BC’s Breeding Bird Atlas Project

🕔May 22, 2008
As spring turns into summer, birds continue to fly in from the south to join our year-round residents. At dawn and dusk, their collective singing can be almost deafening. They’ve come here with a purpose: it’s time to breed!In our brief northern summer, birds have to get right at their task. The singing is part of it: males establishing territories, attracting mates and—research is now showing—singing just for the joy of it. Then there’s nest-building, egg-hatching, feeding the young and helping them get started safely in the world beyond the nest. Some species, like robins, may raise more than one brood in a season. By autumn, if all’s gone well, everyone’s ready for the long trip back to the southern wintering grounds, or to stay here and survive the northern winter. It’s a huge task, and pretty phenomenal that they can pull it off.There still remains much to be learned about this amazing process. For a start, we don’t really even know exactly which species of birds use which areas in the province—or which habitats within those areas.The BC Breeding Bird Atlas is a seven-year project to help determine the distribution and relative abundance of birds across BC. The results will form a foundation for conservation policy and legislation, and will show where birds are breeding and how abundant they are. This information will be available as interactive, on-line maps, as well as in a book format. Anyone will be able to access these; the data can be used for environmental assessment of development projects, and to answer questions about how climate change affects birds and our environment. If this project is repeated, the data will provide information about the changes in abundance of BC’s birds in response to changes in habitat, climate change, development, etc.Birds are important environmental indicators. Their presence and abundance provide an early warning of the state of ecosystems, and their eggs and tissues track trends of environmental contaminants. Birds help keep ecosystems in balance by consuming large quantities of insects, spiders, worms, rodents, seeds, and much more. Some are scavengers—helping clean up “dead things”—and some pollinate flowers. They are also an important part of the food chain themselves, providing sustenance for many species of animals—including some other birds.Unique BCOver 300 species of birds breed in BC each year—more than in any other Canadian province. Sixty-five species breed nowhere else in Canada. For a few species, BC holds the majority of the world population.The BC Breeding Bird Atlas is a fun project, open to anyone. All you need are binoculars and some bird-watching experience—or the desire to learn. People often ask how they can help conserve birds, and this is the perfect way! Any observation of a bird during breeding season—whether singing, carrying nesting material or food, feeding young or on the nest—is valuable. Anyone who wants to learn how to recognize birds and their songs is encouraged to get involved.For the project, BC has been divided into squares 10×10 km in 40 regions. If you sign up for a square, you will be asked to observe it for at least four hours per year over five years, recording any evidence of birds breeding there. Each region has a regional coordinator who will help people and assign squares. If you happen to be travelling, you can record and report any bird observations anywhere in BC, noting the date, location, time, species, and what it was doing (i.e. breeding evidence). It is particularly important to get involved if work or recreation takes you into BC’s remote areas. All observations are welcome, so we encourage people to make bird-watching part of their everyday lives over the next five years, no matter where they are in the province. Data can be entered on-line, or on a form available from your regional co-ordinator.Whether or not you want a specific area, please download the regional species list and get the data forms so you know what data is required.

Region 30 Prince George
Sandra Kinsey (250-963-8381)

Region 31 Fraser Plateau
Joanne Vinnedge (250-996-7401)

Region 32 Burns lake
Judy Kleger (250-695-6585)

Region 33 Bulkley Valley
Rosamund Pojar (250-847-9429)

Region 34 Terrace
Dianne Weismiller (250-635-6984)

Region 35 Prince Rupert
Robin Weber (250-627-1129)

Region 36 Haida Gwaii
Peter Hamel (250-626-5015)

Region 37 Atlin
Pam Sinclair (867-667-3931)

Region 38 Dease Lake
Ted Murphy-Kelly (867-456-7431)