A lone turkey vulture, much like this majestic turkey vulture that can be found at the B.C. Wildlife Park, was among the species spotted that surprised those involved in the annual Christmas bird count. Organizer Rick Howie said volunteers recorded 72 species with a population of more than 11,000 birds — what Howie calls a typical year.
The count, known as North America’s longest-running citizen science project, has been conducted in the Kamloops area for more than three decades.
Organizer Rick Howie said volunteers targeted areas including Tranquille, Valleyview, Juniper Ridge, Knutsford and Westsyde in an effort to enumerate birds and their species.
In total, volunteers tallied 72 species with a population of more than 11,000 birds — what Howie calls a typical year.
Surprises include large number of robins that ordinarily have migrated south by now, as well as a turkey vulture, which has rarely, if ever, been seen in the Thompson Valley in winter.
Both species would ordinarily have migrated to the southern United States or as far south as Central America.
Howie said some of the robins should survive the winter. He’s unsure about the turkey vulture, which is not adapted for this climate and will have to compete with eagles, ravens and crows for carrion.
It was spotted in Knutsford.
Another unique find is an Anna’s hummingbird frequenting a feeder.
In contrast to the other birds not expected to be found in Kamloops in December, the hummingbird is expanding its range northward.
It typical lives in Southern California and is described by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as displaying “iridescent emerald feathers and sparkling rose-pink throats . . . more like flying jewelry than birds.”
It is no larger than a ping-pong ball and no heavier than a nickel.
The decline in pine trees in the valley due to mountain pine beetle was expected to result in fewer dependent bird species.
Howie said the bird count confirms that thesis, with a shrinking number of pygmy nuthatches, as well as Clark’s nutcracker.