By Breanne Massey

Pioneer Staff

Feathered friends from the Columbia Valley could be revealed to bird watching enthusiasts who want to learn about the ecological significance of the wetlands.

The Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey (CWWS) will be offered to willing participants between 8:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. on October 5th, 15th and 25th this fall.

The end result is to engage citizens and to increase the awareness and appreciation for the regions significant bird populations and for the significant values that the Columbia Wetlands ecosystem holds, said Rachel Darvill, biologist and program manager for the Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey.

In addition, the baseline data that participants will be collecting is necessary in order to hopefully achieve an Important Bird Area (IBA) designation for the Columbia Wetlands.

All of the data is readily available on eBird and on the Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey webpage, said Ms. Darvill. The data is sent directly to B.C. Nature, which is the agency tasked with determining whether or not the Columbia Wetlands achieves IBA status.

Participants go to predetermined locations within the Columbia Wetlands complex where they identify, count and record all waterbirds seen including any unknown species.

Anyone with an interest in birding and the Columbia Wetlands is eligible to participate, she explained. Full training in the CWWS protocol and on waterbird ID techniques is provided, as well as a field guide specific to the waterbirds that one is most likely to encounter in the Columbia Wetlands.

Ms. Darvill anticipates the participants in the CWWS will be working toward becoming competent birders during the experience.

The survey is aiming to run for at least five consecutive years with surveys occurring during both the spring and fall migration periods of each year, she concluded.

For more information, contact rachel@wildsight.ca.