Corvus caurinus:NorthWestern Crow, Race Rocks Taxonomy

The Norhwestern Crow closely resembles the American crow being black noisy and having forward facing bristles above its nostrils. The nw crow is smaller in size and has a shorter lower caw. It also has a smaller bill, smaller wings and has a greater wing beat rate.They usually inhabit coastal areas such as Race Rocks and are not thought to be birds which migrate. The crow usually forages for food near coast lines and its diet may include dead fish, crab, mussels or clams. In most regions its nest may be located at high elevations or in the branches of Conifer trees. Here at Race Rocks, the closest suitable nesting sites are on Bentinck Island.

Domain Eukarya
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Subphylum Vertebrata
Class Aves
Order Passeriformes
Family Corvidae
Genus Corvus
Species caurinus
Common Name: NorthWestern Crow
Other Members of the Class Aves at Race Rocks.

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.

Original text by Lawson Connor, PC student Dec. 2002

Helicopter Landing Kills Gulls

Human disruption in a seabird nesting colony at certain times of the year can have disastrous consequences for young birds. The territorial instinct is so strong that young birds leaving the envelope of their nesting territory get attacked by other adults of nearby territories. This incident was precipitated when a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter made an unscheduled landing at the island in August 2003. Normally they do not come to the island in the sensitive period, this time a mistake was made!

Limnodromus griseus: Short-billed Dowitcher–The Race Rocks Taxonomy

dowitechercloseThis juvenile short-billed Dowitcher was seen up near the tower in August 18 2009. It was very tame and quite unconcerned with the local humans. Image by Ian Perry.

short-billed dowitcher short-billed dowitcher
The same juvenile, (Aug 18/ 09) , shown above. Images by G.Fletcher
short-billed dowitcher short-billed dowitcher short-billed dowitcher short-billed dowitcher
Dowitcher probing for invertebrates Note the Halosaccion band of the intertidal zone where it is feeding rear view- note buff colored underparts side view- note dark eye.
Eukarya
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Subphylum Vertebrata
Class Aves
Order Charadriiformes
Family Scolopacidae
Genus Limnodromus
Species griseus
Common Name: Short Billed Dowitcher

dowitcherThe Short-billed Dowitcher breeds in Northern Canada. It winters in South America.
It occurs rarely and solitary at Race Rocks where it stops on migration. Short-billed Dowitchers normally are birds of mudflats along the Pacific Coast. One individual bird was filmed on May 1 2003 (above)as it probed for food among the barnacles and algae of the Halosaccion zone at Race Rocks.

In the photo to the right from September 2005, another dowitcher roamed through the area near the base of the rock on the East side. So presumably we have pictures of the stopover going North and South!

This video shows the Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) in the intertidal zone to the East of the docks at Race Rocks. Note the “sewing machine ” action as it probes for food. The biology class watched this bird on May1/03 before starting on an intertidal transect in the same area. The coloration was noticeably buff-colored when compared to other shore birds. This individual was very fearless, even returning to feed briefly nearby after we had laid down our transect. This is normally a bird of the Pacific Coast mudflats.

Eagles Congregate in Winter at Race Rocks

In January, on a planned dive off West Race Rocks, the divers had to divert to another location because of a large number of eagles on the island. They shot this clip as they went by the island. Carol Slater had counted 43 on the Rocks earlier in the day. This is typical of their peak in numbers every January. The brown juveniles and the white headed adults number fairly equally.


 

Arenaria melanocephala: Black Turnstone–The Race Rocks Taxonomy

black-turnstone

Ryan took this image in January 2009. At that time of year there were over a dozen turnstones foraging across the island.

 

The Black Turnstone breeds in Western and Southern Alaska on the coastal plain. It winters only on the Pacific coast, from southeast Alaska to central Mexico. It is the most abundant shorebird of rocky shorelines. Favourite habitats include reefs, rocky beaches, jetties, and gravel bars at the mouths of rivers or along lagoons. It may also forage on adjacent mudflats wet sandy beaches, floating kelp beds, and piles of washed-up seaweed. Black Turnstones have been recorded roosting on dry rocks, jetties, and floating log booms at which time they may gather into extremely dense flocks.
It is widely distributed along the inner and outer coast. Its distribution is largely restricted to rocky coastal shorelines, but it frequents many fiords and protected inlets. It is a vagrant in the interior. The Black Turnstone usually occurs in flocks of 10 to 30 birds at Race Rocks where it overwinters.


This slide show shows the Black Turnstone being part of the Food Web at Race Rocks providing  energy for the Peregrine falcon!

Reference used:http://rbcm1.rbcm.gov.bc.ca/nh_papers/gracebell/english/b_turnst.htm

Below are the records for population numbers of Black Turnstones observed in the Christmas Bird Counts.
Domain Eukarya
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Subphylum Vertebrata
Class Aves
Order Charadriiformes
Family Scolopacidae
Genus Arenaria
Species melanocephala
Common Name: Black Turnstone

Other Members of the Class Aves at Race Rocks.

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.
Angela Chaisson, PC yr 28

 

Haliacetus leucocephalus: Bald Eagle–The Race Rocks Taxonomy

In November 2009, Ryan Murphy captured this set of images when a juvenile eagle was making his daily pass by to prey on a seabird. The juvenile california gull provides the meal for that day. Click the image to see a slide show video of this sequence..See the Eagle Set on Ryan’s Flickr site

Bald Eagles measure from 30″ to 43″ ( 76 to 109 cm) in length and from 70″ to 96″ ( 2 to 2.4 m) in wingspan. They have a high thin, chittering voice which contrasts with its magnificent appearance. Bald Eagle’s diet is primarily based on fish catching. It also eats carrion and crippled waterfowl. At Race Rocks, eagles frequently take adult Gulls and Pigeon Guillemots as can be seen in the accompanying images.

The adult Bald Eagle has a snow-white head and tail, the immature ones have brown head feathers which develop white underneath and gradually grow out over several years.
It was formerly found living all over North America. Hunting, poaching and the growth of civilization has had a negative impact in the Bald Eagle population whch has dimished considerably in the last decades. Nowadays it is found only in the Aleutians, Alaska, sections of Northern and Eastern Canada, British Columbia, Northern United States and Florida.

Its habitat is on or near seacoasts as well as close to large lakes and rivers, where the fish population is abundant. It nests in tall conifers, often old growth Douglas Fir or Cedar. Nests are common in the Southern part of Vancouver island. The closest to Race Rocks are on Bentinck Island and along Taylor Beach. The nests are renovated every year starting in January with new sticks, often ripped from tall dead fir trees. The eggs are white and come in groups of 1 to 3 each time.Its beachcombing , scavenging role, and the fact that it eats at the highest trophic level, can cause the Bald Eagle to accumulate pesticides in its body ( from contaminated fish and wildllife. ) The Bald Eagle population remains high in the rain forest coastal area of central and Northern British Columbia and Alaska.


This image comes from the slide show “Fresh Kill” It provides a closeup of an eagle whose head coloring is almost mature, but has not yet lost its dark speckling.
Reference: Miklos D. F. Uduvardy ,1977 The Audubon Society, Field Guide to North American Birds, Western region., Chanticler press, fifth edition: NY

eagle tail
Eagles on North Rock,
GF photo
just leaving the tidepool. PB photo
Eagles on North Rock
mouth open talons eagle pool
immature nictitate eagle drinks
A juvenile Bald Eagle near the remote control camera 5 March 2006. Photos by PB-UK
Link to the file on nictitation
Juvenile eagle drinks from the Freshwater pool near remote cam 5
PB photos.
deadgull
fin
Bird on a Wire
Bald Eagle
Sept 15, 2005… Almost every day now in the morning, the bald eagles make a swoop around the island . A fresh carcass of a juvenile is the result. Here Diomedes demonstrates the webbed feet of the gull In this video, “Bird on a Wire”, Mike works at the docks with no disturbance to a a young eagle. Bald Eagle by Natan,(PC )
March 2008

Other Members of the Class Aves at Race Rocks.

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.  Carolina Munoz PC yr 27.

 

Haematopus bachmani: Black Oystercatcher–The Race Rocks Taxonomy

2bloy

Black Oystercatcher, Haematopus bachmani photo by Ryan Murphy

Usually up to 6 pairs of the Black Oystercatcher, Haematopus bachmani nest at Race Rocks . They are also winter residents on the island, with numbers up to 100 individuals at times .

This link will connect you with the log showing the many
entries referring to Haematopus bachmani at Race Rocks.

ryansseton -Black oystercatcher

 

See  Ryan Murphy’s Flickr site for excellent images he took while he was ecoguardian at Race Rocks- 2009-2011

 

bloynest3mAn Oystercatcher nest demonstrates the fine art of camouflage
Classification:
Domain Eukarya
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Subphylum Vertebrate
Class Aves
Subclass Neornithes
Superorder Neognathae
Order Charadriiformes
Suborder Charadrii
Family Haematopodidae
Genus Haematopus
Species bachmani
Common Name :
Black Oystercatcher

Images for this slide show of mating Black oystercatchers were taken on the remote camera 5 by PB. May 29, 2006

This video of the black oystercatcher on the nest in June 2007 was screen-captured from camera 2 which was placed two metres from the nest for the duration of incubation.


June 24, 2007: Hatching day! By the end of the day three chicks are active. This video by Garry Fletcher is a compilation of events throughout the day.

BLOYJune8 -hatch
Link to this post from June 22, 2008 for the hatch of Black Oystercatchers near the boathouse captured from a live webcast on a video camera.

blkoybehav1sSee this video on Black Oystercatcher Behaviour

 

 

 

For an interesting article on precocial birds such as these oystercatchers see this link.

The black oyster catcher is a jet black bird with a long red beak and pink legs. They grow to 43-44 cm, relatively large for shorebirds. The male and female adult birds are alike in appearance, but juveniles are dull brown. Race Rocks is home to at least six pairs during early May. The birds leave in early fall and return in later December, in numbers up to 30. In the Race Rocks Christmas bird counts numbers as high as 64 in 1997 have been recorded.

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
64 17 1 25 16 39 storm 16 35 22 0 storm
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
57 32 60 36 30 3 40

The birds often use distracting displays, pretending to have a broken wing or surprising other birds that invade their nests, but are otherwise non-territorial. Both parents incubate two or three eggs on average, and mates may stay together for several years. Locally, since there are no oysters, the bird is not so aptly named, but it does prey upon a variety of intertidal shellfish, including limpets, chitons and various snails. Birds of the same family occupying the same ecological niche are found throughout the shorelines of the world.
Their long, chisel-like beak is perfect for prying the shells open to feed on the soft flesh inside. The skull to the left was the product of predation by a river otter in 2001. The presence of the black oyster catcher nesting areas can be noted upon the discovery of piles of empty shells in the nooks and crannies of Race Rocks. Analysis of the different shells found in these piles has been done and it serves as an indicator of shellfish species diversity on the island, as well as the food web of the oystercatchers.

See the results of the Fall 1999 collection of shells from the midden of the oystercatchers.

Also go to the Lab on the Ecological Niche of the Black Oyster-catcher.

see this Video by Paul Omole of a Black Oystercatcher Feeding. –Sounds of Foghorn in the background .
Other Members of the Class Aves at Race Rocks.

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.

This file was originally started by Stewart Maudsley, Dec. 2001.

 

Cepphus columba: Pigeon Guillemot–The Race Rocks Taxonomy

rmmar2609piggguil

Pigeon Guillemots arrive in early January, some still in their mottled winter plumage. Their numbers build and nesting takes place in late spring. A favourite foraging area is in the main channel in font ( to the North) of the Race Rocks docks. They may number up to 100 in the water, diving down in the current and coming up with small fish, especially gunnels.

Ryan Murphy has done some amazing telephoto shots starting in February of 2009 of Pigeon Guillemots such as those below.  They are included in a set here on his Flickr site.

rm2010pigguilskip rmguillemot4
rmguillemot2

rm2piguil copy

Four samples of photos of Pigeon Guillemots by Ryan Murphy

winterplumage-pigu

Winter Plumage on Pigeon Guillemots, photo by Pam Birley by the Remote control Camera 5

raisajan152011pigu

Winter Plumage of Pigeon Guillemot. photo by Raisa Mirza


Description
:
The pigeon guillemot has an average size of 12-14”. Its summer plumage is black with large white wing patches interrupted by black stripes.

It is interesting to note that in winter, its head and upper parts lighten slightly, however in all seasons feet and bill lining are brilliant red. In the spring it can be heard making a high whistle.

How and what they eat: The Pigeon Guillemot feeds by diving and taking up small fish. Some examples are: Penpoint Gunnels or “Blenny”, sand lance, smelt, and sculpins.

Habitat: This species resides in rocky coastal areas, with shallow inshore waters as its feeding grounds. Nest cavities are found amongst holes and rock crevices on the West, North East and South sides of Great Race Rocks. Some habitat for nesting was created years ago when blasting for the helicopter pad produced rubble under which they could tunnel..

rmgunnelandpigil copy

Ryan Murphy took this picture of a pigeon guillemot having just caught a gunnel.

Lumpenus sagitta, pacific snake prickleback captured by Pigeon guillemot

Lumpenus sagitta, pacific snake prickleback captured by Pigeon guillemot, Ryan Murphy photo.

Predators: Seagulls are predators of pigeon guillemot eggs. At Race Rocks, the main threat is predation by Bald Eagles, Peregrine falcons and nest predation by River Otters.

ahjuly3011pigguilchick

Summer ecoguardian Adam Harding was able to take pictures of a the chicks in a guillemot nest in the summer of 2011. The nest was located at the end of the low rock wall West of the science house

 

piguilnest

1 or 2 greenish or whitish, dark-spotted eggs are laid in a crevice or burrow. This nest burrow had been abandoned,perhaps due to predation, at the end of the season eggs were still present unhatched in the burrow. The light keeper’s assistant is shown here-1984-

Pigeon Guillemots

Pigeon Guillemots photo by Ecoguardian Courtney Edwards in March , 2014

The slide show above was made from pictures taken by Pam Birley in 2007


Kiprop made this video of the Guillemots jostling for position on the rocky shore on the West side of the island.

slide show of mating guillemots by Pam Birley was made from camera 5 screen captures.

Video of pigeon guillemots on the island and out in the passage where they dive and forage.[/caption]

Return to the Race Rocks Taxonomy and Image Gallery

Other Members of the Class Aves at Race Rocks.

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.

Original text of this taxonomy was done in Dec. 2001 by Anthony Woodside, PC Year 27