Posted By: Shannon McGinty

This past September Goldeneye Ecological Services lead a one-day bird survey at the northern end of Lake Windermere. The one day count in combination with online research (eBird) determined that 165 bird species utilize habitat found at Lake Windermere. Of that number, 17 of those are considered to be species at-risk.

Lake Windermere has historically been considered important bird habitat. Below is an excerpt from the report that can be found online, at: www.lakeambassadors.ca/documents.

Why are wild birds important to Lake Windermere?

Birds are all around us. They are the only kind of animal that you are nearly always guaranteed to see, year round, no matter where you go on the Earth. They hold anthropogenic importance for many reasons. They have intrinsic and intangible value in-and-of-themselves. For many people, emotional benefits provided by birds are intangibly important because they capture imagination, stimulate aesthetic views, and enrich spiritual lives (Fitzpatrick & Rodewald, 2016). Seeing birds in the wild brings a sense of peace, excitement and joy to many. This is evident in the growing popularity of birding around the world (Cordell, Herbert, & Nancy, 2002; Steven, Morrison, & Castley, 2015) and in the growing niche market of birding tourism.

Invermere-based ‘Wings Over the Rockies’ is a birding festival that attracts people from all over the country and beyond. Globally speaking, birdwatchers participating in an ecotourism festival such as this have been shown to have a positive effect on the economy. There are direct and measurable economic benefits including visitor’s spending money on local travel costs, accommodation, shops and restaurants; as well as on other incidental expenses like purchasing souvenirs in local shops (The Spruce, n.d.). Events related to birding can also be beneficial for raising awareness around the importance of local conservation issues related to birds and other wildlife species.

Birds also provide a number of additional values such as ecosystem services or benefits that humans acquire from nature. For instance, birds are important for plant reproduction because they act as pollinators and agents for seed dispersal. The Clark’s nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) is a bird that harvest seeds of the whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) (at-risk tree species) and caches its seeds in the soil that when left uneaten, germinate and establish new pines. The whitebark pine is dependent on the Clark’s nutcracker for its regeneration (Hutchins & Lanner, 1982). Birds are involved with nutrient cycling (Sturges, Holmes, & Likens, 1974), they are indicators of the health of an ecosystem (Niemi & McDonald, 2004); Peron, Ferrand, Leray & Gimenez, 2013), and they also link ecosystem processes that are separated by great distances since most birds are migratory species travelling far distances (Whelan, Wenny, & Marquis, 2008). Birds also maintain healthy population levels of their prey, some of which are considered pests to humans such as mice, rats and mosquitoes.

For more information contact info@lakeambassadors.ca or phone (250) 341-6898