Not only is Vancouver one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but it also boasts world class bird watching. This country is spread out over a multitude of Micro ecosystems, from the spectacular snow-capped mountains to the north, to the farmlands in the south and east. All of it is transected by the mighty Fraser River meandering through marshland, multi-armed, to the Pacific Ocean to the west. This little portion of heaven is also one of the major stops on the Pacific Flyway giving it one of the best spots for migration birding. It rarely freezes solid along the coast in the winter months, which makes it one of the only spots in Canada for winter birding of terrestrial migrants. Vancouver is solidly in the Temperate Rain Forest as well as having areas that are in the rain shadow of Vancouver Island. These two environmental facts give it an average yearly rainfall difference of 55 inches. In the south, near the border, there is just 45 inches of rain contrasting with the 99 inches that fall along the mountains to the north, all of which is located within an hour’s drive. If you are looking for an amazing birding experience, Vancouver is one of the world’s best and as a bonus, you will get the amazing scenery thrown in for free.
We can always sense when fall is in full swing when the familiar honking of geese is high in the sky as they sail south. The miracle of migration happens twice every year bringing birds to and from their homes for the season. Once, when the days get longer and the weather starts warming up, signaling the move north. Again, when the days get shorter and the young birds fly on newly feathered wings to warmer southern climates. In North America, there are four flyways that follow major landscape dividers. The Atlantic flyway captures the birds east of Hudson’s Bay and follows the coast south to Florida and beyond. The Second is the Mississippi Flyway which handles a great deal of birds from the arctic and along the western edge of the Hudson’s Bay and down the Mississippi River Valley and out across the Gulf of Mexico. The third is the Central Flyway which follows along the eastern edge of the Rockies south towards the Texas Panhandle and into Mexico’s East Coast. The Flyway that I am most familiar with is the Pacific Flyway. These are all the birds that live in Alaska and head south picking up and dropping off the birds that live in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California. We are going to have a look at the Pacific Flyway in a little more detail.