Tag Archive | common grackle

Birds of Bridlewood and Carburn Park

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Photographs of spring birds, by Tony LePrieur.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s), Bridlewood Wetland, April 30, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are usually among the first warblers to pass through Calgary on Spring migration, along with Orange-crowned Warblers. Most of the ones we get here are the Myrtle subspecies, the eastern and northern form, which have a white throat and a more prominent black mask. They breed in the boreal forest. The Audubon subspecies, shown here, breeds in the western mountains. This year, quite a few Audubons were reported here. There is talk that the two subspecies will be split again into two separate species, so it is important to note which one you see, especially if you are recording your sightings on eBird.

Common Grackle, Bridlewood Wetland, April 30, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

The Bridlewood Wetland is located just north of Spruce Meadows, on James McKevitt Road in SW Calgary. It is a small wetland but has a trail around it and a bridge from which to view the birds.

The Bridlewood Wetland in SW Calgary.

The rest of the photos were taken in Carburn Park on the Bow River in SE Calgary.

Common Goldeneye (female), Carburn Park, April 30, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Common Merganser (female), Carburn Park, April 30, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

Lesser Yellowlegs, Carburn Park, April 30, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

On spring migration, we get more Lesser Yellowlegs than Greater Yellowlegs in the city. But we do get both species. The Lesser is slighter, with a smaller head, and the bill is about the length of the head from front to back, as with this bird. The Greater Yellowleg’s bill is about one and a half times the head length, and often slightly curved upwards.

Song Sparrow, Carburn Park, April 30, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

This Song Sparrow is missing its tail. Birds don’t molt their tail feathers all at once, so a missing tail probably indicates that the bird narrowly survived an attack by a predator.

Beaver, Carburn Park, April 30, 2017. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

See more of Tony’s photos on his Flickr page.

Backyard Birds: Common Grackle

The Common Grackle can be a handsome bird when seen from a short distance. Covering its head, neck and upper breast is a purple iridescence that can amaze viewers in the right light. The rest of its feathers, including its long, wedge-shaped tail, are glossed in a bronze-green sheen. But this beauty can be lost on many; a result of the combination of the grackle’s lack of table manners (and all other manners), its voice that sounds like “an un-oiled wheelbarrow” and the invasion of both lawn and feeders by large flocks of  these noisy birds.

Canada’s largest blackbird is both noisy and cocky, and is a resourceful forager. The grackle’s main summer diet consists of insects, small invertebrates and occasionally the eggs and nestlings of other birds. In winter, it will eat waste, grains, seeds, fruit and garbage. They will follow plows to catch invertebrates, pick leeches off the legs of turtles and steal worms from robins, among other techniques to get fast food. The grackle breeds in many different sites but it favours damp, open woodlands, the shores of lakes and streams and wet meadows. Be on the lookout for Grackles as they return to Alberta in April; they are almost here.

The young grackle is even noisier than the adult.

Note the long, wedge-shaped and keeled tail of this grackle.

 

Posted by Matthew Sim