A little ornithology on vacation

We go on vacation to Shannon’s hometown of Trail, British Columbia each August.  Trail is a wonderful, small town along the Columbia River just north of the Canada/U.S. border.  I wanted to write this because even here I can combine vacation with a small contribution to ornithology.  Yesterday was our first morning in Trail, I got up early and went out for a walk up onto the ridge above Sunningdale, the neighborhood where Shannon’s Mom lives (and where I took the picture below).  I had my binoculars and I saw 17 species.  One thing I love about Trail is that it lies in a region where eastern birds overlap with western birds so the combinations are always intriguing.  So I saw eastern birds like Black-capped Chickadee and Red-eyed Vireo together with western birds like Western Wood Pewee, Lazuli Bunting and Calliope Hummingbird.  In past years, we have come to Trail later in August and a few weeks can make a big difference.  On my walk, I saw both Lazuli Buntings and Yellow-rumped Warblers feeding fledged young, so some species are still finishing up their breeding season now, while others like Wilson's Warblers are beginning to move.  In the late afternoon, I spotted two adult Bald Eagles soaring high over the ridge behind the house. 

I entered the species I saw and how many into Ebird, the publicly accessible database created by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.  Anyone can sign up and then submit observations.  With thousands of people around the world submitting Ebird lists on a regular basis, this approach of “citizen science” gathers a tremendous amount of data on the abundance and distribution of birds.  So my bird lists become a small piece of a huge data set even when I’m on vacation.