Hipster birdwatchers invited to participate in Vancouver Bird Week

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      Vancouver Bird week opens on Saturday (May 6) with a plethora of local events for residents who want to get in touch with their inner ornithologist.

      The Stanley Park Ecology Society is hosting a "beginner birding" session from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Salmonberry Room at the Stanley Park Pavilion (610 Pipeline Road). Also in Stanley Park, there will be a nest-box building workshop from 1  to 3:30 p.m. on the roof deck of the Nature House on Lost Lagoon.

      That's not all. The society is putting on a session at 10 a.m. at 712 Lost Lagoon Path called "Rise of the hipster birdwatcher".

      Yes, birdwatching has become hip and it's also big business.

      According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, birdwatchers spend $41 billion on trips and gear.

      Meanwhile, VanDusen Botanical Garden (5251 Oak Street) is hosting a bird walk from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday.

      Also on that day from 2 to 4 p.m., there will be workshops on birds at the Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews). That's also where Bird Week will be launched at 1 p.m., followed by the "Birds in the 604" reception.

      Ladner's Wellington Point Park will be the site of a biking with the birds ride, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

      North Vancouver's Maplewood Flats (2649 Dollarton Highway) is home to the Corriga Nature House Spring Celebration, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

      The spotted towhee is one of the more attractive birds in the city.
      Stephen Hui

      These events are followed by several more bird-related activities on Sunday (May 7).

      Among them are a bird safari from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Sewell's Marina (6409 Bay Street, West Vancouver), a bird habitat search challenge from 10 a.m. to noon at Jericho Beach Park, a "birding by ear" session from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Aberthau Community Centre (4397 West 2nd Avenue), and a bird walk in Mandarin from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Queen Elizabeth Park.

      Hillcrest Community Centre (4575 Clancy Loranger Way) is hosting bird workshops from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. And UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum is hosting an event from 1 to 2 p.m.  called "Ethno-Ornithology Is Way Cool Because".

      The Vancouver Bird Week website has a complete list of all events taking place until May 13.

      Anna's hummingbird is hoping to rule the roost after the ballots are counted.
      Stephen Hui

      Residents will elect their favourite bird 

      Meanwhile, the City of Vancouver is encouraging residents to vote online for the permanent official bird of Vancouver. The deadline is May 14.

      There are four candidates: Anna's hummingbird, the northern flicker, the spotted towhee, and the varied thrush.

      "Birds are an excellent indicator of a healthy ecosystem; they thrive in healthy natural environments and contribute to the ecosystem itself as pollinators, seed distributors and insect eaters," the city states on its website. "Vancouver has an extensive variety of local birds and is also located on one of the world's major migratory pathways."

      The city has included some amusing profiles of each of the candidates.

      Anna's hummingbird is described as having "the heart of a tiger" with "iridescent emerald feathers and sparkling rose-pink throats".

      "In their thrilling and athletic courtship displays, males climb up to 40 m in the air and then swoop to the ground at break-neck speed with a curious burst of noise that they produce through their tail feathers," the city notes.

      Moreover, Anna's hummingbirds' "housing needs are modest" because they "could easily live in the potted plant in any Vancouver neighbourhood".

      The northern flicker is praised on the website for its "stylish polka-dots on the body, and flashy orange beneath tail and wing".

      "They are large, handsome woodpeckers that announce their presence with a call that resembles their name," the city notes. "They are easily recognized along urban streets and in city parks where they search out ants and beetles, digging for them with their unusual, slightly curved bills."

      The holes that the northern flicker digs are used by other birds and animals for nesting and roosting. It prefers making its home in condo buildings.

      The varied thrush is also in the running to become the city bird.
      Stephen Hui

      The spotted towhee has a "shy retiring nature", according to the city website, as well as a "stylish black coat, the half-opened red vest, and white undercoat".

      "This is a peaceful but sociable bird that happily putters about in the shrubs hunting for seed and berries and would be content living in a laneway home," the city states.

      The fourth candidate, the varied thrush, is described as "mellow and contemplative". It can also sing different notes in harmony.

      "But they are more than just beautiful singers," the city points out.

      That's because the varied thrush also has a "body suit that would be the envy of any Vancouver fitness freak", with "a slate gray [sic] back and breast band set against burnt-orange breast and belly". They like "single-family living with large lot sizes", according to the city.