One of the highlights for many West Coast birders is when the leaves turn hues of gold and red. As the leaves fall, the trees become bare and we welcome our winter residents. British Columbia becomes an overwintering ground for many species of birds, including Short-eared Owl's, Bohemian Waxwings, Northern Harriers and many more.
In the Lower Mainland, we're fortunate to welcome numerous species during the winter. Long-eared Owls (like the one pictured), Short-eared Owls, Northern Shrikes and Northern Pygmy Owls to name a few, are found in abundance from October through to May. Walking along the road in rural farmland, Short-eared Owls can be seen flying low on the horizon, scanning for voles, mice and other small prey. Northern Pygmy Owls prefer higher terrain and frequent glens and valleys overlooking grasslands or forests. Northern Shrikes are seen in large fields and wetlands, often impaling their prey on blackberry and hawthorne bushes. One thing these birds have in common, is the long trek they endured to reach their destination.
When out birding, remember to be respectful and practice the American Birding Association's Code of Birding Ethics. The well-being and survival of these gems depends on our actions. Use binoculars, spotting scopes or photography equipment appropriate for the situation and environment; super telephoto lenses and teleconverters allow you to feel as if you're up close and personal, without impeding in their space. I predominantly use a lens with a focal length of 400mm + when I'm out photographing wildlife. It allows me to observe my subject from a distance, without causing distress or startling them.