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BC's Breeding Bird Atlas

As a follow-up to last week's bluebird post , we thought we'd feature another HCTF wildlife project that BC birders can get involved in. The BC Breeding Bird Atlas is an ambitious project that unites the bird-watching community with biologists, management agencies, industry, academics and conservation organizations to create a comprehensive record of the status of breeding bird species in BC. Once complete, the atlas with serve as a key information source for both the wildlife management and wildlife viewing communities. The project was initiated by Bird Studies Canada (BSC) in response to the lack of data available for many of BC's bird species. Without current information on bird population numbers and distribution, it's difficult to make informed decisions about their conservation and management. The task of collecting data for a province the size of BC would be insurmountable for a single organization, but by combining the enthusiasm of local birders, the expertise of professional ornithologists and the back-country access of guide outfitters , BSC has done just that. The Atlas website now allows site users to access annual data summaries, print regional checklists, and view maps visually summarizing the results of their data collection. You can choose to display...
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HCTF Acquisition Map

Since 1981, HCTF has contributed over $20 Million dollars to the acquisition of conservation lands. These investments have helped to secure close to 140 properties, or approximately 23,000 hectares of valuable habitat in nearly every region of BC. You can view the locations of these properties on our new HCTF Conservation Land Acquisition Map .    View HCTF Conservation Land Acquisitions in a larger map

Bluebird Update

We received a great update on the HCTF-funded Western Bluebird Reintroduction Project . It seems July has seen a number of hatchings, including the second clutches of 2013 for two of the re-introduced pairs! The spring hatchlings are now fully-fledged juveniles and are doing great: they can now hunt for wild insects on their own, and will likely help their parents with the feeding of their newly-arrived siblings. GOERT's Julia Daly and Species-at-Risk biologist Trudy Chatwin estimate that there are over 38 Western Bluebirds flying about the Cowichan Valley these days, which includes all the juveniles and nesting parents. Thanks to GOERT for supplying the following photos to show us how the birds are doing.      
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Bringing Back the Bluebirds

  The Western Bluebird was once a common site on Vancouver Island. This brilliantly-coloured bird species thrived here and on the neighbouring Gulf Islands until the 1950's, when their numbers began to steadily decline. By the 1990s, bluebirds were no longer breeding in southwestern BC, and were soon considered to be extirpated (locally extinct). What caused this once prolific species to disappear? The primary factor is likely habitat loss. Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters, meaning they rely on holes left by woodpeckers in standing deadwood to build their nests. If most of these dead trees are removed (either through logging practices or urban development), the birds are left with little in the way of natural nesting habitat. Bluebirds face steep competition for the few remaining cavities, as these are also sought after by introduced species such as starlings and house sparrows. Human activity has undoubtedly impacted the bluebirds' distribution, but there is good reason to believe that human intervention will help return the species to its former range. The Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team ( GOERT ) is working to restore self-sustaining Western Bluebird populations on Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands through the HCTF-funded Bring Back the Bluebirds...
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HCTF Vanderhoof Field Tour

In late June, the HCTF Board visited Vanderhoof for some on-the-ground experience with a range of HCTF-funded projects. The morning began with a regional orientation by Wayne Salewski and a presentation by Ray Pillipow on the Nechako River Bull Trout Project, wherein radio tagging is being used to evaluate the potential for bull trout retention in a variety of watersheds. The first field stop was the r ecently-restored teaching wetland beside WL McLeod Elementary school, where we learned about the many educational programs conducted on-site. Next, we visited the busy construction site of the Nechako White Sturgeon hatchery . MFLNRO’s Cory Williamson led the tour, and also gave a presentation on the latest Nechako River sturgeon recovery plans. The afternoon included a visit to the Murray Creek demonstration site , which provides a working example of the advantages of integrating water stewardship with agricultural practices. Many thanks go out to Wayne both for organizing the tour. Thanks also to the Vanderhoof Fish and Game Club who, together with Wayne and his wife Lori, hosted a great end-of-day barbecue on the banks of the Nechako River. The HCTF Board meets three times a year: two of those meetings are held in...
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