Spring Bird Count, 2020

House Wren, photo Norah Johnson

This year the Cortes Island Museum called out to island birders to participate in the Spring Birding Event individually or in a family group (that’s different from before because of the COVID-19 virus and the need to self-distance.) And you responded!

Forty-two people participated this year, recording the bird species sighted on May 2nd, and because of poor weather, continuing through May 3rd. People were spread out around the island, observing in their backyards, ponds, forests and nearby beaches. We recorded 102 species, breaking our previous best by a whopping 20 species!

Judging by the feedback received, it was a fun time for all those who participated! So, learning from this, we plan to modify future Spring Birding Events. Islanders will have the option to participate individually or join other birders sharing skills and knowledge. We also decided to choose the main count day (usually the first Saturday in May) but include birds sighted the day before and after, believing this will give us a more accurate picture of what species are present.

All participants could report highlights of their count day! Some of the most interesting include a Lazuli Bunting spotted by a few folks at Tiber Bay, Townsend’s Solitaires observed at Smelt Bay, and four species of swallows spotted in the south end (Violet-green, Tree, Northern Rough-winged and Barn Swallows). Interesting shore birds noted include Black-bellied Plovers, Greater Yellowlegs, Black Turnstones and Semipalmated Sandpipers.

The complete listing of this year’s and previous years’ counts can be found on the museum’s website:


If you have chickadees visiting a feeder, keep a sharp eye out for a Mountain Chickadee, with a distinctive white eyebrow through its black cap and lacking any chestnut colouring. If possible, snap a picture. There were unconfirmed sightings in the Hague Lake area… and we will add it to the list if the sighting is confirmed.

A couple of comments we received from participants:

“It was a fun activity to do at home and I learned a lot about these birds, even though the weather was not great for spotting, it was great for reading up about them.”

“This was a fantastic ‘event’ for us, lots of fun, and much for us to learn. Thank you.”

Thank you to all who participated. We hope you’ll join the Christmas Bird Count held sometime from mid-December to January 5th.

And thank you John, George, Gerri, Norah, Christian and Jurek for contributing bird pictures. You can view them here:

google albums: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Jn8Wf9AnaJgiFUULA