North Okanagan group gearing up for the annual swan, eagle count

North Okanagan group gearing up for the annual swan, eagle count
InfoTel News, December 22, 2016

VERNON – A North Okanagan naturalist club is looking for new and experienced bird watchers to take part in the annual swan and eagle count.

The count will be held on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, according to media release from the North Okanagan Naturalists' Club. The count zone covers four areas with nine different routes in the region.

Participating groups are spread across the region with some in Sicamous, Mabel Lake via Lavington and Lumby, and Enderby through Kingfisher and Mabel Lake. In Vernon, groups stretch across Kalamalka Lake, the Vernon arm of Okanagan Lake and the Head of the Lake areas.

This is the 35th year for the swan count and 23rd year for eagles, the release states, which monitors the population of the birds in the Southern Interior.

Numbers from the count are combined with others from the Interior to form a database used by university students and graduate ornithologists.

To join in, contact count coordinator Aaron Deans at 250-542-5122 or email

Naturalists club steps up for environment

Naturalists club steps up for environment

by Staff Writer - Vernon Morning Star
posted Dec 11, 2016

Birds of a feather have been flocking together for 65 years.

The North Okanagan Naturalists Club is celebrating its founding Dec. 12, 1951.

“We remain dedicated to our original club goals and today, we are advocates for preservation of the natural environment in the face of encroaching urban development,” said Claude Rioux, director.

The club began under the auspices of Douglas Ross, of the Canada Forest Insect Laboratory, with other founding members including James Grant, Phil Jones, James Brandon Beddome and Jack Fowle.

By the end of 1952, there were 33 people. That has now climbed to more than 120.

“Our club is a diverse group of birders, hikers, botanists, entomologists and citizen scientists who advocate for preservation of natural habitat and open spaces,” said Rioux.

“We also strive to share this knowledge with the younger generation through our Nature Kids program.”

The club has several monitoring programs, including Bluebird Trails, where volunteers build and maintain nest boxes to encourage mountain and western bluebirds to increase their numbers in the range and grassland areas around Vernon.

“We also have volunteers in the hummingbird banding program to record the number of various species of these birds that visit the region each year,” said Rioux.

“NONC also participates in several programs including the Christmas bird count, swan and eagle count and the Great Backyard Bird Count to help monitor the health of the overall bird population.”

Grant funding and contributions from club members have allowed research to be conducted over several years on local rattlesnake habitat.

The research focused on population monitoring to determine total snake numbers in the dens in the study area.

And the Swan Lake Reserve is a joint project of NONC, Ducks Unlimited and the Regional District of North Okanagan to protect waterfowl nesting and an area where raptors can be seen.

Membership is open to anyone living in the North Okanagan area.

For more information, contact Harold Sellers at 250-503-2388 or go to

Christmas bird count soars

Christmas bird count soars
by Staff Writer - Vernon Morning Star
Dec 8, 2016

An annual tradition is taking flight.

The North Okanagan Naturalists Club will host the Christmas bird count Dec. 18.

“We invite all interested people, new and experienced birders alike, to participate in this year’s count,” said Peter Blokker, count co-ordinator.

“If you are interested in joining us for a day to count our feathered friends in the Vernon area, with your binoculars or camera, please contact us and we will do our best to match you with a group of experienced naturalists for the outing.”

Another way to participate is to observe and count the birds at your feeder.

Each Christmas bird count is completed within a previously established 24-kilometre diameter area on a single day.

Started in 1900, the annual Christmas bird count is North America’s longest-running citizen science project.

“The count focuses on the winter bird population, which is quite different from summer, as many birds leave our area for warmer climes and other species arrive from the far north,” said Blokker.

“The information collected by thousands of volunteer participants forms one of the world’s largest set of wildlife survey data and is used daily by biologists to assess population trends and distribution of birds. The results of all counts are submitted to Bird Studies Canada and collated for all of North America.”

For more information, contact Blokker at or 250-545-8297.