The five-year Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey (CWWS) project was completed at the end of 2019. Between 2015-2019, the CWWS engaged more than 230 volunteering citizens in documenting over 380,000 birds in the Columbia Wetlands.
We are currently pursuing the ‘Important and Bird Biodiversity Area’ (IBA) designation for the Columbia Wetlands using data gathered through the CWWS.
What is the Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey?
The CWWS was a coordinated bird count that utilizes citizen-scientists to gather baseline data. There were many important outcomes of this project, including scientific contributions for species at-risk. Beyond data collection, this community-based project aimed 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 became 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 had many additional benefits:
- We delivered school-aged and adult educational opportunities so that community members can learn more about wetlands and birds.
- Helped fulfill Ramsar and Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area responsibilities.
- Connected local residents with the Columbia Wetlands ecosystem by getting them engaged in citizen science.
- We investigated 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 needed to determine where the the most significant migration stopover habitat units are located: we are doing this.
- We earned where specific and significant habitat parcels are located in the Columbia Wetlands that are utilized by at-risk birds such as the Western Grebe, Horned Grebe and Eared Grebe.
- We formed partnerships and develop collaborations with other birding and wetland conservation organizations.
If you would like to know more about the program, please contact:
Rachel Darvill, BSc., MSc., RPBio
Program Biologist – Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey
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: Pat Morrow
Aerial view of Columbia Wetlands. Photo credit: Rachel Darvill
Thank you to our funders: