Avian Diversity at Owls Head Provincial Park

A photo gallery of bird species recorded through e-bird

As a 268-hectare coastal landscape on the Atlantic Flyway, Owls Head Provincial Park is an important habitat for native bird species and a refuge for migratory birds.

The coastal headland supports a variety of habitats, including a beach, estuaries, bogs, and salt marshes. Last summer, CPAWS NS and a team of biodiversity experts set out “to identify bird species across these habitats and document the ecological significance of this unique region.”

Through surveys from the land and the water, the expert birders identified over 70 species of birds. These included common eiders, which are important to conservation objectives in the region, and provincially endangered barn swallows. The team also discovered a northern harrier nest (pictured below).

Northern Harrier Nest at Owls Head Provincial Park by Lucas Berrigan

They recorded their sightings in eBird, an online tracking tool from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Click to enlarge the photos.

 

The following bird photos were not taken during the expedition, but they represent the species recorded. Please click to view the full photos and see the name of each species. You can use the arrows to navigate.

 

Previous E-bird Observations

In addition to many of the species above, another bird-watcher previously recorded the following species at Owls Head Provincial Park. Read the complete list of species in his record, here. Click to enlarge.

Think Globally, Act Locally

It’s more important than ever to conserve bird habitat, including undeveloped shorelines and salt marshes.

 

Wetland Loss in Canada, Courtesy of the Nature Conservancy of Canada

The American Bird Conservancy explains, “In the case of birds, habitats provide cover from predators; breeding, wintering, and migration stopover sites; and places to forage and roost. All of the habitats used by a bird play a role in its survival, and the loss or degradation of any one of them can potentially have a population-level impact. It is little surprise, then, that habitat loss is the greatest threat to birds.”

Source: The American Bird Conservancy

Rosenberg et al. report wide-spread population declines of birds over the past half-century, resulting in the cumulative loss of billions of breeding individuals across a wide range of species and habitats. They show that declines are not restricted to rare and threatened species—those once considered common and wide-spread are also diminished. These results have major implications for ecosystem integrity, the conservation of wildlife more broadly, and policies associated with the protection of birds and native ecosystems on which they depend.

Science : Vol. 366, Issue 6461, pp. 120-124


The study “Decline of the North American avifauna” reported that there are a staggering 2.9 billion fewer birds in North America than there were in 1970. Migrating species have been hit particularly hard, with their populations declining by 2.5 billion individuals.

“Our estimates of abundance and biodiversity loss signals an urgent need to address ongoing threats, in order to avert future avifaunal collapse and associated loss of ecosystem integrity and function.”

Decline of the North American avifauna

Observations of Particular Interest

Within this diversity of bird species observed at Owls Head Provincial Park are several of conservation significance. (You can find the descriptions & S-ranks for various conservation statuses farther down the page.)

 

Common Name


Scientific Name


S-rank,
Nova Scotia

AC CDC
Provincial Status

Federal Status

SARA Schedule 1
COSEWIC§ Status


American KestrelFalco sparveriusS3B   
Barn Swallow  Hirundo rusticaS2S3BEndangeredThreatenedThreatened
Bay-breasted Warbler  Setophaga castaneaS3S4B   
Blackpoll WarblerSetophaga striataS3S4B   
Boreal ChickadeePoecile hudsonicusS3   
BuffleheadBucephala albeolaS3S4N   
Canada Warbler  Cardellina canadensisS3BEndangeredThreatenedSpecial Concern
Common Eider  Somateria mollissima  S3S4     
Common TernSterna hirundoS3B   
Evening Grosbeak  Coccothraustes vespertinusS3S4B,
S3N
VulnerableSpecial ConcernSpecial Concern
Gray CatbirdDumetella carolinensisS3B   
Greater YellowlegsTringa melanoleucaS3B,
S3S4M
   
Northern Harrier  Circus hudsoniusS3S4B   
Pine SiskinSpinus pinusS2S3   
Red-breasted MerganserMergus serratorS3S4B,
S5N
   
Red-breasted NuthatchSitta canadensisS3   
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  Regulus calendula  S3S4B    
Ruddy TurnstoneArenaria interpresS3M   
Spotted Sandpiper  Actitis maculariusS3S4B   
Swainson’s ThrushCatharus ustulatusS3S4B   
Willet  Tringa semipalmataS2S3B   
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher  Empidonax flaviventris  S3S4B     
Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre
Species at Risk Act, Canada
§ Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada

Definitions & Conservation Status Information

Conservation Status: S-Rank definitions for the province of Nova Scotia

 

S-RankDefinition
SXPresumed Extirpated – Species or community is believed to be extirpated from the province. Not located despite intensive searches of historical sites and other appropriate habitat, and virtually no likelihood that it will be rediscovered.
S1Critically Imperiled – Critically imperiled in the province because of extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer occurrences) or because of some factor(s) such as very steep declines making it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the province.
S2Imperiled – Imperiled in the province because of rarity due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the province.
S3Vulnerable – Vulnerable in the province due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors making it vulnerable to extirpation.
S4Apparently Secure – Uncommon but not rare; some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors.
S5Secure – Common, widespread, and abundant in the province.
Source: Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre Status Rankings
QualifierDefinition
BBreeding – Conservation status refers to the breeding population of the species in the province.
NNonbreeding – Conservation status refers to the non-breeding population of the species in the province.
MMigrant – Migrant species occurring regularly on migration at particular staging areas or concentration spots where the species might warrant conservation attention. Conservation status refers to the aggregating transient population of the species in the province.
Source: Atlantic Canada Data Conservation Centre “Understanding Ranks”


Provincial Species at Risk designations:
Status Definition
Endangereda species facing imminent extirpation or extinction
Threateneda species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed
Vulnerablea species of special concern because of characteristics that make it particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events
Extirpateda species that no longer exists in the wild in the Province but exists in the wild outside the Province
Extincta species that no longer exists
Source: Species At Risk in Nova Scotia


FEDERAL SPECIES AT RISK AND STATUS RANK DEFINITIONS:

Government of Canada Species At Risk information

  • Species At Risk –  an extirpated, endangered, threatened species, or a species of special concern.
  • SARA – the Species At Risk Act
    • Schedule 1 – is the official list of species that are classified as extirpated, endangered, threatened, and of special concern.
  • COSEWIC –  Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada
SARA & COSEWIC StatusDefinition
ExtinctA wildlife species that no longer exists
ExtirpatedA wildlife species that no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but exists elsewhere in the wild.
EndangeredA wildlife species that is facing imminent extirpation or extinction
ThreatenedA wildlife species that is likely to become endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its extirpation or extinction
Special ConcernA wildlife species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats
Sources: SARA Glossary & COSEWIC wildlife species assessment: status categories

Special thanks to Katie Studholme, Addie & Fred Campaigne, Lucas Berrigan, Seb Pardo, and Laura Achenbach

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