Birder's Guide

MAR 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 65 of 91

Southern Vancouver Island 64 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2014 345,000, the city is big enough to offer most amenities, but small enough to make people feel instantly comfortable. Tourism is the region's major industry, and each year millions of visitors experience high tea at the Empress Hotel, take a trip to the Butchart Gardens, or spend time at the Royal British Columbia Museum. When people think of Victoria as a birding des- tination, however, they often think of a single species: Sky Lark. Sky Lark A target of many listers and Big Year birders is the Sky Lark, which was released in Vic- toria along with several other British bird species in 1913. European Goldfnches, Linnets, Blue Tits, and European Robins were also in the crates transported on the four-week sea and train journey, but none managed to sustain a viable population. Only the Sky Larks thrived, increasing to a peak estimated at more than 1,000 in the 1960s. Since then, development and in- trusions into agricultural and fallow felds have reduced their preferred habitat, and the population has plummeted to fewer than 100. The most likely places to fnd Sky Larks are at Victoria International Airport and in the agricultural felds along Central Saanich Road and nearby Lochside Drive near Martindale Road. The best seasons to fnd Sky Larks are spring and early sum- mer, when their spectacular aerial court- ship displays make the birds easy to fnd. Western Specialties Other sought-after birds include American Dipper, Bewick's Wren, Pacifc Wren, Stell- er's Jay, Varied Thrush, Bushtit, Spotted To- whee, Anna's Hummingbird, and Chestnut- backed Chickadee, which is the only chick- adee species documented on southern Van- couver Island. All of these can be found year- round in suitable habitat. Spring and sum- mer additions include Black-throated Gray, Townsend's, and Orange-crowned war- blers; Pacifc-slope, Willow, Hammond's, and Olive-sided fycatchers; and Hutton's, Warbling, and Cassin's vireos. Most local birding destinations are quite accessible, and many are well suited for people with mobility issues. The shoreline features prominently on any day's birding Whiffn Spit Park near Sooke. Photo © Aziza Cooper Map © Kei Sochi 9-Vancouver.indd 64 3/4/14 1:21 PM

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