Wings Over the Rockies encourages nature viewing during pandemic

Three local photographers and Wings supporters offer nature viewing tips.

Submitted by Ross MacDonald

Every spring a miracle occurs in the Columbia Valley. As if by magic, birds arrive from distant overwintering locations, bears awaken, and butterflies and bees appear as crocuses burst forth like slow fireworks. Soon bighorn ewes will show off their new lambs and fledglings will be everywhere. Since 1997 the Wings Over the Rockies Nature Festival has helped residents and visitors discover the revelatory sensation of witnessing migratory and resident bird activity through expert-led events and presentations. COVID-19 has forced Wings to take a sabbatical for 2020. Thankfully nature doesn’t take sabbaticals.

Nature-watching is one of the best activities for our well-being. In addition to the benefits of exercise, learning about wild plants and animals is a rewarding and inexpensive lifelong hobby. All you need to get started are your eyes and ears augmented by binoculars, a guidebook and hiking shoes. As you gain identification skills consider helping science in the annual spring and Christmas bird counts. On May 9, 145 bird species were documented.

The Columbia Valley is one of the best places in the world to see nature. It is full of accessible habitats, such as waterways, grasslands or forests. Birds are also in our yards and neighbourhoods.

Three local photographers and Wings supporters offer these nature viewing tips:

•“Don’t crowd wildlife; if an animal is changing its behaviour you are too close,” Pat Morrow advises.

•“Let them come to you,” says John Niddrie who anticipated an osprey soaring along the Hoodoos escarpment to get his close up photo (see cover).

•Ross MacDonald used his vehicle as a blind to photograph bighorn sheep above the wetlands. “Be aware of your surroundings, especially when you are using binoculars or a camera. It’s easy to trip, or trample a rare plant, or drive a bird from its nest, only to have predators claim the eggs soon after you’ve walked on.”

Planning has already begun for the 2021 Wings festival but in the meantime take some time to recharge in our remarkable nature. Wings has created a free Bird Checklist, with a map of birding hotspots, downloadable from www.wingsovertherockies.org using the Birds and Environment link.

Photo by Ross MacDonald

Just Posted

Video invites visitors back to valley

Chamber video says: “Hey, hey! Come back and play, play.”

Invermere deer ‘hoofs’ woman and dog

Aggressive deer incidents increase this year, as woman and dog left bruised and injured

School District 6 nominated Summit Youth Hub for award

Hub nominated for a B.C Principals’ and Vice Principals’ Association (BCPVPA) Partnership Award

Invermere library reopens for summer

Summer Reading Club and Pop-up Story Time return

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Most Read