Save the Date!

Rocky Point Bird Observatory’s Annual

World Migratory Bird Day  festivities 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

WMBD is an annual, international event designed to celebrate and promote conservation of migratory bird species.  This is Rocky Point Bird Observatory’s ninth year hosting a World Migratory Bird Day festival.  You can look forward to a day full of bird walks, bird banding demonstrations, presentations by The Raptors, and outreach displays from organizations like yours!

We welcome displays from conservation-minded organizations who promote sustainability, stewardship, habitat protection, biodiversity, and more.  This is an excellent opportunity for you to engage with 200+ attendees, as well as connect with members from other like-minded organizations in your community.

Details on location and time to follow!

Hope to see you there!


The etymology of “predator” is interesting, as is the frequency of its use in the modern lexicon. Its use has mushroomed since the late 20th century ( 1970 on ) due to its social application to human behaviour including such things as the predatory practices of corporations and the most heinous crimes of sexual “predators”. It was a term that was adapted by biologists only in the 1920s and 1930s to describe an animal that kills and eats other animals. That includes Buffleheads which are ferocious predators of Green Tanaids, and then there is the iconic Bald Eagle, more a scavenger than a predator. In its original Latin meaning it was a term to describe humans, particularly from the 15th century when praedat meant “seized as plunder”, or the noun praedator – plunder. This has serious negative connotations for the “natural predators” and this may have been intended back in a time when biologists employed the term to justify their war on predators. That’s how I earned 5 cents for every crow egg or gopher tail I collected for Ducks UnLimited in the early 1960s on the prairies.

Nobody would generally think of a Bufflehead as a predator, but it is, and in turn, it is “predated” by three predators in its salt water habitat. These include the marine subspecies of the River Otter, the Peregrine Falcon and the Bald Eagle. Of these, the Bufflehead most fears the Otter and the Falcon, and it has developed particular anti-predation tactics such as the “star-burst” formation for Otters and the crash-dive tactic for Peregrines. In general Buffleheads show indifferent attitudes to the resident pair of the Beaufort Eagles, knowing that they are not really serious threats, but every once in a while, especially in December, they become highly vigilant and take evasive action when the eagles fly over the bay. They know what intent is and that the local eagles are hungry, though they reserve their highest level of alertness when juvenile eagles ( perhaps offspring ) pass through.

Though incidents of predation are uncommon, I’ve been fortunate to observe many over the years, and all are exciting to witness. Early this afternoon while showing my son Gavin the output from my Bufflehead charts, we were interupted by a fine example of predation between the Beaufort Eagle and a Drake Bufflehead. This was a poor match and the outcome was predictable because Drakes rarely fall prey. In this case, as always, the Eagle hazed the flock leaving only the drake over the relatively shallow water over the tidal flats, and though it attempted to hover and dive in order to tire the drake, it finally gave up and the drake surfaced and flew hard to join the flock on the other side of the bay. This is when the eagle’s most impressive potential as a predator took over and it zoomed low and powerfully across the entire bay into the center of the flock, hoping to surprise a weak or young bird. It didn’t work but the display impressed my son.

So as I resumed with the Bufflehead chart display, I was again disrupted as he blurted something about another act of predation taking place directly under the bay window. I was amazed to see a Coopers Hawk lying on the surface, its wings flayed out, and an indistinct form underwater beneath it. Its prey reamined held underwater even as I had time to grab the camera but it was frightened by my movement and released its prey which I was surprised to see was the resident female Kingfisher. She took off and moved rapidly across the bay. Had I been successful in capturing the moment, it would have made a remarkable picture, a remarkable event that no one has probably ever witnessed.

K. J. Finley  December 18, 2018

unnamed[2]Eagle spots lone Bufflehead drake

unnamed[1]Eagle homes in on drake.

unnamed[3]Eagle heads for the main flock hoping to create a better opportunity.

Naturehood “Stuffies” – Our First Claimant


We received a box containing 40+ stuffed toys from Nature Canada on the understanding that we would find a way to distribute them in order to promote the Naturehood concept (wild nature available to urban dwellers). We came up with the challenge described in the poster below in hopes that some claimants would show up at our all Buffleheads Celebration on Saturday October 13.

challenge poster

Hapily, one person showed up to claim one of the Naturehood “stuffies”. She is Sophia Adam, age 6, pictured here in the fork of the giant cedar tree in Lillian Hoffar Park.

Sophia photo small

Her picture below is a splendid abstracted rendition of the  photograph.


Congratulations, Sophia, we very much like your picture. At age 6, we think that you are probably not yet in Grade 3 so we should adjust our minimum entrance requirement downward to include people like you.

We have not given up on this challenge and we plan to promote it more effectively so as to be able to post more pictures (and stories) like this one.