A curlew on Napier Lake Ranch (Photo by Tim Ennis / NCC)

A curlew on Napier Lake Ranch (Photo by Tim Ennis / NCC)

Spring is in full feather

Tour attendees join NCC staff for a morning of bird watching (Photo by NCC)

Tour attendees join NCC staff for a morning of bird watching (Photo by NCC)

To celebrate International Migratory Bird Day, 13 enthusiastic volunteers joined Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) staff Saturday May 12 at the Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area for a day dedicated to the birds. As the group climbed the rolling grasslands, they were surrounded by the beautiful songs of meadowlarks, vesper and savannah sparrows. They observed 66 birds representing 22 different species.

A bluebird finds a perch at the Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area (Photo by Ed Hannan)

A bluebird finds a perch at the Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area (Photo by Ed Hannan)

Following their bird walk, the volunteers were quick to lend a hand preparing bluebird boxes. Bluebirds are secondary-cavity nesters. This means that they use holes already made by woodpeckers and other wood-excavating species. Putting up nest boxes is a great way to provide additional nesting habitat for these eye-catching birds. The volunteers walked along fence lines and installed nine new homes, approximately 200 metres apart.

During a lunch break, Matt Reudink, a professor from Thompson Rivers University, gave a special presentation. Matt explained to the volunteers that bluebirds aren’t actually blue. The blue appearance of their feathers is actually caused by structures that scatter blue light and absorb other wavelengths when they hit the bird's feathers. The scattered blue light is then captured by other fine feather structures and directed outward, giving bluebirds their distinctive blue appearance. He also discussed how important citizen science initiatives like eBird and the southern interior bluebird trail society are to his research.

Matt's daughter, Autumn, wrapped up the presentation with a demonstration on how to attach a bird band. By attaching these unique multi-coloured bands, scientists and birders can help recognize individual birds from afar and track their migration.

The view from Napier Lake Ranch (Photo by Ed Hannan)

The view from Napier Lake Ranch (Photo by Ed Hannan)

To learn more about migratory birds, read our story, "On the flyway home: Get to know Canada's migratory birds" and download our printable migratory bird map and species descriptions.

 

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