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!

The Birds & the Bees – Seminar This Weekend

Spring migration is bringing new birds to our yards every day now, so you may want to learn more about backyard bird feeding. Golden Acre Home & Garden in Calgary is hosting a seminar this weekend on backyard birding and on beekeeping.

A Northern Flicker feeding on nuts in a Calgary yard.

Alex Taylor of Sun Country Farms will do a presentation on feeding birds, including what types of feed to use at different times of year. This will be followed by another talk on beekeeping. There is also a sale on bird seed this weekend.

To sign up to attend this free seminar on either Saturday or Sunday, and for more information, see this page.

Golden Acres Home & Garden is located just off McKnight Blvd. and Edmonton Trail, at 620 Goddard Avenue NE. It is well-known as a garden centre, but they have just revamped their birding supplies department and will be offering waste-free seeds and nuts from a Canadian supplier that uses sustainable practices. They even have some seeds that are processed in a allergy-aware facility, so that any child can safely begin to feed birds. Proper bird-feeding is important, so this is a welcome addition for local backyard birders.

eBird Counties of Southern Alberta

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

If you are a birder in the Calgary area who uses eBird, you may be confused about where the boundaries for the eBird Counties are. As you enter sightings from various locations in the region, you will see that some are assigned to Calgary County, and some to Drumheller, Banff, Lethbridge, or others. It is not clear at first what these counties represent. Even when we were doing the 2015 eBird Competition we were not sure what to make of the eBird Counties.

It turns out that the boundaries for eBird Counties in Canada follow the federal government’s Census Geographic Units. This is not a well-known political or geographic entity, and the boundaries are not marked anywhere as you travel around. (In the United States, where eBird started, the eBird Counties are the same as the political Counties, which are well-known and have well-marked boundaries.)

However, it is possible to see a map of our County boundaries by going on Google Earth. If you don’t have Google Earth you should download it. It is free, and very useful for birders. You can see satellite maps of the entire world down to a very fine level.

When you are on Google Earth, zoom into the region you want to see, and turn off all the layers except “Borders.” The fine green lines on the map are the county boundaries. (Thanks to Dan Arndt for finding out what the counties are, and how to see the boundaries.)

Southern Alberta, showing eBird County boundaries in green.

Southern Alberta, with eBird County names in yellow and boundaries in green.

Feel free to copy this map as a reference, but I do recommend downloading Google Earth, so you can zoom in to see the boundaries at a finer scale. You can also turn on other layers such as “Places ” and “Roads” so you can see where the towns and highways are.

Below are four detail maps of the north, east, south, and west edges of Calgary county.

The north end of Calgary County.

The east side of Calgary County, along the Trans-Canada Highway. Drumheller County begins immediately east of Weed Lake, and actually includes part of Dalemead Reservoir.

The south end of Calgary County.

The west side of Calgary county.

The eBird Counties do not correspond well to any particular geographic birding region. Many of you may keep track of sightings within the 80-km circle centered on the Centre Street Bridge in Calgary, which is used for the annual May Species Count (and for both the 2005 and 2015 birding competitions). Here is the relevant map for that:

The 80-km circle of the Calgary birding region (red), with eBird Counties in green.

If anyone would like to be able to draw the 80-km circle on Google Earth on their own computer, just email me at and I will give you instructions.

Tonight, Wednesday February 8, 2017, Mike Harrison will speak at the Bird Study Group of Nature Calgary on The Ins and Outs of eBird. If you are an eBird user or want to learn about it, please come out. See this page for details.

Event – Nature Calgary Speaker Series

Nature Calgary Speaker Series, Tuesday November 15, 7:30 pm.

Cardel Theatre, 180 Quarry Park Blvd. SE

Chris Fisher will speak on “The Wildlife of Great Explorers.” Learn about the travels of the great explorers of Alberta and some of the birds, plants, and mammals named for them.

Franklin's Gull Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1600sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 400

Franklin’s Gull, named for Sir John Franklin. Photo by Dan Arndt, Carburn Park, April 2015.

See the complete description of the talk, and directions to the location, on the Nature Calgary website.

Free parking. Please bring a donation for the Food Bank.


Cruise the World For Birds

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Tomorrow evening, Tuesday September 15, marks the beginning of another season of nature talks in the Nature Calgary Speaker’s Series. The topic is “Cruise the World For Birds” and will be given by renowned local author and speaker Chris Fisher. Here is the talk description from the Nature Calgary site:

“For more than five years, Chris served as lecturer and naturalist for a major cruise line.  This experience took him to every continent and to more than 160 ports around the world. From Alaska to the Antarctic and Stockholm to Samoa, birds (and other wildlife) were a constant, yet ever changing companion to his voyages.  This presentation will not only be a natural history showcase, but it will also strive to demonstrate how our wildlife encounters enrich our lives and create our life’s most cherished moments.”

The location is the Cardel Theatre in Quarry Park, just south of Carburn Park. For a map, driving directions, and more information, see the Nature Calgary event page here. There is free parking, but please bring a food bank donation. The doors open at 7 pm and the talk begins at 7:30. Everyone is welcome.

The Nature Calgary Lecture Series is held on the third Tuesday of each month in this location, from September through April. In addition, the Nature Calgary Bird Studies Group holds talks on the first Wednesday of each month at the University of Calgary. Watch the Nature Calgary site for upcoming lectures and events.

Chris Fisher’s web page.

Follow Chris Fisher on Twitter @FisherSpeaks