Posts Tagged 'burnaby'

Burnaby Lake: January 29th 2013

I decided to take the Skytrain out to Burnaby Lake for the afternoon today. I flock of Cackling Geese had been reported on the rugby fields located at the west end of the lake. Not only did I need this species for my year list but I hoped to get a few photos. The action started off as I walked down the pedestrian only section of Sperling Avenue with a large flock of Pine Siskin. As I continued down the road I came across a small group of Black-capped Chickadees in the bushes along the side of the road with a Bewick’s Wren tagging along!

When I reached the rugby fields a quick scan revealed a large group of geese on the south easternmost field. I made my way over and confirmed that they were indeed the Cackling Geese, with a few Canada Geese along the outskirts of the group. Despite sticking to the trail on the outskirts of the field, the geese were still a bit wary of my presence and would slowly move away from wherever I stood. Eventually I just sat on some bleachers and the birds settled down a bit; though several of them would still look over in my direction every so often.

The above bird was banded, but unfortunately I couldn’t get close enough to read the bands, or get a photo where the detail on the band could be seen. Has anyone been able to read the band on this individual? Or even find out when and where it was banded?

Eventually I had to get up and get moving in order to finish birding the lake. It was clear that the geese weren’t in any mood to oblige me with a close up shot! Just to the south of the rugby fields I came across another Pine Siskin flock, except this one contained a few Common Redpolls! I managed to get off a distant shot just as it started to drizzle lightly showing a male bird. I figure there were at least fifteen individuals mixed in with the siskins.

I carried on a bit further south to the boat house at the lake’s south west corner. From here I had some distant views of Pied-billed Grebes as well as a group of three Greater Yellowlegs and thirteen sleeping Long-billed Dowitchers. Once I’d finished scanning the lake I backtracked north and walked east to Piper Spit. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary for the rest of the afternoon, the rain probably had something to do with that, but I had delightfully peaceful walk.


Rusty Blackbird at Piper Spit

On Sunday a Rusty Blackbird was reported at Burnaby Lake’s Piper Spit. I’ve never had much luck trying to see this species in Vancouver; either the birds didn’t stick around long enough or they were located somewhere I couldn’t get to quickly because school or other commitments got in the way. Thankfully, this particular bird was hanging out at a spot not far from where I go to school at Simon Fraser University and it decided to hang out for a few days until I could see it!

Not more than five minutes after I arrived on scene yesterday did I sight the bird in a tree along the path to the boardwalk pier. It was amongst a small flock of Red-winged Blackbirds who would occasionally scold the new comer if it ventured into their personal space. The bird was hopping about the tree looking underneath the leaves for insects; at one point it perched on an outstretched branch for some excellent views. Having both Red-winged and Rusty Blackbirds in the same field of view so as to compare field marks certainly helped clinch the ID too! After several minutes observation the flock suddenly sprang from the tree and took flight before disappearing out of sight.

This gave me some time to check out what else was about and I immediately noticed a Peregrine Falcon perched atop a tree overlooking the ducks gathered about the mudflat area. The bird appeared quite content to sit and survey the many Mallards, Green-winged Teals, and Wood Ducks, as well as a couple of Gadwalls, who went about their business with only an occasional glance in the predator’s direction. The falcon must not have seen anything to it’s liking and eventually flew off; garnering only a minor response from the ducks.

A little while later the Rusty Blackbird made a reappearance as it perched on the handrail of the boardwalk. I then had the privilege to watch the bird at very close range eating the odd seed or bit of bread left by visitors. The blackbird would venture out and scrounge around the grass and shrubs, even underneath the boardwalk, until it found a meal and then returned to the cover of some long grass to chow down. At several times it was less than a meter away from where I stood and seemed quite unconcerned by my presence. This allowed me the opportunity to get a handful of some terribly poor photos by holding my phone to the eyepiece of my binoculars.

An easy lifer on my way home from university, without having to go miles out of my way; a pretty decent way to cap off a school day!

A Stroll Down the TCT

On Thursday I had a rare opportunity to get out for a little bit of birding in between classes… well, I should have really been working on homework but sometimes you get that itch and you just need to bird to get it scratched. With a limited amount of time I decided to check out a stretch of the Trans Canada Trail that runs parallel to University Dr. on Burnaby Mountain.

My first notable sighting was of a Chestnut-backed Chickadee digging into a snag. The bird would peck at the excavation sight for a few seconds before flying to a nearby branch with a small chip of wood or two in its beak. The chickadee would then drop the wood chips, fly back to the snag, and repeat the process. I watched the bird continue unabated for ten minutes or so before I had to continue on.

Interestingly, male Chestnut-backed Chickadees select the nest sight but it is the female who actually prepares or constructs the nest (1). It usually takes seven to eight days to build the nest; that’s just over a week of practically non-stop hard labour (2)! After finishing the nest the female will take a day off before commencing with egg laying (2).

Further down the trail from that tough-as-nails female Chestnut-backed Chickadee I came across a mixed flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets, Black-capped Chickadees, and a lone Ruby-crowned Kinglet. In the distance a Winter Wren broke out into song and soon after a Common Raven cawed before flying above the trees where I was standing.

After my brief escape to reality I went back inside refreshed and ready for class.


  1. Fowler, Jr., K. M. 1998. Breeding biology of the Chestnut-backed Chickadee. Typed manuscript of a paper presented at the North American Ornithological Conference. 11 April 1998, St. Louis, MO.
  2. Dahlsten, Donald L., Leonard A. Brennan, D. Archibald Mccallum and Sandra L. Gaunt. 2002. Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

Naheeno Park: December 2nd 2009

The sunny weather conditions provided the perfect opportunity to take a break from studying and get out birding. I decided to check out Naheeno Park; a place I haven’t been birding before. It is located on Burnaby Mountain just south of SFU’s campus inside the “ring road” formed by University Drive and Gaglardi Way.

I ended up doing a trail that branches off of the main path (Mel’s Trail I think?) and does a loop across two creeks and then rejoins the main trail. It was quite peaceful, except for the traffic at SFU, but there wasn’t much activity as far as birds are concerned. This time of year isn’t exactly the best time to bird Burnaby Mountain; it’s better during migration when various species warblers are moving through.

At one point I did get some close up views of a flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets that decided I wasn’t a threat (or they were just too busy gaining much needed energy) and came within a meter or so of my position. In winter they feed primarily on insects and a little bit of seeds (Ingold and Galati 1997). I was able to watch them glean insects of off the leaves of a young Douglas fir; often they would hover to get at the underside of the leaves.

Despite the lack of activity I still had a great time and I look forward to revisiting Naheeno Park in the spring when it will hopefully have a lot more going on.


Ingold, James L. and Robert Galati. 1997. Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: