Birds and other wildlife in the heart of Vancouver

Vancouver wildlife just outside your door.

Credit: Karen Shuster

Vancouver’s Extensive Animal and Bird Life

Note: Fellow master gardener Karen Shuster posted this recently on one of the MG sites, and is happy to share it with us! The birds and other critters thrive in and around Karen’s garden – lucky them. She has created a beautiful oasis for animals and humans alike, near the heart of the city.

Here in the heart of the city (False Creek South) birds are thriving. My feeder (filled with sunflower chips) has a regular roster of visitors: chickadees with their bushtit buddies, juncoes and towhees, finches and warblers, and, below, sparrows and varied thrushes hopping about looking for fallen chips.

The suet feeder supports a remnant population of starlings – can’t figure out how to keep them away – along with the chickadees, and for the first time a steller’s jay and the flickers who normally are over in the pines.

This week I watched a murder of crows harass a hawk. In the autumn they outed a barred owl who eventually gave up and moved out. That’s one of the terrific things about crows – they alert the neighbourhood to any predator that tries to make itself at home. They don’t seem to mind the great blue heron but then she’s not interested in feeding on birds.

At dusk the mass movement of crows eastward is amazing to watch as they pause at select trees to wait for their cohorts to gather and then head towards their nighttime roost in ever-increasing numbers.

Vancouver birds and gardens
It’s not unusual to see a variety of different wildlife during a walk through a garden like this. Photo: Karen Shuster.

A short walk along the seawall brings me to the nest of a pair of bald eagles, with red-winged blackbirds singing from atop the willows. The other direction is the home of the cackling kingfisher that flies up and down the creek looking for prey. The cry of the loons is equally easy to distinguish. Canada geese are everywhere along the way making their messes. I much prefer the scaup, goldeneyes and mallards. Seagulls are ubiquitous.

Occasional visitors are the flocks of cedar waxwings and swans gliding on the bay. Can’t wait till spring with the return of the robins and hummingbirds! Permanent residents are the rats, racoons and river otter. Any squirrel that arrives is quickly sent on its way, though I’ve never figured out by whom. Coyotes pass through as well as harbour seals. Once even a killer whale.

On occasion a beaver arrives via flotsam but is always quickly relocated before too much havoc is wrought. Bats fly in the evening but are rarely noticed. What I miss are the swallows that once swooped over the nearby playing field – their nesting sites in vacant buildings on Granville Island long gone. And the pheasants in the scrubland to my east, their habitat covered with condos.

But with so much else here, and new species moving in on an ongoing basis, I don’t believe there’s a better place to be.