TONY GREENFIELD / COMMUNITY COLUMNIST
AUGUST 17, 2017 12:11 PM
A rare ferruginous hawk was spotted several times in August near Wilson Creek estuary.
The birding community operates on many levels, from those who like to feed and observe backyard birds to those who travel to far-flung continents just to see rare birds. Along this continuum many people keep lists of the birds they have seen, whether it be from their own backyard, on the Sunshine Coast, within British Columbia, North America or the world. Keeping a list really adds an extra dimension of interest to the hobby, as you know which species you have seen and those you would like to see. There are lots of analogies, for example, a golfer keeping a scorecard. It’s hard to imagine anyone playing golf and not keeping a scorecard.
Maintaining a list also leads to the phenomenon of the rare bird. Everyone is familiar with the concept where an unlikely event captures the public interest. It can be any unlikely event, like a hole in one on the golf course, or a lottery win when the odds are millions to one. In the birding world, it refers specifically to a bird species appearing in an area where it is completely unexpected.
All this is by way of alluding to the fact that a rare bird has been making waves on the Sunshine Coast. The ferruginous hawk is normally a grassland species that completely avoids forested regions. In the winter it inhabits grassland regions of the southern U.S. and northern Mexico and migrates north to the northern plains and a narrow strip of the southern Prairies in Canada, especially southern Alberta. It is rarely recorded in B.C. with only sporadic appearances in the grassland areas of the province. I don’t believe it has ever been recorded on the coast of B.C. before.