top of page

‘Incredible’ spring migration in Cowichan Valley can go unnoticed

Merlin app helps beginners identify birds by their calls

A migration of epic proportions is underway in our skies, forests, fields and wetlands.

Across North America, billion of birds are winging their way to northern breeding grounds.

“It’s incredible, pretty astounding,” says Robyn Radcliffe of the Raptors on Herd Road in North Cowichan. “So many species with so many migration patterns.”


But if you don’t look, you could miss the spectacle altogether. “Absolutely, I don’t think people notice it particularly unless you’re focused on nature, on birds,” she says.

The peak migration is underway right now in the Cowichan Valley, though some species have been here for several weeks, including turkey vultures.

A great way to track the migration is with Merlin, a free app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. When installed on your cell phone, the app helps you identify birds.

00:00 / 01:04

While the app is not perfect, Radcliffe finds the sound identification function “incredibly useful” to help confirm birds by their songs or calls. “It’s such a game changer for people starting to learn birds. It makes it more accessible.”

Another app, eBird, allows citizens to record their sightings and contribute to a larger database.

Birding organizations offer tips for helping to keep migratory birds safe on their journey: turn off lights at night; make windows visible by applying decals or other deterrents; keep cats indoors; maintain insect-friendly gardens.


World Migratory Bird Day is May 11:

Cowichan Bay Kayaking offers birding tours:

Join Cowichan Valley Naturalists’ Society:

(Special thanks to Barry Hetschko for photos of rufous hummingbird, cedar waxwings, trees swallows, osprey.)

Subscribe free to More than 47,000 unique visitors.

— Larry Pynn, April 30, 2024

PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
bottom of page