Along with organizations across Vancouver, we are celebrating Vancouver Bird Week, a week-long series of events to celebrate Greater Vancouver’s birds and highlight their important roles in our ecosystems. Learn more about Bird Week and events here.
During regular operations, UBC Botanical Garden hosts Nature Vancouver’s monthly bird surveys, but the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closing of the Garden earlier this year disrupted this citizen science project’s progress and data.
Nature Vancouver’s monthly bird surveys at the UBC Botanical Garden began in March 2017. Prior to the pandemic, the surveys were conducted by about ten participants, including a few UBC Botanical Garden Friends of the Garden volunteers. To assess and list birds in the Garden, the survey team walks through the Garden, visiting ten stations. The surveys typically last between 2-4 hours depending on the number of birds sighted and/or heard. The tally of species diversity and abundance are recorded on eBird, an online database of recently sighted birds. For the details of bird species, numbers and months seen at UBC Botanical Garden, please click here.
Based on eBird data of the UBC Botanical Garden, the top twelve birds you’ll likely see at the Garden during Bird Week (Oct. 3-10) are:
- Anna’s Hummingbird
- Northern Flicker
- Common Raven
- Black-capped Chickadee
- Golden-crowned Kinglet
- Bewick’s Wren
- American Robin
- Dark-eyed Junco
- White-crowned Sparrow
- Golden-crowned Sparrow
- Song Sparrow
- Spotted Towhee
Find out more on the bird observation charts on eBird.
Due to the Garden’s closing during the early months of the pandemic, however, participants were not permitted to conduct the April, May and June bird surveys.
The result? Since the data collected for just over three years is most valuable as long-term data, the three months’ loss is less significant for analysis of any particular month. However, the loss of the three months of the monthly survey does make the data less reliable long-term, especially when looking at April to June as these are important months for bird migration and breeding birds.
So, it was with high spirits that the bird survey team received special approval to resume bird surveying in July, although with a restricted number to the team – now comprised of four volunteers, physically distanced. The reduced number of people viewing and listening means that we are likely missing a few bird observations. Before COVID-19, the group would often spread out a little when walking through the garden, and then compare notes when reconvening in various locations. Ten eyes and ears are better than four!
It will remain unknown what kinds of birds were present in the Garden between April and June. We hope to soon be able to include more observers to our team to ensure the robustness of our data as much as possible as we move forward through COVID times and beyond.
If you would like to learn more and stay in touch about participating in this citizen science project, please visit the Nature Vancouver website on birding. The Garden is currently open to visitors and guests are welcome to come explore and identify our diverse population.
At UBC Botanical Garden, diverse programs are underway exploring how citizen science can advance goals in conservation and more. Learn more about citizen science initiatives and the biodiversity of birds at the Garden in this International article called Citizen Science: A Tool to Coordinate Local Action for Global Goals on page 25.
Co-written by Shalini Nanayakkara, Marketing & Communications Assistant at UBC Botanical Garden, and Bev Ramey, Board Member of Nature Vancouver and Club Representative to BC Nature.