Bill Dancer

Bill Dancer

Birds of a feather walk together

Chatty eccentrics welcome to join

A Tuesday birdwatching group that has been meeting in Oak Bay for more than 60 years, proves it wasn’t a bird brained idea to start with.

Considering some bird species, such as the bar-tailed Godwit, travel 11,000 kilometres as part of their annual migration, they must have some intelligence.

“People say crows have brains, but all birds have brains,” says Bill Dancer, who leads the weekly birdwatching group. “They are not dumb and they have a social side, which is nice to see too.”

The Tuesday Morning Birding Group has met at the foot of Bowker Place and Esplanade at 9 a.m., rain or shine, since the mid-1950s. The group ranges from 28 on a nice, warm day to four during a snowstorm. The average age of attendees is a little older and includes many retired folks, but younger people in their 20s are known to join as well.

Last year, the group spotted 240 bird species. The record was 242.

“Victoria is a very good place to see birds,” Dancer says. “We are on the migratory path for many of them.”

The group walks to various locations to birdwatch and they also organize trips to other areas such as Esquimalt Lagoon and Providence Farm in Duncan. The walks end at noon.

Dancer became interested in birds as a child living in England.

During the Second World War, he was sent to live with his grandparents on a country estate where there were frequent pheasant hunts and he became fascinated watching the birds.

Daniel Donnecke has been attending the Tuesday birdwatching group for about three years. He became curious about the creatures five years ago. He bought a pair of binoculars, a bird guidebook and out he went.

“I have always been interested in the natural world and natural setting,” Donnecke, 43, says. “When I moved to Victoria (in 1994), I really noticed the birds.”

Donnecke joined the Tuesday birdwatchers in order to learn more. He said the group is laid back, friendly and talkative, which he likes, but all that talking is frowned upon by serious birders.

“Most birders are ‘be quiet,’ so there is a social aspect with this group,” Donnecke says. “The guys who like to talk stay in the back and the real keeners stay up front.”

It isn’t uncommon for the group to see marine mammals such as sea lions, seals and even orcas as most of the birdwatching is done near the water. The group also attracts a diverse crowd with different expertise and interests, which adds to the experience. Donnecke says his knowledge of birds has greatly increased since joining the group as has his knowledge of flowers and fungi.

The group is always accepting new members and the first two walks are free. Membership is through the Victoria Natural History Society and is $30 a year. Family, senior and student discounts are also available.

“We tend to get a lot of characters which is always lovely,” Dancer says. “Eccentrics are welcome. Most birders are a bit eccentric.”

For more information, go to or call Bill Dancer at 250-721-5273 or email

Did you know?

The annual Victoria Natural History Society’s bird count on Dec. 14, 2013 brought out 219 people who spotted 144 different species.


Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read