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Competition Update, October 31

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

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Rusty Blackbird, a hard-to-find autumn bird. Photo by Dan Arndt, October 25, 2015 at Lower Kananaskis Lake (outside the competition circle). ::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 1600|Shutter speed: 1/800s|

Leaders, 80-km circle:

Here are the top competitors listed with their species totals and categories (the “Not Eligible” competitors are on the organizing committee). Also included is the number of complete checklists they have submitted to eBird within the 80-km circle. This total does not include “incidental” sightings.

Using the arrows you can sort the columns to see all the participants in one category listed together, or sort by number of species, or number of checklists. You can also increase or decrease the number of lines shown.

80-km Circle, October 31
NameSpeciesChecklistsCategory
Brian Elder272126Experienced
Blake Weis 251534Experienced
Daniel Arndt250228Not Eligible
Ray Woods24971Experienced
Andrew Hart233241Not Eligible
Dan Parliament231165Experienced
George Best230198Experienced
John Thompson230248Experienced
Cindy Parliament 229137Experienced
BirdBoy Canada219151Youth
N Denton 217147Experienced
Andrew Slater216127Not Eligible
Aidan Vidal21663Youth
R Painter215282Not Eligible
Lorrie Anderson214392Experienced
John Anderson214397Experienced
Graeme Mudd214172Beginner
Aphtin Perratt21394Beginner
Bob Lefebvre211441Not Eligible
Chris Macintosh21192Beginner
Nicole Pellerin205165Beginner
Christopher Naugler20174Experienced
Phillip Cram20167Experienced
Linda Vaxvick199222Experienced
Judy Swan195161Experienced
Darlene Shymkiw193128Beginner
Trevor Churchill18781Experienced
John Bargman187124Experienced
Janet Gill17490Experienced
Simone Pellerin-Wood17393Youth
Peter Hoyer17267Experienced
Rob Worona17032Experienced
Anne Belton169100Experienced
Dave Russum167283Experienced
Jan Roseneder148262Experienced
Jeremy Quickfall14749Beginner
Joan Walker13114Experienced
Saravana Moorthy13071Beginner
Sue Konopnicki12754Experienced

 

If you are an eBird user you can view the current standings at any time. Go to eBird Canada and click the “Explore Data” tab. Click on “Patch Totals” and change the region to Alberta. Below your patches (if you have any) you will see a list of all patches in Alberta, which you can sort by day, month, or year. The competition competitors use the patch name “2015 Calgary Patch Challenge, CA-AB.”

Brian Elder’s Patch total of 272 species is the top patch in all of Canada. Eight of the to 20 patches in Canada belong to birders in the competition.

eBird Usage:

We continue to be among the leading regions in Canada in eBird submissions. Here are the top counties in Canada in number of checklists submitted for October 2015. (Calgary county is entirely within the competition circle, but the circle also includes parts of three other counties.)

eBird submissions by county, October 2015
Metro Vancouver6275
Camrose-Lloydminister3550
Ottawa1989
Capital1723
Cowichan Valley1517
Calgary878
Peterborough847
Toronto750
Nipissing684
Yukon679
Fraser-Fort George660
Montreal654
Essex619
Wellington612
Laval599
Halifax579
Avalon Peninsula - St. John's550
Hamilton520
Bruce493

 

With the winter birding season upon us, now is the time to get out and find the winter birds you missed in January and February. It’s a great chance to add new species for the those trying to win the Latecomer Challenge (most new species added after August 1). There are lots of winter finches around already so it promises to be a great end to the year.

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White-winged Crossbill. Photo by Tony LePrieur, Fish Creek Park, October 31. ::Aperture: ƒ/7.1|Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 2000|Shutter speed: 1/1000s|

Donate to the competition

Thank you to all who have generously donated money to be put towards prizes for the competitors. If you would like to support the goals of our competition, please go to Nature Calgary’s Competition page. There are instructions about how to make a contribution using their “Donate” page, and how to specify that your gift is for the competition. Nature Calgary is a registered charity. 100% of all gifts will be used to purchase prizes for participants.

 

Support the Birding Competition

The eBird Calgary 2015 Birding Competition is a year-long effort by local birders to see how many species they can find in the Calgary region. Over 100 birders registered to take part. The organizers have conducted many field trips and we have had some social get-togethers as well. You can read about the competition and the latest standings here.

It’s gratifying to see so many local birders explore our area and record their sightings in eBird. In doing so, they are contributing to the global database of knowledge about bird numbers and distribution, inspiring other local birders to get out in the field and involved in our local birding community, and raising awareness of the conservation issues that lie at the heart of why we do what we do.

We currently have prizes in place for the first-place finishers in the three experience categories, the Yard Challenge, the Latecomer Challenge, and the finder of the Bird of the Year. Thanks to all our sponsors: The Wild Bird Store, Nature Calgary, Burrcan Holdings, Phil Evans, the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society, and an anonymous donor.

We would like to be able to recognize more of our competitors, especially with some very close races and all the hard work these birders have done. It would be nice to be able to award prizes to our second-place and third-place finishers, and we would like to hold more small competitions over the last three months of the year. These would provide the incentives necessary to keep up interest through to the end of the year.

For this, we need your help. If you would like to support the goals of our competition, please go to Nature Calgary’s Competition page. There are instructions about how to make a contribution using their “Donate” page, and how to specify that your gift is for the competition. Nature Calgary is a registered charity. 100% of all gifts will be used to purchase prizes for participants.

 

Fall Birding Course Begins – Carburn Park

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

The Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society Fall birding course began again on August 31, 2015. Many of our readers look forward to Dan Arndt’s posts every Monday with a narrative of the previous week’s outing accompanied by his outstanding photos of some of the birds seen. As usual Dan is scheduled to lead the Sunday morning group, one of the fifteen weekly outings that are needed to accommodate the 196 registered participants. However, work commitments will keep Dan away for many of the fall outings. With the help of Rose Painter and George Best, I will fill in for him when he is away.

I don’t usually carry a camera when helping to lead a group, but George does, and he is an excellent photographer as many of you know. I will try to summarize our walks and illustrate them with George’s photos.

For the first week of the course we went to Carburn Park, which had been a great spot for fall warblers in the weeks leading up to the start of the course. Many of the earlier-migrating species had more or less finished passing through Calgary by the beginning of September, but we hoped to see quite a few Wilson’s, Yellow-rumped, and Orange-crowned Warblers on our outing on September 6.

Carburn September 6

Carburn Park walk, 6 September 2015.

We did see about 30 Yellow-rumped and possibly one Yellow Warbler, but none of the other warbler species. However, we did see huge numbers of birds of the river, including the largest concentrations of Common Mergansers and Double-crested Cormorants that many of had ever seen. (All photos by George Best.)

Mergansers

A few Common Mergansers (55 by my count) and two Canada Geese.

Cormorant in tree

A Treeful of Cormorants.

We counted about 100 mergansers and 150 cormorants on the day. Most of them were concentrated at the north end of the park, just south of the Glenmore Trail Bridge over the Bow. This is the area that used to be the northernmost pond in Carburn park, before the flood of 2013 turned it into a major river channel, gravel bars, and an island. It is usually a very birdy part of the river.

Cormorant on Branch

Double-crested Cormorants resting on a partially-submerged tree in what used to be the north pond at Carburn Park. The birds with light breasts are juveniles, hatched this year.

Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant in flight.

We also saw about 65 American White Pelicans in this area. They no longer go to the old weir in Pearce Estate to feed, and Carburn Park is about as far upriver as the big groups usually go. (The Sunday afternoon FFCPP group counted 106 pelicans that day, and an incredible 225 Common Mergansers!)

Pelican in flight

American White Pelican coming in for a landing.

Pelican

A Pelican on the Bow River at Carburn Park.

Other highlights in Carburn Park in September are the usually-reliable Wood Ducks, often seen in the quiet channel between the big island and the river shore in the central part of the park, and raptors like Bald Eagles, Osprey, and Swainson’s Hawks. We saw three of each that day, as well as this Merlin:

Merlin

A Merlin scanning for prey. Merlins and Bald Eagles can be seen in this area year-round; Swainson’s Hawks and Osprey have already departed.

We counted 38 species of birds for the day, and three mammal species: the usual White-tailed Deer and Eastern Gray Squirrels, and a less-commonly-seen American Mink.

Next post: In week two of the course we returned to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary for the first time in over two years.

Competition Update, October

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

As October begins we enter the final quarter of the eBird Calgary 2015 Competition. It will now be harder for the leaders to add new species to their lists, and for the other competitors to catch up.

Brian Elder continues to set a very impressive standard, with 270 species reported within the 80-km circle. I believe this is a record for the circle in a calendar year, and he still has three months to go. The highest previous total that I could find was 265. It will be very interesting to see how high he and the other top birders can go.

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Hooded Warbler – a rarity seen in Calgary on October 4, it would increase anyone’s species count by one! Photo by Dan Arndt

Blake Weis and Ray Woods are tied for second place behind Brian in the category of Experienced birders, at 249 species.

In the Beginner category we have a very close race, with Chris MacIntosh and Aphtin Perratt tied at 210 species, and Graeme Mudd right behind at 209.

In the Youth category Aidan Vidal leads with 216 species, and Ethan Denton (Birdboy Canada) at 212.

Latecomer Challenge: 

The winners of the next challenge will be the birders in each of the three experience categories who add the most new species to their lists from August 1 to the end of the year. This gives an incentive for those competitors who haven’t been out as much as they’d like, to go out more in that latter part of the year and see the species they missed earlier. It will be much easier to win this challenge if you haven’t birded much in the first half of the year and have a small list. The current leaders in each category will have a much harder time adding new species to their totals, since they have seen many of the species already.

Leaders:

Here are all the competitors listed with their species totals and categories (the “Not Eligible” competitors are on the organizing committee). Using the arrows you can sort the columns to see all the participants in one category listed together, or sort by number of species. You can also increase or decrease the number of lines shown.

80-km Circle Leaders, October 3, 2015

NameSpeciesCategory
Brian Elder270Experienced
Blake Weis249Experienced
Ray Woods249Experienced
Daniel Arndt243Not Eligible
Andrew Hart229Not Eligible
Dan Parliament228Experienced
John Thompson227Experienced
George Best225Experienced
Cindy Parliament131Experienced
Aidan Vidal216Youth
Andrew Slater213Not Eligible
Rose Painter212Not Eligible
Birdboy Canada212Youth
Neil Denton211Experienced
Chris Macintosh210Beginner
Aphtin Perratt210Beginner
Graeme Mudd209Beginner
John Anderson207Experienced
Lorrie Anderson207Experienced
Bob Lefebvre205Not Eligible
Nicole Pellerin205Beginner
Phillip Cram201Experienced
Christopher Naugler196Experienced
Linda Vaxvick195Experienced
Judy Swan193Experienced
Darlene Shymkiw186Beginner
John Bargman185Experienced
Trevor Churchill184Experienced
Simone Pellerin-Wood173Youth
Janet Gill171Experienced
Rob Worona169Experienced
Dave Russum164Experienced
Anne Belton163Experienced
Peter Hoyer158Experienced
Jan Roseneder147Experienced
Jeremy Quickfall139Beginner
Joan Walker131Not Eligible
Saravana Moorthy130Beginner
Sue Konopnicki124Experienced
Bernie Debolt89Experienced
Rachel Mackay86Beginner
Michael Rogers80Experienced
Tony LePrieur75Beginner
Byron Chu75Experienced
Bernard Tremblay72Experienced
Hannah Lilles61Youth
Robin Naugler48Youth
Brett Lybbert46Beginner
David Sim34Experienced
Lucianna Lybbert32Youth
Jarom Lybbert31Youth
Katrina Lybbert30Experienced
Gord Newel27Beginner
Angela Bell21Experienced
Lynn Wilsack20Beginner
Reginald Lybbert12Youth
David Archer11Beginner
Sylvia Checkley4Beginner
Jim Donohue1Experienced

 

We also have a Yard Challenge, in which participants report all the birds in their yards, or seen or heard from their yards, throughout the year. Of course the playing field here is not level as everyone’s yard is in a different location and habitat, and gets different birds. So it is more of a fun challenge, and a way for more people to get involved. Phil Ullman has a big lead in this category, and I don’t think anyone will catch him. It’s pretty impressive to see or hear 87 species of birds from your yard!

Yard Challenge Leaders, October 3, 2015

NameSpecies
Phil Ullman87
Bob Lefebvre (not eligible)53
John Bargman53
Judy Swan51
Lorrie Anderson51
John Anderson51
Dave Russum40
John Thompson37
Michael Rogers33
Brian Elder31
David Sim29
Rose Painter (not eligible)25
Nicole Pellerin23
Phillip Cram23
Linda Vaxvick22
Rachel Mackay21
Graeme Mudd20
Peter Hoyer18
Simone Pellerin-Wood18
Darlene Shymkiw18
Brett Lybbert11
Janet Gill11
Katrina Lybbert11
Lucianna Lybbert9
Saravana Moorthy9
Lynn Wilsack7
Andrew Hart7
George Best7
Zoe Keefe6
David Archer6
Anne Belton4
Jarom Lybbert3
Claude Benoit1
Hannah Lilles1

 

eBird Usage:

One of the main goals of the competition was to get more birders using eBird to record their sightings. We continue to have an impact in this. The Calgary county, which covers the bulk of the circle, has typically been in the top five counties in the country each month, in terms of number of eBird checklists submitted. In Alberta, Calgary’s 11,020 checklists submitted this year up to October 2 was 43% of the Alberta total of 25,569. We are really contributing to the knowledge of bird numbers and distribution in our area.

Patch Lists:

The 80-km circle is a Patch on eBird, and although it is very large for an eBird patch, it is nevertheless impressive that of all the patches listed for this year in Alberta, the top 41 all belong to birders in the competition (some of these are smaller patches like the Calgary city limits or the Weaselhead area). Half of the top 18 patches in Canada are also in our 80-km circle (including Brian Elder’s in top spot), and here we are competing against some other large areas and well-known birding hot-spots like Point Pelee.

Donate to the Competition:

It’s gratifying to see so many local birders explore our area and record their sightings in eBird. In doing so, they are contributing to the global database of knowledge about bird numbers and distribution, inspiring other local birders to get out in the field and involved in our local birding community, and raising awareness of the conservation issues that lie at the heart of why we do what do.

We currently have prizes in place for the first-place finishers in the three experience categories, the Yard Challenge, the Latecomer Challenge, and the finder of the Bird of the Year. Thanks to all our sponsors: The Wild Bird Store, Nature Calgary, Burrcan Holdings, Phil Evans, the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society, and an anonymous donor.

We would like to be able to recognize more of our competitors, especially with some very close races and all the hard work these birders have done. It would be nice to be able to award prizes to our second-place and third-place finishers, and we would like to hold more small competitions over the last three months of the year. These would provide the incentives necessary to keep up interest through to the end of the year.

For this, we need your help. If you would like to support the goals of our competition, please go to Nature Calgary’s Competition page. There are instructions about how to make a contribution using their “Donate” page, and how to specify that your gift is for the competition. Nature Calgary is a registered charity. 100% of all gifts will be used to purchase prizes for participants.

The Beautiful Birds of Bowmont

Posted by Dan Arndt

Two weeks ago our group visited Bowmont Park, one of the few parks we often visit in the northwest quadrant of Calgary with the Friends of Fish Creek birding courses. It’s a bit of a special park, as it borders on the Bow River, but also a gravel quarry which is home to a pair of Osprey in the summer, a few small ponds, and a south facing slope allowing for a wide variety of songbirds.

Bowmont Park - May 24, 2015

Bowmont Park – May 24, 2015

This was the first week of outings where Yellow Warblers were the most visible. All spring and summer long, these little yellow fireballs will be singing all over the place until they manage to find a mate and raise their young. They’re really quite fun little guys to watch, and it’s always nice when they’re so easy to photograph, like they were that morning!

Gray Catbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Yellow Warbler
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

I mentioned the Osprey nest earlier, and this is one area where Enmax has set up an Osprey platform to prevent the Osprey from nesting inside the gravel quarry on the power lines. When we rounded the corner to check out the nest, we were greeted to this sight:

Canada Goose Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 400

Canada Goose
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 400

The platform had been taken over by a family of Canada Geese, but thankfully the Osprey had found another location to nest nearby. We walked over to the river a little before coming out underneath the Osprey nest, and found this Tree Swallow picking up nesting material right off the pathway.

Gray Catbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1250

Tree Swallow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1250

On our way out to the main pathway, we spotted this Clay-colored Sparrow finishing up his shift at the gravel quarry and heading out for the day. They’re such industrious little workers! This was just after 8:00 in the morning and already he’d put in a full day of work.

Clay-colored Sparrow Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Clay-colored Sparrow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Speaking of hard workers, this Osprey was taking trips to and from the new nest all morning, each time taking more and more branches in to build up the nest to an appropriate size, wedging them into the nest each time.

Osprey Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Osprey
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

The pond at the back of the quarry which is usually unbelievably productive turned up next to nothing for us. It seemed rather unusual, so we headed further up the north slope, and found this perched Swainson’s Hawk waiting for us up there.

Swainson's Hawk Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/10.0, ISO 800

Swainson’s Hawk
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/10.0, ISO 800

While we had some good looks at a few birds on the northwest hill, we had much better looks at them a bit later on, but thankfully we did manage to get a nice close look at a Northern Rough-winged Swallow on the river near the pathway on our way back. These birds can be somewhat hard to find around the city, but often along the Bow River.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/10.0, ISO 1600

Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/10.0, ISO 1600

We gave the pond a second chance to redeem itself, but sadly it was just as empty as it had been on our first visit, so we walked along the back end of the quarry and were treated to another great view of a male Yellow Warbler singing his heart out.

Yellow Warbler Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Yellow Warbler
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Our last good bird of the day was a lone Gray Catbird, of which we had seen a few earlier in the day but at a bit further distance. This beautifully drab bird was singing his heart out over and over again from the aspens and willows nearby. The cinnamon undertail and jet black cap are the only real splashes of color on these birds, but their song is unmistakable.

Gray Catbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Gray Catbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

And that was another great week of birding. Have yourself a wonderful week, and good birding!

Birding Competition Update – March

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

The first of the mini-competitions within the eBird Calgary 2015 Competition was to find the most species within the circle in the first three months of the year. With just a few days to go there are some close races. As more spring migrants arrive every day, there is still time to find more species.

Here are the leaders in the three categories as of March 28. In the Experienced category, note that Daniel Arndt and Andrew Hart are not eligible for prizes – Daniel is a member of the organizing committee, and Andrew is President of Nature Calgary.

Youth

Aidan Vidal                       60 species
Simone Pellerin-Wood        57
Birdboy Canada                 48

Beginner Adult

Aphtin Perratt                   65
Nicole Pellerin                   63
Darlene Shymkiw              62

Experienced Adult

John Thompson                 90
Andrew Hart                      85 (not eligible for prizes)
Daniel Arndt                      84 (not eligible)
Blake Weis                        82
Brian Elder                        77
George Best                      74

Ebird Usage

One of our goals for the competition was to greatly increase the use of eBird by local birders. The number of checklist submissions for the first three months of the year is way up over last year, and we hope to see an even bigger increase in the coming months. Note that the competition area includes all of Calgary county, plus parts of three other counties, so I have compared numbers for Calgary and for all of Alberta to get an idea of the increased usage of eBird.

Number of eBird checklists submitted, January to March:

2014 Alberta – 4,996

2015 Alberta – 6,498

2014 Calgary county – 1,919

2015 Calgary county – 3,484

To a close approximation, the entire increase in eBird usage in Alberta (up 30%) comes from the increase in Calgary county reports.

The number of bird species reported is also way up. This probably is mostly due to the milder conditions and an increase in overwintering birds this year, and perhaps some earlier spring arrivals than last year. Nevertheless, as more birders get out and use eBird, we do get a more complete picture of all the species in our province and local area.

Number of species reported by month:

2014 – Alberta

January    101

February   103

March       128

2015 – Alberta

January    111

February   105

March       140

2014 – Calgary county

January     78

February    78

March       103

2015 – Calgary county

January     91

February   87

March       122

There have been a total of 1,216,532 individual birds reported in Alberta so far in 2015 (752,772 in Calgary county). That’s a lot of data in the eBird database!

As of today we have an even 100 participants in the competition, with a few days still to go until the March 31 deadline (13 Youth, 23 Beginner Adult, 64 Experienced Adult). If you or anyone you know wants to join, email us at ebirdyyc@gmail.com. We’d really like to increase the number of youths and beginners involved. There is no set time commitment, and even if you only get out a few times in the year, it helps to contribute to our knowledge of local birds, and of course it is good for you too! Don’t worry too much if you’ve missed out on the first part of the competition; you can still get all the winter species next November and December.

In the next few days we will announce the April Birds & Beers event, at which we will award the prizes for the first mini-competition. We are planning some regular field trips to target some of the difficult-to-find birds in the circle, and later in the spring, a Big Day field trip to see how many species we can find in the circle in one day. In the meantime there is a full slate of Nature Calgary field trips that you can participate in, and the Friends of Fish Creek are taking registrations for the 12-week Spring Birding Course, which starts on March 30.

Join Us For the Birding Competition!

The deadline to enter the Calgary birding competition is March 31. Join over 100 other birders who are trying to see as many species as they can in the Calgary area in 2015.

IMG_4944Baltimore Oriole. Photo by Bob Lefebvre

Read about the competition here, and go to the Nature Calgary page to register. If you have any questions, email us at ebirdyyc@gmail.com.

Note: If you are registered in the competition, you should have been receiving occasional emails from ebirdyyc@gmail.com – let us know if you haven’t been getting them.

The Bird Boy Blog

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Many of you may already be readers of the blog Bird Boy (we have a link to it on our sidebar). It is written by Ethan Denton, an enthusiastic young birder and photographer from Canmore. I recommend that all birders in Southern Alberta subscribe to it.

For participants in the eBird Calgary 2015 birding competition, there is a special reason to check it out: Ethan and his father Neil have entered the competition, and they have put together a page on which they will highlight which birds you should be looking for. They will update the page each month with new information from the eBird database. Check out the January page here.

Hawk Owl Dan Arndt

Northern Hawk-Owl. January is usually the month with the best chance to find one.

Photo by Dan Arndt

Thanks again to Ethan and Neil for all your hard work on this, and good luck in the competition!

Join Us For 2015 Competition!

eBird Calgary 2015 Birding Competition

We are now taking registrations for the eBird Calgary 2015 birding competition. Registration is free for Nature Calgary members until the end of December.

Harlequin Ducks

Harlequin Ducks at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary . Photo by Bob Lefebvre

This is a year-long effort in which participants try to see or hear as many species as possible within 80 km of Calgary. The competition is sponsored by Nature Calgary, and you can register now at this page.

All the details about the competition can be found at the 2015 Competition page on this blog (click the link or see the tab at the top of the page). There is also information on this Nature Calgary page.

Join us to meet new people, find new places to go birding, and see new birds!

Sunday Showcase – Rusty Blackbird Blitz!

Posted by Dan Arndt

The Rusty Blackbird used to be a common sight in Alberta, ranging from the prairies to the boreal forest, and often a nice splash of color in a mixed flock of migrating blackbirds both in spring and fall. Over the past 50 years, their population has declined between 85 and as much as 99% by some estimates, and is a particularly vulnerable species at risk, not only in Alberta, but all over North America. It is with great pleasure that I note that eBird.org has organized yet another citizen science project in order to better understand the ecology, migration hotspots, and to develop some strategies to better accommodate this highly vulnerable species.

The Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz opened March 1, 2014 all over North America, and the usual target dates for spotting them in our area are between April 1 and mid-May. The goal is to get as many birders to go out, as they usually would anyway, and report the observations to eBird under the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz survey type.

Read more about this project here: International Rusty Blackbird Working Group, and enjoy the one and only photo of this species that I have to date, taken at Eagle Lake in the fall of 2012.

female Rusty Blackbird Eagle Lake October 12, 2012

female Rusty Blackbird
Eagle Lake
October 12, 2012