Shoveler Rescue

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

For several weeks this fall and winter there was an injured Northern Shoveler in an ever-shrinking bit of open water on a pond in Shawnessy in SW Calgary. Kathleen Moors, who has been a steward at that pond for six years, first saw the duck on December 14. As the ice closed in, she wanted to arrange a rescue, and I directed her to a couple of the local wildlife rehabilitation organizations.

Northern Shoveler on South Fish Creek Pond. Photo by Kathleen Moors

I also put Kathleen in touch with Rodney Nicholson, who had some equipment that would be useful in a rescue attempt. (Rodney had found a distressed Canada Goose on a pond in Airdrie on November 27, and he heroically fed it and re-opened the hole in the ice for it daily, until it was strong enough to fly off, which it did just before Christmas.)

Here is Kathleen’s first blog post about the Shoveler.

That seemed to be the end of the story, but there is much more, as you can read in her second blog post here.

It’s an amazing story of dedication, and Kathleen, Rodney and the others are to be commended for their efforts.

Local birders, who are out in the field a lot, should familiarize themselves with the two organizations below. Keep their phone numbers in your contacts so you can call if you have any questions about an injured animal.

Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society

Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation

Furry Friday: Red Foxes

Here are a couple of Red Foxes photographed recently by Tony LePrieur.

This Red Fox was seen just outside the city limits on September 25, 2016.

The same fox showing the very wide tail that these animals have.

This one was seen in Carburn Park in the city, December 4, 2016.

Christmas Bird Count Results, 2016-2017

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Another Christmas Bird Count season has come and gone, and tonight at the Nature Calgary Bird Study Group meeting you can get details about all the sightings on six of the counts in our area, plus the Fish Creek Park New Year’s Day count. You can get all the details on the meeting here.

Only 32 Common Redpolls were recorded on the Calgary count. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

This year we had our first ever Christmas Bird Count For Kids in Calgary, and they have added another one to be held this Saturday, January 14, from noon to 2 pm at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. This is a great way to get children interested in birding. For all the information and to register, see this page.

On the main Calgary Count, which was held on December 18th, 61 species were recorded, and about 39,000 individual birds. This is below our twenty-year average of 65 species and 50,000 birds, a result that was mostly attributed to the high winds we experienced that day.

There is always a bit of a friendly competition between Calgary and Edmonton in everything we do, and we like to come out ahead in the number of species found on our CBC’s. We usually do (they had 47 this year), but you can only find the species that are actually there, and it just happens to be the case that Calgary has a little more diversity in birds in the winter than Edmonton does. A better comparison between these two similar-sized cities would be participation in the counts. In that respect, I’m afraid to say, Edmonton always beats us, and it isn’t very close. We had 139 birders go out in the field this year, and they had 170. We had 107 Feeder-watchers report on their yard sightings, and they had 286!

Now is a good time, while it’s fresh in your mind and you’re not busy with Christmas preparations, to express your interest in taking part in next year’s count, to be held on Sunday, December 17, 2017. If you think you might like to go out with one of the groups please contact the organizer, Phil Cram, at crampj[at]

The territory that I am leader for, which includes the Inglewood Golf Course, Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Calgary Zoo, Pearce Estate, and some adjacent areas, is far too large for us to cover with the six or seven people we usually get out. If you’d like to join my group, email the blog and I’ll add you to my list of contacts.

I would particularly like to see more people involved in the Feeder-watcher program. If you think you might have a few minutes to count the birds in your yard that day, and if you live within the count circle shown below, please contact Donna Wieckowski at astolat[at] We have a long way to go to catch up to Edmonton in Feeder-watchers! Don’t think that the birds you see in your yard aren’t important – they are an integral part of the bird fauna in the city. Often our only reports of birds like White-throated Sparrows, Harris’s Sparrows, and Varied Thrushes come from Feeder-watchers.

Expressing an interest now does not mean you are committed (it’s hard to plan for an event that is eleven months away) but it will at least get you on the list to get all the information when the time comes.

The Calgary Christmas Bird Count Circle.

Calendar – January 2017

Monday January 9. Beginning of the 12-week Winter session of the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society birding course. Information and registration on this page.

Wednesday January 11, 7:30 pm. Nature Calgary Bird Study Group Speaker Series: Christmas Bird Count Results. Phil Cram and others will present the results of local Christmas Bird Counts in the Calgary region. Information here.

Tuesday January 17, 7:30 pm. Nature Calgary Speaker Series: The Nature of Our Unseen Universe by Wesley Ernst. Information here.

Friday January 20, 6 pm. Birds & Beers. A social get-together for birders. Information here.

Wednesday January 25, Friends of Fish Creek Annual General Meeting (members only). Registration and information here.

Thursday January 26, 7 pm. Fish Creek Speaker Series: Growing Up In Alberta’s Eastern Parks, by Alison Cole. Information Here.

If you know of any upcoming local talks or events of interest to birders, please email us.

Twelve Birds of Christmas

Bohemian Waxwing by Dan Arndt.

Black-capped Chickadee by Tony LePrieur.

Red-breasted Nuthatch by Dan Arndt.

White-winged Crossbill by Tony LePrieur.

 Pileated Woodpecker by Tony LePrieur.

Pine Grosbeak by Tony LePrieur.

Golden-crowned Kinglet by Tony LePrieur.

Boreal Chickadee by Tony LePrieur.

Downy Woodpecker by Tony LePrieur.

Dark-eyed Junco by Dan Arndt.

Brown Creeper by Dan Arndt.

Common Redpoll by Dan Arndt.

Winter Birding Course 2017

There is still time to register to take part in the Winter 2017 session of the Friends of Fish Creek birding course. Go out on field trips with experienced leaders once or twice a week for twelve weeks, and learn about the winter birds of Calgary. You will also see the early-arriving spring migrants.

Field trips are held in several parts of Fish Creek Park, in Carburn Park, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, the Weaselhead Nature Area, Bowmont Park, and other locations.

It is still only $5 for children (accompanied by a registered adult) for the whole twelve-week course! See this page for details on how to register.

Christmas Bird Counts, 2016-2017

The Calgary Christmas Bird Count (CBC), organized annually by Nature Calgary, will be held next Sunday, December 18. If you would like to participate, either by joining a group of birders in the field or by counting birds at your feeders, please see this Nature Calgary page for details.

There are many CBCs in the Calgary region. For a complete list, with contact emails for the organizers, see this page.

How many Pine Grosbeaks can you find in your CBC territory? Photo by Tony LePrieur, Weaselhead Nature Area, December 11, 2016.

This year, for the first time, there will be a CBC for Kids in Calgary. It will be held at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary on Saturday, December 17. There will be an indoor introduction to birding before the count. You must accompany your child for this activity.

The first CBC for Kids was held in California in 2007, and they are now common across North America.

If you can take your child, grandchild, niece or nephew out for a couple of hours next Saturday it will be a great way to introduce them to birding! Register by emailing naturekids(at)


Sunday Showcase: Bow Valley Birds

Michael Kim is a 13-year-old photographer from Canmore. He has been taking photos of wildlife in the Bow Valley, and here are some of his pictures from last summer and fall.


Belted Kingfisher, Canmore, September 8, 2016.


Great Horned Owl, Canmore, October 2016.


Bald Eagle, Lac des Arcs, August 1, 2016.


Great Blue Heron, Lac des Arcs, August 1, 2016.


Great Blue Heron, Lac des Arcs, August 2, 2016.


Great Blue Heron, Lac des Arcs, August 3, 2016.


Great Blue Heron, Lac des Arcs, August 4, 2016.


Great Blue Heron, Lac des Arcs, August 5, 2016.