Catalogue of British Columbia Birds Informative Summary

Overview:

This 1904 catalogue, compiled by Francis Kermode, Curator of the Provincial Museum of Victoria, British Columbia, provides a thorough listing of birds observed in the province. The catalogue includes details about the birds’ distribution, including specific locations where they are found, as well as their breeding habits, seasonal movements, and relative abundance. The text also mentions a significant number of individuals who contributed to the knowledge base, acknowledging their observations, specimens, and local lists.

The catalogue is organized by bird order and family, starting with diving birds and ending with thrushes. The entries for each species are concise, often listing a single sentence description of the bird’s presence in the province, along with the names of individuals who have observed or collected specimens. This format makes the catalogue a valuable resource for anyone interested in the bird life of British Columbia.

Key Findings:

  • Species diversity: The catalogue lists 362 species and subspecies of birds, demonstrating the rich biodiversity of British Columbia.
  • Geographic distribution: Detailed information about the distribution of each species, highlighting regional variations in bird populations.
  • Seasonal movements: Detailed information on migratory patterns, breeding grounds, and wintering habitats of birds in British Columbia.
  • Local observations: Mentions the contributions of many individuals, showcasing the growing interest and knowledge of ornithology in the region.

Learning:

  • Bird identification: The catalogue provides a comprehensive list of birds found in British Columbia, aiding in bird identification.
  • Bird ecology: The notes on distribution, breeding habits, and seasonal movements provide insights into the ecological roles of birds in the province.
  • Historical context: The catalogue offers a glimpse into the state of ornithological research in British Columbia in 1904, showcasing the contributions of early naturalists.

Historical Context:

This catalogue was written in 1904, a time when the exploration and documentation of the natural world in British Columbia was underway. The development of transportation infrastructure, like the Canadian Pacific Railway, facilitated access to previously remote areas, allowing for more extensive observations of wildlife. The catalogue reflects this ongoing process of discovery and understanding of British Columbia’s diverse birdlife.

Facts:

  • Introduced Species: The mountain partridge and the California partridge, both introduced from California, have become common on Vancouver Island.
  • Extinct Species: The passenger pigeon, once mentioned in John Keast Lord’s “Naturalist in British Columbia” (1866), is now considered extinct in British Columbia.
  • Rare Bird Sightings: The California Vulture is considered an accidental visitor to British Columbia, with only a few sightings in the province.
  • Abundant Species: The Violet-green Cormorant is the most abundant cormorant species in British Columbia, found along both coasts of Vancouver Island.
  • Migratory Patterns: The American White Pelican is not common in British Columbia, but large numbers congregate off the mouth of the Fraser River during the winter months.
  • Breeding Habits: The Canada Goose breeds in the interior of the mainland, with eggs being found in the Penticton area.
  • Regional Distribution: The Black-headed Jay is common in the interior of the province from the Cascades east through the Okanagan.
  • Regional Distribution: The American Crow is common east of the Coast Range, whereas the Northwest Crow is abundant west of the Cascade Mountains.
  • Seasonal Variation: The Bohemian Waxwing is a resident of the interior but is a winter visitor to the coast and Vancouver Island.
  • Bird Behavior: The Osprey builds a large nest of sticks, usually on the broken top of a tree.
  • Regional Distribution: The Western Warbling Vireo is common west of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, on both the mainland and Vancouver Island.
  • Bird Behavior: The Cowbird is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of other birds.
  • Regional Distribution: The Western Lark Sparrow is found in the southern interior portions of the mainland, from Chilliwack east through the Okanagan.
  • Regional Distribution: The Western Tree Sparrow is found in the interior portions of the mainland, including the Okanagan.
  • Bird Behavior: The American Dipper is found throughout the province in suitable localities, including rivers and streams.
  • Regional Distribution: The Western Flycatcher is a common summer resident west of the Cascade Mountains, including Vancouver Island.
  • Regional Distribution: The Gray Jay is found in California and British Columbia, east of the Coast and Cascade Ranges.
  • Bird Behavior: The Mountain Chickadee is found east of the Cascades to the Rocky Mountains, and south through the Okanagan.
  • Bird Behavior: The Red-breasted Nuthatch is found east and west of the Cascades and is a resident throughout the winter on Vancouver Island.
  • Regional Distribution: The Western Evening Grosbeak is found primarily on the mainland, moving west in winter to Vancouver Island and the lower Fraser Valley.

Statistics:

  • Species Diversity: The catalogue lists 362 species and subspecies of birds, demonstrating the rich biodiversity of British Columbia.
  • Local Lists: The curator mentions receiving local lists from individuals, suggesting a growing interest in birdwatching.
  • Introduced Species: The catalogue mentions that the Ring-necked Pheasant, introduced from China, is now well-established in British Columbia.
  • Abundant Species: The American Robin is an abundant resident throughout the province, with both forms (American and Western) found on Vancouver Island.
  • Bird Behavior: The American Dipper is common throughout the province in suitable localities, suggesting a large population.
  • Regional Distribution: The American Crow is common east of the Coast Range, showcasing the regional distribution of the species.
  • Regional Distribution: The Black-headed Jay is found in the interior from the Cascades east through the Okanagan, illustrating the geographic range of the species.
  • Bird Behavior: The Bohemian Waxwing is found primarily in the interior but is also a winter visitor to the coast and Vancouver Island, highlighting seasonal movements.
  • Abundant Species: The Western Robin is an abundant resident throughout the province, illustrating the widespread presence of this species.
  • Abundant Species: The Bald Eagle is an abundant resident throughout the province, including Vancouver Island, demonstrating a healthy population of this species.
  • Bird Behavior: The Red-eyed Vireo is distributed over the southern portions of the province, including Vancouver Island, suggesting a relatively large population.
  • Bird Behavior: The Western Golden-crowned Kinglet is abundant throughout the province, suggesting a large population of this species.
  • Bird Behavior: The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is abundant throughout the province, showcasing the widespread presence of this species.
  • Bird Behavior: The California Creeper is common on Vancouver Island, suggesting a relatively large population of this species.
  • Regional Distribution: The American Pipit is very abundant during migration, highlighting the significant presence of this species during seasonal movements.
  • Bird Behavior: The Parkman’s Wren is a common summer resident east and west of the Cascades, including Vancouver Island, indicating a widespread population.
  • Bird Behavior: The Western Winter Wren is an abundant resident east and west of the Cascades, including Vancouver Island, demonstrating a large population of this species.
  • Regional Distribution: The Western Lark Sparrow is found in the southern interior portions of the mainland, from Chilliwhack east through the Okanagan, showcasing the geographic range of this species.
  • Bird Behavior: The Western Evening Grosbeak is primarily found on the mainland, but moves west in winter to Vancouver Island and the lower Fraser Valley, suggesting seasonal movements.

Terms:

  • Resident: A bird that lives in a particular area year-round.
  • Migrant: A bird that travels from one region to another for breeding or wintering.
  • Abundant: A species found in large numbers.
  • Common: A species found in moderate numbers.
  • Rare: A species found in very low numbers.
  • Accidental Visitant: A bird that is found outside its normal range, typically due to unusual circumstances.
  • Subspecies: A distinct population within a species that has unique characteristics.
  • Order: A major grouping of birds based on shared characteristics.
  • Family: A group of closely related birds within an order.
  • Breeding Range: The geographic area where a species breeds.

Examples:

  • The American White Pelican: Large numbers of this bird congregate off the mouth of the Fraser River during the winter months, showcasing its migratory behavior.
  • The Canada Goose: The eggs of this bird have been found in the Penticton area, indicating a breeding population in the interior of the province.
  • The Black-headed Jay: This bird is common in the interior of the province from the Cascades east through the Okanagan, illustrating its regional distribution.
  • The Violet-green Cormorant: This bird is the most abundant cormorant species in the province, found along both coasts of Vancouver Island, demonstrating its widespread presence.
  • The Passenger Pigeon: Once found in the province, this bird is now extinct, highlighting the impact of human activities on bird populations.
  • The California Vulture: This bird is considered an accidental visitor to British Columbia, showcasing its rare presence in the province.
  • The Ring-necked Pheasant: Introduced from China, this bird is now well-established in British Columbia, illustrating the success of introduced species.
  • The Bohemian Waxwing: This bird is primarily found in the interior but is also a winter visitor to the coast and Vancouver Island, illustrating seasonal movements.
  • The Red-breasted Nuthatch: This bird is found east and west of the Cascades and is a resident throughout the winter on Vancouver Island, showcasing its regional distribution and seasonal presence.
  • The Western Evening Grosbeak: This bird is primarily found on the mainland, but moves west in winter to Vancouver Island and the lower Fraser Valley, highlighting its seasonal movements.

Conclusion:

This 1904 catalogue of British Columbia birds is a valuable resource for understanding the biodiversity, distribution, and seasonal movements of birds in the province. The text reveals a growing interest in birdwatching and ornithological research in the region during this time. The catalogue provides a historical glimpse into the early documentation of bird life in British Columbia, showcasing the knowledge gained through the efforts of early naturalists.

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