A wonderful nature walk for people of all abilities is at Colony Farm Regional Park, where nearly 200 species of birds have been observed (this accounts for approximately 40 per cent of the bird species found in B.C.). The park is home to more than 400 hectares of grasslands, waterways and marshes crisscrossed by flat, wide trails. Search for the large colony of nesting blue herons, purple martins, the elusive lazuli bunting and dozens of other species of birds and waterfowl. The nest boxes located throughout the wetlands are used by swallows. Watch for raptors flying over the fields in search of mice or voles.
Eagles may soar overhead as you walk the flat gravel path along the slough. Watch for osprey coasting above the water in search of fish, and for blue herons amidst the slough’s tall grasses. In spring, DeBoville Slough is a nesting location for birds such as the common yellowthroat, wood ducks and marsh wrens. Thickets of shrubs along the waterways provide safe nesting habitat for small songbirds. Look for belted kingfishers perched on the branches.
By summer, watch for cedar waxwings and band-tailed pigeons. The tall grasses provide protective cover for nesting American bitterns. Hummingbirds will also be spotted zipping around the area before migrating south for winter.
During fall, song sparrows, spotted towhees, juncos, bushtits, and chickadees glean the late-ripening berries from the bushes, while bald eagles come to feast on salmon. The area is also an important over-wintering area for an array of waterfowl, including mallards, buffleheads and mergansers.
About 150 species have been observed in Minnekhada Regional Park and the immediate area, including hawks, owls, grouse, waterfowl, herons, woodpeckers and songbirds. During spring, look for Sandhill cranes and northern harriers. Great horned owls are easier to find in late winter; look for them especially along the trail near the picnic area. Also watch for raptors including the sharp-shinned hawk, red-tailed hawk and peregrine falcon. During fall, look for short-eared owls and rough-legged hawks. The elusive Lincoln’s sparrow can be found in shrubby thickets around the marsh. The fox sparrow overwinters in the area.
Como Lake provides a refuge in the city for migrating birds in spring and fall. During spring, you’ll see fluffy mallard ducklings and Canada goose goslings. By April, ospreys (fish hawks) return to the lake, which hover, fold their wings and dive for fish. Belted kingfishers and great blue herons may also be seen fishing. Listen for woodpeckers and the calls of red-winged blackbirds. Bats come out at dusk.
- Northern Pygmy Owl: Watch in the areas of DeBoville Slough, near Addington Marsh at the east end of Oliver Road and on the Low Knoll at Minnekhada Regional Park
- Peregrine Falcon: Occasionally spotted at DeBoville Slough and also at Colony Farm and Minnekhada Regional Park
- Bald Eagles: Enter the north side of DeBoville Slough trail near Cedar and Victoria and follow past the pump house to spot the nest. There’s also a nest on the south side of the trail, farther south. Bald eagles have also been spotted at Colony Farm
- Green Heron: These nest at DeBoville Slough and have also been seen at Colony Farm. You’ll also see Blue herons at DeBoville Slough
- Hooded Merganser: This extravagantly crested duck dives for fish; watch for them near DeBoville Slough trail