Photo Courtesy Colleen Hutton–Western Tanagers
It’s a colourful addition to the spring landscape, and the music doesn’t hurt either.
In the past few weeks, migratory birds have been flocking to Prince George.
Dr. Ken Otter is a UNBC Biologist. He has been tracking the migration and behaviours of White-throated Sparrow since 2002. “This particular species is doing really well because; as you can see from around here, they love ‘edge habitat’. So they love disturbed habitat. You actually don’t find them in deep forest. They like open habitat, edges, power line cuts.”
Dr. Otter estimates there are hundreds of millions of the sparrow in our region. However, other species have been on the decline. “The more sort of clearing we have; and a lot of that is related to things like mountain pine beetle and the salvage logging that goes on, it creates a lot of habitat that’s in this early regeneration. That’s great for certain species, but it may start to see a decline in other species that are more dependent on bigger forests.”
Colleen Hutton is a Prince George photographer. Her porch is frequented by hundreds of birds each day, but one species stands out. “Western Tanagers. I had seen them years ago. I think 2001 was the last time the Western Tanagers really invaded Prince George. Then I looked out the window the other day and I recognized it, and I am scrambling to get a picture of it. Then all of the sudden there is hundreds of them!”
“The Western Tanagers are in massive numbers at the moment in the city,” says Dr. Otter. “That’s partly because when you get these cold spells, they tend to come in, hunker down for a couple days, recuperate and then they will move off. It depends a little on what the weather is north of here. If the weather north of here is bad then the birds all arrive, they don’t leave and new birds arrive every night. ”
Hutton plans to make the most of their stay. “I have heard they go as far north as Alaska. So maybe they are just staying in Prince George right now because of the weather conditions further north. Like tomorrow they could be gone, and we might not see them again. So I am really enjoying them while I can.”