Effects of fire on bird abundance in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park, British Columbia

Les W. Gyug

3130 Ensign Way, West Kelowna, B.C. V4T 1T9 Canada; e-mail: les_gyug@shaw.ca

Abstract: The Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park bird count is held annually the last weekend of May or the first weekend of June when parties of observers record all birds detected. In 2003 the Okanagan Mountain fire burned 99% of the park at varying intensities, providing a unique opportunity to examine long-term changes in bird species abundance affected by fire. Relative abundance was compared from a period of 11 years before the fire (1993–2003) to a period up to eight years after the fire (five counts from 2006–2011). In total 165 species have been tallied in the 16 counts. The average number of species per count was significantly higher after the burn (104.6) than before (96.3). Of 90 species considered common enough for meaningful statistical analyses, 28 increased in relative abundance after the fire, 11 decreased, and there was no significant difference for 51 species. Increases were particularly noted among: woodpeckers including Hairy, Blackbacked, American Three-toed and Northern Flicker; some cavity nesters including House Wren, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Mountain and Western Bluebirds; some insectivores including Olive-sided Flycatcher, Say’s Phoebe and Western Wood-Pewee; and shrub-occupying birds including Warbling Vireo, Lazuli Bunting, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Song Sparrow and Lincoln’s Sparrow. Severe declines were noted for forest inhabiting birds including Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Townsend’s Warbler. For most species the response to fire determined by other studies was confirmed.

Key words: Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park, bird, bird count, burn, fire

PDFicon Gyug, L.W. 2012. Effects of fire on bird abundance in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park, British Columbia. British Columbia Birds 23:16-26.

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