The Friends of Shoal Harbour have been firm believers in the critical role education can play in the protection and restoration of the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary from the very beginning. The more that the people become informed and understand about the sanctuary and it’s wildlife, the more likely it is that they will become strong advocates and engaged stewards of them.
To this end, FOSH hosts annual public events and guest speaker presentations. It also works with local high school and middle school teachers to organize field trips to the Shoal Harbour Sanctuary for their students. Once there, they engage in a variety of experiential learning activities.
All Buffleheads Day
Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) are a small, black and white sea duck, with splendid iridescent colours. In summer, they inhabit the aspen parkland belt of Western Canada into Alaska. Buffleheads are strictly dependent on a woodpecker, the Northern Flicker, and have evolved their small size to fit the entrance to its nest cavity, usually in a Trembling Aspen.
Buffleheads migrate in family units headed by monogamous matriarchs and patriarchs. Because of their small size and specialized life, Buffleheads are physiologically constrained by weather and the timing of freeze-up and melt of their ponds.
Bufflehead migrations are not merely punctual, they are precisely so.
Buffleheads arrive in the Sanctuary generally on the 297th day of the solar year (typically October 15th). The variation around All Buffleheads Day (ABD) is very small (+/- 3.8 days). This precision may be a world record in timing; but, more importantly, the variation is nonrandom and predictable.
Given this remarkable precision, the Friends of Shoal Harbour conceived and launched All Buffleheads Day in 2014 to celebrate the return of the Bufflehead and to raise awareness about the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
The event is generally held as close as possible to Oct. 15th. Sometimes the Bufflehead appears and sometimes it doesn’t but that doesn’t really detract from the purpose of the event.
The event typically features brief speeches by local elected representatives from all three levels of government, a local indigenous representative as well as members of FOSH. The Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia has on occasion attended in addition to be a patron of the event.