The following 24 birds were observed and identified at Phillimore Point on Galiano Island in British Columbia Canada during the summer of 2016. Some were spotted eating out of the feeders in my backyard garden while others were hanging out in the trees around my cabin while other seabirds were seen soaring over or floating upon the ocean water.
- Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
- Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
- Belted King Fisher (Megaceryle alcyon)
- Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
- Double Creasted Cormorant (Phalacrocorax Auritus)
- Glacious Wing Gull (Larus glacescens)
- Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
- Pleated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
- Red Breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)
- Barred Owl (Strix varia)
- Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
- Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculates)
- American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
- Common Raven (Corvus corax)
- Chestnut Backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)
- White Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophys)
- Dark Eyed Junco (Junco Hyemalis)
- American Goldfinch (Spinus Tristas)
- Yellow Warbler (Setophaga Petechia)
- Red Breasted Nuthatch (Sitta Canadensis)
- Black Capped Chickadee (Poecile Atricapillus)
- House Finch (Haemorhous Maxicanus)
- Rufus Hummingbird (Salasphorus rufus)
- Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)
I used The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Western Region (Audubon Society Field Guide Series) as well as 2 cool iPhone apps to do the identification. The first app is called Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and I used that to input a visual description of each bird and the app returned a list of likely results.
Once I was reasonably sure I had correctly visually identified a species I’d search for that bird on the app Birds Near Me by Gerry Shaw. If the bird I thought I had identified appeared in the heat map results returned by Birds Near Me I confirmed the specimen as IDENTIFIED and recorded it on this list.
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
The bald eagle is a bird of prey found in North America. A sea eagle, it has two known subspecies and forms a species pair with the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Ospreys are very large, distinctively shaped hawks. Despite their size, their bodies are slender, with long, narrow wings and long legs. Ospreys fly with a marked kink in their wings, making an M-shape when seen from below. Ospreys are brown above and white below, and overall they are whiter than most raptors. From below, the wings are mostly white with a prominent dark patch at the wrists. The head is white with a broad brown stripe through the eye. Juveniles have white spots on the back and buffy shading on the breast. Ospreys search for fish by flying on steady wingbeats and bowed wings or circling high in the sky over relatively shallow water. They often hover briefly before diving, feet first, to grab a fish. You can often clearly see an Osprey’s catch in its talons as the bird carries it back to a nest or perch. Look for Ospreys around nearly any body of water: saltmarshes, rivers, ponds, reservoirs, estuaries, and even coral reefs. Their conspicuous stick nests are placed in the open on poles, channel markers, and dead trees, often over water.
Belted King Fisher (Megaceryle alcyon)
Belted Kingfishers are stocky, large-headed birds with a shaggy crest on the top and back of the head and a straight, thick, pointed bill. Their legs are short and their tails are medium length and square-tipped. These kingfishers are powder blue above with fine, white spotting on the wings and tail. The underparts are white with a broad, blue breast band. Females also have a broad rusty band on their bellies. Juveniles show irregular rusty spotting in the breast band. Belted Kingfishers spend much of their time perched alone along the edges of streams, lakes, and estuaries, searching for small fish. They also fly quickly up and down rivers and shorelines giving loud rattling calls. They hunt either by plunging directly from a perch, or by hovering over the water, bill downward, before diving after a fish they’ve spotted. Kingfishers live near streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and estuaries. They nest in burrows that they dig into soft earthen banks, usually adjacent to or directly over water. Kingfishers spend winters in areas where the water doesn’t freeze so that they have continual access to their aquatic foods.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Largest of the North American herons with long legs, a sinuous neck, and thick, daggerlike bill. Head, chest, and wing plumes give a shaggy appearance. In flight, the Great Blue Heron curls its neck into a tight “S” shape; its wings are broad and rounded and its legs trail well beyond the tail. Great Blue Herons appear blue-gray from a distance, with a wide black stripe over the eye. In flight, the upper side of the wing is two-toned: pale on the forewing and darker on the flight feathers. A pure white subspecies occurs in coastal southern Florida. Hunting Great Blue Herons wade slowly or stand statue-like, stalking fish and other prey in shallow water or open fields. Watch for the lightning-fast thrust of the neck and head as they stab with their strong bills. Their very slow wingbeats, tucked-in neck and trailing legs create an unmistakable image in flight. Look for Great Blue Herons in saltwater and freshwater habitats, from open coasts, marshes, sloughs, riverbanks, and lakes to backyard goldfish ponds. They also forage in grasslands and agricultural fields. Breeding birds gather in colonies or “heronries” to build stick nests high off the ground.
Double Creasted Cormorant (Phalacrocorax Auritus)
Double-crested Cormorants are large waterbirds with small heads on long, kinked necks. They have thin, strongly hooked bills, roughly the length of the head. Their heavy bodies sit low in the water. Adults are brown-black with a small patch of yellow-orange skin on the face. Immatures are browner overall, palest on the neck and breast. In the breeding season, adults develop a small double crest of stringy black or white feathers. Double-crested Cormorants float low on the surface of water and dive to catch small fish. After fishing, they stand on docks, rocks, and tree limbs with wings spread open to dry. In flight, they often travel in V-shaped flocks that shift and reform as the birds alternate bursts of choppy flapping with short glides. Double-crested Cormorants are the most widespread cormorant in North America, and the one most frequently seen in freshwater. They breed on the coast as well as on large inland lakes. They form colonies of stick nests built high in trees on islands or in patches of flooded timber.
Glacious Wing Gull (Larus glacescens)
The glaucous-winged gull is a large, white-headed gull. The genus name is from Latin Larus which appears to have referred to a gull or other large seabird. This gull is resident from the western coast of Alaska to the coast of Washington. It also breeds on the northwest coast of Alaska, in the summertime. During non-breeding seasons they can be found along the coast of California. It is a close relative of the western gull and frequently hybridizes with it, resulting in identification problems—particularly in the Puget Sound area. This species also hybridizes regularly with the herring gull in Alaska. Both hybrid combinations resemble the Thayer’s gull. Glaucous-winged gulls are thought to live about 15 years, but some live much longer; a bird in British Columbia, for example, lived for more than 21 years, while one in the US state of Washington, lived for at least 22 years, 9 months. The longevity record though, is more than 37 years, for a bird banded as a chick in British Columbia.
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
The Canada goose is a large wild goose species with a black head and neck, white patches on the face, and a brown body. Native to arctic and temperate regions of North America, its migration occasionally reaches northern Europe. It has been introduced to the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands. Like most geese, the Canada goose is primarily herbivorous and normally migratory; it tends to be found on or close to fresh water. Extremely successful at living in human-altered areas, Canada geese have proven able to establish breeding colonies in urban and cultivated areas, which provide food and few natural predators, and are well known as a common park species. Their success has led to them often being considered a pest species because of their depredation of crops and issues with their noise, droppings, aggressive territorial behavior, and habit of begging for food, especially in their introduced range. Canada geese are also among the most commonly hunted waterfowl in North America.
Pleated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
The pileated woodpecker is a large woodpecker native to North America. Roughly crow-sized, it normally inhabits deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, the boreal forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific coast. It is the largest woodpecker in the United States, second to the critically endangered ivory-billed woodpecker.
Red Breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)
The red-breasted sapsucker is a medium-sized woodpecker of the forests of the west coast of North America. Adults have a red head and upper chest; they have a white lower belly and rump. They are black on the back and wings with bars; they have a large white wing patch. Red-breasted sapsuckers nest in tree cavities. Northern birds migrate to the southern parts of the range; birds on the coast are often permanent residents. Like other sapsuckers, these birds drill holes in trees and eat the sap as well as insects attracted to it. They sometimes catch insects in flight; they also eat seeds and berries. These birds interbreed with the red-naped sapsucker or yellow-bellied sapsucker where their ranges overlap.
Barred Owl (Strix varia)
Barred Owls are large, stocky owls with rounded heads, no ear tufts, and medium length, rounded tails. Barred Owls are mottled brown and white overall, with dark brown, almost black, eyes. The underparts are mostly marked with vertical brown bars on a white background, while the upper breast is crossed with horizontal brown bars. The wings and tail are barred brown and white. Barred Owls roost quietly in forest trees during the day, though they can occasionally be heard calling in daylight hours. At night they hunt small animals, especially rodents, and give an instantly recognizable “Who cooks for you?” call. Barred Owls live in large, mature forests made up of both deciduous trees and evergreens, often near water. They nest in tree cavities. In the Northwest, Barred Owls have moved into old-growth coniferous forest, where they compete with the threatened Spotted Owl.
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
The turkey vulture also known in some North American regions as the turkey buzzard (or just buzzard), and in some areas of the Caribbean as the John crow or carrion crow, is a vulture that is the most widespread of the New World vultures. One of three species in the genus Cathartes of the family Cathartidae, the turkey vulture ranges from southern Canada to the southernmost tip of South America. It inhabits a variety of open and semi-open areas, including subtropical forests, shrublands, pastures, and deserts. Like all New World vultures, it is not closely related to the Old World vultures of Europe, Africa, and Asia. The two groups strongly resemble each other because of convergent evolution; natural selection often leads to similar body plans in animals that adapt independently to the same conditions. The turkey vulture is a scavenger and feeds almost exclusively on carrion. It finds its food using its keen eyes and sense of smell, flying low enough to detect the gases produced by the beginnings of the process of decay in dead animals. In flight, it uses thermals to move through the air, flapping its wings infrequently. It roosts in large community groups. Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses. It nests in caves, hollow trees, or thickets. Each year it generally raises two chicks, which it feeds by regurgitation. It has very few natural predators. In the United States, the vulture receives legal protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculates)
The spotted towhee is a large New World sparrow. The taxonomy of the towhees has been debated in recent decades, and formerly this bird and the eastern towhee were considered a single species, the rufous-sided towhee. The western spotted towhee has white spots on its primary and secondary feathers. The eastern towhee is the same bird in terms of its size and structure but does not have white spots. They have a round, chunky body, fan shaped tail, short, thick beak, and dull pink legs.
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
The American robin is a migratory songbird of the thrush family. It is named after the European robin because of its reddish-orange breast, though the two species are not closely related, with the European robin belonging to the Old World flycatcher family. The American robin is widely distributed throughout North America, wintering from southern Canada to central Mexico and along the Pacific Coast. According to some sources, the American robin ranks behind only the red-winged blackbird (and just ahead of the introduced European starling and the not-always-naturally-occurring house finch) as the most abundant extant land bird in North America. The American robin is active mostly during the day and assembles in large flocks at night. Its diet consists of invertebrates (such as beetle grubs, earthworms, and caterpillars), fruits, and berries.
Common Raven (Corvus corax)
The common raven also known as the northern raven, is a large all-black passerine bird. Found across the Northern Hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all corvids. There are at least eight subspecies with little variation in appearance, although recent research has demonstrated significant genetic differences among populations from various regions. Common ravens can live up to 21 years in the wild. Young birds may travel in flocks but later mate for life, with each mated pair defending a territory. Common ravens have coexisted with humans for thousands of years and in some areas have been so numerous that people have regarded them as pests. Part of their success as a species is due to their omnivorous diet; they are extremely versatile and opportunistic in finding sources of nutrition, feeding on carrion, insects, cereal grains, berries, fruit, small animals, and food waste. Some notable feats of problem-solving provide evidence that the common raven is unusually intelligent. Over the centuries, it has been the subject of mythology, folklore, art, and literature. In many cultures, including the indigenous cultures of Scandinavia, ancient Ireland and Wales, Bhutan, the northwest coast of North America, and Siberia and northeast Asia, the common raven has been revered as a spiritual figure or god.
Chestnut Backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)
The chestnut-backed chickadee is a small passerine bird in the tit family, Paridae. It is found in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and western Canada, from southern Alaska to southwestern California. It is a permanent resident within its range, with some seasonal movements as feeding flocks move short distances in search of food. They usually move to lower elevations in the same area upon onset of winter and move back up to higher elevations in late summer. It is often considered the most handsome of all chickadees. They often move through the forest in mixed feeding flocks, and are often seen in large groups with bushtits and warblers. It is a cavity-nester, usually utilizing an abandoned woodpecker hole, but sometimes excavating on its own. Chestnut-backed chickadees use lots of fur and hair to make their nests. Their nests are actually 50% fur and hair. Its food is largely insects and other invertebrates gleaned from foliage. Chestnut-backed chickadees take some seeds, especially those of conifers, and fruit. It will visit bird feeders, including hummingbird feeders, and especially loves suet.
White Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophys)
The white-crowned sparrow is a medium-sized sparrow native to North America. These birds forage on the ground or in low vegetation, but sometimes make short flights to catch flying insects. They mainly eat seeds, other plant parts and insects. In winter, they often forage in flocks. White-crowned sparrows nest either low in bushes or on the ground under shrubs and lay three to five brown-marked gray or greenish-blue eggs. The white-crowned sparrow is known for its natural alertness mechanism, which allows it to stay awake for up to two weeks during migration. This effect has been studied for possible human applications, such as shift-work drowsiness or truck driving.
Dark Eyed Junco (Junco Hyemalis)
The dark-eyed junco is the best-known species of the juncos, a genus of small grayish American sparrows. This bird is common across much of temperate North America and in summer ranges far into the Arctic. It is a very variable species, much like the related fox sparrow (Passerella iliaca), and its systematics are still not completely untangled. These birds forage on the ground. In winter, they often forage in flocks that may contain several subspecies. They mainly eat insects and seeds. They usually nest in a cup-shaped depression on the ground, well hidden by vegetation or other material, although nests are sometimes found in the lower branches of a shrub or tree.
American Goldfinch (Spinus Tristas)
The American goldfinch also known as the eastern goldfinch or “lightning bird,” is a small North American bird in the finch family. It is migratory, ranging from mid-Alberta to North Carolina during the breeding season, and from just south of the Canadian border to Mexico during the winter. The only finch in its subfamily to undergo a complete molt, the American goldfinch displays sexual dimorphism in its coloration; the male is a vibrant yellow in the summer and an olive color during the winter, while the female is a dull yellow-brown shade which brightens only slightly during the summer. The male displays brightly colored plumage during the breeding season to attract a mate. The American goldfinch is a granivore and adapted for the consumption of seedheads, with a conical beak to remove the seeds and agile feet to grip the stems of seedheads while feeding. It is a social bird, and will gather in large flocks while feeding and migrating. It may behave territorially during nest construction, but this aggression is short-lived. Its breeding season is tied to the peak of food supply, beginning in late July, which is relatively late in the year for a finch. This species is generally monogamous, and produces one brood each year.
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga Petechia)
The American yellow warbler is a New World warbler species, they make up the most widespread species in the diverse Setophaga genus, breeding in almost the whole of North America and down to northern South America. American yellow warblers arrive in their breeding range in late spring – generally about April/May – and move to winter quarters again starting as early as July, as soon as the young are fledged. Most, however, stay a bit longer; by the end of August, the bulk of the northern populations has moved south, though some may linger almost until fall. These birds feed mainly on arthropods, in particular insects. They acquire prey by gleaning in shrubs and on tree branches, and by hawking prey that tries to fly away. Snakes, corvids and large climbing rodents are significant nest predators. As usual for New World warblers, they nest in trees, building a small but very sturdy cup nest. Females and males share the reproductive work about equally, but emphasize different tasks: females are more involved with building and maintaining the nest, and incubating and brooding the offspring.
Red Breasted Nuthatch (Sitta Canadensis)
The red-breasted nuthatch is a small songbird. The adult has blue-grey upperparts with cinnamon underparts, a white throat and face with a black stripe through the eyes, a straight grey bill and a black crown. Its call, which has been likened to a tin trumpet, is high-pitched and nasal. It breeds in coniferous forests across Canada, Alaska and the northeastern and western United States. Though often a permanent resident, it regularly irrupts further south if its food supply fails. There are records of vagrants occurring as far south as the Gulf Coast and northern Mexico. It forages on the trunks and large branches of trees, often descending head first, sometimes catching insects in flight. It eats mainly insects and seeds, especially from conifers. It excavates its nest in dead wood, often close to the ground, smearing the entrance with pitch.
Black Capped Chickadee (Poecile Atricapillus)
The black-capped chickadee is a small, nonmigratory, North American songbird that lives in deciduous and mixed forests. It is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is the state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts in the United States, and the provincial bird of New Brunswick in Canada. It is well known for its capacity to lower its body temperature during cold winter nights as well as its good spatial memory to relocate the caches where it stores food, and its boldness near humans (sometimes feeding from the hand). A bird almost universally considered “cute” thanks to its oversized round head, tiny body, and curiosity about everything, including humans. The chickadee’s black cap and bib; white cheeks; gray back, wings, and tail; and whitish underside with buffy sides are distinctive. Its habit of investigating people and everything else in its home territory, and quickness to discover bird feeders, make it one of the first birds most people learn.
House Finch (Haemorhous Maxicanus)
House Finches are small-bodied finches with fairly large beaks and somewhat long, flat heads. The wings are short, making the tail seem long by comparison. Many finches have distinctly notched tails, but the House Finch has a relatively shallow notch in its tail. Adult males are rosy red around the face and upper breast, with streaky brown back, belly and tail. In flight, the red rump is conspicuous. Adult females aren’t red; they are plain grayish-brown with thick, blurry streaks and an indistinctly marked face. House Finches are gregarious birds that collect at feeders or perch high in nearby trees. When they’re not at feeders, they feed on the ground, on weed stalks, or in trees. They move fairly slowly and sit still as they shell seeds by crushing them with rapid bites. Flight is bouncy, like many finches. House Finches frequent city parks, backyards, urban centers, farms, and forest edges across the continent. In the western U.S., you’ll also find House Finches in their native habitats of deserts, grassland, chaparral, and open woods.
Rufus Hummingbird (Salasphorus rufus)
The Rufous hummingbird is a small hummingbird, with a long, straight and slender bill. These birds are known for their extraordinary flight skills, flying 2,000 miles during their migratory transits. It is one of seven species in the genus Selasphorus. The adult male has a white breast, rufous face, flanks and tail and an iridescent orange-red throat patch or gorget. Some males have some green on back and/or crown. The female has green, white, some iridescent orange feathers in the center of the throat, and a dark tail with white tips and rufous base. The female is slightly larger than the male. Their primary breeding habitats are open areas, mountainsides and forest edges in western North America from southern Alaska through British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest to California, nesting further north (Alaska) than any other hummingbird. The female builds a nest in a protected location in a shrub or conifer. Males are promiscuous, mating with several females.
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)
Tiny among birds, Anna’s are medium-sized and stocky for a hummingbird. They have a straight, shortish bill and a fairly broad tail. When perched, wingtips meet the tip of their short tail. Anna’s Hummingbirds are mostly green and gray, without any rufous or orange marks on the body. The male’s head and throat are covered in iridescent reddish-pink feathers that can look dull brown or gray without direct sunlight. Anna’s Hummingbirds are a blur of motion as they hover before flowers looking for nectar and insects. Listen for the male’s scratchy metallic song and look for him perched above head level in trees and shrubs. Anna’s Hummingbirds are common in yards, parks, residential streets, eucalyptus groves, riverside woods, savannahs, and coastal scrub. They readily come to hummingbird feeders and flowering plants, including cultivated species in gardens.