Author Archives: geocbcfo

Bird Records Committee – November/December 2017 Accepted Records, Rounds 18, 19, 20, & 21

The BCFO Bird Records Committee is pleased to report the latest 36 records accepted to the Main Provincial List, including one provincial first record.

You will also find the BCFO Rare Bird Report Form and the Provincial Review List under the BRC drop-down menu above or via the link here. Submissions of rare bird sightings in British Columbia are invited and encouraged.

Photo: Ilya Povalyaev

Dr. Martin K. McNicholl

It is with great sadness that we report that Martin McNicholl passed away on Friday, December 15th. It is great loss to the birding community.

Martin was known as an ornithologist who made contributions both nationally and internationally. He joined the BCFO board in the early 90’s and was a long time editor of our journal, BC Birds, as well as a regular contributor to BC Birding. As a result of Martin’s contributions to ornithology, he was awarded the Steve Cannings Award at the BCFO AGM held in Pemberton in 2014.

The citation for Martin’s award presentation at the Pemberton AGM was published in the September 2014 issue of BC Birding. The citation appears below.


The Steve Cannings Award is presented annually by the British Columbia Field Ornithologists. It honours the memory of Stephen R. Cannings (1914-2003) of Penticton, BC, who was a much-loved and admired ornithologist, naturalist, nature photographer,conservationist, and mentor to many young and beginning
naturalists. The Cannings Award recognizes achievement in any or all of three areas: (1) research on bird biology or ecology, or detailed documentation of the birdlife of any part of BC; (2) conservation of birds or bird habitats in BC;
and (3) public education about birds in BC.

It should be noted that the Cannings award is mainly for contributions to ornithology in BC. Many of Martin‟s accomplishments have taken place in other provinces, and he is well-known as an ornithologist at the national and even international level. However, as he has made his home in BC for more than 20 years, and as many of his contributions were made in BC, we consider him to be a most worthy recipient of this award, and we have cited many of his accomplishments from other provinces as well.

Martin was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on April 16, 1946, and grew up in the Winnipeg area. He became interested in birds at a very early age, and says that his first memory of a bird, at age 3, was a Common Loon yodeling as it flew
over a rowboat containing Martin, his father, and his grandfather. His interest in birds was encouraged and fostered by his aunt, Gertrude McNicholl, and a second cousin, Grace Keith, both of whom were keen birdwatchers. In addition to the immediate vicinity of Winnipeg, much of his early birding was done during the summers near Gimli, Manitoba (on Lake Winnipeg) and in the lake country near Ingolf, Ontario (west of Kenora), around property owned by his relatives.

Martin enrolled in a Zoology program at the University of Manitoba, and earned a bachelor‟s degree (Honours Zoology) in 1968. While an undergraduate, he met Dr. Roger Evans, who employed him one summer to do surveys of waterbirds and Sharp-tailed Grouse. He then embarked on a M.Sc. program under Dr. Evans, and completed his Master‟s thesis on Forster‟s Tern biology in 1971. For his Ph.D. work, Martin moved to Edmonton and studied Blue Grouse (now called Sooty Grouse) biology under Dr. Fred Zwickel. However, his study area, where he did research for four summers, was in the Comox Burn on Vancouver Island. Martin‟s Ph.D. dissertation, which he completed in 1978, was entitled Behavioural and Social Organization in a Population of Blue Grouse on Vancouver Island.

After completing his Ph.D., Martin worked for several environmental consulting firms between B.C. and Ontario. From 1984 to 1987, he served as General Manager and Executive Director of the Long Point Bird Observatory, now part of Bird Studies Canada. Since moving to B.C., and until recently, he has worked mainly at the Vancouver International Airport, first for LGL Environmental Research Associates and then with Airport Wildlife Management International, with the objective of managing birds on the airport and reducing bird hazards to aircraft.

Martin is widely known for his encyclopedic knowledge of the scientific literature of ornithology, and for his strong abilities as a writer and editor. He has published dozens of articles and short notes in scientific journals. He edited
Manitoba Bird Studies: a Bibliography of Manitoba Ornithology (1975), and was senior editor of A Bibliography of Alberta Ornithology (1981), as well as
Ornithology in Ontario (1994), a 400-page historical review of ornithology and ornithologists in Ontario. He also authored 45 entries in the Canadian Encyclopedia, mainly dealing with birds and natural history. Finally, for more than 30 years, he was in charge of the “Recent Literature” section of the North American Bird Bander.

Martin has served in many volunteer capacities, and has always been willing to donate his time to worthwhile projects and activities. Over the years, he has served on more than 30 boards and committees from B.C. to Ontario.

For BCFO, he was the editor of our journal, British Columbia Birds, from 1994 to 2002, a time-consuming and exacting task. He has also been the compiler or co-compiler of the “Upcoming Meetings and Events” column in our newsmagazine for much of its history, and a valued member of the Awards Committee since its inception. In addition, he has served for many years on the Birding Section Committee of Nature Vancouver, and as the Program Chairman of the Langley Field Naturalists.

Given his many accomplishments and his generosity with his time, it will not surprise you that Martin has been the recipient of several previous awards. These include the Loran L. Goulden Award (1983) for contributions to the natural history of Alberta; being named an Elective Member of the American Ornithologists Union (1986); the Ernest Thompson Seton medal for contributions to Manitoba‟s natural history (1995); and being named an Honorary Life Member of both the Langley Field Naturalists (2001) and B.C. Field Ornithologists (2002).

In this brief citation, we have had to omit many of Martin McNicholl‟s accomplishments, particularly those that took place outside B.C. Nevertheless, we think it should be obvious to everyone that Martin is a most deserving
recipient of the Steve Cannings Award, and we take great pleasure in presenting it to him.

Christmas Bird Counts

December is rapidly approaching and what better excuse to escape the malls and seasonal madness than to participate in one or more Christmas Bird Counts?

You can check out the Province’s counts and count dates here. We update the page as we receive the information from the various count leaders.

Continuing the tradition for the last number of years, there are offerings of various Christmas Bird Counts 4 Kids as well. This page will be updated too as we receive new information.


Bird Records Committee – October 2017 Accepted Records, Rounds 15, 16 and 17

The latest sets of accepted records of the BCFO Bird Records Committee are now posted here. Included in these records are four provincial first records, and one new addition to the provincial list.

You will also find the BCFO Rare Bird Report Form and the Provincial Review List under the BRC drop-down menu above or via the link here. Submissions of rare bird sightings in British Columbia are invited and encouraged.

Photo: Tom Lowery

BCFO Featured Photographer #15

After a prolonged recess our Featured Photographer Series is finally back on line with another superb gallery of stunning bird photographs. Our guest presenter, #15 in the series, is Michelle Lamberson of Kelowna. View her work HERE.

BC Bird Records Committee latest news

There are two recent developments from the BC Bird Records Committee to announce.

First, an interim BC Bird Records Committee Sightings Database is now available on this website.

Also, the Rare Bird Report Form for the submission of rare bird sightings is now even easier to use. The form is fillable on-line, and is submitted directly to the committee from the website.

Not a bird to report to the Bird Records Committee


Tumbler Ridge AGM post-script

Full reports on our excellent June AGM in Tumbler Ridge will be found in the upcoming BC Birding newsmagazine. We not only enjoyed fabulous birding, but saw first hand the evidence for the dinosaur origins of birds – Tumbler Ridge being BC’s premier location for dinosaur bones and trackways.

While we birders were outdoors looking up, others were clearly looking down with other targets in mind, and made an historic discovery. The day after our departure, BC’s first ever dinosaur skull was lifted from its discovery location on a local creek, and transported to the Tumbler Ridge Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre. Read more here about BC’s first dinosaur skull.

Dr. Rick Lambert with his discovery.

Close-up view of part of the tyrannosaurid skull (like an Albertosaurus), – probably around 75 million years old. Note the long curving teeth.

Close-up of tooth

Tyrannosaurid skull outline

Congratulations to our Tumbler Ridge hosts on this significant and exciting find.

New Bird Blind Opens at Vaseux Lake Wildlife Refuge

This spring, the 20-year-old public bird blind at Vaseux Lake was replaced with a three-level, architect-designed structure with a significantly larger floor area, central staircase, enclosed second level, and rodent-proof construction. The entry level of the blind is wheelchair accessible as will be the boardwalk when it is rebuilt later this year.

View from marsh

The four+-year project was organized through the BC Nature Important Bird and Biodiversity Program with Eva Durance, volunteer Caretaker for the Vaseux IBBA, as project manager assisted by a team of people with responsibilities in that area. Funding was provided by a number of agencies and businesses including the Public Conservation Assistance Fund of HCTF, BC Nature Foundation, Fortis BC Community Fund, Penticton Rotary Club, and Lake Breeze Winery. Many other individuals, government and non-profit agencies, and businesses assisted in a variety of ways to complete the project.

Eva hopes many BCFO members will enjoy the new facility throughout the years.

View from approach




New West Kootenay Checklist published

Gary Davidson has just published a new, revised, and improved checklist for the West Kootenay. Copies will be available for $2.50 each at the upcoming Tumbler Ridge AGM.

Sample page here:

Registration for Tumbler Ridge AGM and Tour-de-Peace Extension

A reminder for everyone that the registration and payment pages for this year’s Tumbler Ridge AGM, and the Tour de Peace extension trip open this weekend, Sunday April 2 at 9:00 am PDT.

You’ll find the links to these pages under the Events tab > Annual Conference above.

Look forward to seeing you in Tumbler Ridge.

Photo: William H. Majoros – licenced under Creative Commons