Beavers, Bats & Barn Swallows – Been Busy!

The 2017 breeding season produced high offspring numbers for three Stanley Park species. Here are the updates on the Park’s beavers, bats, and barn swallows.

This year, five beavers are occupying Lost Lagoon’s lodges. These lodges are technically bank dens, as they are built on the bank, in contrast to traditional beaver lodges that are surrounded by water. The family consists of two adults, two juveniles, and two kits, who share both dens of Lost Lagoon. These numbers were reported to SPES by Jean, a beaver enthusiast for many years. At the Beaver Lake lodge, the volunteer and staff surveyors counted at least four beavers, estimating two adults, one juvenile and one kit.

Beaver at Beaver Lake (Mark T White)

You want to see the beavers? They are most active at dusk and dawn. During the day, you may encounter many signs from beavers, such as cut trees and shrubs, as well as beaver trails. When beavers cut trees in the forest, they drag back branches leaving a muddy trail behind. The muddy trails are often obvious on the path on the east side of Beaver Lake. Look for mud trailing on the walk path, going from the forest to the Lake, leading to spaces between the shrubs surrounding the Lake.

Photo: Michael Schmidt / SPES

Photo: Michael Schmidt / SPES

During the summer, Stanley Park Pavilion is occupied by bats. Only females and pup bats occupy this type colony, called a maternity roost. In fall, the bats leave the maternity roost to go to their winter hibernation sites, such as caves and abandoned mines. This summer, SCBAT volunteers counted bats emerging from the maternity roost of the Stanley Park Pavilion, which attained a record high of 341 bats! With the white nose syndrome spreading at an alarming rate from Eastern to Western America, surveying the health of bat colonies is crucial. For more information on the different species of bats in BC, please visit the SCBAT website.

Barn swallow fledglings have a short tail, pale breast and a bright beak. (Photo: Erika Hyde)

Barn swallows, a blue-listed species, nest on rafters and edges under roofs of buildings and barns. This year, at the Vancouver Police Mounted Unit horse barn in Stanley Park, 54 nests were used, and 77 hatchlings and fledglings were observed. Barn swallows often reuse a nest already built and will improve the nest for the season. As small as they are, these chatty birds are full of energy. In fall, barn swallows migrate to central and South America for the winter.

For more information on SPES conservation efforts and wildlife surveys, please join SPES for its annual general meeting on November 6, 2017!

By Ariane Comeau, Conservation Technician