The spring season is nearly here in the Columbia Valley and as such, it is time to start preparing for a flurry of winged visitors. The Columbia Wetlands are one of the longest continuous wetlands in North America and the only natural stretch of the Columbia River that remains, making it a great place to view birds in their natural habitat! The wetlands will soon become home to many thousands of birds that come to rest and feed for a short time before continuing northward on their migration journey. The Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey (CWWS) is a five-year citizen-science project run through Wildsight Golden, which aims to count and identify birds that use the wetlands during periods of peak bird migration.
“A major goal of the CWWS is to collect baseline bird data that will enable us to nominate the Columbia Wetlands into the ‘Important Bird and Biodiversity Area’ (IBA) program,” states Program Biologist Rachel Darvill. “If IBA status is achieved, this will showcase to the world the vital importance of the Columbia Wetlands in terms of its habitat value to birds.” There are additional positive benefits to the CWWS program, including birding field trips provided to school-aged children, presentations to elected officials, as well as public educational bird walks, and recommendations leading to habitat conservation. The program also helps to fulfill Ramsar and Wildlife Management Area responsibilities.
The waterbird survey helps expand community member’s knowledge of local ecosystems by having them assist in scientific research as trained and qualified volunteers. “We are looking for people of all ages to become active citizen-scientists in the waterbird survey,” states Darvill. “Since the program’s inception in 2015, volunteers have ranged from having a lifetime of bird watching experience, to newcomers who are just starting to take an interest in birding. We encourage all to participate.”
The dates for this spring’s waterbird surveys are Tuesday April 3rd, Tuesday April 10th and Monday April 16th from 8am-11am. Come join us for an inspiring and fun morning in nature. Participating in the CWWS is a wonderful way to learn about birds and the unique Columbia Wetlands habitat, an internationally recognized wetland right in our own backyards!
Free training is available for new volunteers in Golden (March 28th) and Invermere (March 29th) from 5- 7pm. These sessions will provide guidance on monitoring birds, training on bird identification, as well as everything they need to know to take part in the survey. High optical equipment and field guides can be loaned to participants in need. If you are interested in volunteering or would like to find out more about the CWWS, please contact CWWS Program Biologist Rachel Darvill at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-344-5530. You can also visit the Wildsight Golden Facebook page for event details. Wildsight Golden graciously acknowledges the financial support of the Columbia Basin Trust, Wildlife Habitat Canada, Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners and the Province of BC Gaming Grant.