Tag Archive | birds calgary blog

Eagles, Owls and Others

The photos below were taken by Josh OBrien. He uses a Nikon D600+Sigma 150-500mm. To see more of his photos, check his Facebook page here.

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Great Horned Owls

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Great Horned Owls

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Juvenile Bald Eagles

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Juvenile Bald Eagle

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Juvenile Bald Eagle stretching

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Great Gray Owl

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Great Gray Owl

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American Robin

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Downy Woodpecker

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Common Raven

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Great Horned Owl

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Great Horned Owl

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Juvenile Bald Eagle

Spring Arrivals at Fish Creek Park

Tony LePrieur saw some new birds for the year in Fish Creek Park on April 5, 2014, as well as some favourite residents.

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Northern Shoveler, male.

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European Starling.

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Red-winged Blackbird, male. This bird is arriving right on time, but all the ponds there were still mostly frozen over on this date. 

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, male. Likely a winter bird that will soon move on.

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Blue Jay, a year-round resident species.

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Snowshoe Hare. Transitioning to summer colours far faster than the surroundings are!

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Muskrat.

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Finally, some close-ups of one of the resident Great Horned Owls. Check the talons in the third photo.

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Wednesday Wings: Weaselhead and More

Tony LePrieur took the photos below on March 1, 2014.

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Horned Lark, from outside the city.

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Gray Partridge, from outside the city.

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A very cold Common Goldeneye from Fish Creek Park.

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Brown Creeper, Weaselhead.

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Pileated Woodpecker female, Weaselhead.

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House Finch male, Weaselhead.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Weaselhead.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Weaselhead.

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Coyote, Weaselhead.

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Finally, an ID challenge: At first glance I assumed this bird was a Merlin, but something didn’t quite look right. If not a Merlin, what do you think it is, and why?

Sunday Showcase: Late Winter Birds

Spring is here and the new migrants are showing up daily, but here is another look at some of the winter birds seen in Fish Creek Park and the Weaselhead Nature Area in Calgary. All photographs by Tony LePrieur.

The photos below were taken in Fish Creek Park on February 17, 2014.

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Great Gray Owl, Bebo Grove.

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Boreal Chickadee.

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Black-capped Chickadee.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet.

These shots of the Three-toed Woodpecker in Bebo Grove were taken on February 23, 2014.

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The remaining photos below were taken on February 23, 2014 in the Weaselhead.

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Great Horned Owl.

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Boreal Chickadee.

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American Tree Sparrow.

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Dark-eyed Junco.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet.

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House Finch.

Furry Friday: Roadside Lynx

It’s a rare day that you see a Canada Lynx, so when Bill and Sharon Thompson spotted this one on a roadside while driving between Calgary and Prince George in 2002, they stopped to get a photograph. The Lynx had crossed the highway but then stopped in the ditch rather than disappearing into the bush.

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Canada Lynx. Photo by Bill Thompson

For a few minutes the Lynx stayed still and was vocalizing. When Bill and Sharon looked back on the other side of the road, they saw the reason for this unusual behavior.

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Canada Lynx kittens (cubs). Photo by Bill Thompson

Backyard Saw-whets

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

There have been quite a few sightings of Northern Saw-whet Owls in and around Calgary this winter. Some of the sightings have been at night in back yards. The owls are probably looking for mice, which sometimes feed on seeds below bird feeders. Here is a link to a post about one seen in SE Calgary in December.

The owl below was photographed by Sarah Louise Lynch in Heritage Pointe, DeWinton, Alberta on February 20, 2014.

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Northern Saw-whet Owl. Photo by Sarah Louise Lynch. Nikon 7000 camera.

The owl below was seen at noon on February 9, 2014 in the St. Andrews Heights neighbourhood in NW Calgary. It was found by Dave and Susan Russum, who were led to investigate by a number of agitated chickadees and nuthatches in a spruce tree.

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Photo by Dave Russum.

This is probably the same owl I had found in that neighbourhood three days previously. I had told Dave about it since it was only two blocks from his house, so they were on the lookout for it. When I found it, there were twenty-three magpies and seven chickadees mobbing the owl in a spruce tree. Whenever you see that many agitated birds in a mob, it is worth investigating. Sometimes they are mobbing a cat, but most often it is a bird of prey. I have found several owls and other raptors that way.

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Photo by Dave Russum.

Also of interest: Have you seen the photos of a Saw-whet Owl coughing up a pellet

Birding Competition: How It Works

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Last Friday’s post announced the upcoming 2015 Calgary Birding Competition. Today I will give details about how it will work and how you can get involved now.

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Bohemian Waxwing, photographed by Matthew Sim during the 2010 competition

The main difference between this competition and the previous ones that Nature Calgary has held is that the recording of all bird sightings will be done using eBird, the online bird listing database. Previously birders could submit their sightings on spreadsheets or paper printouts, and the organizers of the competition would compile the results. Using eBird makes this process automatic, and the ongoing status of the competition will be visible to anyone.

There are many other advantages to using eBird, for both the birder and for anyone who wants to learn about the birds of the Calgary area:

  • eBird is a permanent, publicly available record of bird sightings
  • eBird is a searchable database
  • anyone, whether an eBird user or not, can access the database
  • it includes sightings from around the world
  • it includes historical sightings
  • sighting locations are shown on maps
  • birders can request to be alerted by email of rare bird sightings, or sightings of any bird they need for own list

As eBird use has increased, it has become a valuable tool for researchers studying the status and distribution of bird species. We feel that its importance for the birding community will continue to grow over time. The value and accuracy of eBird’s data will also increase as more birders use it.

Therefore, two of the main goals of holding this competition will be:

  1. To train a new generation of birders to use eBird
  2. To encourage veteran birders to begin using eBird, and to enter their bird lists from previous years into the database.

The Calgary area is already among the top three locations in Canada in terms of the number of sightings submitted to eBird, but we would like to see that increase dramatically from 2015 on.

It is quite easy to set up an eBird account and get started. Here is the sign-in page. We will offer help to anyone who needs it; more on that below.

To take part in the 2015 competition, you will need to:

  1. register with us (we will set this up soon)
  2. have an eBird account
  3. set up a Patch list on eBird for the 80-km circle

After that it is just a matter of entering your sightings into eBird as you make them, and making sure that any locations where you recorded birds inside the 80-km circle are included in that patch.

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Red-breasted Nuthatch, photographed by Ken Johnson during the 2010 competition

Getting Started Now

We hope that many of you will get started using eBird and setting up your competition patch soon, so that we can use 2014 as a trial run to work out any problems. This way you will also be able to familiarize yourself with the process and learn more about using eBird, and see how many species you can find inside the circle this year. I will give details on how to register and how to set up a competition patch in an upcoming post.

If You Need Help

Although eBird is fairly easy to use, if you feel you need help we will offer it to anyone who wants to get started. If you have set up your eBird account but just have a few questions, you can contact us by email. Our email address is ebirdyyc(at)gmail.com.

For those of you who would prefer it, we will be holding in-person training sessions. These will take place in a state-of-the-art computer lab, where you can go through the whole process of setting up an eBird account and entering bird sightings. For anyone who uses other bird-listing software, we will also teach you how to import that data into your eBird account. The first training session is already full (it was advertised in the Nature Calgary newsletter) but we will hold more sessions as needed. If you want to take part in this, please register at birdstudy(at)naturecalgary.com.

Calgary Birding Competition

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Do you enjoy keeping track of the bird species you see? Do you want to find more species and explore new birding locations in the Calgary area? If so, you may want to take part in a birding competition which will be held throughout the year 2015.

This competition will be similar to those that Nature Calgary has sponsored in the past. In the year 2000, a competition was held to see who could identify the most species of birds within the Calgary city limits. In 2005, the area used was the 80-km (radius) circle which is traditionally used for the May Species Count.  In 2010 we again used the city limits as the competition area (you can read all about the 2010 event on the Birds Calgary 2010 blog).

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Willet, photographed by Brian Elder during the 2010 competition.

Following this pattern, the 2015 competition will be a year-long event to see who can find the most species inside the 80-km circle centred on the Centre Street Bridge. Many of the details are still to be worked out, but there will be different categories of competitors based on age or experience, with prizes awarded to the winners.

The main goal of having such a competition is to encourage more people, especially youths, to get involved in the Calgary birding community. Participants can also expect to learn a lot about the birds of the Calgary area and the many great locations to go birding here.

If this is of interest to you, follow this blog to see how you can get started this year. We will be setting up a registration process soon.