How Vancouver is bringing more diversity to birding (VIDEO)

Bringing more colour to birdwatching's plumage

Thor Diakow/Vancouver is Awesome

Wild birds make up some of the most diverse species on planet earth.

But the crowd that follows them hasn't always been so varied.

It's no secret the world of birdwatching has been attempting to bring more collective colour to its overall plumage in recent years.

The need for diversity in the hobby is one of the topics being addressed during the 10th annual Vancouver Bird Celebration.

Although the local event, which wraps up May 16, is online this year, due to COVID-19, there are plenty of opportunities to appreciate our feathered friends and those who make it their passion to observe and study them.

Yousif Attia, a Metro Vancouver biologist with Birds Canada, has had a fascination with birds since he was a child.

While originally from Egypt, his family moved from Sudan to Alberta in 1986. He now calls the B.C.'s West Coast, home.

"A lot of people, probably from marginalized communities, may not have had the same opportunities to pursue those interests. The community right now is very welcoming," explains Attia. 

Attia says much is being done, even at the local level, to make birding more equitable.

"Last year we held a number of special tours for people who have different language needs. So we had Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic-speaking tours in case that was a barrier for any of those communities."

In Attia's mind, enjoying nature is the ultimate barrier breaker.

"If there's anything that makes us different, our appreciation and our love for the natural world sort of overcome all that, and that really becomes your connection with whoever is standing beside you."

Diversity can also be found in the habitats frequented by birds.

If you're interested in attracting birdlife to your yard, a new conservation initiative is promoting the creation of nature-friendly gardens, benefiting birds across Canada.

The Gardening for Birds website features videos, factsheets, and practical information to help protect birds.

The online resource includes a searchable database of 500 native plants, enabling people to learn what species of plants are best suited to their specific area and local conditions, such as light, soil, and moisture availability.

An advanced search feature lets the user focus on specific interests, such as pollinator plants for hummingbirds and butterflies, or cone-bearing trees for finches and other wildlife.