Archives

Prize Presentation – eBird Calgary 2015

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

The highlight of the January Birds & Beers meeting was the presentation of the prizes for the eBird Calgary 2015 Birding Competition. Almost all of the winners were able to make it, and it was a lot of fun to reward the winners for their accomplishments. (All photos by Wayne Walker except where indicated.)

DSC_1470 (2)

Some of the birders at the January Birds & Beers. Fifty-three people attended.

DSC_1477

Dan Arndt and I presented the prizes. Preliminary remarks.

DSC_1482 (2)

 Ruth and Phil Ullman – 1st place, Yard Challenge, with 88 species.

DSC_1485 (2)

Lorrie and John Anderson – 2nd place, Yard Challenge, 61 species.

DSC_1487 (2)

Aidan Vidal – 1st place, Youth category, with 241 species, and 3rd place in Latecomer Challenge, with 46 species after August 1st, 2015.

DSC_1489 (2)

Ethan Denton, 2nd place, Youth category, 235 species, and 2nd place in the Latecomer Challenge, 49 species.

DSC_1491 (2)

Simone Pellerin-Wood, 3rd place, Youth Category, 175 species.

DSC_1493 (2)

Graeme Mudd, tied 1st place, Beginner category, 225 species.

DSC_1496 (2)

Brian Elder, 1st place, Experienced category, 275 species.

DSC_1501 (2)

Blake Weis (left) and Ray Woods (right), tied 2nd place, Experienced category, 257 species.

DSC_1503 (2)

Brian Elder also won the Big Day Challenge, with 153 species recorded on May 27, 2015.

DSC_1507 (2)

We also recognized Blake Weis’s incredible achievement of 638 complete eBird checklists submitted in 2015.

DSC_1515 (2)

George Best won for Bird of the Year. He found the Golden-winged Warbler in Griffith Woods Park.

DSC_1524 (2)

Bob, Dan, and the prize winners. Missing were Aphtin Perratt and Chris MacIntosh, who tied with Graeme Mudd for 1st in the Beginner category with 225 species, and Bernard Tremblay, who won the Latecomer Challenge with 52 species added after August 1st.

It was a lot of fun to get together and reward the winners, and to hear them talk about their birding year. Many of the competitors have told us that they really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot, whether discovering new birding locations, where to find particular species, patterns of bird movements, or using eBird as a tool and a resource. I hope we have helped some of the competitors to become better birders and to get involved in the local birding community. The use of eBird increased greatly in our region in 2015 and we hope to see this continue.

Many thanks to our sponsors who donated prizes or money for prizes: Nature Calgary, The Wild Bird Store, Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park, Burrcan Holdings, Phil Evans, Lynne Colborne, Richard Schulze, Lynn Wilsack, Susan Thierman, Phil Cram, and an anonymous donor.

Each winner received a framed photo certificate listing their accomplishment (each with a different photo). Here is a sample (photo by Bob Lefebvre):

certificate 1 (2)

Each 1st-place winner in the Year List categories received a 24″ by 36″ canvas print of a bird photograph of their choice. The winner’s selections were not yet ready for the prize presentation. Four will be awarded: Youth winner Aidan Vidal, Experienced winner Brian Elder, and two for the three people tied as winners of the Beginner category – a shared one for Aphtin Perratt and Chris MacIntosh (a birding couple) and one for Graeme Mudd.

Other prizes awarded included 2016 Bird Photo calendars by Dan Arndt, copies of the book Looking For the Wild by Lyn Hancock (personally signed by Gus Yaki), vouchers good for one season of the Friends of Fish Creek birding course, and gift certificates of various amounts to be used at the Wild Bird Store or Robinson’s Camera.

Here is a list of the winners and their prizes:

CategoryWinnerSpeciesPrize 1Prize 2Prize 3
Latecomer -1Bernard Tremblay52$50 Robinson'sCalendar
Latecomer -2Ethan Denton49$25 Wild Bird Store
Latecomer -3Aidan Vidal46$25 Wild Bird Store
Yard -1Ruth & Phil Ullmann88Bird Feeder$75 Wild Bird StoreCalendar
Yard -2Lorrie & John Anderson61$75 Wild Bird StoreCalendar
Youth -1Aidan Vidal241Canvas PrintBook
Youth -2Ethan Denton235$75 Wild Bird StoreBook
Youth -3Simone Pellerin-Wood175$75 Wild Bird StoreBook
Beginner -1Aphtin Perratt & Chris MacIntosh225Canvas PrintBookFFCPP Course (X2)
Beginner -1Graeme Mudd225Canvas PrintBookFFCPP Course
Experienced -1Brian Elder275Canvas Print$50 Robinson's
Experienced -2Blake Weis257$75 Wild Bird Store
Experienced -2Ray Woods257$75 Wild Bird Store
Big DayBrian Elder153$50 Robinson's
Most ListsBlake Weis638 lists$50 Wild Bird Store
Bird of the YearGeorge BestGolden-winged Warbler$100 Robinson'sBook

At the end of the prize presentation, we all shared a cake supplied by Joan and Wayne Walker!

DSC_1473

Many thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make the competition a success: Committee members Dan Arndt, Joan Walker, Wayne Walker, Rose Painter, Andrew Slater, Rob Worona, Kris Fernet, David Pugh; plus Andrew Hart, Linda Vaxvick and Sue Konopnicki at Nature Calgary. We also received a lot of feedback on our initial ideas from Yousif Attia, Marcel Gahbauer, and Ilya Povalyaev. Special thanks to Wayne Walker for booking the Horton Road Legion for the prize presentation and for taking the photographs. Joan, Wayne, Rose and Dan made sure we had everything ready for the presentation and arrived early to set it all up.

Thanks again to everyone who participated, who went out on field trips, and who attended Birds & Beers and Nature Calgary events. It made for a memorable birding year!

A final presentation about the competition will be given at the April meeting of Nature Calgary’s Bird Studies Group on Wednesday April 6th, at the U of C.

The next Birds & Beers event is next Friday, February 26, at the Horton Road Legion, 9202 Horton Road SW, starting at 6 pm. Come and join your fellow birders for food, drinks, and conversation!

Birds & Beers, January 2016

The Calgary chapter of Birds & Beers will hold their next event at the usual location, the Horton Road Legion, on Friday January 29 from 6 to 9 pm.

Birds & Beers is an informal social gathering in which you can meet other birders and talk about birding. If you wish, you can have a drink or a meal as well. Prices at the Legion are very reasonable and the food is excellent. Everyone is welcome, including children if accompanied by an adult.

This month, instead of a speaker, the 2015 Calgary Birding Competition will be awarding the prizes to the winners. Come out and show your appreciation for all the competitors.

20150726-_1526958

Golden-crowned Warbler, found and photographed by George Best during the competition.

Royal Canadian Legion, Centennial Calgary Branch #285

9202 Horton Road SW

Friday January 29, 6:00-9:00 pm

This is one block west of Macleod Trail, between Heritage Drive and Southland Drive. See you there!

 

Birding Competition: Down to the Wire!

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

We are down to the last week of the 2015 Calgary Birding Competition, so this will be the final update before we begin to collect the results. We still have some pretty close races, and there are some good birds around that competitors may still be able to add to their year lists. Gyrfalcons, Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers, and Short-eared Owls have been seen in the rural areas, and Northern Cardinal, Harris’s Sparrow, Purple Finch, and Brown Thrasher (which is easy to miss in the summer) were recorded (so far) during the Christmas Bird Count week in Calgary.

Trevor Churchill Harris's Sparrow, IGC

Harris’s Sparrow, photographed at the Inglewood Golf Course, Dec. 13, 2015, by Trevor Churchill.

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 Leaders, December 23, 2015

Overall RankNameSpeciesChecklistsCategory
1Brian Elder275128Experienced
2Ray Woods25779Experienced
3Blake Weis256628Experienced
4Dan Arndt254264Not Eligible
5Aidan Vidal24081Youth
6 tieGeorge Best235223Experienced
6 tDan Parliament235187Experienced
6 tBirdboy Canada235180Youth
9Andrew Hart234249Not Eligible
10 tJohn Thompson232282Experienced
10 tN Denton232176Experienced
12Cindy Parliament230141Experienced
13Trevor Churchill225108Experienced
14Graeme Mudd224202Beginner
15 tAphtin Perratt222101Beginner
15 tChris Macintosh222101Beginner
17Andrew Slater219156Not Eligible
18R Painter219309Not Eligible
19 tJohn Anderson217466Experienced
19 tLorrie Anderson217463Experienced
21Bob Lefebvre214503Not Eligible
22Nicole Pellerin205164Beginner
23 tLinda Vaxvick203259Experienced
23 tJudy Swan203222Experienced
25 tPhil Cram20165Experienced
25 tChristopher Naugler20174Experienced
27Darlene Shimkiw195137Beginner
28John Bargman187130Experienced
29Janet Gill181104Experienced
30Peter Hoyer17573Experienced
31Simone Pellerin-Wood17393Youth
32 tDave Russum170317Experienced
32 tRob Worona17033Experienced
34Anne Belton16999Experienced
35Jan Roseneder153315Experienced
36Jeremy Quickfall15151Beginner
37Saravana Moorthy13375Beginner
38Joan Walker13114Not Eligible
39Sue Konopnicki12757Experienced
40Bernard Tremblay9526Experienced
41Bernie Diebolt9424Experienced
42Rachel Mackay9228Beginner
43Michael Rogers7841Experienced
44 tTony LePrieur7523Beginner
44 tByron Chu7513Experienced
46Hannah Lilles615Youth
47Robin Naugler484Youth
48Brett Lybbert4612Beginner
49David Sim3422Experienced
50Lucianna Lybbert328Youth
51Jarom Lybbert3111Youth
52Katrina Lybbert309Experienced
53Gord Newel278Beginner
54Angela Bell2111Experienced
55Lynn Wilsack2011Beginner
56Reginald Lybbert121Youth
57David Archer112Beginner
58Sylvia Checkley40Beginner
59Jim Donohue10Experienced

 

So far this year, 290 species have been reported on eBird in the Calgary county alone.

Yard Challenge Update

Here are the leaders, showing the number of species identified in or from the competitor’s yards.

Yard Challenge Leaders, December 23

RankNameSpecies
1Phil Ullman88
2 tieJohn Anderson59
2tLorrie Anderson59
4 - Not EligibleBob Lefebvre59
5 tJudy Swan55
5 tJohn Bargman55
7Dave Russum42
8Michael Rogers33
9Brian Elder31
10David Sim29
11Linda Vaxvick27
12 - Not EligibleR Painter25
13Rachel Mackay24
14 tNicole Pellerin23
14 tPhil Cram23
16Graeme Mudd20
17Peter Hoyer19
18 tSimone Pellerin-Wood18
18 tDarlene Shymkiw18
20Jan Roseneder15
21Lynn Wilsack13
22 - Not EligibleAndrew Hart12
23 tBrett Lybbert11
23 tJanet Gill11
23 tKatrina Lybbert11
26 tLucianna Lybbert9
26 tSaravana Moorthy9
28George Best7
29 tZoe Keefe6
29 tDavid Archer6
31Anne Belton4
32Jarome Lybbert3
33 tHannah Lilles1
33 tClaude Benoit1

 

We will have the preliminary final results of the competition early in the new year, and will give an update at the Nature Calgary Bird Studies Group meeting on Wednesday, January 6. The prizes will be awarded at the January Birds & Beers get-together on Friday, January 29, 2016.

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.

 

Competition Update, October 31

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

21859356683_a0dc936cdc_o

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.

0S4A6463 -1

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.

 

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.

21937927842_55ffd6ab06_z

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.

July Birds & Beers

The next Calgary Birds & Beers social get-together will be held from 6 to 9 pm on Friday July 24, at the Royal Canadian Legion, 9202 Horton Road SW Calgary. Everyone is welcome to join us to have a friendly chat with their fellow birders.

We have scheduled a few more of these events for the fall. Mark your calendars! Same time and location.

Friday, September 11, 2015
Friday, October 30, 2015
Friday, November 13, 2015

Competition Update, June 30

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

We have reached the halfway point in the eBird Calgary 2015 competition. May and June is the busiest time of the year for birding, and offers the best chance to add new species to your list. Some of the species totals that competition participants have recorded are very impressive. The Calgary area also continues to stand out for the number of eBird checklists submitted and the the number of different species reported.

The overall leader of the competition is Brian Elder, with 252 species within the competition circle so far in 2015. This is a really good total for July 1, and I think Brian has a good chance to beat the 2005 winning total of 265. Here is a link to Brian’s complete list as of June 24. He has since added Brewer’s Sparrow and Sedge Wren.

Here are the current standings (as of July 1) in the competition categories (top five shown).

Experienced:

Brian Elder 252

Ray Woods 230

Blake Weis 223

John Thompson 213

George Best 205

(Daniel Arndt-236 and Andrew Hart-211 are not eligible for prizes.)

Beginner:

Nicole Pellerin 206

Graeme Mudd 187

Aphtin Perratt 185

Christopher Naugler 183

Darlene Shymkiw 181

Youth:

Birdboy Canada (Ethan Denton) 174

Simone Pellerin-Wood 172

Aidan Vidal 148

Robin Naugler 48

Lucianna Lybbert 30

Yard List:

Phil Ulmann 68

John Anderson 43

Laurie Anderson 43

John Bargman 39

Judy Swan 34

(Bob Lefebvre-41 not eligible for prizes.)

The increase in eBird usage in the Calgary area is very impressive. So far in 2015, 18,984 checklists have been submitted to eBird in Alberta. Calgary county, which makes up the bulk of our competition circle (but is a very small part of the entire province) accounts for 8,372 of those, or 44%. A total of 314 species have been reported in Alberta on eBird this year, and the total for Calgary county is 281.

You’ll notice that even Brian’s impressive total of 252 is well short of the total number of species reported here so far, so there are always new birds to be found!

If you are not among the competition leaders, remember that there is plenty of time to catch up. It will be more difficult for the top birders to add new species as the year goes on, but if you missed a lot of species on spring migration, you can get them on the fall migration. If you haven’t been out birding much in the first half of the year, you can start start now to get out and build your list. The fall shorebird migration is already under way, and the warblers will start moving south through the area on about August 10th.

Dan Arndt, Rose Painter and I have led quite a few field trips for Nature Calgary in the last couple of months and found lots of great birds. We will continue to lead trips so please join us, or go on any of the other Nature Calgary birding outings. You can also join the Friends of Fish Creek Fall birding course, which begins August 31.

Even if you don’t have designs on finishing in the prizes, you can still set some personal goals for birding in 2015. At the start of the year I had two goals. From the time I started using eBird on January 1, 2012 until the end of 2014, I had recorded 230 species in the Calgary count circle, and my first goal was to reach that total just for 2015. (I’m at 202 so I have a chance!)

Secondly, I decided to submit at least one eBird checklist each day, as long as I was here in the count circle. So far so good on that one, as I have only missed three days in April when I was in Montana (I did several lists from there though!), and I have submitted a total of 363 eBird checklists in 2015. Does anyone else want to take up the challenge of submitting a checklist every day for the rest of the year?

I also hoped to add several life birds to my list and I have six so far.

So set some birding goals for the second half of the year and get out and see some birds!

IMG_0917Mountain Bluebird, Glenbow Ranch, May 17, 2015

May Birds & Beers Event

Birds and Beers, Saturday May 23, 6:00 – 9:00 pm.

Royal Canadian Legion, 9202 Horton Road SW Calgary.

The next Birds & Beers social get-together for Calgary birders will be held on May 23. Drop in to the Horton Road Legion anytime after 6 pm and have an informal chat about birds. Everyone of all ages is welcome. Food and drinks are available.

See the Facebook Event Page here.

IMG_0946 (2) Mountain Bluebird, male. Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, April 21, 2015. Photo by Bob Lefebvre

Passing the Torch

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

I think that most birders would love to live in a world with stable and prospering bird populations so that we could study and enjoy birds merely as a pleasurable hobby. Unfortunately that is not the case, as birds and other animals face serious threats almost everywhere on the planet. Many birders now spend much of their time and energy trying to combat habitat loss and other threats to the birds.

Traditionally, a typical birder is middle-aged or older. It is often a hobby taken up seriously by adults after their children have left home. When we get together for meetings and field trips, the majority of us are over 50 years old.

The percentage of the population that is interested in birds and birding is quite large – birding is second only to gardening as a hobby in North America. But only a small percentage of those backyard birders do it seriously. Consequently, our political voice is not as strong as it could be, or as it needs to be to effect positive changes for our natural world.

Most children have an innate fascination with nature and truly enjoy seeing birds and animals, and learning about the natural history of the earth. Unfortunately this eagerness to appreciate nature is often not fostered, resulting in a waning interest in nature and a lack of awareness of environmental issues. We need to raise a new generation that can be a strong voice for conservation.

Paul PGPhoto by Paul Gee. Many of us have seen a look of  delight like this when sharing our birding experiences with children, or with adults who are new to birding.

One of the most important things we can do as birders, as parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, is to teach the children in our lives to respect and understand nature, and to be a force for conserving and restoring our natural heritage. This is one of the main motivations for many of us who do things like writing for bird blogs, leading field trips, running bird counts, and organizing birding competitions.

There are many opportunities to get and keep kids interested and involved. Nature Calgary offers many field trips of all kinds, which are free and open to everyone. Children can attend as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. Similarly, the Friends of Fish Creek birding course welcomes any paid adult participant to bring children along, for which they are charged only a nominal $5 fee per child for the entire course.

One of our goals in organizing the eBird Calgary 2015 Big Year birding competition was to try to encourage more children (and adults who are novice birders) to get involved in the local birding community. As of today we have 23 beginners, and 13 youths under 17 registered. We would love to have more, and the deadline to enter is Tuesday, March 31.

If you can’t get out with your kids, there is still a lot you can do. I know of one parent in Calgary who takes his three kids on a nature walk to a new location every Saturday – just to get out and enjoy the birds, mammals, flowers, and trees. You could do this in your own yard or local park. You can also make a point of regularly watching nature shows on TV with them, and encouraging them to read about nature.

I ran into one of the youths in the competition early this year, and talked to his mother about his interest in birds. She regularly drives him to various parks and other locations to look for birds, and told me that birding has changed their lives. The following is an excerpt from an email she sent me:

In an age where kids are connecting more with social media and video games, I am very grateful that my son is growing up connecting to the natural world by his own choice. I have not yet bought him a cell phone because I want him to be in his world first, thinking and aware, without electronic distraction. Birding really requires that one is fully present…and it is clear he is learning to use his senses to hear and see birds. Through birding, he is excited to sleuth out (this is a phrase he has used with me) new species; happy to spot birds that he’s only seen in his books or posted by others.

I really should write the producers and actors of the movie “The Big Year” to thank them….that movie lit the fire for my son’s interest in birding. His next steps were birding sites like Nature Calgary and then eBird. Although he still likes a few video games, a good deal of the time he is on eBird, reading his new Sibley’s, looking at his photos…or now setting up his Flickr account.

Birding HAS changed our lives. We were pretty stuck inside, lots of screen time (computer and TV) and it seemed like I was always instructing him on something or asking him to stop the video games on the computer. Ours days were often not as positive as I would have liked. It is delightful to have birding where he is on point rather than me – both for technical content and motivation. I view this as a natural progression of independence for him and it’s wonderful for me to relax and just be with him. When he found the Northern Saw-whet Owl the other day we were both jumping up and down and high-fiving it in the frigid weather 🙂 He was thrilled to find it (our second trip looking) and it’s great to see him so happy. Those are golden moments for me…both to be included in the find and to celebrate with him. Our birding trips are some of our happiest times together. He researches and plans, I drive, the world slows, we look and listen…and companionably walk together. Wow, that’s really what I want in life right now….for both of us!

I am acutely aware that my time with my son is limited; soon (4-1/2 years) he will be off to University. Birding has refocused our priorities and energy towards something rewarding and enjoyable and it’s getting us out and moving. I really believe that birding is drawing us closer while providing him with a pursuit he can call his own his whole life. It’s the best of what we like – books, travel, a worthwhile quest… and beautiful birds. My son said it himself the other day: “Birding really helps you appreciate things.”

What a gift it is, for both the child and our world, to be able to instill that sense of wonder and belonging. I welcome you to share this post, and to please share with us your stories of how connecting with nature has affected your lives.

birdscalgary@gmail.com