Spring is here! Rejoice in the colours, the life, the smell of the fresh, crisp air and the sun on your skin. I am very excited! Its my first spring as a real birder. I am looking forward to babies, breeding plumage and new species I might have seen, but never really identified before.
One of my very favourite birds to watch and see is the Anna’s Hummingbird. They are the only hummingbirds to winter-over on Vancouver Island (although they didn’t always do so). I recently learned they have already bred for the season! They are true early birds, having bred at the end of January. I hope to see our other island hummingbird, the Rufous Hummingbird, arrive soon. Apparently they are already on their way north, embarking on the longest migration of any hummingbird species. How incredible of these tiny birds to migrate so far. Nature never ceases to amaze me.
I already identified some new birds just the other day! I went for a walk at a lagoon and what at first I thought was a group of all European Starlings at varying stages of life actually was not. When I caught them in the right lighting, it turned out they were European Starlings and Brewer’s Blackbirds all hanging out around the same bushes.
The European Starling is an invasive species and their presence in BC contributes heavily to the decline in Purple Martins because of competition for cavity nesting spaces. To make matters worse, the invasive starlings also have more than one set of babies each breeding season. I was lucky to see Purple Martins last summer on Sidney Island (part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve) and I adored watching them, but I can’t help but admire the Starlings and their colourful plumage, too. I guess I can’t help feeling something for all living things.
As I walked along the lagoon, I could hear the calls of the Red-winged Blackbird on the other side of the shore. This was a new bird for me a few weeks ago when I went for a walk around a bog. They were in and among the cattails and I stopped to watch and listen. The trill of their song stuck in my memory; something about it was distinct and even though I couldn’t see them in the wetlands across the lagoon, I knew they were there just by the sound of their call. Listen here from Audubon.
I’m hoping to start learning more birds by their song. I know the distinct song of the Anna’s Hummingbird very well now from hearing it so many times. I notice it often and immediately start looking around for my favourite little green bird.