Seabirds

Millions of birds inhabit the skies, shoreline, and waters of the Georgia Basin. In fact, more seabirds and birds of prey spend the winter in the Georgia Basin than anywhere else in Canada before migrating north or south to their breeding or feeding areas.

IG_heronShorebirds, such as sandpipers and great blue herons, can be found on the beaches looking for small crustaceans (shrimp, crab), invertebrates or fish to feed on.

Seaducks, such as buffleheads and scoters, can often be seen diving for fish or for invertebrates along rocky shorelines like the blue mussel.

Cormorants are also commonly seen diving deep for fish or perched on a rock with its wings spread out in order to dry.

From high above in the air, ospreys dive into the water to catch a fish, while eagles soar above, perhaps ready to catch a fish or steal one that has been caught by another bird.

All of these seabirds depend on the land and the sea for food and habitat. However, some of these habitats and food sources, as well as the seabirds themselves, are being impacted by pollutants.

Food, including shellfish and fish have been contaminated in some areas by sewage, industrial pollutants, and some chemicals that we use at home such as pesticides and fertilizers in our gardens.

Pesticides have caused decreased osprey eggshell quality and bird survival. This happened because osprey feed on large fish that are contaminated with the pesticide DDT. Through a process called biomagnification, these pesticides build up or become more concentrated as they move up the food chain thus affecting the osprey.

Seabirds are also vulnerable to oil spills from boats, small and big. The oil may directly impact seabirds by coating their feathers and affecting their ability to stay warm or fly. The birds may also directly eat the harmful oil as they clean their feathers and become sick or even die.