British Columbia: Summer 2020

Summer 2020: 1 Jun–30 Jul

Chris Charlesworth

Recommended citation:

Charlesworth, C. 2021. Summer 2020: British Columbia. <> North American Birds.

Summer 2020 was cold and wet across British Columbia, as a longwave trough dominated the weather pattern resulting in precipitation surpluses of up to 33% across central sections of the region along with seasonal temperature deficits of up to 2º Celsius. And yes, cold winds blew frequently. The few warm, dry episodes only lasted a couple of days at a time. There was much evidence of delayed breeding by many bird species as they held out for drier weather.

Observers: AA – Artie Ahier; RB – Roger Beardmore; DB – David Bell; MB – Michael Bentley; MBe – Michael Bentley; JB – Joachim Bertrands; KB – Kaiden Bosch; JBr – Joshua Brown; QB – Quentin Brown; MBy – Mark Byrne; DC – Darlene Cancelliere; CC – Cathy Carlson; IC – Ian Cruickshank; CD – Christopher Di Corrado; BD – Bobby Dailey; TD – Tom Davies; JD – Josh DeLeenheer; AD – Adrian Dorst; EF – Eileen Floody; JF – Jess Findlay; CG – Cole Gaerber; LG – Liron Gerstman; PH – Penny Hall; BH – Brad Hogg; LH – Larry Hooge; CH – Carl Hughes; CK – Christian Kelly; RL – Rob Lyske; JM – James MacKenzie; YM – Yvonne Maximchuk; LM – Laurel McDonald; MM – Mike McGrenere; IN – Isaac Nelson; PN – Peter Nicholl; SN – Stan Novotny; IP – Ilya Povalyaev; KO – Kalin Ocana; MP – Michael Preston; MS – Mindy Smith; LS – Liam Singh; VS – Valentina Sorrento; TS – Tanya Stockard; NS – Nick Swan; JW – Jim Walton; DW – David Wood


A male Eurasian Wigeon, a fairly rare species in the southern interior of British Columbia during the summer, was along the foreshore of Shuswap Lake in Salmon Arm, 2–3 Jul (RB, m. ob.). Even more unusual in the summer, a male Tufted Duck spent 20 Jun–20 Jul with scaup, and Redheads at Mitchell Lake, near Kamloops (IN, m. ob.). On the west coast of Vancouver Island, a White-winged Dove visited a feeder in Ucluelet, along First Street, 26–28 Jul (EF, m. ob.). Two adult Hudsonian Godwits were found on mudlfats near Peter Jannick Nature Park in Salmon Arm, 2–3 Jul (JW, m. ob.). An adult White-rumped Sandpiper was a great discovery at Boundary Bay near Vancouver, at the foot of 104th Street, 17 Jul (IP, m. ob.). By far the most stunning find of the summer period in British Columbia was Canada’s first Gray-tailed Tattler. The bird was discovered at Minette Bay in Kitimat, 23 Jun, and was seen by a number of birders during its stay until 26 Jun (JB, CK, m. obs.). Rare in the Okanagan Valley, a Willet was found along the Okanagan River Channel, in Oliver, near the end of Road 15, 4 Jun (TS). At Robert Lake in Kelowna, an adult Short-billed Dowitcher—a species that normally sticks to a more coastal migration route in the province—was present 24–28 Jul (KO, m. ob.). Rare in coastal waters of Southern British Columbia, single Horned Puffins were seen at Cleland Island, near Tofino 14 Jul (AA), and at the Wilby Island Shoals, at Quadra Island, 18 Jul (SN). An adult Sabine’s Gull was at Cedar Lake at Sunshine Valley, near Hope, 1 Jun (LH, m. ob.). At Nicola Lake, near Quilchena, an adult Arctic Tern was present 23–26 Jul (JB, RL, QB, m. ob.). Up to four Forster’s Terns were found near Lac La Hache, at 130 Mile Marsh, 5 Jun (LG, JBr, m. ob.). Another Forster’s Tern was at the west end of Horse Lake near 100 Mile House, 4–15 Jun (IP, et al.). A fairly rare species in the summer in southern British Columbia, a Yellow-billed Loon was seen at the Rocky Point Bird Observatory in Metchosin, 29 July and into the fall period (DB, MBy). A Manx Shearwater was photographed from a fishing boat near Cape Scott at the north end of Vancouver Island, 6 Jul (LS). On Vancouver Island, a Great Egret was found at Whiffen Spit in Sooke, 3 Jun (JD). A rare find in the summer on Vancouver Island, a Broad-winged Hawk was near Port Alberni at Sproat Lake Landing Resort, 3 Jun (PH). Rare along the central coast of British Columbia, a Swainson’s Hawk found 10 Jun was noteworthy (LM). In the Okanagan Valley, a light morph juvenile Ferruginous Hawk delighted a number of birders as it actively hunted near the Johns Family Regional Park on the slopes south of Kelowna, 25 Jul (NS, m. ob.). A breeding record of Williamson’s Sapsuckers from Manning Provincial Park this summer is of note, since this species does not normally nest so far west in the province. The birds were found nesting near Lightning Lake, and were observed from 13–30 Jul (JF, m. ob.).


Rare anywhere in British Columbia outside of a very limited range in the Southern Interior, a Gray Flycatcher was discovered on Vancouver Island at Mount Douglas in Saanich, where it was seen and heard, 25 Jun (MM).  In the West Kootenay area, an Ash-throated Flycatcher was briefly seen and photographed near Trail, along the Waneta-Nelway Road, 21 Jun (MS). Rare anywhere in British Columbia outside of the northeast corner of the province, an Eastern Phoebe was seen by many in Saanich, on Vancouver Island, where it frequented areas along Lohbrunner Road E. The bird was discovered in the spring and remained to 29 Jun (CH, m. ob.). Another Eastern Phoebe was at found at the fourth Street Dock in Tofino, Vancouver Island, 24 Jun (IC). Another Eastern Phoebe—also on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, and possibly involving the same bird as in the previous record—was at the Tofino Airport, 28 Jul, remaining into the fall period (AD). For the first time in the Vancouver area, a Northern Shrike spent the entire summer period, and was seen by many, along Ferguson Road in Richmond (CG, m. ob.). The bird was an adult. Surprisingly rare in coastal British Columbia, a juvenile Black-billed Magpie visited a feeder along Dunstone Place in North Vancouver, 7–22 Jul (BH, m. ob.). The Okanagan Valley’s first Purple Martin, a female, was discovered on a stormy day at Kelowna’s Robert Lake, where thousands of swallows had descended, 14 Jun (DB, NS, m. ob.). A number of Northern Mockingbird reports came in from various parts of the province. One was in the East Kootenays, in Wardner, near Cranbrook, along Rosicky Road, 4–16 Jun (MB, m. ob.). Another mockingbird was at Three Ponds Road and Coopman Road, also in Wardner, 3 Jul, and could have involved the same individual as in the previous record (BD). In the Okanagan, a Northern Mockingbird was seen by many observers along the west shore of Okanagan Lake near Summerland, at the Pyramid Provincial Park, 14–17 Jun (JM, m. ob.). Another mockingbird was at Echo Bay, Gilford Island, 23–28 Jun (YM). From a feeder in Bowser, Vancouver Island came the unseasonal report of a Common Redpoll, confirmed by a photograph, 8 Jul (CC). On the Sunshine Coast, a Brewer’s Sparrow was found 1 Jun, at the marina in Gibsons (KB, m. ob.). Well north of its usual range in the province, a Lark Sparrow was found at a private garden in Francois Lake, 10–11 Jun (TD). A Bobolink, rare in coastal British Columbia, was seen from the boardwalk at Somenos Marsh in Duncan, 2–3 Jun (PN, m. ob.). In Revelstoke, a male Baltimore Oriole was found at Williamson Lake, 4 Jun (MP). This species is normally found in the northeast corner of the province. An Ovenbird was found in Brackendale along Government Road near Ross Road, and remained from 16–23 Jun (CD, m. ob.). On southern Vancouver Island, an Ovenbird was singing at Jordan River near the Cold Shoulder Café, 8 Jul (MBe). In Squamish, a Black-and-white Warbler was discovered along the Ashlu Trail, 1 Jun (CB). Single male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks visited feeders on Galiano Island, where one remained from the spring period to 22 Jun (V. Scott, m. ob.), and along Barnes Road in Prince George, 22 Jun–5 Jul (DW, m. ob.). Perhaps even more noteworthy than the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in southern British Columbia was a male Black-headed Grosbeak found at the Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park Campground, 13 Jun (LG, JBr). A male Indigo Bunting was discovered in a brushy area along Highway 5, at Darfield, north of Kamloops, 21–23 Jul (VS, m. ob.). Another male Indigo Bunting was present at Nine Mile Point, south of Revelstoke, 30 Jul, and into the fall period (DC, m. ob.).

Report processed by José R. Ramírez-Garofalo, 21 Jan 2021.

Photos–British Columbia: Summer 2020

British Columbia’s–and Canada’s–first Gray-tailed Tattler was found at Minette Bay, along the Central Coast, near Kitimat, photographed here on 26 Jun 2020. Photo © Jeff Dyck.