Rare chance to observe conservation work

This Sunday, the public will have a rare chance to observe the work being done at the Vaseaux Lake Bird Observatory.

Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance invites the public to its family day event on Sept. 27.

Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance invites the public to its family day event on Sept. 27.

This Sunday, the public will have a rare chance to observe the work being done at the Vaseaux Lake Bird Observatory.

The Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance, which operates the station, is hosting its second family day from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 27, where visitors will be able to watch bird capture and banding, examine different types of wings and go for a walk along the dyke to observe birds in their natural habitat.

“The bird banding has been going on at Vaseaux Lake for 15 years now, but what we were able to do this year, with the help of Nature Canada, is set up these programs,” said Jayme Friedt, a program co-ordinator with OSCA.

One of the highlights of the day is the chance to observe bander-in-charge Doug Brown as he tags birds to help monitor migration patterns and populations of various species as well as record information such as age, gender identification, weight, wing chord, fat levels and feather moult.

According to Brown’s blog for the observatory (vlbo.wordpress.com), in the seventh week of banding, they took in 342 birds of 28 species, including a belted kingfisher, a ruby crowned Kinglet and five Warbling Vireos.

“You do get a very large, diverse selection of species in that area,” said Friedt, noting it is one of the narrowest points in the Okanagan Valley, forcing migration birds to concentrate there.

Visitors will also be able to accompany Brown as he extracts captured birds from the mist nets set up to collect the birds, and learn about the process.

This is the second family day OSCA has held this year, thanks to a grant from Nature Canada, which has also helped the group do other educational work.

“In addition, we were able to develop a school program that complements the B.C. Ministry of Education’s science curriculum and will have a total of 12 schools from Summerland to Osoyoos attending the program later this month and into October,” said Janet Willson, OSCA Chair.

Another part of the day is what Friedt calls the adaptation tent, with wing and feet specimens from a variety of species, showing how different birds adapt to their environment and needs.

“People are able to touch them hold them in their hands. We have a snowy owl wing and breastplate and osprey wing. All sorts of wings so people can look at how they are formed,” said Friedt, noting that there will be volunteers on hand to explain why some birds have different feathers.

“If you are a bird of prey and your are nocturnal, you want to be as silent as you can. So owls will have a different feather configuration on their wings,” said Friedt.

A third activity will take visitors on a hike to the dike to observe various bird species and discuss habitat, migration and conservation.

Friedt cautions that the site is rustic and the terrain can be uneven with narrow paths and obstacles and is not wheelchair accessible. A portable washroom is on site.

Admission is by donation and there is a maximum capacity of 30 participants allowed.

In order to take part, participants must register with their name and the number of people in their party by emailing ecostudies@osca.org.

Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.