British Columbia: Winter 2017–2018

1 December 2017–28 February 2018

Chris Charlesworth

Recommended citation:

Charlesworth, C. 2020. Winter 2017-2018: British Columbia. <> North American Birds.

A strong ridge of high pressure produced a warm and dry start to the Winter season over most of the Region. This changed suddenly the third week of December as the ridge retrogressed offshore allowing Arctic air to envelop all areas from the northeast. Overrunning Pacific moisture produced some rare, heavier, coastal snowfalls early in this cold air invasion. The cold pattern held sway through the first half of January, before the Westerlies broke through, bringing milder rains to the coast and snow inland. This pattern held through the first half of February before shallow invasions of Arctic air barely made it out to the coast through the latter half of the month.


DA – Dorian Anderson; AB – Anne Barbour; CB – Carey Bergman; DB – Dave Beeke; Dba – Dave Baird; MB – Madeleine Beglinger; JB – Jason Beiber; GB – Gordon Brown; MB – Margaret Bryan; MBe – Michael Bentley; CC – Chris Charlesworth; GC – George Clulow; IC – Ian Cruickshank; BD – Bobby Dailey; GD – Gary Davidson; LD – Louise Dickson; DD – Daniel Donnecke; MD – Michael Dossett; BDu – Blair Dudeck; AD – Allan Dupilka; RD – Reba Dupilka; HD – Hilary Dymond JE – John Eastman; BE – Brad Eckersley; GE – Grant Edwards; PF, Paul Foth; JG – Jeremy Gatten; MH – Melissa Hafting; JH – Jesse Hannebauer; SH – Susan Harper; NH – Nathan Hentze; TH – Ted Hillary; THi – Ted Hindmarch; WK – Wendy Kahle; BK – Bryan King; DK – Diane Kehoe; JKi – Jason Kimm; JK – Janet King; RK – Richard Klauke; LKa – Laura Kaye; LK – Linda Koch; MK – Michael Klotz; DK – Doug Kragh; PL – Pam Laing; LL – Logan Lalonde; EL – Eleein Lefrancois; SL – Susan Ley; BL – Bobby Livsey; KL – Kevin Louth; KM – Kristin Mancuso; DM – Don Manson; JM – Jock McCracken; GM – Guy Monty; LM – Linda Mueller; GN – Geoffrey Newell; MN – Monica Nugent; KN – Kathy Nuszdorfer; CO – Cathy O’Connor; AO – Ashley Olender; VO – Victoria Otton; GP – Guy Pambrun; GPe – Greg Petri; JP – June Pigeon; KP – Katrin Powell; KPr – Kathleen Pritchard; KeP – Ken Pritchard; GR – Greg Ross; SR – Susan Robertshaw; MR – Mary Robichaud; BS – Blaire Smith; LS – Liam Singh; NSm – Nick Smith; NSH – Nancy St. Hilaire; NS – Nick Swan; RT – Ryan Tomlinson; KT – Kenneath Trease; DT – David Truman; JT – James Turner; DU – Deborah Upton; IV – Iwan Van Veen; BV – Brad Vissia; BVr – Bryan Vroom; ZW – Zachary Westfall; SW – Sean Weston; BW – Bruce Whittington; PW – Peter Woods; MW – Mark Wynja.


A first for the Kelowna Christmas Bird Count, a female Blue-winged Teal was discovered on Okanagan Lake at the foot of Cedar Avenue 16 – 20 Dec (MB, DK, m.obs). It was later, unknowingly, rediscovered by another group of counters, at a nearby creek at the corner of Watt Road and Walnut Street. Several Cinnamon Teals, also rare in Winter, were found on the Lower Mainland. A male was at Boundary Bay in Delta, in a ditch along 72nd Street, 2 Dec (DA, et al). Two more were in Maple Ridge, in a water-filled ditch at the north end of 216th Street, 30 Dec – 2 Jan (BVr). In White Rock, four Cinnamon Teals were seen from the promenade at Semiahmoo Park, 15 & 16 Jan (KT, m.obs). A stunning adult male King Eider continued over from the Fall period at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta, to 5 Dec (MK, m.obs). Another male King Eider, determined to be a different bird, was discovered off the Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, and later repositioned itself at Canada Place and the Waterfront Seabus Station for the rest of its stay, 4 – 16 Dec (PW, m.obs). Two male Costa’s Hummingbirds were present in the province during this winter period. One visited backyard feeders in Abbotsford, remaining until at least 21 Dec (MD, m.obs). The other was on the Sunshine Coast, visiting feeders at the SeaSide Escape Retreat along Donkersley Road in Powell River, throughout the period (KeP, KPr, m.obs). Rare in B.C. during the winter, a female Rufous Hummingbird patronized a feeder on the 400 block of Culzean Place in Port Moody, 22 Dec into the spring period (VO, m.obs). Rufous Hummingbirds normally return to southwestern B.C. in late February and migrate south by September. Boundary Bay was host to Willet that remained from the Fall period to at least 16 Dec, near the foot of 104th Street in Delta (KL, m.obs). A number of ‘Kumlien’s’ Iceland Gulls were reported in the province, with all but one record coming from a coastal location. The one interior record was at Kelowna, where a first-winter ‘Kumlien’s’ Gull was photographed at the Kelowna Yacht Club 16 Jan (RK, THi). Several ‘Kumlien’s’ race birds were found on the east coast of Vancouver Island as well, with one at the south end of the Stuart Channel, 30 Dec (GM, et al). An adult ‘Kumlien’s’ Gull was on the playing fields at Landsdowne Middle School in Victoria, 30 Dec (GN, et al), and a first winter bird was at the Little Qualicum Fish Hatchery in Qualicum Beach, 6 Jan (BD). In Parksville, an adult ‘Kumlien’s’ Gull was seen at the Parksville Community Park, 15 Jan (GM), and an adult and a second winter ‘Kumlien’s’ Gull were found at the mouth of French Creek, 27 Dec – 22 Feb (LS, m.obs).


Though the B.C. Coast is within the winter range of the Yellow-billed Loon, the appearance of the species is still worthy of mention, and in the B.C. interior, the bird is considered a rarity. Therefore, a Yellow-billed Loon found on Shuswap Lake at Canoe, near Salmon Arm, 17 Dec, was noteworthy (TH). On Vancouver Island, where the bulk of the Yellow-billed Loon reports came from, one was at the Townsite Marina in Nanaimo, 30 Dec (GM, et al). Another adult Yellow-billed Loon was seen off the Swallowfield Road entrance to the Chemainus River, 30 Dec – 3 Jan (GM, m.ob). Another Yellow-billed Loon was in Nanaimo, at Neck Point Park, 25 – 30 Jan (Dba, mobs). At the south end of Vancouver Island, a Yellow-billed Loon was at Beechey Head in East Sooke Regional Park, in Sooke, 3 Feb (DD). An adult Yellow-billed Loon was found at the Englishman River Estuary in Parksville, having stayed since fall. This bird remained into the spring (GM, m.obs). Brown Booby sightings have become nearly annual in recent years off the B.C. coast, where one was photographed from a fishing vessel off Vancouver Island, approx. 100 kilometers west of the Brooks Peninsula, 5 Dec (GP). Another Brown Booby, an adult, was found in poor condition on Victoria’s Ogden Point Breakwater, 29 Jan and was taken into the S.P.C.A. for rehabilitation, but later died (AO, JP). Unusual at any time of year in B.C., but especially in the Winter, a Great Egret was seen in flight along Central Saanich Road near Victoria, 16 Dec (LS). On Vancouver Island, a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was found 26 Jan and remained into the spring period at Filbert Park in Comox (NSH, m.obs). A number of Gyrfalcons were reported during the period, all of which were either in the Lower Mainland or on Vancouver Island. An immature Gyrfalcon was along Adshead Road in Nanaimo, 1 – 29 Jan (BDu, m.obs). Two immature Gyrfalcons were in the Fraser Valley in the area of Dixon Road, Campbell Road, and Marion Road in Abbotsford, remaining from the Fall period to 25 Dec (GP, m.obs). An adult Gyrfalcon was found along Upper Prairie Road in Chilliwack, 16 & 17 Dec (DB), and another adult was along Prairie Central Road at Banford Road in Chilliwack, 16 Dec – 9 Jan (DB, m.obs). In Pitt Meadows, a Gyrfalcon was along Old Dewdney Road at Sharpe Road, 19 Dec – 27 Feb (SW, m.obs). All Gyrfalcons noted during the period were gray phase birds.


Wintering Say’s Phoebes were found at a number of locations, with one noted along Jack Boulevard in West Kelowna, 4 Dec (AB). Another was found on the Kelowna Christmas Bird Count, at Michaelbrook Ranch Golf Course, 16 Dec (RT, JH, et al). Another Say’s Phoebe was in Kelowna along McKenzie Road, 6 Jan (BV), and another was found on Kelowna’s Westside at Trader’s Cove, 23 Dec (KN). On Vancouver Island, a Say’s Phoebe was at a pond along Adshead Road in Nanaimo, 1 – 7 Jan (BDu, m.obs). A single Blue Jay was at Woodward’s Landing Girl Guide Camp on Dyke Road in Richmond, 23 – 26 Dec (LK, m.obs). Single California Scrub-Jays, a species that continues to slowly expand its range into southwestern B.C., were noted at two Lower Mainland locations. One was found along Southlands Crescent near Robertson Elementary School in Chilliwack in the Fall and remained until 20 Dec (fide MH, m.obs). Another California Scrub-Jay was along Caithness Crescent in Port Moody, 18 – 21 Feb (SL, m.obs). A wintering Hermit Thrush was discovered in Peachland, along Trepanier Creek at Harold’s Walkway, 6 – 25 Dec (THi, et al). Another Hermit Thrush was along Brandt’s Creek at Kelowna’s Sunset Park, 13 Feb, remaining into the Spring period (NS, m.obs). Very rare on Vancouver Island, a Clark’s Nutcracker was a nice find in Victoria in the Oak Bay neighborhood at Uplands Park, 3 Dec (LD). Small numbers of wintering swallows were noted in the province, with up to four Tree Swallows at Swan Lake in Victoria, 14 – 22 Jan (LS, m.obs). At Road 22, north of Osoyoos, in the Okanagan Valley, a Barn Swallow was present 3 – 12 Feb (KM, JH, JB, et al). Three Barn Swallows were also at Boundary Bay in Delta, west of 88th Street, 6 Jan (KL). An invasion of Mountain Chickadees continued from the Fall period in the Vancouver area. A single Mountain Chickadee visited a feeder at a private residence on Government Street in Vancouver, lingering from the Fall to 9 Dec (HD). Two Mountain Chickadees patronized a feeder at a private residence on Maple Crescent in Ladner, carrying over from the Fall period right through to the Spring (GE). In Delta, a Mountain Chickadee came to a feeder at a private residence along River Road, lingering from the Fall to 24 Dec (DK, JE, m.obs). Finally, two Mountain Chickadees were along West 6th Street near Chesterfield Road in North Vancouver, first detected in the Fall period, and they remained through the entire Winter period (DU, m.obs). The Okanagan Valley’s third record of Winter Wren came from Scenic Canyon in Kelowna, where one was discovered 1 Dec and remained until 26 Feb, along Mission Creek (CC, JH, m.obs). Rare in B.C. during the Winter, Mountain Bluebirds appeared at several coastal locations. A female Mountain Bluebird continued at Vancouver’s Mountain View Cemetery from the Fall period through to 4 Dec (BK, JK, m.obs). On Vancouver Island, a male Mountain Bluebird was along Adshead Road in Nanaimo, 1 Jan – 17 Feb (GM, m.obs). Also, on Vancouver Island, a female Mountain Bluebird was at Martindale Flats in Central Saanich, in a large field along Hunt Road, 16 Dec, remaining into the Spring period (IC, LS, m.obs). On Haida Gwaii, a Mountain Bluebird was a nice find at the Sandspit Airport, 3 Feb (CB). Very rare in British Columbia in the Winter, a Swainson’s Thrush was discovered at Shutty Beach, north of Kaslo in the Kootenay region, 15 Dec (GB, et al).


The majority of B.C.’s reports of Brown Thrasher have come from the East Kootenay region in recent years, where one was discovered along Joseph Creek, near the south end of 11th Ave in Cranbrook. The bird was found 9 Dec and remained into the Spring period (RT, CC, m.obs). Another Brown Thrasher in the East Kootenays was in a private garden on Yarrow Road in Elko, 2 Jan, remaining into the Spring (BL, BE, m.obs). A Northern Mockingbird was along 2nd Street, near Centennial Park in Duncan, on Vancouver Island, continuing from the Fall period to 21 Jan (JKi, m.obs). Cassin’s Finch is rare at coastal locations in B.C., so the appearance of a male at a feeder along Elk View Road in Chilliwack was noteworthy. The bird first appeared in the Fall period and continued to 2 Dec (PF, m.obs). The winter of 2017/18 was an irruption year in much of the province, for Common Redpolls. Several Hoary Redpolls were found in Southern B.C. as well, which is always cause for excitement. A single Hoary Redpoll was photographed at a private residence, visiting feeders along the shores of Little Shuswap Lake, east of Kamloops, 7 Dec (AD, RD). Another single Hoary Redpoll was found along Gold Creek Road in Cranbrook, 15 Jan (BD). A Hoary Redpoll was near the corner of Cokato Road and Thompson Road in Fernie, 30 Jan (BL, LKa). Also, in the Kootenays, another Hoary Redpoll was along Mission Wycliffe Road in Wycliffe, 13 Jan – 6 Feb (KP, GR, m.obs). In Cranbrook, a Hoary Redpoll visited a feeder on 13th Ave S., 7 Feb (KP). In the Okanagan, a Hoary Redpoll was photographed along Beaver Lake Road in Lake Country, 12 Feb (LL). The march of the Lesser Goldfinch into B.C. continues; a female visited feeders at a private residence on Rogers Court in Victoria, 11 Dec – 7 Jan (NH, m.obs). A wintering Chipping Sparrow was a nice find on Vancouver Island, along Welch Road in Central Saanich, at a backyard feeder, 16 – 20 Dec (JG, m.obs). In Nakusp, a Lincoln’s Sparrow was an unusual find, as they are rare in Winter, at Spicer’s Farm, 14 Dec (GD). It was an average Winter for Harris’s Sparrow reports in the province, with a number of birds appearing in the Southern Interior. A single Harris’s Sparrow was at a private residence along Yarrow Road in Elko, in the Kootenays, 26 Jan (BL). In Fernie, a Harris’s Sparrow visited feeders along 9th Street in the Annex neighborhood, 15 – 22 Jan (MBe, m.obs). A lone Harris’s Sparrow was at a private feeder near the corner of 9th Street and 11th Avenue S. in Cranbrook, 3 Feb (BS, JT). In Kelowna, up to three Harris’s Sparrows spent the entire Winter period around Munson Pond (PL, m.obs). In the Lower Mainland area, a Harris’s Sparrow was along the Boundary Bay dyke near the foot of 72nd Street in Delta, continuing from the Fall period to 6 Dec (KL, MN, SR, m.obs). An immature Harris’s Sparrow visited a feeder along 104th Street in Delta, 23 Dec (DT). Further north along the coast, an immature Harris’s Sparrow came to feeders at a house along Gair Avenue in Terrace, 24 Dec – 4 Jan (EL, m.obs). Though common from April to October, Yellow-headed Blackbird is a rarity in B.C. during the winter months. A first-year male Yellow-headed Blackbird was seen at Kelowna’s Thomson Brook Marsh, 1 Feb (LL). In Ladner, a male Yellow-headed Blackbird associated with Brewer’s Blackbirds near the Westham Island Bridge, 21 Jan, continuing into the Spring period (JM, m.obs). On Vancouver Island, a female Bullock’s Oriole was present from 24 Dec – 13 Jan at a private residence along the 4300 block of Metchosin Road in Victoria (CO, m.obs). A female Black-and-white Warbler was a great find, at Hadden Park, near Kits Beach, in Vancouver, 23 Feb (LM). Another rare wintering warbler was a Tennessee Warbler at a feeder in the 800 block of Rogers Court in Victoria, 3 – 27 Dec (SH, m.obs). In North Vancouver, a wintering Nashville Warbler was found at Chiba Gardens in Waterfront Park and remained from 30 Dec through to the Spring period (MB, DU, m.obs). Several wintering Common Yellowthroats were noted in the southern portion of the province. One was at Boundary Bay in Delta, east of 88th Street, 3 Dec (KA). Also on the Lower Mainland, a male Common Yellowthroat was at Terra Nova Park in Richmond, 20 Feb and remained into the Spring period (ZW, m.obs). A first year male Common Yellowthroat was at Thomson Brook Marsh in Kelowna, 1 – 6 Dec (CC, m.obs). In Revelstoke, a female type Common Yellowthroat was found at the local sewage lagoons, 16 Dec (DM, et al). Single wintering Palm Warblers on Vancouver Island were at the Parksville Community Centre, where one lingered from the Fall period to 20 Jan (MW, m.obs), and one was along Bonnie Drive at Hammond Bay Road in Nanaimo, 18 Dec to 18 Feb (NS, m.obs). At Vancouver’s famous Stanley Park, a male Wilson’s Warbler visited Lost Lagoon, 9 to 20 Dec (GC, m.obs). On the Sunshine Coast, a male Wilson’s Warbler was at an abandoned golf course in Powell River, 16 – 22 Dec (IV), and in Victoria, a male Wilson’s Warbler was at Beacon Hill Park, 13 – 16 Dec (MR, m.obs). B.C.’s 6th Summer Tanager, an immature male was seen by many during its stay in Vancouver, where it visited suet feeders near W. 71st Avenue, 6 – 26 Dec (WK, m.obs). The only first for the province was a female Northern Cardinal, first found during the Fall period, at private feeders near Joseph Creek along 11th Ave S. in Cranbrook. The bird was seen by many during its stay until at least 27 Feb, though she did disappear for several days only to be rediscovered in a nearby neighborhood once again (KP, GR, m.obs).

Report processed by Raymond L. VanBuskirk 21 Dec 2020.

This first year male Summer Tanager represents British Columbia’s sixth record and the first for the Metro Vancouver checklist. The bird was visiting feeders in an urban area of Vancouver and remained from 9 Dec 2017 into the spring 2018 period. It is shown here on 10 Dec 2018. Photo © Melissa Hafting.