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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.

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.

South Glenmore Park

Here are some photos of birds taken in South Glenmore Park on a Friends of Fish Creek birding course walk on April 29, 2017. All Photos by Max Ortiz Aguilar.

Red-necked Grebe.

Red-breasted Merganser (male).

Red-breasted Merganser (female).

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle subspecies).

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Intergrade of Audubon’s and Myrtle subspecies).

Cooper’s Hawk.

Downy Woodpecker (male).

Bufflehead (male).

Horned Grebe.

Osprey.

Song Sparrow.

Red-tailed Hawk.

Sandhill Crane.

Swainson’s Hawk.

Boreal Chorus Frog singing.

To see more of Max’s photos, see his website, Photos by MOA.

Birds of Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Some birds photographed at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary in Calgary by Navroz Sunderji. Navroz used a Canon SX50HS camera.

Common Merganser (male), Inglewood Birds Sanctuary, May 20, 2017. Photo by Navroz Sunderji.

Tree Swallow, Inglewood Birds Sanctuary, May 20, 2017. Photo by Navroz Sunderji.

Tree Swallow, Inglewood Birds Sanctuary, May 20, 2017. Photo by Navroz Sunderji.

European Starling, Inglewood Birds Sanctuary, May 20, 2017. Photo by Navroz Sunderji.

 

Migrant Sparrows: White-throated and Chipping

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

More birds from my backyard. The White-throated Sparrows were around for just a couple of days in the first week of May (although I heard one singing in the neighbourhood this morning, possibly a late migrant grounded by the strong winds and rain we had yesterday). Chipping Sparrows passed through last week, and I counted up to thirty in my yard one day, along with a few of the closely-related Clay-colored Sparrows.

White-throated Sparrow, Calgary, May 7, 2017. Photo by Bob Lefebvre.

White-throated Sparrow, Calgary, May 7, 2017. Photo by Bob Lefebvre.

The above photo shows the sharply contrasting white throat patch and the yellow lores that are keys to identifying this species. Some White-throated Sparrows have tan and black rather than white and black head stripes, but they should always show the white throat and a least a little yellow on the lores.

The tan and black variation is a colour morph which some White-throated Sparrows have throughout their lives. It is not a juvenile characteristic, like the tan and gray head stripes of the White-crowned Sparrow. All White-crowns have tan stripes as juveniles, and white stripes as adults. Here is an old photo of an adult White-crowned Sparrow. Besides the lack of a white throat and yellow lores, note the clean gray breast and spotted back feathers which are quite different from the White-throated Sparrow. The pale bill (pink or yellow) also stands out.

White-crowned Sparrow, Calgary, May 10, 2010. Photo by Bob Lefebvre.

Below are a few of the Chipping Sparrows that were in my yard. There were thousands in yards all over the city that week.

Chipping Sparrow, Calgary, May 18, 2017. Photo by Bob Lefebvre.

Chipping Sparrow, Calgary, May 18, 2017. Photo by Bob Lefebvre.

Chipping Sparrow, Calgary, May 18, 2017. Photo by Bob Lefebvre.

Both of these species breed in the city. White-throated Sparrows are common in the Weaselhead, the west end of Fish Creek Park, and other parts of the city where the boreal forest intrudes. You can hear their beautiful song there right now. Chipping Sparrows breed throughout the city, even in suburbs in low numbers. Their song is a long, dry, steady trill, which is sometimes mistaken for an insect sound.

Other birds I’ve had pass through my yard recently on migration include White-crowned Sparrows (in pretty low numbers this year) around the end of April and first week of May, Ruby-crowned Kinglet at about the same time, and a Baltimore Oriole briefly on May 21.

Birds of Bowmont Park

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Lorraine Glass photographed these birds in Bowmont Park in Calgary on May 18.

Killdeer, Bowmont Park, May 18, 2017. Photo by Lorraine Glass.

The Killdeer may have been nesting right by a busy pathway. They lay their eggs right on the gravel, but the eggs are very hard to see, and the parents are really good at not giving away the nest location, and at distracting predators.

Osprey,  Bowmont Park, May 18, 2017. Photo by Lorraine Glass.

The Osprey is carrying material to line the nest, even though they probably have already laid their eggs. Ospreys will often add to the nest throughout the summer.

Black-capped Chickadee, Bowmont Park, May 18, 2017. Photo by Lorraine Glass.

This appears to be a recently fledged chickadee, begging for food.

House Wren, Bowmont Park, May 18, 2017. Photo by Lorraine Glass.

House Wrens are back in the city in their usual huge numbers. You can hear them singing all along the river valleys and in many residential neighbourhoods too. They have a big voice for such a tiny bird.

Birds of Burnsmead, Fish Creek Park

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

For the week of April 10-16, the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park birding course groups explored the Burnsmead area of Fish Creek Park, along the river just east of the park headquarters, near the wastewater treatment plant. There are some ponds in this area, as well as a wooded area and the river itself.

Max Ortiz Aguilar went with the group on April 16 and got these photos of some of the birds there.

Ring-necked Pheasant (male), Burnsmead, April 16, 2017. Photo by Max Ortiz Aguilar.

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: Canon EOS 6D|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 500|Shutter speed: 1/1000s|

 Canada Goose, possibly guarding a nest site, April 16, 2017. Photo by Max Ortiz Aguilar.

::Aperture: ƒ/7.1|Camera: Canon EOS 6D|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 320|Shutter speed: 1/1000s|

Common Mergansers (female in front, male behind), April 16, 2017. Photo by Max Ortiz Aguilar.

::Aperture: ƒ/7.1|Camera: Canon EOS 6D|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 200|Shutter speed: 1/1000s|

Franklin’s Gull, April 16, 2017. Photo by Max Ortiz Aguilar.

::Aperture: ƒ/7.1|Camera: Canon EOS 6D|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 100|Shutter speed: 1/1000s|

This photo and the next shows the pinkish hue these birds have when they arrive here from their wintering grounds off the coast of Venezuela, where they feed on shrimp that contain red pigments. The colour often fades by fall.

Franklin’s Gulls, April 16, 2017. Photo by Max Ortiz Aguilar.

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: Canon EOS 6D|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 250|Shutter speed: 1/1000s|

House Finch (male), April 16, 2017. Photo by Max Ortiz Aguilar.

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: Canon EOS 6D|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 6400|Shutter speed: 1/1000s|

Red-winged Blackbird (male), April 16, 2017. Photo by Max Ortiz Aguilar.

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: Canon EOS 6D|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 100|Shutter speed: 1/500s|

To see more of Max’s photos, visit his website here.

Goldfinch and Other Backyard Birds

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

The first American Goldfinch of the year arrived in our yard on Mother’s Day.

American Goldfinch (male), Calgary, May 14, 2017. Photo by Bob Lefebvre.

American Goldfinch (male), Calgary, May 14, 2017. Photo by Bob Lefebvre.

Although I occasionally hear goldfinches flying over in the summer, they don’t stay to breed in my neighbourhood and I usually don’t see them in my yard except on spring and fall migration.

There are Northern Flickers here year-round, and there are at least a couple that are still courting, so maybe this is the year that my Flicker nest box finally get used (by Flickers, rather than House Sparrow, Starlings, or squirrels).

Northern Flicker (intergrade male), Calgary, May 16, 2017. Photo by Bob Lefebvre.

Northern Flicker (intergrade male), Calgary, May 16, 2017. Photo by Bob Lefebvre.

This year our local pair of Swainson’s Hawks is building a nest just down the block, so I’m seeing and hearing a lot of them. I will post more about these birds as the season goes along.

Swainson’s Hawk, Calgary, April 30, 2017. Photo by Bob Lefebvre.