Birds

[Links from Natural Histories]

Internal links for the following    

Cormorant, Double-crested (Phalacrocorax auritus)
    Cormorant, Pelagic (Phalacrocorax pelagicus)
    Crow, Northwestern (Corvus caurinus)
    Eagle, American Bald (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
    Falcon, Peregrine (Falco peregrinus)
    Gull, Ring-billed (Larus delawarensis)
    Gull, Glaucous-winged (Larus glaucescens)
    Hawk, Cooper’s (Accipiter cooperii)
    Heron (Fannini subspecies – Ardea herodias fannini)
    Killdeer (Charadruis vociferus)
    Owl, Barred (Strix varia)
    Owl, Saw-Whet (Aegolius acadicus)

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Did You Know?

  • Unlike the pelagic cormorant, the double-crested cormorant has a distinctive orange gular region (upper part of throat)
  • Double-crested cormorants nests are often exposed to direct sunlight
  • Their nests are made of bulky materials and will often include junk that they find on the coast such as rope and fishing nets

Characteristics

Double-crested cormorants are black with a metallic gloss. They have a long hooked beak, bare orange skin around their face, and bright turquoise eyes

Habitat

Double-crested cormorants are found widely distributed all over North America in many types of aquatic habitats (ponds, lakes, rivers, lagoons, etc)

  • They breed mainly along the coasts, the Great Lakes and other inland bodies of water

Diet

  • The Double-crested cormorant’s diet consists mainly of fish but they also eat other aquatic animals, insects, and amphibians

 [Insert photo of nest]

Breeding

  • Double-crested cormorants nest in colonies in trees, on the ground, or in the cliffs
  • Both parents incubate the eggs for 1 month
  • The chicks fledge after 35-40 days and have grown feathers for flight

 Conservation

  • In the 1900s, the population was reduced by hunting and pesticide use. However, the population regained its numbers in the 1970s (some areas even saw an explosion of birds)
  • Double-crested cormorants are a nuisance to fish farmers and these birds have been blamed for the collapse of fisheries in some areas

Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus)

Did You Know?

  • Cormorants swim with their bills angled upwards
  • The pelagic cormorant can spring up straight out of the water and into the air
  • Pelagic cormorant is said to be the deepest diver of all the cormorants

Characteristics

  • Pelagic cormorants are distinguished by their black bodies with a metallic gloss
  • Their facial skin is a vivid magenta
  • Pelagic cormorants are much smaller than other cormorants and have a thinner bill which is hooked
  • They also differ from other cormorants for their white patches on their flanks that appear during breeding season
  • No other species of cormorant have the red gular region (upper part of throat)

 Habitat

  • The pelagic cormorant is usually found on the coast of the Pacific Ocean
  • This bird spends its winters in Southern Alaska

 

[Insert pic]

Diet

  • The pelagic cormorant’s diet consists mainly of fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates
  • Cormorants dive to chase their prey underwater, grabbing it with the bill

Breeding

  • The pelagic cormorant’s nest is made out of seaweed, feathers, and debris and is used as a place for them to lay their 3-7 blue eggs
  • It will use the same nest every year

Conservation

  • In the 1850s to 1900s, the pelagic cormorant population was greatly reduced due to human and natural disturbances

Northwestern Crow (Corvus caurinus)

Did You Know?

  • Young crows have bright blue eyes
  • Crows have been known to make more than 60 different sounds
  • Thousands fly east toward Still Creek in Burnaby every day around dusk
  • Crows in urban parks can be seen drinking from water fountains

Characteristics

  • Adults measure at 38 -43 cm (with tail) and weigh 270-350 grams
  • Birds have black feathers, legs and beak
  • Adults have dark eyes, young have bright blue eyes
  • Moustache-like feathers cover their nares (nostrils)
  • They can be very vocal and capable imitators
  • These birds are very social bird and flock in thousands

Habitat

  • The Northwestern Crow can be found in Coastal Alaska, BC and Washington

Diet

  • The Northwestern Crow’s diet includes everything: Shellfish, insects, fruit, nuts, seeds, eggs, rodents
  • They originally fed off the shoreline
  • Urban crows often feed off human garbage and road kill

Breeding

  • The birds build large nests on treetops

American Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Did You Know?

  • SPES is conducting a study of Bald Eagles in the City of Vancouver (updated? ) http://www.stanleyparkecology.ca/programs/conservation/urbanWildlife/eagles/
  • Studies from the 1960s suggest that not more than two pairs nested in the City of Vancouver during that time – one pair in Stanley Park. There are currently at least 8 Bald Eagle nests in Vancouver
  • An eagle’s nest can be 2-3 metres (6-10 feet) across and weigh 200-900 kilograms (450 to 2,000 pounds). Four human adults could sit comfortably in a nest
  • Bald eagles return and add materials to the same nest each year
  • They can reach 30-35 years of age in the wild
  • An eagle’s eye is nearly as big as a human’s but four times as sharp as that of a person with perfect vision. Eagles can spot a rabbit moving 625 metres (1 mile) away

Characteristics

  • Adults have distinctive white heads, white tail feathers and yellow beaks
  • Females are larger than males
  • Juveniles have mostly brown heads and black beaks, Eagles mature and develop adult feathering gradually,
  • They develop the distinct white head and tail completely at their breeding age, which is 4 years old

Habitat

  • Historical forest, mountain, plains, coastal and river areas
  • Thriving urban populations in park, residential and industrial areas throughout Vancouver

Diet

  • Fish, small mammals and carrion
  • Vancouver’s urban bald eagles prey on crows, gulls and rock doves during the nesting season

Breeding

  • 1-3 eggs are laid
  • Both parents raise young
  • Hatching starts in April or May after a 36-day incubation period
  • If 2 eggs hatch, the chick that is more aggressive and takes most of the food, survives

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Did You Know?

  • “Peregrine” means wanderer and the peregrine falcon has one of the longest migration periods
  • Peregrine falcons were always prized as hunting birds
  • To catch their prey, peregrine falcons drop from a spectacular height and reach speeds up to 320km/h
  • The peregrine falcon can be found on every continent except for the Antarctic and oceanic islands

Description

  • Peregrine falcons are large falcons with long pointed wings, a black head and dark upper wings, grey and black barred underparts, large yellow feet, and a yellow upper beak

Habitat

  • Peregrine falcons inhabit mostly cliffs near open areas where they can forage
  • They migrate to the Caribbean and South America

[picture] 

  • Peregrine falcons feed mainly on birds, bats and small animals
  • They hunt prey by perching up in the trees and swooping down
  • Their prey is killed instantly by a bite to the neck

Conservation

  • In the mid-1900s, the population was almost wiped out by DDT poisoning
  • The peregrine falcon was declared an endangered species until 1999 when drastic measures were enacted to save the birds
  • These birds often inhabit large cities and build nests on buildings – making them pests to some building owners

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)

Did You Know?

  • Even at two years of age, ring-billed gulls show inclinations toward magnetic bearings that guide them to their migration areas
  • Most ring-billed gulls return to the area of their birth every year and often breed with the same mate
  • The typical call sounds like “ooowww” followed by “a-a-a-a-a-a-a”
  • Ring-billed gulls are often found foraging on agricultural land or foraging  in restaurants, parking lots, and city parks

Characteristics

  • Distinctive traits of the ring-billed gull include a yellow bill with a black ring near the tip, white head and underparts with a light grey back, black wingtips, and yellow legs

Habitat

  • The ring-billed gull has amazing abilities in adapting to any coastal environment and will live on natural or man-made islands, breakwaters, piers, or waste grounds
  • They will build their nests on almost anything from sand and soil to concrete and boulders or even driftwood and rubble – anywhere near food and water

Diet

  • The ring-billed gull’s diet is quite extensive and variable. They will change their food  depending on the season
  • They usually feed on smelt and earthworms during the rainy season, insect larvae and mice during agricultural season, and on road kill, flying insects, and other young birds at other times of the year

Conservation

  • In the 1800s this bird was often hunted for the millinery trade (women’s hats) and the species was almost completely wiped out
  • Now, the ring-billed gulls are common and widespread and their population has increased substantially
  • These birds are known as pests along the coastal areas as they often gather in large numbers in public places

Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)

Did You Know?

  • Glaucous-winged gulls have a distinctive ‘keow’ call
  • It is native to the Lower Mainland and all of the north Pacific coast
  • It is a very territorial bird and most males will squabbling in defense of their territory
  • It will feed on hard-shelled items by throwing them onto rocks from the air to break them open
  • Glaucous-winged gulls have been known to interbreed with the herring gull in Alaska and one mating pair of these species was found in British Columbia

Characteristics

  • Adult birds typically size 50-60 cm in length and weigh 900-1200 g
  • Their head and underparts are white and their back is silvery grey
  • Their plumage changes while breeding. When not breeding, there is a dusky smudge on their head and neck

 

Habitat

  • Glaucous-winged gulls breed on rocky islands and coastal cliffs
  • They forage at sea in intertidal areas and feed on carrion, fish, invertebrates, seaweed, and food stolen from other marine birds

Breeding

  • Breeding mostly occurs along the coast of Washington
  • Birds first breed at four years of age
  • Gull nests are usually built on the ground

 

[A glaucous-winged gull]

Conservation

  • The population of glaucous-winged gulls has increased by 3.5 times in the last 50 years because of increased human waste
  • Since these birds forage on human waste, they are considered pests where they are found in large numbers
  • Glaucous-winged gulls nest on flat rooftops of buildings- a nuisance for building owners

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

Did You Know?

  • A Cooper’s hawks will catch a bird with its feet and squeeze it until it is dead
  • It has been known to drown prey by holding it underwater
  • It is well-known as a bird-eater and is built to fly fast
  • 23% of hawks in one research had healed fractures in their chest
  • The Cooper’s hawk appears long-necked in flight and is referred to by birdwatchers as the ‘flying cross’
  • This bird was named after William Cooper, one of the founders of the American Museum of Natural History in New York

Characteristics:

  • Adult hawks typically reach 40-50 cm in length
  • They have a dark grey or brown back, reddish white underparts, and a long, rounded tail
  • These birds capture prey from cover or while flying through vegetation, relying completely on the element of surprise

Habitat:

  • Their breeding habitat mostly includes forested areas

 

 [Photo]

Diet

  • The Cooper’s hawk hunts mainly on mid-sized birds, small mammals, lizards, frogs, snakes or large insects
  • Hawks perch in trees overlooking small birds, swoop down, scattering the birds and capturing one in flight

Conservation

  • In the late 1940s  to 1950s, the Cooper’s hawk population was declining largely due to DDT and pesticides
  • This bird is starting to adapt to breeding in urban areas and scientists hope the population will increase

Heron (Fannini subspecies-Ardea herodias fannini)

Did You Know?

  • SPES is monitoring the Great Blue Heron Nesting Colony in Stanley Park
  • Herons have nested in Stanley Park for at least 85 years
  • Herons can live for 15-20 years
  • Heron Colonies can easily be disturbed by people, but the Heronry in Stanley Park is in a parking lot, next to a high rise apartment building
  • Herons can remain completely still for minutes. They will remain motionless while hunting
  • Herons have an elaborate courtship display

Characteristics

  • Herons have a crane-like appearance, with distinct blue-grey feathering, a long neck, white head and yellow bill
  • Adults have a black crown. Breeding adults have long plumes on their chest and neck

Habitat:

  • Coastal, rivers and lakes

Diet

  • Small fish, crabs, frogs, large insects and small rodents

Breeding:

  • Herons nest in colonies that range in size
  • Herons generally lay 3-5 eggs around April, eggs hatch after about 4 weeks of incubation
  • Heron eggs are blue
  • Both parents incubate the eggs and raise their young

Killdeer (Charadruis vociferus)

Did You Know?

  • Killdeer get their name from the loud and frantic sound they make, which sounds like “kill-deeah”
  • These birds build their nests on gravel parking lots, shortgrass fields, and other open areas
  • Killdeer are strong fliers and swift runners
  • They are very helpful – especially for farmers – because they eat insect pests

Characteristics

  • Killdeer are characterized by two black bands across their white chest and an orange lower back, rump and tail
  • From bill to tail, adults measure 23-28 cm and typically weigh up to 100g

Habitat

  • Although technically classified as shorebirds, killdeer lives mainly in open areas, such as fields, pastures and dry uplands
  • Killdeer are very common across most of southern Canada but are very rare in northern forested regions

Diet

  • Typical food sources include insects and other invertebrates
  • Beetles, larvae, and wire-worms make up 40% of their diet. Grasshoppers, ants, caterpillars, bugs and dragonflies make up another 40%. Spiders, ticks, centipedes, worms, crabs and other crustaceans make up 18%. Vegetable matter make up the last 2% of the killdeer’s diet

 Breeding

  • Most killdeer have already found a mate when they return from migration
  • If mate-less, they begin the courtship process, which includes high flight patterns or an elaborate show of its beautifully-coloured wings and let out a long trilling note
  • Females typically lay 4-5 pear-shaped eggs
  • Killdeer young are born with just one band across the chest
  • As soon as their down is dry, the young head out of the nest and fend for themselves on the ground and begin flying approximately 40 days after birth

Conservation:

  • In the 19th century, killdeer were hunted for food and sport and they became scarce in the eastern US and Quebec
  • Now they are protected across North America
  • Killdeer are sometimes difficult to see for birdwatchers because they let out a loud cry and scare off other birds in their surroundings
  • Every year, nests in open fields are destroyed by domestic and farmland animals
  • Killdeer are a nuisance to farmers
  • Ground-nesting birds like the killdeer are more vulnerable to predators due to their nesting locations

Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Did You Know?

  • Voice sounds typically include the barking “hoo hoo hoho, hoo hoo ho-hooooaawr”

Description

  • The barred owl adult is usually 44 cm long with a wingspan of 112 cm
  • It has a pale face with a yellow bill and brown eyes
  • Other than its brown colour, the barred owl is distinguishable by its dark-streaked belly

Habitat

  • The barred owl’s main habitat includes dense woods across Canada, eastern United States and Central America
  • It often nests in tree cavities

 [pic]

Diet

  • The barred owl feeds mostly on mice. It also feeds on rabbits, chipmunks, foxes, possums and fish

Breeding

  • Males hoot and females give contact calls
  • As the nesting season approaches, males chase after females giving a variety of hooting and screeching calls
  • Males display by swaying back and forth, and raising their wings, while sidling along a branch
  • Courtship feeding and mutual preening also occur

Conservation

  • The barred owl may be responsible for the decline of the northern spotted owl native to the east coast. In competition barred owls are typically stronger than the spotted owl
  • Since the 1960s, barred owls have expanded their range to the west because human development have made the region a more suitable environment for them

Saw-Whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

Did You Know?

  • Saw-whet owls prey mainly on mice and larger mice are eaten over two meals
  • Saw-whet owls have died trying to swallow mice whole
  • The female keeps the nest clean while brooding her young. After 18 days, she leaves and the nest fills up with feces, pellets, and rotting prey
  • The female is larger than the male
  • If seen, the owl will stand completely still and not fly away so that they appear “tame”
  • The saw-whet owl was named after its call which sounds like a saw being sharpened with a whetstone

Description

  • Saw-whet owls are characterized by the absence of ear tufts, white faces outlined in brown and white, white under-parts streaked with brown, yellow eyes, and black beaks
  • Typical adult saw-whet owls measure 18-21 cm and have a wingspan of 42-48 cm
  • Saw-whet owls are very small with very large heads

 

Habitat

  • Saw-whet owls generally live in wooded swamps or bogs but have a very large range
  • It can migrate but is well adapted to varying climates and temperatures
  • Their breeding habitat is in coniferous forests across North America

Diet

  • The saw-whet owl’s diet consists mainly of small rodents but can include crustaceans and aquatic insects along the coast
  • They have amazing vision in low light and exceptional hearing
  • Their hunting technique includes perching on a low branch at night and swooping down on their prey

Conservation

  • Sometimes these owls are found roosting in parks and gardens – albeit discretely