West Coast Rollout

I love this time of year when spring migration is just starting and the number of shopping carts on Vancouver Island are starting to build. Hard to believe with the recent snow fall we’ve had that last week we were battling through a couple of windy and wet days. It’s often said that storm days are great for birding since you never know what kind of rare and interesting birds are going to turn up. The same is true for those of us engaged in the delicate art of cart watching.

Last Monday was just such a day – windy and wet. I knew that there was a good chance of a “rollout,” a mixed herd of carts driven by the weather to seek out a sheltered spot.

Rollout – a mixed herd of carts driven together by the weather in a sheltered spot.

I spotted this little herd of carts at the edge of a lot, hunkered down out of the wind behind a wire fence. Due to the weather I wasn’t able to get a conclusive identification of all of them but two were familiar – the Red-banded Spinner (third from the left) and a Beige Rustler (far right) directly behind an unusual looking double cart that I haven’t been able to identify (possibly a camel-cart). The cart to the far left looks like a female Red-tasseled Rambler (by the red dangling straps) – a new life species for me.

Mixed Herd
These carts sought shelter behind a chain link fence on a cold, wet stormy February day in Courtenay, British Columbia.

I returned to see if I could relocate this herd the following day but the lot was empty. Such is the nature of spring rollouts – the carts are here and then they’re gone!

This is the eleventh species account of the Vancouver Island Shopping Carts series. Julian Montague at The Stray Shopping Cart Project has developed a method of classifying stray carts that might be of interest to those wanting to learn more about species of carts in their own area. Researchers should also consult Rock, Paper, Lizard and for detailed species accounts of Lower Mainland/Vancouver carts.


  1. Ha! I love this. I wrote a post last March that documented the severe decline in NYC’s umbrella population after a devastating rain storm. Carts and umbrellas share a distant metal ancestor, although they long ago diverged in their evolutionary process. Here in Manhattan, we don’t have gathering herds of carts, but I did witness some similar behaviors when I lived in Texas. Don’t know if anyone has studied Texas carts. They withstand tremendous heat and so, in addition to having evolved drink cups, they have highly developed plastic rolls across the pushbars.

  2. You know the weather’s bad when you see so many different spp. clustered together. Normally they would be bashing each others’ baskets out. A frightening sight (and sound), let me tell you. Bighorn sheep with wobbly wheels.

  3. Thanks Guy and Melissa – it’s a fun little diversion. You should definitely check out Hugh’s carts at Rock Paper Lizard. He originated the idea, very zen like observations of Lower Mainland carts which seem to get into much more awkward situations than our Vancouver Island populations.

  4. Thanks for stopping in Hugh – and for inspiring this study. I hope one day that I’ll know half as much as you about these wonderful creatures : )

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