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Birds & Beers, August 2017

The first Birds & Beers social event of the fall season will be held on Thursday, August 17. We have normally met on Fridays in the past but we are trying a Thursday evening in the hope that the venue will be a little quieter and less busy.

Royal Canadian Legion, Centennial Calgary Branch #285

9202 Horton Road SW

Thursday August 17, 2017, 6:00-9:00 pm

American Robin fledglings, July 23, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

As a special treat, Gus Yaki will present a slide show and talk about his Prairie Walk. This spring, to celebrate Canada 150, Gus led a group of about 40 people on a walk along the southern Alberta border from Saskatchewan to British Columbia. Come out to hear about the birds and other wildlife they saw, and see photos of the trip.

The event will start at 6 pm and there will be lots of time for a meal or drink and a visit with your fellow birders before Gus speaks after 7 pm.

Everyone is welcome, including children if accompanied by an adult. See you there!

Breeding Birds of Carburn Park

Common Merganser with chicks, Carburn Park, June 4, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Common Merganser chick, Carburn Park, June 4, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Black-billed Magpie fledglings, Carburn Park, June 4, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Mallard (right) with chicks, Carburn Park, June 4, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Mallard and chick, Carburn Park, June 4, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Northern Flicker with young, Carburn Park, June 18, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Northern Flicker, Carburn Park, June 18, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

House Wren at nest hole, Carburn Park, June 18, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Mallard with chicks, Carburn Park, June 18, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

American White Pelicans don’t breed at Carburn Park, but they can often be found there. June 18, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

American White Pelicans, Carburn Park, June 18, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Not from Carburn but a nesting Red-necked Grebe from Bridlewood Ponds, June 4, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

To see more of Tony’s photos visit his Flickr page.

Furry Friday: Baby Pika

Tony LePrieur was photographing Pikas in the Highwood pass when he saw a juvenile moving around mostly under the rocks (as opposed to the adults who bound over the tops).

Adult Pika, Highwood Pass, July 14, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Juvenile Pika, Highwood Pass, July 14, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Juvenile Pika, Highwood Pass, July 14, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Juvenile Pika, Highwood Pass, July 14, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Here are some more photos of Pikas that Tony took last year.

You can see more of Tony’s photos on his Flickr site here.

Great Crested Flycatcher in Bearspaw

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

On July 6, 2017, this Great Crested Flycatcher was photographed by Caroline Brooks in her Bearspaw yard, just west of Calgary. This is a local rarity.

Great Crested Flycatcher, Bearspaw, July 6, 2017. Photo by Caroline Brooks.

Interestingly, Caroline had seen and photographed another Great Crested Flycatcher in her yard almost exactly a year earlier, on July 13, 2016. That bird (very likely the same one) was there for the first two weeks of July.

Great Crested Flycatcher, Bearspaw, July 13, 2016. Photo by Caroline Brooks.

Great Crested Flycatcher, Bearspaw, July 13, 2016. Photo by Caroline Brooks.

After photographing the bird this year on July 6, Caroline did not see the bird again. But on the morning of July 11 one was seen in Carburn Park in SE Calgary by Bob Storms. Carburn Park is about 10-12 km due east of Bearspaw. It’s possible this was the same bird.

Here are a couple of screen shots from eBird that show the range of the Great Crested Flycatcher. As you can see, this bird is seen only occasionally west of Regina. Apart from a few regular spots in the Edmonton and Cold Lake areas, it is not often seen in Alberta. It does nest in a few spots from north of Red Deer up to east-central Alberta. Having this bird show up here at this time of year in two consecutive years makes one wonder if they are breeding (or trying to) in the Calgary area.

Great Crested Flycatcher sightings, Year-round, All years, from eBird.

Great Crested Flycatcher sightings from 2017, from eBird. The teardrop in Calgary is a bird that was heard by Michael Harrison in South Glenmore Park on June 25.

Another Great Crested Flycatcher was photographed in Carburn Park by a Friends of Fish Creek birding group on September 14, 2013. Possibly there are a few of these around here every year, so this is a bird that local birders should be aware of, and be on the lookout for.

Cowbird and Yellow Warbler

Tony LePrieur took these great photos of a huge Brown-headed Cowbird fledgling being fed by its foster parent, a male Yellow Warbler.

Brown-headed Cowbird being fed by a Yellow Warbler, Calgary, July 8, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

The warbler is off to find more food for its demanding foster child.

Brown-headed Cowbirds lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and often the other species does not recognize the difference and raises the young cowbird. For more photos of cowbirds with some other host species see these posts:

Baby Owls of Burnsmead

This spring a family of Great Horned Owls nested in the Burnsmead area of Fish Creek Provincial Park. Max Ortiz Aguilar got these photos of the family after the young had hatched and were almost ready to start branching.

Great Horned Owls – mother with two downy young. Burnsmead, April 16, 2017.

Photo by Max Ortiz Aguilar.

Great Horned Owl, male standing guard by the nest, Burnsmead, April 16, 2017.

Photo by Max Ortiz Aguilar.

To see more of Max’s wildlife photos, go to his site, Photos by MOA.

Waterfowl of the Foothills

Here are some photos of waterfowl taken by Michael Kim in the Canmore area this spring.

Hooded Merganser, Exshaw, May 1, 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

Hooded Mergansers, Exshaw, May 2, 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

Great Blue Heron, Lac des Arcs, May 6, 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

Great Blue Heron, Lac des Arcs, May 6, 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

Ruddy Duck, Exshaw, May 1, 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

Red-necked Grebe, Exshaw, May 1, 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

 Bufflehead, Exshaw, May 3, 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

Northern Shoveler, Lac des Arcs, May 22, 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

 Horned Grebe, Exshaw, April 1, 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

Barrow’s Goldeneye, Canmore, April 2, 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

Barrow’s Goldeneye, Canmore, April 4, 2017. Photo by Michael Kim.

More Birds of Bowmont Park

In May we posted some photos taken by Lorraine Glass in Bowmont Park in NW Calgary (see this post). Gord Smith was inspired by these photos to go and see what he could find. Here are his photos from May 22 and May 27, 2017.

Western Tanager (male), Bowmont Park, May 2017. Photo by Gord Smith.

White-breasted Nuthatch, Bowmont Park, May 2017. Photo by Gord Smith.

Northern Flicker (male), Bowmont Park, May 2017. Photo by Gord Smith.

Yellow Warbler (male), Bowmont Park, May 2017. Photo by Gord Smith.

Yellow Warbler (male), Bowmont Park, May 2017. Photo by Gord Smith.

Gray Catbird, Bowmont Park, May 2017. Photo by Gord Smith.

Song Sparrow, Bowmont Park, May 2017. Photo by Gord Smith.

Northern Flicker (male), Bowmont Park, May 2017. Photo by Gord Smith.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Bowmont Park, May 2017. Photo by Gord Smith.

If you have some photos of local birds you’d like to post here, send them to us at birdscalgary@gmail.com.

Great Gray Owl with Pocket Gopher

Correction: The unfortunate rodent is a Northern Pocket Gopher, not a Meadow Vole. Pocket Gophers are the ones that make mounds of  loose soil above their underground burrows. The soil mounds are commonly seen, but the animals themselves rarely venture above ground. When they do, it is usually at night and they don’t go more than a few feet from the mound. Hence they are rarely seen – this is the first photo of one from the Calgary area that I’ve seen. – Bob Lefebvre

Tony LePrieur got this great shot of a Great Gray Owl with a captured Northern Pocket Gopher recently near Calgary.

Great Gray Owl, Turner Valley area SW of Calgary, July 3, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Weaselhead Bridge – Ring Road Petition

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Most Calgary birders are aware by now that the ring road construction adjacent to the Weaselhead Nature Area in SW Calgary is well under way. A huge area has been cleared in preparation for building a bridge over the Elbow River.

This project has been discussed for decades, and birders have been very concerned about building a bridge and highway through such an environmentally sensitive area. I think it has long been assumed that when the time came, if it did, the builders would be sure to follow best environmental practices to minimize the impact on this area. In particular, it was hoped that a clear span bridge like the Stoney Trail bridge over the Bow River would be built. Instead, the plan is to build an earthern berm or cut-and-fill bridge, which will fill in the valley up to the road level for most of the span, essentially forming a dam across the floodplain. This design will have many negative consequences for the birds and other wildlife in the valley, and create a great many problems during flood events.

Aerial photograph taken June 3, 2017, Courtesy of the Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society and John Mader. The Weaselhead Nature Area is on the right, and the ring road construction showing the diversion of the Elbow River on the left. As you can see, there has already been a stunning amount of disturbance, cutting off the Weaselhead from the ecologically diverse Elbow Valley to the west. Photo from the website http://www.yyccares.ca/recent_pictures.

A concerned group of local citizens is petitioning the Alberta Government to build a better bridge over the Elbow. Please visit their web page YYC Cares. There is a great deal of information on their site, and you can sign the petition there.