the petition site:

Please forward this information to friends who might be interested. If you have a facebook account, please let your friends there know.