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PG Birds – Our Wonderful Spring Avian Friends Arrive

The Local Take, Things to Do

Who doesn’t like spring? Clearly it seems our feathered friends do! As soon as the temperature warms, winter’s snow melts, the green hues return to foliage, flowers blossom, and insects appear in abundance, spring birds begin to arrive and fill our forests with their excited mating songs and calls.

Spring Migration
Many of the bird species seen around Prince George in the spring, summer and early fall months are migrants. Some of these migrating birds spent the winter in warmer places as close as Vancouver Island or Washington State; others have returned from Central or South America! Some of these migrating species stop and breed and raise their young in the Prince George area; others just pass through in early spring or the fall on their way to and from breeding areas much further north. Regardless of where they stop and breed, these migrating birds present delightful avian colour, shapes, sizes, sounds and behaviours for us all to enjoy. 

Lookin’ Good – and more
The beautiful songs and bright colours of our spring birds fill our forests, yards and gardens, contributing to our quality of life. But wild birds do more than simply ‘look nice’ in our environment. For example, many of them add great value to us by helping control insect populations, or by helping pollinate useful or attractive plants. And bird droppings help spread plant seeds and nutrients around.

Common Spring Birds
Ravens, crows, woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches are commonly seen throughout the year, and certainly in the spring. You can now also readily observe various hawk and falcon species sitting atop fence posts, Hydro poles or trees, or seemingly drifting lazily over fields in search of their next meal. Brightly coloured warblers, finches, tanagers, sparrows, thrushes, and other species can be seen flitting about in wooded areas and shrubs. Look for Bald Eagles and Ospreys hunting or perching along the Fraser and Nechako Rivers. Abundant waterfowl and shorebirds also will be seen along our rivers and in local wetlands. And then, you might hear male Ruffed Grouse ‘drumming’ or Northern Flicker woodpeckers annoyingly (to us) hammering away at metal chimney flashing to attract a mate.

Less Common Bird Visitors
Although less commonly observed, stately and elegant Sandhill Cranes might be seen searching for insects, worms, small mammals or seeds in cultivated fields surrounding the city. Beautiful Wood Ducks may be spotted in riverside sloughs and other wetlands. From mid-April through June, you might see some well-camouflaged Long-billed Curlews probing the soil for worms in agricultural areas in and around the city. Long-billed Curlews are a blue-listed (threatened) species in British Columbia, which have been expanding their range northwards to Prince George and surrounding areas – perhaps due to shrinking suitable habitat further south. Landowners and birding enthusiasts can help these birds by being very careful not to disturb their ground nests and young during the breeding period.

Feeding ‘hummers’ and other birds
Rufous and Calliope Hummingbirds will quickly find and regularly visit hummingbird feeders. If you do feed hummingbirds, a mixture of one-part white sugar (do not use other kinds of sugar, nor honey) to four parts water is best. Bring the water and sugar just to a boil, then cool it down before putting it out for the birds. Select a feeder that will be easy to clean inside and out and do so regularly to prevent bacterial and other contamination that can harm the birds.

Feeding birds in the spring and summer is usually not necessary, as plentiful natural food is typically available to the birds. Also, commercial bird food can attract bears and other wild animals to forage around our homes or neighborhoods, leading to conflicts and undesirable interactions with people. As well, do not disturb nests or young birds; doing so can cause adult birds to abandon the nests and even their young.

Birding Spots in Prince George

Some great places in and around Prince George to do your birdwatching include Cottonwood Island Park; Ferguson Lake Regional Park; Forests for the World Municipal Park; Hudson’s Bay Wetland; McMillan Creek Regional Park; Pineview – Airport area; West Lake Provincial Park; Cranbrook Hill Greenway trail; and Wilkins Regional Park. More details about any of the above can be obtained by contacting the Prince George Naturalists Club. Enjoy your spring birding!

Photos and text by Dave Leman, Prince George, BC

TUNE IN: Discover more about birding with Dave Leman and Clive Keen on our podcast episode, The Take on Prince George’s Fellow Feathered Friends. Listen now!