West Coast and Mountains
- Characteristic species in this region have declined, especially in the Pacific Coast areas, where forestry, agriculture, and expanding urban and coastal development have reduced suitable habitats for many bird species.
- Many forest birds have declined, especially species associated with mature forest. Forestry activities and the ongoing outbreak of Mountain Pine Beetles are expected to reduce the mature pine forest by more than 70% by 2015. The loss of these trees is altering habitat supply and structure for many declining species, especially birds that depend on cone crops.
- Loss and degradation of grasslands and riparian (adjacent to water) habitats throughout the region are linked to declines in grassland and shrub birds.
Overall, characteristic species in the West Coast and Mountains have decreased by 10%. In the Pacific Coast portion of this region, where human settlement, industry and forestry are most intense, they have declined by 35%—a drastic decline for such a large group of species. Although this decline is troublesome, most of the monitoring data come from the valleys where human activity is concentrated; populations away from settled areas may have different trends.
Forest birds have declined by approximately 10%. Species associated with mature forest, such as Pine Siskin, Red Crossbill, Cassin’s Finch, Purple Finch and Pine Grosbeak, have decreased most steeply. They are vulnerable to loss of mature forest due to logging and, more recently, to the outbreak of Mountain Pine Beetle.
Most Barrow’s Goldeneye in Canada breed in this
region; their populations have fluctuated without a
strong trend. (photo: Ralph Hocken)
Aerial insectivores have decreased in this region, although not as steeply as in eastern Canada.
Waterfowl populations overall have increased in the region. Canada Goose, Hooded Merganser and Ring-necked Duck populations have more than doubled. Other water birds appear to have increased slightly, but the trend is uncertain and the group includes both strongly increasing species, such as Sandhill Crane, and strongly decreasing species, such as Great Blue Heron.
Red Crossbills, which feed mainly on cones,
have declined as a result of the loss of mature
pine trees. (photo: Elaine R. Wilson)
Projected droughts in the interior, due to climate change, will severely reduce habitat for breeding waterfowl and other water birds and alter forest bird habitat through changes to water tables.
The White-tailed Ptarmigan is one of few species
that nest in rocky areas above the treeline.
Climate change may affect their habitat, but
little is known of their population trends.
(photo: Richard J. Cannings)
Forest management can support healthy bird populations by promoting structural diversity, such as large snags, understory shrubs and successional openings. Forest birds also benefit from management that promotes age and species diversity of trees, such as retaining forest patches within clear-cuts, leaving non-pine trees during salvage logging of beetle-killed trees and replanting the original diversity of tree species.
Flammulated Owls depend on retention of
healthy montane coniferous forests. (photo:
Richard J. Cannings)
Yellow-breasted Chat (photo: Rene McKibbin)
Widening riparian zones and fencing them off to exclude cattle grazing benefits endangered species such as the Yellow-breasted Chat. Removal of cattle from riparian habitat in the Okanagan Valley has allowed wild rose thickets to regenerate, providing nesting habitat and allowing the population to increase from 4 to 45 breeding pairs.