The fall waterbird surveys will take place on September 29, October 5, and October 15 from 10 am to 1 pm. There will be free training sessions for volunteers and a limited amount of optical equipment (scope/tripod) lent to volunteers in need. If you’re interested in being part of this citizen-science project or would like to learn more about the waterbird surveys, please contact the program biologist at email@example.com or call 250-344-5530.
What is the Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey?
The CWWS is a coordinated bird count that utilizes citizen-scientists to gather baseline data. There are many important outcomes of this project, including scientific contributions for species at-risk. Beyond data collection, this community-based project aims to enhance and maintain the biodiversity and habitat of the Wetlands through increased awareness (e.g. school-aged education programs) of its ecological significance. By providing an active citizen-science role, volunteers are becoming directly engaged with wildlife and local landscapes making them better informed to make sustainable personal decisions with positive actions in the wetlands.
It is our hope that this data will also result in the Columbia Wetlands being designated as an ‘Important Bird and Biodiversity Area’ (IBA).
Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas hold significant conservation value for the habitat they provide to birds. The goal of the IBA Program is to identify, monitor and protect the most vital areas of bird habitat in Canada so that conservation action can be directed in the most effective way possible. Canada’s IBAs are part of a global system of more than 10,000 sites worldwide, which gives them a conservation currency that transcends borders and promotes international collaboration for protecting the world’s birds. Designation as an IBA has profound benefits: ; it can influence land-use planning and decision-making; it allows for the collection of baseline data leading to on-the-ground habitat action projects, and it can increase tourism around birding.
The CWWS program has many additional benefits:
- We deliver school-aged and adult educational opportunities so that community members can learn more about wetlands and birds.
- Helps fulfill Ramsar and Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area responsibilities.
- Connects local residents with the Columbia Wetlands ecosystem by getting them engaged in citizen science.
- We are investigating possible locations for Columbia Wetlands birding infrastructure, e.g. bird blinds, board walk.
- Before further conservation actions are recommended or implemented for the Columbia Wetlands, we need to determine where the the most significant migration stopover habitat units are located; we are doing this.
- We are learning where specific and significant habitat parcels are located in the Columbia Wetland that are utilized by at-risk birds such as the Western Grebe, Horned Grebe and Eared Grebe.
- We form partnerships and develop collaborations with other birding and wetland conservation organizations.
During the 2018 spring waterbird surveys, over 48 000 individual birds were counted, our highest spring count to date since the program began in 2015! The summary data with species counts can be accessed near the bottom of the page.
This past spring, 77 dedicated volunteers participated in the waterbird survey. This waterbird survey covers approximately 40% of the Columbia Wetlands ecosystem by counting birds from 103 ground-based survey stations. The species with the highest number of individual birds seen on a single day were Mallards, who peaked at almost 5000 on April 10th. Other notable high counts for species seen on a single day were American Wigeons at almost 2500, and Northern Pintails at nearly 1000, on April 10th. Also of interest, the survey reported a relatively high number of Northern Shovelers (493 individuals on April 16th) and swan species (872 individuals on April 3rd).
Ready to get involved? We are actively recruiting volunteers for this exciting large-scale citizen-science initiative. Free training sessions are held prior to each round of survey dates. These sessions cover bird identification techniques, data entry and the protocol used to count and ID birds.
If you would like to participate in the program by identifying and counting birds at pre-determined survey stations, or learn more about the program, please contact:
Rachel Darvill, BSc., MSc.
Program Biologist – Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey
To read our new Summer 2018 newsletter, click here.
To read the CWWS Progress Report 2015-2017, click here.
To read our Spring 2017 newsletter, click here.
To read the magazine article in PHOTONews Magazine featuring CWWS, click here.
To see our CWWS brochure that is being distributed throughout the region, click here.
This program is supported by: Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, The McLean Foundation, Vancouver Foundation-Stewart Fund, Wings Over the Rockies, Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners, and the Province of BC (Gaming Grant).
Ring-necked duck image. Photo credit: Brent Wellander at kootenaynaturephotos.com
Birders with scope. Photo credit: Loni and Norm Funnell
Thank you to our funders: