The Alberta Winter Bird List

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

One way to spice up your winter birding is to keep a list of species seen in the winter months of December, January, and February.  It’s fun do do this for yourself, but you can also help contribute to the provincial winter list.

For the past eleven years, Richard Klauke has kept track of all bird species seen by anyone anywhere in the province of Alberta between December 1 and the end of February.  It is an excellent resource for anyone birding here in the winter.

See the Alberta Winter Bird List here.

The list has three categories of birds:

  • winter residents and other species that are reported every year (111 species).
  • species often reported but not every year (81 species).
  • rarities (30 species).

The total number of species reported in the last eleven years has varied from a low of 126 (in 2010/2011) to a high of 153 (in 2002/2003).  The average is 140.  Last winter was a good one, with a total of 148.

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House Finch – one of the core winter species

The most productive periods for the winter bird list are the the first two weeks of December, when there are still some lingering migrants, and the last two weeks of February, when some early spring birds begin to arrive.  Richard compiles the list from reports on the Albertabird listserv.  Starting today, post your sightings on Albertabird and help build the list.  For example, if you happen to be in the Votier’s Flats area and see the Song Sparrow and Wilson’s Snipe that have been reported there recently, please post them again to Albertabird.  These are core species but may not be around much longer.

As the list builds, check back to Richard’s page periodically, and if you see something that hasn’t yet been reported, post it to Albertabird.

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Harris’s Sparrow – a more elusive core winter species (photo by Daniel Arndt)

Some new birders may not belong to Albertabird yet, so if you see something good you could let us know at the blog and we’ll pass it on (include details of date and location).  But I encourage all serious birders to join and follow Albertabird.  That is where important sightings should be reported so that other Alberta birders know what is being seen and where, and can have a chance to find the birds themselves.

Richard’s page also includes links to winter lists for the other nine provinces, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, and the Ottawa region.  So if you are travelling you can see what to expect.

Update: Already this morning, an Eastern Bluebird has been seen near Medicine Hat!  This is the first winter report of this species in the twelve years the list has been kept.

Pat Bumstead still has her three Mourning Doves in her yard too.

2 thoughts on “The Alberta Winter Bird List

  1. Just curious as to why, Spruce Grouse, a bird which has been seen and photographed numerous times since Dec. doesn’t show up on the Jan 3 update.

    • Richard Klauke compiles the Alberta Winter Bird List list mostly based on reports on the Albertabird discussion group. If Spruce Grouse haven’t been reported there he may not have heard about them. You are probably referring to photos on the Facebook site and perhaps Richard hasn’t been following that since it is new. I suggest that if you have had a sighting yourself, email Richard with the details at rklauke(at)mcsnet.ca.

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