The theme for the 20th annual Wings Over the Rockies Festival is Reflections on Water. Through presentations, fieldtrips, paddles, and workshops, the Festival will explore the essential role of fresh water resources in our Columbia Valley, examine the current conditions in our lakes, rivers, creeks and glaciers, and discuss the challenges our water resources will face in the future from climate change, population growth, recreational use, invasive species and other pressures.
We are honoured that David Schindler, an internationally celebrated scientist who has led efforts to protect fresh water resources in Canada and around the world, will be the Keynote Speaker at the Gala. Dr. Schindler received his doctorate from Oxford University where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. Later, he directed the Experimental Lakes Project of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans near Kenora, Ontario and his ground-breaking research on boreal aquatic ecosystems has been widely used in formulating ecological management policy around the world. Most recently, Dr. Schindler served as the Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton from where he retired to the Brisco wetlands earlier this year. For more information on David Schindler please check the Special Guest.
Within this umbrella, the Festival will continue to offer amazing birding opportunities and a wide variety of presentations and field trips examining many aspects of the natural environment in our Columbia Valley.
The Common Mergenser is the bird featured in Alistair Fraser’s wonderful photograph for the 2016 Wings Over the Rockies poster and brochure. The female Common Merganzer lays a clutch of eggs in a down-lined tree cavity or a hollow on a lakeshore. Ducklings hatch in a month and spend another 5 weeks paddling around with Mom before they can fly. They’ll learn to dive for small fish and to eat frogs, salamanders, snails, leeches and worms with saw-toothed bills. As adults, they’ll grow to a wingspan of up to 95 cm, develop bright red bills and assume either the distinct rusty, spiked crest of the hen or the sleek, deep green head of the drake. Most will winter on inland lakes in the United States, although the croaking call of a drake may be heard, rarely, on open water in southern BC. This photo was taken in the Wilmer wetlands by Buff Smith.
The first year of the Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey was a great success with participation from over 50 citizen scientists! Over 14,000 individual birds were counted during the spring migration surveys and over 40,000 individual birds were counted during the fall migration surveys! 43 high school students participated in fall migration surveys and 133 elementary students participated in outdoor birding field trips.
The Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey (CWWS) is a project that uses extraordinary citizens to gather important scientific data. It is the hope that this data will result in the Columbia Wetlands being designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Beyond data collection, this community-based project also aims to enhance and preserve the biodiversity and important habitat of the Wetlands through increased awareness (education programs) of its ecological significance.
Watch for fall 2016 survey dates. If you wish to volunteer, please contact Rachel Darvill at email@example.com.
Eagle-Eye Tours had another successful birding trip in Costa Rica. The tour was led by Cam Gillies whom many of you know as an event leader and banquet emcee at Wings Festivals. Cam’s PhD studied the movement of forest birds in Costa Rica. Cam guided alongside his very talented friend Ernesto Carman. Ernesto grew up on an organic coffee farm and is one of the leading birders in Costa Rica. Over 870 species of birds have been recorded from this small country, renowned for relatively easy birding, good accommodation, comfortable and pleasurable infrastructure, and peaceful policies. The tour samples a range of habitats from the high cloud forest to coastal mangroves.
The tour for 2017 will be from January 31 to February 10. Click here for full details on itinerary, featured birds, what to expect, and registration.
Photo: Vic Panei
The Columbia River Wetlands, one of the longest undisturbed wetland ecosystems found in North America, stretches over 180 km in length from Canal Flats to Donald, BC. This impressive ecosystem gained international recognition when it was chosen a Ramsar wetlands in 2005 and represents one of the few remaining intact portions of the Pacific Flyway critical to migrating birds.
Wings Over the Rockies Festival provides the opportunity for visitors and locals alike to engage in bird watching and to learn about the relationship of habitats, flora and fauna in the Columbia Valley, our backyard – the envy of the world.
Photo: Pat Morrow
Click on the image below to view photos of 2015 and past festival events.
Click on the image below to view some stunning bird photos seen during the festival.
Dates for the Wings Over the Rockies Festival for the next three years:
May 8 to 14, 2017
May 7 to 13, 2018
May 6 to 12, 2019