Sunday, April 5, 2020

RBA: LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE in Coquitlam - April 4th

At 2:40 pm on April 4-2020, Andrew Boycott photographed a Loggerhead Shrike along the entrance road at Colony Farm in Coquitlam. There is also a Northern Shrike in the same area.

Map to exact location HERE

This is the 95th record for the province of BC.

*As per current Public Health directives due to COVID-19 - Please remain 2 metres apart when viewing or looking for this bird. Please follow all public health directives (including not birding in groups) during this pandemic. The BC Public Health directives can be found HERE*

**eBird's statement on how to bird mindfully during the pandemic can be viewed HERE.**
Loggerhead Shrike in Coquitlam - Photos: Andrew Boycott

Monday, March 23, 2020

RBA: TUFTED DUCK in Burnaby - March 23-April 5th

At 10 am on March 23-2020, Teresa Gagné found an adult male Tufted Duck at Piper Spit at Burnaby Lake

The bird was last seen on April 5th near the boardwalk and has been viewed by multiple observers.

Map to location HERE

UPDATE: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the boardwalk and viewing tower at Piper Spit are now CLOSED.  

The duck can still be viewed from the small bridge over the creek. 

*As per current Public Health directives due to COVID-19 - Please remain 2 metres apart when viewing this bird. Please follow all public health directives (including not birding in groups) during this pandemic. The BC Public Health directives can be found HERE*

**eBird's statement on how to bird mindfully during the pandemic can be viewed HERE.**

Male Tufted Duck in Burnaby - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Male Tufted Duck in Burnaby - Photo: Denis Laplante

Saturday, March 7, 2020

RBA: SLATY-BACKED GULL in Royston - March 7th

At 11:15am on March 7-2019, Liam Singh found and photographed an adult Slaty-backed Gull at the end of Amber Way near Spindrift Rd in Royston (near Courtenay). The bird was viewed by a few other observers and Liam lost sight of it around 12:20pm. The bird was not relocated despite multiple observers looking.

Map to location HERE

This is the 83rd record for the province of BC.

Adult Slaty-backed Gull in Royston - Photos: Liam Singh

Friday, January 17, 2020

RBA: INDIGO BUNTING in Nanaimo - Jan 15-18th

An Indigo Bunting was photographed on Jan 15th by Curtis Rispin at his private home in Nanaimo. The bird was seen again on Jan 17th by several observers on Milton St between Campbell St and Wentworth St.

The bird was last seen at the same location on Jan 18th but was not relocated on Jan 19th despite multiple observers looking.

Map to general location to look for bird HERE

**Please be respectful of private property and other residents and do not block driveways.**

Indigo Bunting in Nanaimo - Photo: David Baird

Monday, January 6, 2020

RBA: MCKAY'S BUNTING in Delta - Dec 7-12th (Late Report)

At 2:15 pm on Dec 7, 2019 Mike Klotz found a pale bunting which he thought was a Snow Bunting at the Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty.  At 4:15 pm on Dec 8, 2019 Liron Gerstman found the Bunting during a Coastal Waterbird Survey and noticed it was unusually pale.  He sent me photos for a second opinion but I was away from a computer and phone access on vacation. Unfortunately this did prevent me from studying this properly and for getting the word out as widely as possible. Liron did let locals know about a pale Snow Bunting and eight people went to see it.  He also reported it as a Snow Bunting to the RBA and it was placed on the Vancouver page as a Snow Bunting. The bird remained in the same location until Dec 12, 2019. It has unfortunately not been relocated since. 

Map to location of where bird was seen on the south side of the ferry jetty HERE

With photographer permission I was able to send a series of photos to several experts including Jack Withrow - Collections Manager at the University of Alaska and to Jason Rogers (who wrote the ABA article on how to identify them). Both of them came back with several reasons as to why it was a female McKay's Bunting. Although we did not have a spread tail shot, we had a spread wing shot which proved diagnostic. Both Jack and Jason saw no reason to consider a hybrid and felt it was a pure female Mckay's Bunting. 

Some points they made (shared with permission):

From: Jack Withrow (UA Museum, Collections Manager, Birds)

"This bird matches my conception of a female McKay's best, I have no reservations calling it that. In fresh plumage like this it's sometimes hard to assess what the mantle/back would look like once the fringes wear off, but this bird is just too pale to be a male Snow Bunting (even of townsendi) in that regard and almost certainly too well marked to be a "pure" hyperboreus if it's a male (which I don't think it is). The black on the flight feathers is just about gone by the 6th (from outermost) primary (this does not happen on female Snow Buntings), and the outer webs (and tips) of the primaries are extensively white (I think beyond what you would find on a male Snow Bunting), and it's just sorta on the pale end of the Plectrophenax spectrum (e.g., almost no rust on head/neck)."

When I asked Jack if photos were needed of the third retrix to be sure of the ID he said:

"I don't think it's necessary in this case, everything else points towards a female hyperboreuspossibly an adult based on the mostly white pp coverts, seemingly dark primary color saturation, and tail feathers that appear somewhat rounded and not very pointed."

Jack also provided more info on why the bird's wing pattern is diagnostic.

"My sense is that almost no one appreciates how much variation there is in Plectrophenax buntings (there is nearly a complete cline of phenotypes). 
...your bird appears to have a wing that matches female hyperboreus best: it has a very jagged/stripped thing going on in the primaries where the black transitions to white (caused by the black extending further towards the bases on the outer vane with a concomitant extensive white edge to the outer vane) unlike all the male nivalis which are far more abrupt in this transition. The primary coverts are duskier at their bases than their tips, a pattern not seen in any male hyperboreus (at least in this series which includes many SY birds), but that matches many of the female hyperboreus quite well... I still think this is more hyperboreus than anything else."

From Jason Rogers:

"The spread-wing photo proved especially helpful here. The sharply-pointed scapular centres, brownish "black" areas, dirty white primary bases, mottled primary coverts, and fairly pristine flight feathers in combination safely identify this as a female Plectrophenax. With that established, no female Snow Bunting should appear this white. The outer primaries are extensively light, the secondaries appear immaculate, the outer greater coverts seem to have (at most) a touch of dark at the bases, and there's a strong contrast between the mantle and "back"- this is all consistent with female McKay's. Age is trickier, but I'm leaning toward adult based on feather wear and how white the primary and greater coverts appear to be. I see no reason to consider a hybrid at this point."

This is the third record for BC.

Female Mckay's Bunting in Delta - Photos: Kathryn Milligan

Female McKay's Bunting in Delta - Photos: Liron Gertsman

Friday, December 6, 2019

RBA: RED-THROATED PIPIT in Victoria - Dec 6-29th

At 1:00 PM on December 6th, Geoffrey Newell found a Red-throated Pipit at Martindale Flats in Victoria. The bird was off the South side of Island View Rd east of Lamont Rd.

He notes "I found the bird at 1:00 PM in the grassy and weedy fields on the south side of Island View Rd east of Puckle Rd. It was last seen closer to McHugh Rd (a little further east). The bird was alone, not with American Pipits, and produced its diagnostic high clear "psssssss" flight call whenever it took flight. This is my 6th Red-throated Pipit in 4 years around Victoria!"

The bird continues as of Dec. 29th in the plowed field on the south side of Island View Rd between McHugh and Puckle Rds. 

This is the 60th record for BC.

Red-throated Pipit in Victoria - Photo: Jeremy Gatten
Red-throated Pipit in Victoria - Photo: Liam Singh

Thursday, November 14, 2019

RBA: WHITE WAGTAILS near Prince Rupert - Nov 10-13th and Dec 9-11th

Erik Milton found a White Wagtail of the Black-backed subspecies (lugens) on Triple Islands Lighthouse, that he mans. The bird was present from Nov 10-13th. The bird was not seen on Nov 14th.

This location is not open to the public.

Map to location HERE

On Dec 9-11th Jim Redden found another or the same White Wagtail 32km away from Triple Islands Lighthouse at Green Island Lighthouse. A photo of the bird can be seen HERE.

The BRC has accepted this as a separate record, noting it could be the same individual that Erik Milton first found.

This is the 15th and 16th record for the province of BC.

White Wagtail in Prince Rupert - Photo: Erik Milton

Monday, November 11, 2019

RBA: BLACK-THROATED SPARROW in Revelstoke - Nov 11-Dec 9th

At 8:30 am on November 11-2019, Darlene Cancelliere found an adult Black-throated Sparrow in her yard. This is not the first rarity to visit her yard. She has also had such rarities as a Black-throated Blue Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Brambling, Sage Thrasher, Dickcissel and Blackburnian Warbler just to name a few.

The home is open to the public at 407 Edward St. Please view the bird from the front yard only and do not enter the backyard. Please be respectful of all residences in the area.

**The bird was rediscovered on Nov 23 and Dec 9 at the same location, both following snow storms**

The bird has not been seen since Dec 9th.

This is the 50th record for the province of BC.

Black-throated Sparrow in Revelstoke - Photos: Darlene Cancelliere

Sunday, November 10, 2019

RBA: IVORY GULL in Wardner - Nov 10th

At 12:15 pm on November 10-2019, Alan Barnard and Mike Bentley found an Ivory Gull on Lake Koocanusa. The bird was viewed from 50 feet away with binoculars as it flew by them. They were not able to get photos (didn't have cameras) but had clear views. Their description of an adult all white bird with black legs and greenish yellow tipped bill does not fit anything else but an Ivory Gull. A leucistic gull would be ruled out due to the black legs. The bird kept flying south after their observation and they tried to relocate it for 8 km down the lake in vain but increasing snowfall made them stop.

However, there is an area further down the river that birders should check at Koocanusa Crossing that has open water (not iced over) with plenty of spawned out Kokanee Salmon that could attract the gull.

Map to location of where bird was last seen HERE.

This is the 8th record for the province of BC.

*The gull was not relocated on Nov 11th, despite multiple observers looking over a 20km stretch for several hours.*

Saturday, November 9, 2019

RBA: BROWN BOOBY in Victoria - Nov 8th

At 1:15pm on November 8-2019, Gordon Rowles saw an adult female Brown Booby who tried to land on his sailboat. The bird was HERE about 4 miles south of Victoria and eventually flew off to the SW in the direction of Race Rocks.

This is the same bird that was recently seen in Richmond due to the notch in the same right wing. You can read about that sighting and see the photos of the wing with the damaged secondary feather HERE.

This will be treated as the same record, which is the 18th record for BC.

Brown Booby off Victoria - Photos: Gordon Rowles