Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Gulf Island Passerines

This is the second in a series of posts on my recent Gulf Islands sailing trip.  You can find Part 1 here.

The Gulf Islands are dotted with parks and protected areas, both marine and terrestrial.  The flagship park is the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve which was established in 2003 and covers 36 square kilometres of land scattered around the islands.  There are also eight provincial parks, including Montague Harbour where we spent one night on the trip.  Of course all of these protected areas, with thick forests and dense shrubbery, provide rich habitat for bird life.
Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus, love tangled overgrown shrubbery so they love the Pacific Northwest.  They call "Drink TEA" and occasionally pop up to more visible perches to sing, look around, or be photographed.
Russell Island is a small island off Saltspring entirely held under the Gulf Islands National Park.  We woke up in this anchorage to hear Pacific Wrens singing across the water and found this Orange-crowned Warbler, Oreothlypis celata, during a hike around the trails.
Golden-crowned Sparrows, Zonotrichia atricapilla, are common on the coast but this was a new species for me when I spotted this one mixed in with a flock of White-crowned Sparrows.
Here's one of the aforementioned White-crowned Sparrows, Zonotrichia leucophrys, a few weeks before they show up in Calgary.
I know this is not a passerine, but I wanted to include this Rufous Hummingbird, Selasphorous rufus, as it was another bird that succeeded in drawing the interest and admiration of my crowd of non-birding teenagers.
Those are few of the smaller birds that we saw on our trip but the hummingbird was not the bird that most wowed the crowd, as we'll see next week....

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