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Sunday Showcase: Residents, Winter Visitors, and Overwintering Birds

Tony LePrieur photographed these birds on January 30 and 31, 2016.

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Pileated Woodpecker (female), a year-round resident of Fish Creek Park.

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Downy Woodpecker (male), a resident of Carburn Park.

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White-winged Crossbill (female or immature), an annual winter visitor to Queen’s Park Cemetery.

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White-winged Crossbill (male), Queen’s Park Cemetery.

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White-winged Crossbill (female or immature), Queen’s Park Cemetery.

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Varied Thrush (male), an occasionally overwintering bird, Fish Creek Park.

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Varied Thrush (male), Fish Creek Park.

Sunday Showcase: Birds of Sundre

Do have photographs of birds from the Calgary area that you’d like to share? Just email them to us at birdscalgary@gmail.com.

These pictures show some of the birds coming to feeders at a cabin near Sundre, northwest of Calgary. They were taken on January 2 and 3, 2016 by Tanya Gaydos. These are some of the typical species you might get at feeders in the foothills.

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Boreal Chickadee.

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Pine Siskins.

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Mountain Chickadee.

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Blue Jay.

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Pine Siskin.

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Red-breasted Nuthatch.

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Downy Woodpecker.

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Hairy Woodpecker.

 

Sunday Showcase: Winter Birds of the Weaselhead

Photos from the Weaselhead area of SW Calgary, taken November 28 to December 23.

All photos by Tony LePrieur.

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White-throated Sparrow

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Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon subspecies)

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Bohemian Waxwing

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Pine Grosbeak (female or immature)

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Pine Grosbeak (male)

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Blue Jay

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Common Redpoll

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American Goldfinch (male in winter plumage)

Sunday Showcase – September Birds of Calgary

Tony LePrieur photographed these birds on September 27, 2015. The robins and the White-throated Sparrow were seen in Queen’s Park Cemetery in NW Calgary, and the rest in the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.

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American Robin

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II|Focal length: 483mm|ISO: 500|Shutter speed: 1/640s|

 

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American Robin

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II|Focal length: 428mm|ISO: 1250|Shutter speed: 1/800s|

 

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American Robin

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 1000|Shutter speed: 1/1000s|

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White-throated Sparrow

::Aperture: ƒ/7.1|Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 100|Shutter speed: 1/800s|

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Great Blue Heron

::Aperture: ƒ/7.1|Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II|Focal length: 552mm|ISO: 400|Shutter speed: 1/800s|

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Male Wood Duck

::Aperture: ƒ/7.1|Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 1000|Shutter speed: 1/1000s|

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Great Horned owl

::Aperture: ƒ/7.1|Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 500|Shutter speed: 1/800s|

Sunday Showcase: Hawk versus Kingfisher

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

On one of our Friends of Fish Creek birding course field trips last fall, we were treated to an amazing chase in the Weaselhead Nature Area. We were in the woods just past the bridge over the Elbow River when I heard the distinctive rattle of a Belted Kingfisher. We hurried back to the river to try to see this bird, which, given the late date (November 8) was likely attempting to overwinter in Calgary, as they sometimes do.

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Belted Kingfisher (male) perched bedside the Elbow River, Weaselhead, November 8, 2014. Photo by Trevor Churchill

Suddenly the Kingfisher took flight, and a small hawk appeared and gave chase. We later identified it as a Sharp-shinned Hawk. In all, it tried five times to catch the Kingfisher out of the air, with a short break between attempts three and four, during which both birds rested on nearby perches. The Kingfisher actually moved to a perch closer to the Hawk, apparently to keep a better eye on its movements.

The amazing part of this chase was the the Kingfisher escaped each time the Hawk got really close by splashing down in the river! Then the Hawk would pass by, and the Kingfisher would emerge form the water, calling loudly. Of course, Kingfishers hunt in this way, diving into the water after small fish, but Sharpies are used to catching their prey in the air. The Hawk didn’t want to get its feet wet, and never managed to get its meal.

A couple of the people on our walk got a few photos of this encounter.

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Sharp-shinned Hawk (above) and Belted Kingfisher (below). Weaselhead, November 8, 2014. Photo by Trevor Churchill

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Kingfisher splashdown! Photo by Trevor Churchill

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Photo by Trevor Churchill

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Photo by Trevor Churchill

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Resting for the next attack. Photo by Tamas Szabo

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Another try. Photo by Tamas Szabo

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Photo by Tamas Szabo

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Photo by Tamas Szabo

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Photo by Tamas Szabo

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Photo by Tamas Szabo

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A hungry and frustrated Sharp-shinned Hawk. Photo by Trevor Churchill

The 12-week Spring session of the Friends of Fish Creek birding course begins on March 30, 2015. See this post for more information.

Sunday Showcase: Eagles of Beaverdam Flats

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

The lower Bow River in Calgary, downstream of the weir, is a great spot for winter eagle-watching. There is a plentiful food source, consisting of dead or dying Canada Geese, Mallards, and other waterfowl. Among the tens of thousands of birds on the open parts of the river, there are always some that are sick or injured (some of them wounded by hunters). Bald Eagles will readily scavenge the dead birds.

11281326655_fd22bd9a73_kNear-adult Bald Eagle eating a Mallard, Beaverdam Flats, December 8, 2013. Photo by Dan Arndt.

The Bow River is warmed by runoff from the waste-water treatment plants and other city runoff. Because of this, the Bow below downtown Calgary is often the only large body of open water in the area during cold winters. (This has only been the case since about 1975. Before that, there were no waterfowl here in the winter since there was no open water. There were very few eagles seen here until about 2000, as they recovered from critically low numbers caused mostly by DDT poisoning.) These days, good numbers of eagles, mostly juveniles, are seen on the river in winter at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Inglewood Golf course, Carburn Park, Beaverdam Flats, and all the way down through Fish Creek Park. The largest concentrations seem to be at Carburn and Beaverdam.

When the wind is blowing from the west, as it often is, you can watch the eagles soaring right over your head. Here are some photos taken by John Stegeman on a Friends of Fish Creek outing in January.

Bald Eagle adult 2Adult Bald Eagle in flight, Beaverdam Flats, January 24, 2015. Photo by John Stegeman.

Bald Eagle adult 1Adult Bald Eagle, Beaverdam Flats, January 24, 2015. Photo by John Stegeman.

Bald Eagle juvenileJuvenile Bald Eagle in flight, Beaverdam Flats, January 24, 2015. Photo by John Stegeman.

Occasionally the eagles will gather in a small area and you see quite a number of them together. Here is a photo taken in January by Ron Friend.

Eagles- Beaver Dam Flats-Jan 21,2015 029Five Bald Eagles and four Common Ravens in one tree, Beaverdam Flats, January 21, 2015. Photo by Ron Friend.

A few years ago I saw fourteen juvenile Bald Eagles in one tree at Carburn Park. I mentioned this to Gus Yaki, and he said he had seen seventeen at once at Beaverdam Flats, and he once met a person from the adjacent Lynnwood neighbourhood who claimed he had a photo of an incredible thirty-one!! (He agreed to send Gus the photo but either couldn’t find it or lost the email address – if you’re out there, please send it to us!)

Thirty-one might be the unofficial Calgary record, but here we have an amazing photo of twenty-six Bald Eagles (and two Common Ravens) taken at Beaverdam in January 2009 by Ron Kube. (Click the photo to enlarge it. It can be hard to spot every last one, but there are indeed 26 eagles. The one that’s really hard to see is just above and to the right of the adult that is at 9 o’clock, a little in from the left edge. The ravens are together at the lower centre of the photo.)

Ron Kube 26 eaglesAdult and juvenile Bald Eagles (26) and Common Ravens (2). Beaverdam Flats, January 3, 2009. Photo by Ron Kube.

Tomorrow, Family Day, will present a good opportunity to look for eagles in Calgary. Dan Arndt and Rose Painter are leading a Nature Calgary field trip to Carburn Park. See the Nature Calgary field trip page here.

Sunday Showcase: More from Carburn Park

It’s been a really good fall for warblers in Calgary. Here are some warblers and other birds that Tony LePrieur captured in Carburn Park on the weekend of August 29-30.

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Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female)

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Least Flycatcher

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Tennessee Warbler

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Warbling Vireo

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Townsend’s Warbler

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Gray Catbird

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American Redstart

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Wilson’s Warbler

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Solitary Sandpiper

Do you have some bird photographs from the Calgary area that you’d like to share here? Send them to us at birdscalgary@gmail.com and we may post them on our Sunday Showcase.

Sunday Showcase: Birds of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Yesterday I posted Tony LePrieur’s photos of the damage at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, and some of the birds he saw there. Here are more of his shots of birds at the sanctuary, all taken in early June 2014.

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Baltimore Oriole.

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Common Goldeneye with chicks.

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Red-tailed Hawk.

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Red-tailed Hawk.

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Western Wood-Pewee.

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House Finch.

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Northern Flicker.

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Spotted Sandpiper.

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Warbling Vireo.

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Tree Swallow.

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Downy Woodpecker.

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Double-crested Cormorants.

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Blue-winged Teal.

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American Robin, possibly banded at the sanctuary.

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Wood Ducks.

Sunday Showcase: Snowstorm Fallout 2

There was also lots of action this weekend at South Glenmore Park.

Tamas Szabo took these photos while out with a Friends of Fish Creek birding course group on Saturday morning, May 3, 2014.

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Tree Swallows.

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Tree Swallow.

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Violet-green Swallow, showing white over the eye.

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Cliff Swallow.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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Say’s Phoebe. Several were seen around the reservoir this weekend.

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American Pipit.

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Savannah Sparrow. There were hundreds at the water’s edge.

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Bonaparte’s Gull.

Sunday Showcase: Snowstorm Fallout 1

With the spring snowstorm we received in Calgary this weekend we were expecting to see some good birds here as migrants were forced down, and we weren’t disappointed.

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 Western Tanager, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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Western Tanager, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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Carburn Park in the snow, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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Western Wood-Pewee, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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White-crowned Sparrows, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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Savannah Sparrow, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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Chipping Sparrow, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur