Birds Along the Trail
Woody Wheeler, Master Birder, continues to lead monthly bird watching walks along a one-mile section of the trail that has been restored. Under Woody’s guidance, volunteers observe and count birds. Through this tally, we see an increase in both the number of birds along the trail and the number of species. We have seen a steady increase in these number since we began the bird walks in 2009. We propose that this is due to the increased food available from native plant species, as native birds are adapted to forage from these plants but not the invasive non-native species that previously occupied the trail.
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Burke Gilman Bird Walk Annual Report - 2020
By Woody Wheeler
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything – even bird walks on the Burke-Gilman. For starters, we could not gather in large groups for most of the year, and as the year progressed, only in small, masked, socially-distanced groups. Consequently, our human participant number was down from 95 to 57 total. Nonetheless, we still conducted all 12 monthly bird walks/counts, one with only Jim and me. We held steady with a grand total of 49 species of birds, the same as the year before, and 1,624 individual birds – a decrease from the year before. Our count totals would likely have been greater if we had been able to have more counters. COVID regulations, alas, prevented that from happening in 2020. We hope to be back in full force in terms of walkers/counters mid-way through 2021.
Among our many interesting bird/wildlife encounters were the following:
January: Watching a Bald Eagle being harassed by American Crows, and a Cooper’s Hawk hunting in spot #1
Feb: Getting a nice look at a Lincoln’s Sparrow at spot #2
March: Meeting up with raptor expert Ed Deal and then, seeing with him a pair of Cooper’s Hawks in action
April: Finding Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers in abundance.
May: Watching Neotropical migrants flooding through. The trees were literally swarming with warblers, vireos and tanagers.
June: Finding Western Wood Pewees and Willow Flycatchers; also watching a Pileated Woodpecker chip away at a snag at ground level.
July: Being in close proximity to Steller’s Jays as they harvested hazel nuts just feet away.
August: Observing large flocks of Bushtits foraging on Hazelnut Trees and Ocean Spray shrubs.
September: Spotting uncommon species, including several south-bound Western Tanagers and a flock of Band-tailed Pigeons
October: Noting the return of Mallard Ducks to standing water along the trail during wet winter months ahead
November: Having a close encounter with a Golden-crowned Kinglet, just five feet overhead.
December: Following several years where they were not commonly seen, Pine Siskins irrupted in late 2020. We saw evidence of this.
Photos of some of our sightings: Lincoln's Sparrow, Northern Flickers, Pileated Woodpecker