British Columbia: Summer 2021

Summer 2021: 1 Jun–31 Jul

Chris Charlesworth

Recommended citation:

Charlesworth, C. 2022. Summer 2021: British Columbia. <> North American Birds.

British Columbia had been sectioned into a normally wet north and a drought-stricken southern half courtesy of the preceding six months of weather. Thus, the region was primed for an active wildfire season. June gradually warmed and the last week became blistering hot under a lingering heat dome. Lytton, B.C., set a new Canadian maximum temperature record of 49.6 degrees Celsius on June 29th, a reading more typical of Death Valley than southern Canada. In sad irony, Lytton burned to the ground the next day. Wildfires became widespread over the region throughout July as temperatures remained hot and lightning became more frequent. Those birds affected by the fires had to flee, but there will be knock-on effects that will be revealed in the aftermath. 

Geese through Woodpeckers

Pending acceptance by the BC Records Committee, an Oriental Turtle-Dove was photographed at Seal Cove in Prince Rupert, along the province’s north coast, 15 Jul (Ken Wright). The bird, which would provide B.C. with its 4th record, was photographed and not seen again. At the Reifel Refuge in Ladner, a female Costa’s Hummingbird was photographed on 12 Jun (Mark Rubensohn). This species has appeared in B.C. just over 30 times.

The Okanagan Valley got its first Snowy Plover on a sandbar at the mouth of Mission Creek in Kelowna, 15–17 Jun (Ryan Tomlinson, m. obs). On Vancouver Island, an Upland Sandpiper photographed at the Campbell River Airport, 22 Jun, provided a rare summer report for the area (M. Cameron). In Port Hardy, on northern Vancouver Island, an adult Bar-tailed Godwit was unexpected at the Quatse Estuary, 26 Jul (Evan Larson). The Bar-tailed Godwit was in the company of 24 Marbled Godwits. Another Bar-tailed Godwit was noted on mudflats off Trumpeter Drive in Masset on Haida Gwaii, 23 Jun (Lorrie Joron). An adult Hudsonian Godwit was at Blackie Spit in White Rock, 22 Jul (Matthew Stockinger). An adult White-rumped Sandpiper, rare anywhere in B.C. outside of the Peace River Region, was at Brunswick Point in Ladner, 7 and 8 Jun (Melissa Hafting, Ilya Povalyaev, m. obs). B.C.’s third Wood Sandpiper was discovered at Panama Flats in Victoria, 5 Jul and was seen by many during its stay until 9 Jul (Geoffrey Newell, m. obs).

In the Okanagan Valley, three Forster’s Terns were at the mouth of Vernon Creek in Okanagan Landing, 4 Jun (Jack VanDyk), and three were at the mouth of Mission Creek in Kelowna, 5–8 Jun (Markus Weilmeier, Brad Vissia, m. obs). Forster’s Tern is also rare along the coast, where one was photographed at Porpoise Bay in Sechelt, 10 Jun (Mari Petznek). A Manx Shearwater, which is primarily an Atlantic seabird within North America, was photographed from a fishing charter boat off Port Hardy, 28 Jul (Evan Larson). Over recent decades, the occurrence of sightings of Manx Shearwaters along the Pacific Coast, has increased greatly.

Single Great Egrets were observed along the Vedder Canal, north of the Keith Wilson Bridge, in Chilliwack, 19–23 Jun (Ed Klassen, m. obs), and at Tyee Spit in Campbell River, 7 Jun (Ian Graham). British Columbia’s first Tricolored Heron was photographed at the Cowichan Bay Estuary in Cowichan Bay, 12 Jul (Ken Thorne, Len Van Driel). Despite subsequent searches, the bird was never seen again. Rare in the Okanagan Valley, an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron was found along the oxbows of the Okanagan River in Penticton, 1 Jun (Kristen Mancuso). In Kelowna, at Munson Pond, an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron on 13 Jun, could have possibly involved the same bird seen earlier in Penticton (Hank Vanderpol, m. obs). The spring / summer of 2021 proved to be another ‘invasion year’ for White-faced Ibis into British Columbia. In Kelowna, a single White-faced Ibis was seen at Thomson Brook Marsh, 1 Jun (David Bell). Perhaps the same bird was seen in Kelowna at the mouth of Mission Creek, 5 Jun (Nick Swan, Brad Vissia). Near Merritt, along Highway 5A, a White-faced Ibis was at Beaver Ranch Flats, 5–16 Jun (Michelle Lamberson, m. obs). Further north, a White-faced Ibis was at Cranberry Marsh in Valemount, 12 Jun (Jeff Dyck), and another was at a wetland at 108 Mile Ranch, 21 Jul (Paul Foth, m. obs).

An adult Swainson’s Hawk, a rare bird on the west coast of Vancouver Island, was photographed at the airport in Tofino, 8 Jun (Adrian Dorst). B.C.’s 12th Acorn Woodpecker, a female, visited feeders in the rather remote community of Bralorne, between Lillooet and Pemberton, 10–16 Jun (Daryl Thompson, m. obs).


Rare in the Nicola Valley, an Alder Flycatcher was at Harmon Lake near Merritt, 2 Jul (Ilya Povalyaev). On Vancouver Island, an Eastern Phoebe was along Lohbrunner Road East in Saanich, remaining from the spring period to 28 Jun (Kevin Slagboom, m. obs). In the Prince George area, an Eastern Phoebe was at Eaglet Lake, Giscome, also remaining from the Spring period to 18 Jun (Jeff Dyck, m. obs). Very rare in Central B.C., a Sage Thrasher was found along the Soda Creek MacAlister Road, between Williams Lake and Quesnel 4 Jun (Suzy Wright, Brian Murland). The usual smattering of out-of-range Northern Mockingbirds came from various parts of the province. One was at the Reifel Refuge in Ladner, lingering from the Spring period to 1 Jun (Brian Self, m. obs). On Vancouver Island, a mockingbird was at the Nanaimo River Estuary, 24 and 25 Jun (Greg Robertson, m. obs). Another was in the East Kootenays, at Lumberton, on Hidden Valley Road, 14 Jun (Dianne Cooper). Also, in the Kootenays, a Northern Mockingbird was near Bear Lake in Zincton, 15 Jun (Barbara Maytom), and another was at Machete Island in Revelstoke 16 Jun (Don Manson). In the Okanagan, a single mockingbird was at the Penticton Airport, 17 Jun (Brent Diakow, Wayne Diakow, m. obs).

Lesser Goldfinches are slowly becoming established in some parts of southern B.C., most notably the southern Okanagan Valley, though they remain noteworthy in most areas. A male Lesser Goldfinch was at Pitt Meadows along Harris Road, 6 Jun (Yousif Attia). In Kelowna, another Lesser Goldfinch was at Bertram Creek Park, 9 Jun (Kalin Ocana). A male Hooded Oriole, a rare stray from the south, was photographed at a private residence on Bowan Island, 8 Jun (Judith McBride). The Okanagan’s third Baltimore Oriole, a male, was along Mill Creek, in Kelowna, south of McCurdy Road, 19 Jun (Ryan Tomlinson). In the West Kootenays, a male Baltimore Oriole frequented Brouse Loop Road near Nakusp, 2 Jun–1 Jul (Warren Flesaker, Julia Flesaker, m. obs). B.C.’s 7th Great-tailed Grackle, a female, was at Esquimalt Lagoon in Victoria, 4–19 Jul (Denis Shumeyko, m. obs). In the West Kootenays, a singing Ovenbird, rare in southern B.C., was at the start of the Galena Trail off Denver Siding Road in New Denver, 18 Jun (Julia Burger).

In Victoria, a Tennessee Warbler was at Beckwith Park, 2 Jun, providing an unusual summer record for the species on Vancouver Island (Kevin Slagboom). A male Magnolia Warbler was at Trout Lake in Vancouver, where the species is very rare, 18 Jun (Edward Nygren, m. obs). A male Chestnut-sided Warbler was at Jericho Park in Vancouver, 17 Jun (Evan Larson). Very rare in northern B.C., a male Black-headed Grosbeak was a surprise visitor to a private residence in Burns Lake, 14 Jun (Keith Walker). A male Indigo Bunting was at the corner of Ha Ha Creek Road and Howell Road, in Wardner, in the West Kootenays, 4–30 Jul (Alan Barnard, m. obs). On the Lower Mainland, another male Indigo Bunting was at Colony Farm in Coquitlam, 21–30 Jul (Graham Sunderland, m. obs). The West Kootenays hosted three Dickcissels in June, with a single male along Ferret Road in Edgewood, 21 Jun (Gary Davidson, Catherine McLean). Two more males were along the Brouse Loop Road near Nakusp, 26–30 Jun (Julia Flesaker, m. obs).

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 21 Feb 2022.

Photos–British Columbia: Summer 2021

This female Acorn Woodpecker, British Columbia’s 12th, visited a feeder at a residence in the community of Bralorne, from 10–16 Jul. Had the bird been in a more accessible location, it certainly would have garnished more attention. Bralorne, however, is not easy to get to, being located between Pemberton and Lillooet. Photo © Ken Willis.

Black-crowned Night-Herons rarely venture into the southern interior of British Columbia, but this summer several were noted in the area. This bird, a stunning adult, was at Munson Pond on 13 Jun, and constitutes just the second record for the Central Okanagan. Photo © Chris Charlesworth.

Normally very rare in British Columbia, three different Dickcissels appeared in the West Kootenay region of the province this summer. This male was singing on territory in Edgewood, where it was photographed 21 Jun. Photo © Gary Davidson.

A rare visitor to Canada, this male Hooded Oriole was photographed on 8 Jun at a private residence on Bowen Island. Though this species has appeared a surprising number of times in British Columbia, its appearance is always cause for excitement. Photo © Judith McBride.

The Okanagan Valley’s first, and the interior of British Columbia’s second, Snowy Plover was on a sandbar at the mouth of Mission Creek in Kelowna, from 15–17 Jun, and photographed here on 16 Jun. Photo © Kalin Ocana.

British Columbia’s first Tricolored Heron was photographed at Cowichan Bay, near Duncan, on Vancouver Island, on the 5 Jul. Despite a concerted search effort, the bird was never relocated again. Photo © Ken Thorne.

British Columbia’s third, and Vancouver Island’s first Wood Sandpiper thrilled birders at Panama Flats in Victoria. The bird remained from 5–9 Jul, and this photograph was taken 5 Jul. Photo © Liam Singh.

The province’s seventh Great-tailed Grackle, and the first for the Victoria checklist area, frequented Esquimalt Lagoon between the dates of 4–19 Jul. She hung out in the company of Brewer’s Blackbirds, as several of British Columbia’s Great-tailed Grackles have done, and was photographed here 17 Jul. Photo © David Bell.