2022-06-27 Birds in Fort Saint John

Blue-Headed Vireo - Vireo solitarius
Blue-Headed Vireos were among the few birds that posed nicely for me. The dense woods of the Fort Saint John Community Forest was a wondrous place to meet birds, but most of them hid well in the foliage or high in the tall canopy.

Sunday in Fort Saint John, I drove to the local college campus, where there was public parking for a “Community Forest”. Much like Fort Nelson’s Demonstration Forest, this woodland preserve has trails that weave through the trees for the enjoyment of the nature-loving public. I found no shortage of bird-life on my walk, but I was frustrated in many of my attempts to gather images. The pure density of trees, the deep shady areas, and the high canopy made for challenges to good photography. 

Birds that teased me included Ovenbirds, Least Flycatchers, Purple Finches, Juncos, Chipping Sparrows, Chickadees, and others. I could only gather glimpses or echoes of their songs ringing through the trees. I tried my best to gather images of those birds that offered me fleeting views. 

There was one species that I believe let me get some quality images. It was the Blue-Headed Vireo. Until this day, my only meetings had been with birds migrating north through South Padre Island in south Texas. Meeting birds on their breeding grounds provides a dimension to the experience that migrating birds do not. Here they sing, where silence seems the rule for migrants moving north. Hearing these species not only adds to the joyfulness of the meeting, it offers clues to the location and identity of the species.

Blue-Headed Vireos were once considered to be the same species as the Cassin’s and Plumbeous Vireos. We called them Solitary Vireos. After years of closer observations, the differences in color and range justified to the scientific community that these birds should be split into the three species we know today. In today’s world, DNA analysis settles arguments about whether species should be lumped (i.e. combined) or split.

The weather here in Fort Saint John has degraded from sunny to clouds and rain. I wanted to squeeze a few more bird meetings out of my visit here, but the weather might restrict my options. Nearby, Charlie Lake is a place I’d like to revisit before I turn south toward Dawson Creek.

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