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Heading out to the park? Check out this field guide every season to find out which wildlife to keep your eyes out for in the park. See the field guide below for some of the most common flowers, butterflies and birds that appear in the park in the Spring and Summer.
For more details, check out the Goldstream Nature House’s fantastic selection of field guides!
Download a printable trail map of Goldstream Provincial Park.
Himalayan BlackberryINTRODUCED AND INVASIVE
Where: Seen mostly in disturbed sites and streamside areas.
When/Why: Arching brush with impenetrable thickets, the flowers bloom in late spring with white to pinkish blossoms.It will fruit into delicious blackberries which are edible.
So What: This is an Asian species from India but introduced via England.
Where: Moist to wet places and usually along stream/river beds.
When: In early spring the pinky/reddish flowers will start to bloom, sometimes several together.In this area it is the earliest fruit to ripen which is in May or June.
Why: The ripening of the berries brings the song of the ‘salmonberry bird’…the Swainson’s thrush.
So What: Both sprouts and berries were used by the North west coast people.Berries are still eaten and delicious.
Scotch BroomINTRODUCED & INVASIVE!
Where: Found in open sites, on the side of roads or in developed areas.Now it is invading natural meadows and open forests.
When/Why: Brought here in 1850 by Captain Walter Colquhoun which he first picked from the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). The seeds he planted in Sooke and now it has taken over Southern Vancouver Island.
So What: It has endangered the regions distinctive rainshadow flora. **Watch children carefully, seeds and pods are poisonous if eaten.
Where: Seen in wet/moist forests, swamps and usually shade covered.
When: In early spring yellow/Greenish flower appear. Leaves are large the plant can grow 30-150cm tall. Plant has a ‘skunky’ odor.
Why: Skunky odor attracts the perfect and not so obvious pollinator…
So What: Leaves were used as an ‘Indian wax paper’ lining baskets and steaming pits.Rarely used as food and only after being steamed.
Where: Moist forests along streams or rivers
When: Flower blooms early spring, March – May, as robins appear; sometimes referred to as ‘wake-robin’. Flower is white and turns pinky/purple with age.
Why: Because ants help this plant, which lives in a dim forested environment, by carrying the seeds to their nests for the larvae to eat and the rest is spread out through the soil.
So What: Latin trillium means ‘in 3’s, for the petals, leaves, sepals and stigmas. Please do not pick or the plant will die, the only way the bulb replenishes itself is from its leaves.
Where: Found in dry to moist open woods/areas.
When/Why: Flowers are greenish/white and flower very early…even before leaves appear! Flowers hang like a pendulum. Leaves smell like cumber when squashed. Fruits start as light peach color to a dark red/purple, ‘plum’ looking.
So What: Edible but bitter with a big pit. The branches were chewed and applied to areas on the body that were sore.
Where: Found in grassy slopes and meadows at low to mid elevations.
When/Why: Later in spring these beautiful blue/violet colored flowers make an appearance. The color of the petals may resemble the blue of fine clear water.
So What: The bulbs of this plant were eaten but only after extensive cooking methods.It was harvested early in spring so not to be confused with Death Camas, which grows in similar areas but has a creamy white flower. Death Camas is poisonous and potentially fatal.
False Lily of the Valley
Where: Found in moist to wet, shady areas, close to water.
When/Why: Blooming in spring the flowers are white and in parts of 4 and are delicately perfumed. Fruits start off small and brownish and grow into a rich red color.
So What: Many Northwest coast groups used the leaves and roots on sores. The Cowichan drank a root tea for healing internal injuries.
Miners Lettuce (Siberian)
Where: Found in moist shady sites.
When/Why: The white to pink flowers are found in 1-3 flower clusters later in spring.
So What: The leaves are edible. The plant was used on the abdomen for constipation and chewed by women to induce labor.
Where: Found in a variety of open habitats.
When/Why: Leaves are toothed and flowers are pink at tips of branch. Fruits are purplish-red rounded hips and are ready later in summer.
So What: Branches and stems were used for eye treatment. Leaves were applied to bee stings and berries were cooked, mashed and fed to babies for constipation.
Where: Dry to moist areas, in and out of the shade.
When/Why: Identified by its holly-like leaf.The beautiful yellow flower blooms in late April and a dark purple/blue berry late July or August.The berry is sour but not poisonous.
So What: Today the berries are used for jellies and some people like to make wine.
Red Breasted Sapsucker
Who: Sphyrapicus ruber
Where: Found in humid forests and common in mixed forests. Usually spotted because of red head and little black coloring.
When/Why: May be sighted all year
So What: These ‘suckers’ are essential for secondary cavity users.
Where: These guys are uncommon but found in mature hardwood and coniferous forests. Their long neck and red crest will be hard to miss.
When/Why: Their favorite foods are carpenter ants so you will see them low on dead trees or even fallen trees.You’ll know it is them, their holes are oval or rectangular shaped.
So What: The drum of their work is slow, powerful, accelerating and trailing off at the end.
Where: Very common in coniferous and mixed forests.
When/Why: You will see these ones all year here.The call/song is unmusical, but can often imitate other birds.
So What: They are British Columbia’s Provincial bird. It is the only all-dark Jay with a crest.
Golden Crown Kinglet
Where: Found in mature trees high in spruces or other conifers.
When/Why: These birds are found all year long here and are sighted in groups of three or more.
So What: These birds like to hang upside down or hover at the tips of branches to eat insects.
Where: Uncommon in damp shaded area near rivers or streams.
When/Why: They have an overall dark brown coloring with a short pale eyebrow. You will notice their tails which are usually always raised up.
So What: Its beautiful song is high, tinkling trills and thin buzzes.
Hummingbirds – Rufous and Anna’s
Who:Selasphorus rufus and Calypte anna
Where: Both common in open woods of coniferous and riparian habitat. Males are easiest to distinguish. Rufous males have orange/copper coloring and Anna’s males have a red throat and crown. Anna’s females have a red patch on the throat and Rufous females have an orange/red patch on the throat, both have a green back.
When/Why: After the Rufous returns from southern wintering grounds in early spring and generally all year for the Anna’s.The Rufous voice is a high hard chip tyuk. Anna’s voice is very high, sharp stit.
So What: Anna’s hummingbirds will become insectivores during our winter season.
Myth: Hummingbirds migrate south on the back of Canadian Geese!!
When: Here all year. It is hard to miss these birds with their uniform gray coloring and their vibrant orange/copper breast.
Where/Why: These birds nest in any open woodland. Their song is a series of low whistled phrases.
So What: This robin communally roosts in the winter with numbers that can reach the thousands.
Violet Green Swallows
When: Common in early spring, after their long migrational journey.
Where/Why: These swallows use cavities and cliff crevices for nesting.But are often seen foraging over water. These guys are smaller than the tree swallows. Watch for the beautiful green and violet colors of the male ‘violet green’ swallow!
So What: Their song is a repeated series of short, creaking or twittering notes.
House SparrowINTRODUCED AND INVASIVE
Where: Known as the sparrow of cities, towns and farms. Almost always seen in small flocks.
When/Why: Introduced from Europe in the mid 1800’s. They’re here all year round.
So What: Song is a series of identical chirps.
American Dipper – This crazy little bird thinks it is a duck!It dives under the water looking for salmon eggs.When standing on the rocks of the Goldstream River, it “dips” up and down.You will find this dark colored bird along the river near the day use area.
Bald Eagle – Look for whiteheads and tails in the adults and molted dark/white feathers in the juveniles (<5yrs old).These ones are best spotted in the estuary dotting the trees like Christmas decorations! Eagles are most abundant in Dec-Jan after the salmon run has left a tasty treat of rotting salmon!!
Barred Owl – This is the owl who says “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all” – say it fast enough and you’ll sound like a barred owl! It is a stocky little owl with a rounded head and a short tail.You might find this owl in the forest around the estuary hunting for rodents, but you will have to come at night.
Barrows Golden Eye – These water birds will be found in abundance in the Estuary down by the Nature House.Look for them from the viewing platform – they are distinguished by their golden eyes!The males have lovely green heads in the Oct-June breeding period.
Dark Eyed Junco – This dark dull-gray headed bird loves to hangout under the bird feeder at the Nature House.They nest in the coniferous trees in Goldstream Park.In the winter they like to hang out in large flocks in brushy areas.
Fox Sparrows – These birds are one of the largest of the sparrows.They have brownish plumage and densely spotted breasts.You will find fox sparrows in the brushy areas near the Nature House.
Glaucous Winged Gull – Chances are that gull out in the estuary, or hunting for salmon eggs, or the tasty eyeballs of the dead salmon along the river is a glaucous winged gull.They are noisy birds and love coming to the Goldstream River during the salmon run period – they are a part of the “clean-up crew”.HINT: if you are looking up to the sky or the trees when a lot of gulls are flying around – keep your mouth CLOSED, gulls poop when they fly!!
Great Blue Heron – This tall majestic bird likes to hangout in the quiet waters of the estuary or in the swampy area near the big old cedar tree on the path to the Nature House.It stands very still waiting for dinner to swim right by – it then darts it beak into the water, emerging with a fish or a frog in its beak.Herons visit Goldstream Park all year long.They are solitary birds that like their own company.
Golden Crowned Sparrow – One of the largest sparrows, as an adult, it boasts a lovely golden yellow crown.It can be found in dense brush, often singing its heart out!Look for these birds in the brush at the Nature House.
Stellar’s Jay – Our beautiful B.C. Bird is a raucous character who sports a lovely deep blue coat and a darker crest on its head.Found frequently at the bird feeder outside the Nature House.
Winter Wren – Have you noticed a little dark brown bird with a short tail held cocked upright foraging near the bird feeder at the Nature House? Chances are it is a winter wren.They like to forage on the ground and through dark crevices in shady woods and dense brush.
Chum Salmon – It is November and there is an “interesting” smell at the Goldstream Park. The Chum Salmon have returned to spawn and then die – look for the males with hooked jaws and vertical purple streaks on their sides.The females have a dark/purple horizontal stripe.You will see this life cycle happening only in the fall (Oct-Dec) in the Goldstream River.
Chinook/Coho Salmon – These salmon come to the Goldstream River in late September and are heading up towards the Fish Hatchery along with their fish pals the Coho.The hatchery raises these fish from egg to fry, and then releases them into the river.The Chinook are distinguished by its spotty appearance and the Coho by its more colorful body.