Tag Archive | birds calgary blog

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.

Waxwings, From Egg to Fledgling

This summer Tony LePrieur found a Cedar Waxwing nest in Fish Creek Park, and he managed to capture this amazing sequence of photos showing the young birds from hatching to fledging, over a period of sixteen days.

The nest was about three feet off the ground, in the Votier’s Flats area of Fish Creek Provincial Park. Tony was careful not to be intrusive, making four very short visits over a period of just over three weeks. Initially there were four eggs in the nest. Photos were taken with a Canon 60d and a 18-135 mm lens.

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As a bonus, I will post a photo of a slightly older juvenile Cedar Waxwing. It was spotted by Cicely Schoen hunkering down under a lawn chair in the Woodlands neighbourhood in SW Calgary during last week’s snowstorm. She calls it “The Original Angry Bird”.

The Original Angry Bird

“The Original Angry Bird” – Juvenile Cedar Waxwing.   Photo by  Cicely Schoen

Nikon 5100 with Nikkor lens 55-200mm.

Hummingbird in Snowstorm

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Last week’s late summer snowstorm in southern Alberta flattened crops and gardens, caused power outages, and damaged or destroyed trees numbering in the hundreds of thousands. It must also have been devastating for many migrating birds. A storm like this, lasting for several days, blanketing the ground with snow throughout the southern half of the province, and accompanied by temperatures as low as -7 degrees Celsius, must surely have caused high mortality among warblers and other neotropical migrants.

Here are some photos taken on September 10 of a hummingbird caught in the snow. I believe this is a Rufous Hummingbird, the last of which usually move through Calgary in early September. Fortunately there are still plenty of flowers around so perhaps it was able to find enough food to continue on its southern migration.

All photos by Debbie Reynolds.

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August in Carburn Park

The last few weeks, Tony LePrieur has been sending us some outstanding photos of birds at Carburn Park. We had some technical difficulties with the blog and have been unable to post, but we’re back to full speed now. Here is Tony’s great collection of photos from the last three weekends in Carburn.

This is a good year for wood warblers, and there should be several species around until Sept 20 or so. Carburn Park has been a great place to see them, or anywhere along the river. Confederation Park is another warbler hot spot in the city.

Some of these fall birds can be tricky to ID, so please comment if you think we’ve got any wrong. There are two we weren’t at all sure about, the recently fledged one and the orange one, both captioned “???” – give us your thoughts on those!

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

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Canada Warbler

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

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Red-eyed Vireo

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female Tennessee Warbler

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Wilson’s Warbler

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Warbling Vireo

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Nashville Warbler

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American Redstart

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Townsend’s Warbler

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Warbling Vireo

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Red-eyed Vireo

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Northern Waterthrush

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Canada Warbler

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female/immature Tennessee Warbler

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Orange-crowned Warbler

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???

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immature Baltimore Oriole

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House Wren

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Sora

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???

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Solitary Sandpiper

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Eastern Kingbird

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American Goldfinch

 

Last of the Spring Birds

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

We’re back! After a busy July away from from blogging, we had technical issues in August which prevented us from posting photos. We could have posted text, but as you know, a birding blog without photos is like a bowling ball without a liquid centre.

Despite the snow on the ground right now, I am going to catch up on some things from late spring. Those of you who follow Dan Arndt’s weekly posts about his Friends of Fish Creek outings will have wondered where the group went birding in June. Dan’s job took him out of town for the entire month, so he was unable to post. I was away for some of June as well, but I arranged for one of my group’s members, George Best, to send some photos from our outings.

Dan’s posts will resume this week and will found here most Mondays.

If you are interested in signing up for the course this fall, there are still a few spots available at the following times: Mondays at 8:30 am, Tuesdays at 8:30 and 9 am, Wednesdays at 9 am, Thursdays at 8:30 am, Saturdays at 8:30 am, and Sundays at 8:30 am, 9 am, 9:30 am and 1:15 pm. We have completed two weeks of the 14-week course so there are still 12 weeks of great birding to go. Go to the Friends of Fish Creek site to sign up.

On June 1 our excursion was to the Pine Creek Water Treatment Plant area, along the river south of 194 Avenue. For one of Dan’s previous posts from this area, complete with maps of the walk, see this post from April 2014.

Our June 1 walk featured some late-arriving spring migrants. One of the first birds we saw, as we car-pooled from the parking lot at 194 Avenue to the treatment plant, was this Western Kingbird hawking insects from a fence. All photos by George Best.

Western Kingbird

These birds are not common in Calgary, even on migration. I believe the only place within the city limits that they have been known to nest is in the Lafarge Meadows area of Fish Creek Park, about 1.5 km north of our sighting. But no nesting Western Kingbirds were reported there in the last three years, so I was hopeful that this bird might be heading there to nest. I didn’t hear any more reports of this species in that area over the summer, so this was probably just a passing migrant.

We got really good looks at some Song Sparrows and recorded a dozen on the day, several of them singing.

Song Sparrow

We saw at least nine Swainson’s Hawks, but the closest views were of Red-tails.

Red Tailed Hawk

A Gray Catbird which emerged from the brush on the river bank:

Gray Catbird

An Eastern Kingbird, one of nine sighted on the day.

Eastern Kingbird

Another just-arrived migrant, and our first of the year – Baltimore Oriole.

Baltimore Oriole

Finally, we had a close fly-over by a group of five American White Pelicans.

American White Pelican

We have only been taking groups to this area for a year or so, and it is a great addition to our repertoire of birding walks.

On June 8 we headed to Griffith Woods Park on the west edge of the city, along the Elbow River. (See this post for a map – one of Dan’s many posts about this park.) We spent a lot of time in the east end of the park, in the mixed woods along the river, before heading to the spruce forest farther west. Here are a few of the 37 species we saw that day.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay.

Female Cowbird

Female Brown-headed Cowbird.

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird.

House Wren

House Wren.

Least Flycatcher

Least Flycatcher.

Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup.

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

White Throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow.

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Yellow Warbler.

On June 15 we went to the Weaselhead Natural Area. Our goal was to find two species of hummingbird. We were successful, and had 39 species for the day.

Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird.

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Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe.

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Eastern Phoebe.

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Rufous Hummingbird.

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White Throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow.

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee.

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.

A Visit to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

A lot of Calgary birders have been wondering when the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary will re-open. It was badly damaged in last June’s flood, and work to repair the damage is set to begin this summer. Unfortunately the sanctuary won’t be re-opening until the summer of 2015. But the Nature Centre is still open, including for school groups, and people are able to book free guided walks through parts of the site to see how it looks, and see that the wildlife is indeed still there. The one-hour tours are being offered until September 14.

You can book tours online through the City of Calgary Parks website or by calling 311 for information.

Recently Tony LePrieur went through the sanctuary on a couple of days and got many photos of the damage and the birds. First, the damage:

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IBS (3)

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So there is a lot still to be cleaned up, almost a full year after the flood.

Here are a few of the birds (and a mammal) that Tony saw. I will post more of his photos tomorrow.

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole.

Canada Goose (3)

Canada Geese with goslings.

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Red-tailed Hawk.

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer.

Wood Duck

Wood Ducks. Still there, and hard to find elsewhere in the city.

Least Flycatcher

Warbling Vireo.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl and Black-billed Magpie.

Weaselhead Hummingbirds

The most reliable place to find hummingbirds in the city is the Weaselhead Nature Area in the SW. Tony LePrieur photographed both Rufous and Calliope Hummingbirds there, as well as other birds, on May 31, 2014.

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Calliope Hummingbird – our smallest bird species.

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Rufous Hummingbird.

Here’s a link to a previous post that shows where these birds nest.

Other birds of the Weaselhead:

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American Goldfinch.

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Swainson’s Hawk.

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Yellow Warbler.

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Cliff Swallow at nest.

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Cliff Swallows. They collect mud for their nests.

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American Wigeon.

What’s Being Seen in Calgary?

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

How do you find out about bird sightings in Calgary? Many trip reports and most rarities and  unusual sightings are posted on the Albertabird Discussion Group. You can subscribe to get emails of the posts, or check it online regularly to see what is being reported. The Alberta Birds Facebook group is another great resource where you can see which species are being photographed in Alberta.

eBird has several search tools which allow you to search for specific birds, or Explore Hotspots or Locations to see what’s been reported there.

But there is also a great tool called BirdTrax that lets you see all checklists and all species for a particular location. I have set up a BirdTrax page for the Calgary region. It will be useful next year for the 2015 Calgary Birding Competition, but anyone can use it now to see what is being reported on eBird in the Calgary area (you don’t have to be an eBird user yourself to access these tools or their database, but I encourage all birders to sign up and submit sightings to eBird.)

Here is a link to the Calgary BirdTrax page. There will be a permanent link on the right-hand sidebar of the blog as well. Try it out!

Here is a screenshot of the page:

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Here is what the gadget itself looks like (a screenshot from May 7, 2014, with the rarities column shown):

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Currently the settings show all eBird reports for the last two weeks, in a 50-kilometre radius from the Centre Street bridge in Calgary. The default setting shows the “Checklists” column so you can see every individual checklist as it comes in. Then you can click on the checklist icon to see the actual trip list, and from there, see the map location. I go on here every morning to see what was reported the previous day.

You can also click on the other column headings to see either a list of rarities reported, or a list of all species reported. In each case you can go to the individual checklists to see who reported the birds and where.

We may add more BirdTrax gadgets to this page later, for other locations. The birding competition will cover an 80-km radius circle, and BirdTrax has a 50-km maximum, so we may need more to better cover the Calgary birding area.

BirdTrax is a free gadget and anyone can set up their own web page with whatever settings they want. So if you live or bird outside Calgary you might want to set one up for another area. Go to the BirdTrax page and learn how. 

Boreal Birds Need Half

By Dr. Jeff Wells, Boreal Songbird Initiative

One of the world’s greatest migrations is happening now.  Billions of migratory birds are heading from the U.S., Central and South America to what’s been dubbed “North America’s bird nursery” —the sprawling billion-plus-acre boreal forest that spans the continent from Alaska across Canada to Newfoundland and Labrador—to nest and produce next year’s generation of birds.

However, as abundant as they are, boreal birds face myriad challenges and threats to their habitat. Some of the most iconic species have suffered dramatic declines in recent decades.

Boreal C Dan Arndt

Boreal Chickadee. Photo by Dan Arndt

A new science report – Boreal Birds Need Half: Maintaining North America’s Bird Nursery and Why it Matters – released May 5 , recommends protecting at least 50 percent of the boreal forest from industrial development. That level of conservation is vital to provide birds the best chance of maintaining healthy populations for hundreds of species of birds that rely on the boreal forest for nesting and migratory stopover..

The report, produced by Ducks Unlimited and the Boreal Songbird Initiative, offers scientific support for expansive, landscape-scale habitat conservation in large, interconnected protected areas that are necessary to help ensure the diversity of species . It also showcases significant areas across Canada where birds, landscapes and biodiversity are extraordinarily special.

The report also reveals often unappreciated roles boreal birds play in providing ecosystem services—pollinating plants, redistributing nutrients, and controlling pests, for example—and the value they add (more than $100 billion to economies in the U.S. and Canada). It also emphasizes the integral role birds play in the culture of Aboriginal Peoples throughout the boreal.

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