Christmas Bird Count For Kids, 2017

The second annual CBC For Kids event in Calgary will be held on Saturday December 9th at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. This is a great educational opportunity for kids, so if you have a child, grandchild, niece or nephew that you’d like to introduce to birding, register for this free event.

There will be experts on hand to teach the kids how to find and identify birds, but they could always use some more experienced birders to lead the participants on guided walks. If you’d like to help out, contact Zoe MacDougall, Nature Kids Program Coordinator, at naturekids[at]naturealberta.ca.

Birds & Beers, November 2017

The November Birds & Beers will be held next Thursday evening, November 23. This will be the last one until the new year. Anyone who wants to come for an informal chat with your fellow birders is welcome. Food and drinks are available, and children are welcome too if accompanied by an adult.

Royal Canadian Legion, Centennial Calgary Branch #285

9202 Horton Road SW

Thursday November 23, 2017, 6:00-9:00 pm

Boreal Chickadee by Dan Arndt.

Drop in any time after 6 and join us.

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

In early October a Golden-crowned Sparrow showed up in the yard of local birder Brian Elder. This species is almost never seen in the city. The bird stayed in the area for a few days, and many local birders were able to see it. Gavin McKinnon photographed it on October 8.

Golden-crowned Sparrow, NW Calgary, October 8, 2017. Photo by Gavin McKinnnon.

Golden-crowned Sparrows are normally found in the western mountains of North America. They breed as far north as Alaska, and migrate to the west coast of the continental US to spend the winter (they are also present in winter on the BC coast and southern mainland, and some overwinter on the western Alaskan coast). The occasional one that turns up here is probably on its way to the west coast of the US.

Golden-crowned Sparrow, NW Calgary, October 8, 2017. Photo by Gavin McKinnnon.

This species is in the genus Zonotrichia, which also includes Harris’s Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, and White-throated Sparrow (all of which can be seen in Calgary), and the Rufous-collared Sparrow which is native to Mexico, Central and South America. White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows breed here, and many more are seen in Calgary on migration as well. Harris’s Sparrow (the only songbird that breeds exclusively in Canada) migrates mostly through Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but a few are seen here every spring and fall.

When the Golden-crowned Sparrow was in Brian’s yard, a Harris’s Sparrow was also present. Gavin photographed this bird too.

Harris’s Sparrow, NW Calgary, October 8, 2017. Photo by Gavin McKinnnon.

At one point, both a White-crowned and a White-throated Sparrow were also there, so Brian had all four of the local Zonotrichia species in his yard at the same time – certainly a very rare and possibly unique circumstance for Calgary.

These four species are all large and similar in structure. Here are the other two local Zonotrichia species, photographed in Calgary in earlier years by Dan Arndt.

White-throated Sparrow, February 2, 2014. Photo by Dan Arndt.

White-crowned Sparrow, September 11, 2015. Photo by Dan Arndt.

All of these birds are first-year or immature birds. Adults are more distinctive but are more often seen in the spring.

Here is a photo of the other Zonotrichia species, the Rufous-collared Sparrow. If you see one of these, you are no longer in Calgary.

Rufous-collard Sparrow from Wikimedia Commons. By BERNARDO VALENTIN – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51781854

 

South Glenmore Park with the Friends of Fish Creek

Posted By Bob Lefebvre

During the week of October 16 the Friends of Fish Creek birding course groups went to South Glenmore Park, to explore the south side of the Glenmore Reservoir and adjacent wooded areas. Some of the hoped-for target species on the water at this time of year were Trumpeter and Tundra Swans, Surf and White-winged Scoters, and Long-tailed Ducks. Trumpeter Swans and White-winged Scoters were seen, and other birders reported Long-tailed Ducks.

Below are some of the photos that Max Ortiz Aguilar took on the outing on Sunday morning that week. All Photos by Max Ortiz Aguilar, Glenmore Reservoir, October 21, 2017.

Horned Grebe

Red-necked Grebe with fish.

Female Barrow’s Goldeneye.

Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Red-breasted Nuthatch.

To see more of Max’s photos, go to his Flickr page.

If you are interested in joining the Friends of Fish Creek birding courses, see this page. The Winter session begins on January 8, 2018, and they are now taking registrations.

Exploring the Irrigation Canal with the Friends of Fish Creek

Posted By Bob Lefebvre

The fall session of the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park birding course began in early September. In the first week of October, the groups birded along the irrigation canal in SE Calgary, from Gosling Way to 50 Avenue. The canal is drained each year at the end of September, and the first couple of weeks of October are excellent for waterfowl and other birds feeding there.

On October 8, 2017, Max Ortiz Aguilar went with his Sunday morning group and took some excellent photographs. (All photos taken by Max Ortiz Aguilar, Irrigation Canal, Calgary, October 8, 2017.)

One of the star birds here in the fall is the Hooded Merganser. There are usually quite a few in the canal, and you can get good close looks.

Hooded Merganser (male).

Two male and four female-type (female or immature) Hooded Mergansers. The right-hand bird looks like a young male.

The most common shorebird in the fall is the Greater Yellowlegs. Lessers are also seen, but in low numbers. Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers are usually around, and sometimes you find Dowitchers and even American Golden-Plovers.

Greater Yellowlegs.

Greater Yellowlegs group.

The most common waterfowl here, as on the Bow River, are Canada Geese and Mallards. You can usually see a few hundred on this stretch of the canal. You can also find Northern Shovelers, Redheads, Common Goldeneyes, Common Mergansers, and Double-crested Cormorants feeding in the canal. There are also huge numbers of Ring-billed Gulls, plus Franklin’s Gulls and sometimes uncommon migrant gull species.

Canada Geese and Mallards.

Canada Goose in flight.

American Wigeons are often seen. By this time the adult males are transitioning to breeding plumage, or have already done so.

American Wigeons (females).

You can find quite a few songbird species in the treed areas (especially along the golf course). The chickadees are rather tame.

Black-capped Chickadee.

Owls aren’t usually seen right along the canal but the group got lucky this day.

Great Horned Owl.

Mule Deer can be seen occasionally anywhere along this stretch of the river. You may also see Eastern Gray Squirrels, Coyotes, Red Foxes, Beavers, Muskrats, and American Mink.

Mule Deer.

Finally, the canal is a good place to find the scarce Rusty Blackbird in the fall. You can see them turning over leaves at the water’s edge.

Rusty Blackbird.

To see more of Max’s photos, go to his Flickr page.

If you are interested in joining the Friends of Fish Creek birding courses, see this page. The Winter session begins on January 8, 2018, and they are now taking registrations.

 

Birds & Beers, October 2017

The October Birds & Beers social get-together will be held next Thursday evening, October 26. Anyone who wants to come for an informal chat with your fellow birders is welcome. Food and drinks are available, and children are welcome too if accompanied by an adult.

Royal Canadian Legion, Centennial Calgary Branch #285

9202 Horton Road SW

Thursday October 26, 2017, 6:00-9:00 pm

Hooded Merganser group, Irrigation Canal, SE Calgary, October 8, 2017. Photo by Max Ortiz Aguilar.

 

Note: The November Birds & Beers event will be held on Thursday November 23 at the same time and location.

Wild Bird Store Event – 20th Anniversary and Grand Re-opening

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

The Wild Bird Store is one of the few places in Calgary where you can buy good quality bird seed, feeders, and houses, and the only store that specializes in products for birders. Recently they have moved to a new location, and this Saturday, October 21, they will have an all-day 20th anniversary and grand re-opening event at their new location, 5901-3 Street SE (on 58 Avenue, three blocks west of Blackfoot Trail).

Besides the savings for backyard birders, there will be several interesting presentations throughout the day that should interest all local birders: Chris Fisher’s All-Star Critters, Myrna Pearman on Bird Feeding Behavior, and Gus Yaki on Attracting Birds to Your Backyard. At the end, Gus will also do a presentation on the ten-day walk he led this spring from the Saskatchewan border to Writing-On-Stone Provincial park.

The Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society will also be there (with live birds of prey), as will the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation. So there will be plenty going on to interest birders of all ages!

The new Wild Bird Store is located at 5901-3 Street SE.

American Kestrel Portrait by Michael Kim

Michael Kim photographed this beautiful American Kestrel on Grand Valley Road NW of Cochrane in September 2017.

American Kestrel, Grand Valley Road, September 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

American Kestrel, Grand Valley Road, September 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

Introducing Ethan Denton

Posted by Ethan Denton

Hi, I’m Ethan Denton, also known under the pseudonyms BirdBoy and previously BirdBoyCanada. Some of you may know me from other places – notably my website birdboy.ca – but here’s some information for those who don’t.

I’m a long-time birder and amateur photographer hailing from Canmore, Alberta. I don’t go in for super-expensive equipment (as a 13-year old buying all his own stuff, I simply can’t afford it), but I have a decent scope and camera, and I’m in the market for new binoculars.

I have been coordinating the Canmore half of the Banff-Canmore Christmas Bird Count for the last three years, and in 2016 I organized the Bow Valley’s first ever CBC4Kids, or Kids Christmas Bird Count. I have attended the BowKan Bird Counts since age 6, and I have missed only one of these bi-annual events.

I post regularly about my experiences, birding events in Southern Alberta, and anything else that I find interesting in the birding world on birdboy.ca, and I am currently working on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Home Study Course in Bird Biology. If you have any questions or comments, about me or my work, feel free to email me at birdboy.ca@gmail.com!

Why does this matter? Well, from now on, I will be an occasional poster here, on Birds Calgary! Exhibiting photos and events, profiling interesting species, and other things along those lines – not a lot, but just enough to be a consistent contributor. Here are a few of my more recent photos – I know looking at lots of words can be a bit dull!

Western Tanager

Western Tanager, Canmore, August 21, 2017. Photo by Ethan Denton

Common Merganser

Common Merganser, Canmore, September 30, 2017. Photo by Ethan Denton

Autumn Birds by Tony LePrieur

Some birds photographed in Calgary and area this fall by Tony LePrieur.

Warbling Vireo

Solitary Sandpiper

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

American Redstart

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Greater Yellowlegs

Wilson’s Warbler

Cedar Waxwing

Common Grackle

Song Sparrow

Great Horned Owl

Merlin

Swainson’s Hawk

White-throated Sparrow

Greater Yellowlegs

To see more of Tony’s nature photographs, see his Flickr page.