The Birds of Sargeant Bay Provincial Park
by Tony Greenfield
The park can be divided into three distinct bird viewing areas:
a) the saltwater of Sargeant Bay.
b) the berm & the Colvin Lake wetland.
c) The upland forest above Redrooffs Road.
Each of these areas has a diversity of birds that varies by season.
a) Sargeant Bay:
The best viewing seasons on the bay are winter & spring. For reasons unknown, the number of species and birds using this habitat declined drastically in the 1990’s. Typically, you can find loons, grebes, cormorants, seaducks (Barrows Goldeneye, Surf Scoter, Common Merganser), alcids (Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, and especially Marbled Murrelet), and gulls.
b) Berm and Colvin Lake:
Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, and other raptors such as Red-tailed Hawk and Merlin may be seen at any season. Herons often rest in large trees near the fish-ladder or near the middle parking lot.
In winter the berm is generally quiet, but on the lake look for Pied-billed Grebe, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead and Hooded Merganser. The snags in the wetlands are used by Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker and Steller’s Jay. Red-winged Blackbirds may be present in increasing numbers as early as January, although a few often remain over the winter.
Virginia Rails (above) are resident, except if the wetland freezes in a cold snap.
In spring, the berm is a transit and foraging area for Rufous Hummingbirds, migrant warblers in the alder trees, and for sparrows on the berm itself. A pair of Killdeer historically nested on the berm, but unfortunately the increasing human and dog traffic have forced them to find alternate nesting sites. Red-winged Blackbirds dominate the wetland with their creaky song, and there are many Common Yellowthroats in the cattails, while swallows may forage overhead.
In summer the rail and the yellowthroat continue in the wetland, and watch for Turkey Vultures soaring overhead with their wobbly flight. The grassy and shrubby areas of the berm host many sparrows in the fall including Savannah, Fox, Song, Lincoln’s, Golden-crowned & White-crowned.
In fall and winter the mixed coniferous/deciduous forest above Redrooffs Road is good for woodpeckers and forest species such as Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Pacific Wren, and Varied Thrush. Also resident are Great Horned, Barred, and Northern Saw-whet Owls.
In spring and summer the forest is home to Band-tailed Pigeon, woodpeckers, flycatchers, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Swainson’s Thrush, vireos, warblers, Western Tanager and Black-headed Grosbeak.
For detailed information on the 157 species of birds that can be seen in Sargeant Bay Provincial Park, consult the Checklist of Birds for Sargeant Bay Provincial Park by clicking link below: