How Does the Fraser River Estuary Help the Migration of Birds?

Fraser River

The Fraser River is one of the longest Canadian Rivers, flowing for over 1300 kilometres ( 550 miles) from its source in the Rocky Mountains to its delta in the Strait of Georgia near Vancouver, British Columbia. At its mouth, the river forms many islands large and small, some of which are the locations of suburbs like Richmond, Ladner, Delta and Surrey, while others are parks and bird sanctuaries for the migratory birds that fly twice a year up and down the west coast of North America in the Pacific Flyway.

The Pacific Flyway is a migratory corridor along the Pacific Coast of North America, extending from Alaska in the north to Patagonia in the south. Twice a year in spring and fall, migrating birds fly all or part of this flyway to follow food sources, fly to breeding grounds, or find overwintering sites. At the Fraser River Estuary, near where the Fraser River flows into the Pacific Ocean at Boundary Bay, in an area of fertile alluvial farmland, deciduous forest, and marshes, the City of Surrey has created the Elgin Heritage Park to help preserve and help protect this important international bird area.



At the Fraser River Estuary, the fresh river water flows into the salty water of Boundary Bay.
At the Fraser River Estuary, the fresh river water flows into the salty water of Boundary Bay. | Source

The Pacific Flyway for Migrating Birds

The Pacific Flyway is a corridor for migrating birds on the West Coast of North America.
The Pacific Flyway is a corridor for migrating birds on the West Coast of North America. | Source

Part of the Fraser River Estuary at Boundary Bay

show route and directions
A markerElgin Heritage Park, Surrey, BC -
Elgin Heritage Park, 13723 Crescent Rd, Surrey, BC V4P 1J4, Canada
[get directions]

B markerPoint Roberts, Washington -
Point Roberts, WA, USA
[get directions]

C markerBlaine, Washington -
Blaine, WA, USA
[get directions]

Boundary Bay is surrounded by quiet farms and beaches near the communities of Surrey, White Rock and Crescent Beach in British Columbia, and Blaine and Point Roberts in Washington State.
Boundary Bay is surrounded by quiet farms and beaches near the communities of Surrey, White Rock and Crescent Beach in British Columbia, and Blaine and Point Roberts in Washington State. | Source
Here are marshes and tidal flats.  At high tide, salt water flows into the creeks and sloughs.
Here are marshes and tidal flats. At high tide, salt water flows into the creeks and sloughs. | Source
Fresh water and salt water mix.
Fresh water and salt water mix. | Source
Berries and rose hips are food for migrating birds, as well as for people.
Berries and rose hips are food for migrating birds, as well as for people. | Source

Bird Habitat

In this wildlife refuge, thousands of birds including sandpipers, curlews, snipes, ducks, and geese, stop to eat, rest, and build up body fat stores that deplete during the long flights of migration. With its diverse terrain and food sources, the Fraser River Estuary is uniquely suited to accommodate the food and habitat needs for a variety of species. Salt water shore birds like Western Sandpipers and Dunlin, in the midst of a migration that may cover a distance of up to 10,000 kilometers (45,000 miles), can feed on the tidal flats searching for marine crustaceans, while other birds can eat insects, feed on small fish in the marshes and freshwater ponds, forage for aquatic plants in the freshwater streams and creeks of the estuary and find berries, seeds and rose hips in the brush and forest.


Bird Habitat: Wetlands and Marshes

Wetlands and bullrush marshes provide cover and safe resting places for birds.
Wetlands and bullrush marshes provide cover and safe resting places for birds. | Source
Bullrush
Bullrush | Source
Marshes
Marshes | Source

Bird Habitat: Shoreline

Shoreline looking upstream
Shoreline looking upstream | Source
Shoreline looking downstream, at high tide.  At low tide, the beach is flat and muddy, and shore birds can hunt for small marine creatures and molluscs.
Shoreline looking downstream, at high tide. At low tide, the beach is flat and muddy, and shore birds can hunt for small marine creatures and molluscs. | Source

Bird Habitat: Brackish Sloughs

Forest, grasslands, marshes, shore, and sloughs:  the habitats are varied in the area of the estuary, and accommodate the needs of many species of migrating birds.
Forest, grasslands, marshes, shore, and sloughs: the habitats are varied in the area of the estuary, and accommodate the needs of many species of migrating birds. | Source

Bird Habitat: Forest and Brush

Blackberry leaves and tangled vines with sharp briars make safe refuges for resting birds.
Blackberry leaves and tangled vines with sharp briars make safe refuges for resting birds. | Source
The Fraser River Estuary is an important international site for migrating birds in the western hemisphere.
The Fraser River Estuary is an important international site for migrating birds in the western hemisphere. | Source

Bird Migration

Located at the boundary between Washington State, USA and the province of British Columbia, Canada, the Fraser River Estuary at Boundary Bay is an important international conservation site because is used by 500,000 shorebirds annually, or at least 30% of the population of any species. It has been classified as a locale with Hemispheric Importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, or WHSRN, which was established in 1985 to protect the nesting, breeding, and staging habitats of migratory shorebirds.

If these areas are disturbed by pollution or other human activity and no longer available as safe feeding and resting places to the birds, world bird populations are at risk of being unable to survive to reach overwintering and nesting grounds. It is important for landowners and governments at all levels to protect these irreplaceable habitats, and for people to use the lands and waterways quietly, in ways that minimize human impact.



Quiet Use and Enjoyment

Benches and pathways allow human access to the land, but the park creates a safe place for the migrating birds to feed and rest.
Benches and pathways allow human access to the land, but the park creates a safe place for the migrating birds to feed and rest. | Source
The City of Surrey has an endowment program which allows citizens to designate a bench in memory of friends or family members.
The City of Surrey has an endowment program which allows citizens to designate a bench in memory of friends or family members. | Source
Kayakers enjoy the waterways without disturbing the waterfowl.
Kayakers enjoy the waterways without disturbing the waterfowl. | Source

More by this Author


Comments

No comments yet.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working