Calgary Christmas Bird Count Results

By Phil Cram

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 61st Calgary Christmas Bird Count on December 16, 2012. A record number of 249 birders took part in this year’s count, with 113 feeder-watchers and 136 observers in the field. Birders in the field put in a total of 239 party-hours, 77 percent on foot, covering 239 km on foot and 1156 km by car.

Some count highlights:

65 species were recorded, equalling our average for the past 20 years.

57,149 individual birds were counted, our fifth-highest. Bohemian Waxwings were the most numerous, with almost 17,000 counted, and over 1000 individuals were counted for another nine species.

We had a new species for the count, but unfortunately just for count-week. A Clark’s Nutcracker was seen in Hawkwood on Saturday, perhaps a first-ever sighting in the city. One other rarity was a Yellow-rumped Warbler in Wentworth, first seen and photographed earlier in December and which has survived at least until count-day.

Other unusual species (recorded in two or less years in the prior ten): Trumpeter Swan, 2; Gadwall, 1; and Common Grackle, 1.

Record numbers for: Trumpeter Swan, 2; Redhead, 23; Northern Goshawk, 8; Mourning Dove, 4; American Crow, 152; Common Raven, 537; and Brown Creeper, 31.

High Counts (more than three-times the prior ten-year average) for: Lesser Scaup, 9; Red Crossbill, 237; White-winged Crossbill, 1101; Common Redpoll, 1940 (second-highest count ever); and Hoary Redpoll, 9.

Low counts (less than one-third the prior ten-year average) for: Common Goldeneye, 332 (compared with 3062 last year, the highest in Canada); European Starling, 109; Cedar Waxwing, 2; and Snow Bunting, 1.

Missing species (seen on count-day in seven or more years in the prior ten, but missed this year) were: American Wigeon, Harlequin Duck, Hooded Merganser and Mountain Chickadee.

Species seen by only one route (All feeder-watchers counted as one route):  Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Redhead, Greater Scaup, Ruffed Grouse, Red-tailed Hawk, Killdeer, Belted Kingfisher, American Dipper, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Tree Sparrow, Snow Bunting, Rusty Blackbird and Common Grackle.

Species seen by only two routes (All feeder-watchers counted as one route):  Trumpeter Swan, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Cooper’s Hawk, Mourning Dove, Pileated Woodpecker, Townsend’s Solitaire, White-throated Sparrow and Purple Finch.

Unverified Species, not included in species list (Awaiting further details and/or documentation): Double-crested Cormorant, Chestnut-backed Chickadee and Song Sparrow.

I will be presenting the results at the Bird Study Group meeting on Wednesday January 9, 2013 at 7:30 PM in Room 211 of the Biosciences Building, University of Calgary, as part of the traditional Calgary region CBC review evening. Please let me know if you notice any omissions or errors in this provisional compilation. Final results will be posted on the Audubon database within two weeks. I will be putting together a route-by-route compilation and will be pleased to email you a copy on request.

List of species recorded on count-day:

Canada Goose, 8399; Trumpeter Swan, 2; Wood Duck, 10; Gadwall, 1; Mallard, 9465; Northern Pintail, 2; Redhead, 23; Greater Scaup, 2; Lesser Scaup, 9; Bufflehead, 148; Common Goldeneye, 332; Barrow’s Goldeneye, 8; Common Merganser, 101; Gray Partridge, 115; Ring-necked Pheasant, 7; Ruffed Grouse, 3; Bald Eagle, 25; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 8; Cooper’s Hawk, 2; Northern Goshawk, 8; Red-tailed Hawk, 1; Rough-legged Hawk, 6; Merlin, 24; Killdeer, 2; Rock Pigeon, 2518; Mourning Dove, 4; Great Horned Owl, 7; Belted Kingfisher, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 139; Hairy Woodpecker, 26; Northern Flicker, 135; Pileated Woodpecker, 2; Northern Shrike, 6; Blue Jay, 97; Black-billed Magpie, 2295; American Crow, 152; Common Raven, 537; Black-capped Chickadee, 1570; Boreal Chickadee, 27; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 632; White-breasted Nuthatch, 59; Brown Creeper, 31; American Dipper, 3; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 54; Townsend’s Solitaire, 2; American Robin, 86; European Starling, 109; Bohemian Waxwing, 16889; Cedar Waxwing, 2; Yellow-rumped Warbler, 1; American Tree Sparrow, 4; White-throated Sparrow, 2; Dark-eyed Junco, 99; Snow Bunting, 1; Rusty Blackbird, 1; Common Grackle, 1; Pine Grosbeak, 152; Purple Finch, 2; House Finch, 1350; Red Crossbill, 237; White-winged Crossbill, 1101; Common Redpoll, 1940; Hoary Redpoll, 9; Pine Siskin, 65; and House Sparrow, 7898.

Christmas Bird Count – Canmore, AB

Posted by Dan Arndt

Canmore’s Christmas Bird Count is was held this year on December 15th, the day before Calgary’s. While I’ve lived in and around Calgary for almost my entire life, I’ve never really spent much time birding around Canmore. Hiking, mountain biking, and road-tripping, sure, but just looking for birds? Never before. Quarry Lake is also an area that I hadn’t ever set foot in, so it was an adventure to explore and learn more about the native birds to the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains.

My Canmore Christmas Bird Count area

My Canmore Christmas Bird Count area

The added bonus about birding in Canmore is the amazing scenery.


EEOR, or East End of Rundle peak, just west of Canmore

Rocky Sunrise 2

Left to right: Princess Margaret Mountain, Mount Charles Stewart, Mount Lady Macdonald


My total area was about 1.5 square kilometers, and within that area I tallied up nearly 8km of traverses back and forth in the park, and up and down the streets of the adjoining neighborhood. I was fairly impressed too, with 14 species, including a couple that I would be very lucky to have on any Calgary list.

I did manage to get a few decent shots of some absolutely gorgeous birds in my morning out, and I hope you had as much fun on your Christmas Bird Count adventures as I have this year!


Boreal Chickadee

Boreal Chickadee

female White-winged Crossbill

female White-winged Crossbill

male White-winged Crossbill

male White-winged Crossbill

male Pine Grosbeak

male Pine Grosbeak

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker

Townsend's Solitaire

Townsend’s Solitaire








Christmas Bird Count – Count Week Birds

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

The Calgary Christmas Bird Count is coming up this Sunday, December 16, and that means that we are now in the Count Week period.  Any species which are seen from December 13 to 19, but missed on the count day itself, are included in the database as Count Week birds.  Sometimes there are very good birds which are known to be around but can’t be found on count day, and sometimes it’s an unexpected bird showing up before or after the count. 

If you see an unusual or out-of-season bird during count week, and it is inside the Count Circle, make a note of the sighting.  If the bird is not reported on count day, pass the information about your sighting to Phil Cram, the count coordinator, at crampj(at)

Christmas Bird Count Circle

The Count Circle for the Calgary CBC. Note that the circle does not include all of the city.


This Song Sparrow has been hanging out at Votier’s Flats in Fish Creek Park for a few weeks – outside the count circle.  Can we find one inside the circle? (Photo by Daniel Arndt)

There have been several sightings of Snowy Owls inside the city recently.  This would be a great bird to add either on Count Day or as a Count Week bird.

Calgary Region Christmas Bird Counts

As always there are many Christmas Bird Counts coming up in the Calgary Region (and throughout North America).  There are lots of dates and locations to choose from, so get out and participate in as many as you can.  This citizen science project is in its 113th year!

Sat Dec 15: Banff/Canmore.  Contact Mike McIvor, mdmcivor(at)  403-762-4160.

Sun Dec 16: City of Calgary. Contact Phil Cram, crampj(at)  403-228-4142.  To count birds at your feeders in your yard, contact Jean Moore, jmmoore(at)  403-282-4162.

Tue Dec 18: High River. Contact Greg Wagner, greg.wagner(at)  403-601-3893.

Sat Dec 22: Horseshoe Canyon. Contact Mike Harrison, tringa(at)  403-236-4700.

Sat Dec 22: Pincher Creek. Contact Sam Miller, sammiller(at)  403-627-3275.  Offering free overnight accommodation if needed.

Thu Dec 27: Town of Cochrane. Contact Frank Hennessey, frankhennessey(at)  403-932-4986.

Fri Dec 28: Cochrane Wildlife Res. Contact Jamey Podlubny, svisser(at)  403-288-0658.

Sat Dec. 29: Sheep River/Turner Valley. Contact Doug Collister, collistr(at) 403-540-4573.

Sun Dec 30: Nanton. Contact Mike Truch, mike_truch(at)  403-829-6986.

Mon Dec 31: Snake’s Head, Sundre. Contact Doug Collister,  collistr(at) 403-540-4573.

Fri Jan 04: Dinosaur Prov. Park. Contact Yousif Attia, ysattia(at)  403-585-1125.

Sat Jan 05: BowKan (Exshaw). Contact Cliff Hansen, cehansen(at)  403-673-2422.

Counts are all day but you may quit early. Everyone, regardless of skill level is invited to participate. Compilers ask that you register your intention to participate as soon as possible to facilitate planning, and to avoid going out when count is postponed due to weather, etc.

In addition, there is the half-day Fish Creek Park count, which is not an official Christmas Count but is in its 20th year:

2013. Tue Jan 1, 9am; 20th Fish Creek Prov. Park Bird Count (morning only). Contact Jim Washbrook, jwashbrook(at)  403-613-9216.

Calgary Christmas Bird Count 2012

The 61st Calgary Christmas Bird Count will be held on Sunday December 16, 2012.  Phil Cram is organizing it, and as usual he’d like to get as many birders involved as possible.  The goal is to have over 100 people in the field that day, and over 100 watching their feeders.  If you want to participate in the field, contact Phil by email at crampj(at)  If you’d like to take part in the Feederwatch program, email Jean Moore at jmmoore(at) or phone (403) 282-4162.

Note that Bird Studies Canada is no longer charging a $5 fee to participate in the field, as they did in the past.

Wood Duck.  Photo by Daniel Arndt, December 11, 2011.

It would great to see new records for participation!  It’s a lot of fun, so sign up now, and pass this message on to anyone you know who might be interested.

Attn Backyard Birdwatchers!

If you feed birds in your yard each winter, why not turn your hobby into research that supports bird conservation? By joining Project FeederWatch and sharing information about which birds visit your feeders between November and April, you can help scientists at Bird Studies Canada and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology track changes in bird numbers and movements.

Project FeederWatch begins on November 10 and runs until early April. Taking part is easy! Just count the numbers and kinds of birds at your feeders, and enter the information on the FeederWatch website (or on printed forms). Last season, 2565 Canadians participated, and another 13,000 people in the United States.

Results from ‘citizen science’ programs like Project FeederWatch help research and conservation organizations monitor long-term population trends and changes. FeederWatch has shown a northward expansion in the ranges of some species like Northern Cardinals and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, probably the result of changing climate and habitats. FeederWatchers have also documented a range-wide decline in Evening Grosbeaks. This species was a common bird at feeders just 25 years ago.

FeederWatch has also tracked the seasonal movements of irruptive species, and recorded the spread of avian illnesses. In 2011-12, Canada experienced a mild winter, with very little snow cover in much of the country. As a result, birds had access to lots of natural foods, which was a factor in fewer birds being seen at feeders.

After 25 years of Project FeederWatch as a North America-wide program, we know the patterns of fluctuations. Many ‘irruptive’ birds such as winter finches (e.g., Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins, and Pine Grosbeaks) tend to move out of their normal ranges at regular intervals. They feed largely on tree seeds. When their food in northern and mountainous areas is in short supply, they move into southern and lowland areas, and descend on feeders.

Join Project FeederWatch

The $35 Project FeederWatch enrollment fee includes a Bird Studies Canada membership and four issues of BirdWatch Canada magazine. You will also receive educational materials, including: a large full-colour poster of common feeder birds; a bird calendar; a comprehensive instruction and data booklet; a useful bird-feeding handbook; the latest FeederWatch results; articles on bird behaviour; answers to your bird questions, and more!

Bird Studies Canada ( is dedicated to advancing the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats. BSC is Canada’s national body for bird research and conservation, and is a non-governmental charitable organization.

There are four ways to register for Project FeederWatch in Canada:

Visit the “Explore Data” section of the FeederWatch website at to find the top 25 birds reported in your region and bird summaries by state or province.

For further information contact Kerrie Wilcox, Bird Studies Canada, (519) 586-3531 ext.

Posted by Pat Bumstead