Nicola Lake area birding Dec. 27, 2019

Isaac and I left early and reached the south end of Nicola Lake just after dawn.  We then worked our way back to Kamloops along Highway 5A, stopping whenever there were birds.  The attraction there is that most of Nicola Lake and a small part of Stump Lake are still ice free.  The list of from the entire time we were out  (7:30-10:30 am) and from my bird feeder later in the afternoon.  After dinner, I heard a Great Horned Owl calling in the backyard.  I called my son and we both went out to see it.  We watched as one of the two owls grabbed another owl right out of the air like a Peregrine getting a duck.  It was unbelievable to see!  Because of city lights, the snow, and a cloud cover, the area behind my house can be quite illuminated at night. The smaller owl was flying in a straight line and the Great Horned came up behind it and just grabbed it.  I’m not sure of the littler owl species but it was half the size of a Great Horned, lighter in colour, and long-winged in comparison to its body.  It flew with the typical floppy wing beat of a smaller owl.  Smaller than Short-eared which are common here….. Northern Saw Whet?  Not sure and will never know.  After grabbing the smaller one, the Great Horned flew out of sight over my house and the other one landed on a taller cut off tree in my yard.  My son ran for one of my owl lights but it was gone by the time he came back with it.  Crazy!  I actually felt bad for the smaller owl after the entire ordeal was over.  I have recently learned that Great Horned Owls will regularly prey on other owl species, even Great Greys.

Canada Goose – 120

Trumpeter Swan – 75

Gadwall – 50

American Wigeon -60

Mallard – 110

Northern Pintail – 9

Ring-necked Duck – 30

Greater Scaup – 1

Lesser Scaup – 7

Bufflehead – 65

Common Goldeneye – 23

Barrow’s Goldeneye – 25

Hooded Merganser – 14

Common Merganser – 8

Ruddy Duck – 1

Sharp-tailed Grouse – 2

Sharp-tailed Grouse khgkhgh3.JPG

Horned grebe – 3

American Coot – 35

American Coot hgghj3.JPG

Common Loon – 5

Golden Eagle – 1

Golden Eagle 1.jpeg

Bald Eagle – 9

Rough-legged Hawk – 6

Red-tailed Hawk – 3

Great Horned Owl – 2

Downy Woodpecker – 1

Black-billed Magpie – 5

Common Raven – 5

Black-capped Chickadee – 1

Pygmy Nuthatch – 3

American Dipper – 1

European Starling – 4

Townsend’s Solitaire – 8

American Robin – 6

Bohemian Waxwing – 160

House Finch – 12

House Finch ghkg3.JPG

Dark-eyed Junco – 2

Song Sparrow – 2


We also saw a pair of Coyotes making their way along the shore of Stump Lake.  The photos from above on the snow covered ice create a green screen look in the photos.  The other mammals rounding out the day were several muskrats sitting on the ice beside open water areas.  It should be noted that I’ve encountered two Long-tailed Weasels in their white winter coats with black-tipped tails in the last week.  I have missed both in terms of getting quality pictures….

Coyote khgj3.JPG

Coyote hkghg3.JPG







  1. A nice day Tom. Regarding the owl predation, I wonder if the victim was a Long-eared Owl. Saw-whets have a fairly rapid wing beat which I would not say was “floppy.” Both species winter here in small numbers. What a treat to see however.


    • Thanks Rick. Yes, Long-eared would be very likely. The only field mark I could get in the short time I saw it was it’s lighter colour, floppy wing beat, and size (about half that of a Great Horned). I actually heard the impact and it sounded like a pop. Crazy to see for sure!


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