SPES Saturday: Birds, Berries, and Bogs OH MY

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StanleyParkEcologyThis post has been contributed by Dan Straker, Dipl. Tech., B.A., Co-Existing with Coyotes Coordinator with the Stanley Park Ecology Society (“SPES”). I have been following SPES since I moved into the West End almost eight years ago and I recently became a member. I wanted to offer the team an opportunity to share their news, events, and work so I have created “SPES Saturday” where they will be contributing stories with my audience once a month.

Birds, Berries, and Bogs OH MY

Summer is fast approaching, and there’s a lot to see in Stanley Park right now. Vancouver is a very important stop for migrating birds, and they are taking time to stop, rest and refuel for an even longer migration. Earlier this spring you may have heard the light-sabre like hum of Rufous hummingbirds as they swarmed and sucked the sweet nectar from the blooming salmonberry flowers. By now most of the pinkish-purple flowers have been sucked dry and shriveled to make way for the wonderfully colourful salmonberries of vibrant oranges, reds and yellows. Salmonberry thickets can be found throughout the park, but are most common on the brighter paths of creekside trails, like North Creek or South Creek trail around Beaver Lake.

Small bird, of irate disposition
A Spotted Towhee in Stanley Park. Photo credit: colink. on Flickr

Don’t forget to perk up your ears for the echoing song of the Swainson’s Thrush and the quizzical yet resolute chirps of the American robin as they look to dine on a fine delicacy of salmonberries. Many birds desperately need all the food they can get this time of year, so please refrain from picking the berries in the park and think of the birds. Even better why not come to our Create a West Coast Garden* workshop (Sunday, June 23rd, from 1:30pm to 3:30pm) and learn some tips to create much needed bird habitat in your garden, backyard, or any greenspace you have access to. By encouraging local birds and butterflies to visit your backyards and gardens, you are helping to promote a much richer and healthier ecosystem and you will get to see some of these wonderful birds up close without having to leave the comfort of your home.

As the salmonberries are busy sewing their seeds, so too are the birds that eat them… so to speak. Many of our local birds have long since finished building their nests and are busy watching eggs hatch andhelping their little chicks to fledge – that’s just a fancy way of saying “learning to fly.” If you come across a young bird on the ground squawking away, don’t panic or try to save them, this little guy is just testing out its wings. Grab a friend, or make one, at our Birds of a Feather program (Sunday, June 30th, from 9:00am to 11:00am, by donation) while we take you on a walking tour to learn about bird identification and behaviour in the park. You might even catch a glimpse of a first time flyer.

Maybe birds aren’t your thing, that’s OK, not everyone loves birds. Get your feet wet and explore a world of waves and constant change on an intertidal adventure with our Surprising Shoreline Walk (Sunday, June 9th from 1:30pm to 3:30pm, ages 6 and over, by donation). Discover the amazing creatures, like otters and crabs, that live in this unique environment and the creative ways they survive. Or if that doesn’t float your boat, come check out our Wonderful Wetlands* (Sunday, June 16th, 1:30pm to 3:30pm) walk where you’ll learn all about the importance of bogs and marshes in keeping our water fresh and clean, and the amazing creatures like beavers and salamanders that live in them.

*Nature Program Fees: $5 for SPES members, children and seniors. $10 for non-members. For more information on SPES events, please visit the events calendar. Pre-registration is recommended for nature programs. Email programs[at]stanleyparkecology.ca or call (604) 718-6522.

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