Below you will find basic information about the marine birds in our area.
For more detailed info please see our Marine Bird Guide Online or for a colourful, printable version our Marine Bird Guide PDF.
The birds around Victoria, B.C. on Vancouver Island capture the imagination of many visiters. Bald eagles, great blue heron and black oystercatchers are confident, skilled hunters, and can be reliably seen feeding before our very eyes during whale watching trips.
You'll watch belted kingfishers hit the water like smart bombs while common murre dive beneath the surface creating bubble trails behind them like underwater jet planes as they pick apart a frightened school of fish. The commotion attracts other hungry predators and soon the cluster of thrashing predator and prey is visible from a mile away.
Year-round, resident bird species include the bald eagle, harlequin duck, great blue heron, pigeon guillemot, rhinoceros auklet, Wilson's phalarope, and black oystercatcher. There are also many species of gull, and a wide range of inter-tidal/coastal birds, ie: the kill deer, greater & lesser yellow legs, black & ruddy turnstone, sanderlings, etc.. It is an ornithologist's (bird lover's) dream.
- are apex predators and are top of the 'Bird' food chain.
- second in size only to California condors and about the same size as golden eagles
- wingspans range from six and a half to seven and a half feet,
- body length varies from about three to three and a half feet.
- weigh from six to eight pounds. Females are larger (9-11 lbs) than males and have a slightly longer wingspan.
- have lived up to 48 years in zoos, although their life span in the wild is likely an average of between 21-25 years.
- they mate for life, get married
- have incredibly acute eyesight (2 mile visual radius)
- the largest nest in the Pacific Northwest measured 15 feet (5M) across by 21 feet (7m) deep weighing approximately 5000lbs (1500kgs).
- recently removed from the Endangered species list in the USA
Double Crested Cormorant
- solidly built black cormorant with an orange/yellow throat patch and very long neck.are approximately 30-35" tall (76-89 cm).
- the largest and easiest to identify of the cormorants in the Pacific Northwest
- feathers lack a lot of the typical oil, they soak up water like a sponge
- after a dive the cormorant must 'dry off', with their wings stretched out from side to side drying themselves off like clothes on a clothesline
- some records indicate that these birds can dive to depths of 210 feet (70m).
- In some parts of the world cormorants have been raised and trained to fish for their owners because of there skilled hunting abilities.
- clutch size for this species is 3-5 chalky, pale blue-green eggs in a well-made platform of sticks and seaweed,
- the nest is a condominium-like structure placed in a tree or on a cliff or rocky island, nearly 3-5' high (1-1.5m).
- are large blackish brown birds, flight feathers are a silvery gray.
- have nearly featherless heads,
- adult turkey vulture has a red head while the juvenile has a black head.
- five foot wingspan, about 4 lb
- usually lay 2 eggs (can be 1-3), both parents incubate the eggs. Incubation lasts 38 to 41 days
- fledge (leave the nest) at about 66 to 88 days
- are immune to botulism and other organisms in carrion (rotten flesh) that would kill other animals.
- soars above the ground for most of the day, searching for food with its excellent eyesight (comparable to an eagle's) and highly developed sense of smell.
- the only bird with a sense of smell
- its defense is vomiting. They cough up a lump of semi-digested meat. This foul smelling substance deters most creatures intent raiding a vulture nest.
- approx. size is 12-14" (30-36 cm). Pigeon-sized.
- breeding plumage, black with large white wing patch interrupted by 2 black stripes.
- Winter, head and upper parts lighten slightly, giving dusky mottled effect; underparts are white with buff-coloured barring on flanks and dusky wing linings.
- all seasons, feet and bill lining brilliant red.
- 1 or 2 whitish or greenish, dark-spotted eggs in a crevice or burrow.
- rather comical bird. Having extremely large bright red feet, it often has a very difficult time acquiring flight…running along the surface of the water before achieving 'airborne' status.
- high thin whistles and squeaks
- approx. size is 17" (43 cm), like a crow
- head and upper parts brownish black, white below; long pointed bill.
- winter birds have extensive white on the face, with a dark line behind the eye
- 1 blue-green egg, with black marks, on a bare rock ledge.
- like all alcids, they use their wings for swimming and diving, and seem to fly through the water.
- When half grown, young murres jump 30 to 50 feet (9 to 15 meters) into the sea
- a seabird that can dive almost the length of a football field (200m-600 feet) straight down below the surface of the sea.
- travels up to 6000 km a year in migration, covering up to 1000 km of that distance by swimming
- leaps from cliffs up to 500 m high with half-grown wings at three weeks of age
- can live up to 25 years of age
- pigeon-sized, they are approx. 14 1/2-15 1/2" (37-39 cm).
- breeding plumage; stubby body black, face white, down-curved yellowish tufts hang behind eyes,
- parrot-like bill enlarged, bright orange-red.
- nests on vertical sea cliffs, in colonies or singly.
- feeds at sea, does not need land for months at a time and in fact over-winters well offshore.
- 1 white egg, often spotted, in a burrow on an island or coastal cliff. Nests in colonies.
- both parents take turns incubating the egg and feeding the puffling.
- It takes five years for puffins to mature and breed.
- usually return to the same burrow and nest with the same mate year after year.
- has adapted a burrowing strategy for nesting. It typically digs a tunnel from 2 to 9 feet (.5 to 3 meters) into a turf-covered slope
- referred to as the "sea parrots." And can live for up to thirty years.
- can dive at least 80 feet deep.
- can fly about 40 miles an hour, and will beat its wings about 300 to 400 times a minute.
- quite rare around the Pacific Northwest. They have high populations around the Cape Scott area (northern tip of Vancouver Island).
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