Tag Archive | inglewood bird sanctuary

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:

IBS (1)







IBS (3)

IBS (2)


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.


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.

Winter’s lingering grasp in Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Posted by Dan Arndt

Another cold, snowy, and dull day here in Calgary. The Sunday curse has struck again, leaving us with a bitterly cold north wind, and the least bird activity we’ve seen all spring. While we did get some decent new birds for the year, and a couple of great surprises while walking in Inglewood Bird Sanctuary on Sunday, our participant numbers were still low, and so were the species we found.

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

While the wind was blowing and the skies were grey, our first new species of the day was the Eurasian Collared-Dove. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually seen one of these birds inside the bird sanctuary, or so it was a nice find!

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Eurasian Collared-Dove

As we approached the river, we were on the lookout for the Mountain Bluebirds that I had seen earlier in the week, but instead we happened across a group of American Pipits on the river bank, with a brief stop out on the nearest gravel bar before heading up stream.

American Pipits

American Pipits

As we watched the pipits and scanned the far bank, we were lucky enough to spot a Franklin’s Gull fly in and land among a few other gulls, but given how far it was, getting a clear shot was quite the challenge.

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull

We soon came upon a lone Coyote raiding a Canada Goose nest, and saw him stealing away an egg. Sad for the geese, but there were many pairs successfully nesting in the sanctuary, and their numbers really are ever in question. This one was seen nesting in the same cavity that I’ve seen her in for the last three years at least.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Our last surprise of the day was a second small flock of Bohemian Waxwings going down to the river for a drink before flying off. They stopped briefly for us before flying off, hopefully symbolizing the end of the winter weather and bringing on spring in full force!

Good birding!

Friends of Fish Creek Winter Birding, Week 9 – Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Posted by Dan Arndt


After last week’s debacle, I won’t be complaining about flat light, poor light, or a little cold weather every now and then. This week’s walk was in the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, and while the skies were overcast, the weather was above freezing and there were plenty of new migrants in abundance on the Bow River. The Northern Flickers were displaying and staking out new territory, Ring-billed and California Gulls were back on the river, and we even spotted a surprise American Wigeon amongst the thousands of waterfowl along the banks of the river! Spring is on the way!

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary


These next few weeks are both incredibly sad, but also incredibly exciting for birders in Canada. With the temperatures warming, it means not only more hours of sunlight to allow greater opportunities to see more birds, but it also means the arrival of all the species that have been gone since September, October, or as late as November for some. It also means, sadly, the departure of our winter guests. Snowy Owls, Common and Hoary Redpolls, American Tree Sparrows, Rough-legged Hawks, and usually, the White-winged Crossbills back to either more northerly latitudes, or to higher elevations, until fall returns. One of the best places around town to find new arrivals in the spring, summer, fall and winter, is at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. For various reasons, it has just the right combination of trees, bushes, and prey species that make it the perfect habitat for many of our summer residents.


On our walk this week, we were greeted at the beginning of our route by a lone Mule Deer. Some years, there are between six and twelve Mule Deer that call this place home, much to the disappointment of many ground nesting birds, as the deer are known to be completely oblivious of nests and in many cases walk right over them.


Mule Deer

Another species in abundance on our walk were the Common Ravens. At times there were four or five of them grouped together calling back and forth and generally causing a ruckus. These birds typically don’t nest in the sanctuary, so either they were drawn to something along the river, or just choosing this place to air their grievances with each other.


Common Raven

The original administration and maintenance building of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is the Colonel Walker House. Originally built in 1910, and home to Colonel James Walker of the Northwest Mounted Police. You can read more about the house and Colonel Walker here.

Colonel Walker House

Colonel Walker House

Walker House 2

Colonel Walker House

Just outside the Walker House, we were treated to the sight of some recently emerging Richardson’s Ground Squirrels. The first to awaken in the spring are the males, looking to build up their fat stores in anticipation of the upcoming breeding season, to better fight for and defend a mate in the coming months.

Still looks a little sleepy.

Richardson’s Ground Squirrel

These weren’t the only animals looking to make the upcoming breeding season a productive one. We could hardly walk for a few minutes without hearing the calls of one of the many Northern Flickers announcing their territory with their distinct vocalizations, or raucous drumming.


Northern Flicker

Even the Black-capped Chickadees were calling, defending their territory, and were a little bit less forward with us than they have been in the past few months, their attention also on other matters.


Black-capped Chickadee

As we reached the southernmost point of our walk and turned back up the river, we were treated to the sight of over ten thousand waterfowl in the course of our walk, split between the Mallards and Canada Geese, with a few Common Goldeneye thrown in, and a pair of female American Wigeon for good measure.




Canada Geese


American Wigeon (center) surrounded by Mallards

The real treat for those of us who’d been reading the reports all week was the return of the gulls. California Gulls had been reported all week. On Tuesday, only one was seen, but those numbers had swelled to over 30 individuals by today, and a trio of Ring-billed Gulls were also present.


California Gull


California Gull

As we tore our eyes away from the river and began the final leg of our walk back to the start, a few of us straggled behind and were treated to the sight of a pair of Northern Flickers calling, challenging, and displaying at each other by fanning out their tail feathers and trying to simply look bigger than their rival.


Northern Flickers fighting over territory

On our way back out, we also found a second Richardson’s Ground Squirrel, this one a bit bigger and a bit more vibrant, also gathering food and preparing his own part of the sanctuary for his future mate and offspring!

Be very very quiet...

Richardson’s Ground Squirrel trying to hide. Completely unsuccessfully, I might add.

Here’s hoping your birding week is as successful as ours was! See you next week!

A Downtown Sanctuary in Inglewood

Posted by Dan Arndt

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is quite probably the most well known birding locale within the city limits. As a new birder, it was an old standby for me, and helped me learn more about birds, and photography, in my starting years than any other place in the city. In the summer, barely two weeks would go by between visits, but I never found much to see in the winters. This course with the Friends of Fish Creek has opened my eyes to many more places within the city limits, but this place is one of the best “stand-by” locations I know of in a pinch, and quite often has a wide variety of unusual or first sightings within the city during migration, but also throughout the year.

Last weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday. I joined the Friends of Fish Creek birding course to assist Gus Yaki. Both days I saw new birds for the year, and had some great sights of old favourites.

I’d definitely have to count among the highlights the Snow Goose I saw the first morning out. Though it wasn’t much more than a speck on the horizon, it was a new one for me. Nothing more than a recording shot of the sighting, but I loved it.

Snow Goose

Snow Goose on left, flying far and fast away from me.

The Canada Geese were numerous on the river, but there were many new arrivals that were exciting to see, such as Northern Pintails, American Wigeons, and the first Ring-billed Gulls of the season.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail (top right)

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

Ring-billed Gulls

Ring-billed Gulls

Another of the great sights to behold was the beautiful male Harlequin duck, which had successfully overwintered on the open water at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. It seemed that it was very enthusiastic with its mate choices though, as it has been seen chasing a female Mallard or two occasionally.



Harlequin chasing female Mallard

Harlequin chasing female Mallard

A few other old standbys were on hand each day at the sanctuary. The iridescent and beautiful European Starlings, the nest building Red-breasted Nuthatches, the vocal and displaying Northern Flicker, and of course the charismatic and always enjoyable Richardson’s Ground Squirrels, poking their heads out for the first time this year.

European Starling

European Starling

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch

Richardson's Ground Squirrel

Richardson's Ground Squirrel


Sunday added again to the rogues gallery of fauna on display, from the Greater White-fronted Goose on the Bow River north of the Sanctuary, to the much better views of Northern Pintail, along with Herring Gulls, and a juvenile Northern Goshawk making quite a show of it.

Greater White-fronted Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose

Northern Pintail on Sunday

Northern Pintail on Sunday

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk

Herring Gull

Herring Gull (middle rear) among California and Ring-billed Gulls

Another great week of birding! I’ll be back again this week to post the results of our excursion to Mallard Point yesterday, and the wonderful birds we saw there as well!


Good birding!




Early Morning Birding

At this time of year, the earlier you can get out birding the better.  The sun is up and the birds are singing before 6:00 am.  Sometimes it can be a little cold, but it’s a beautiful time of day to be out in the field.

Every Wednesday during the spring migration, Gus Yaki has been leading an early morning bird walk at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.   Last week I was able to join Gus and a small group of birders, and we found 42 species of birds.

This is a Nature Calgary field trip, so it is free and open to everyone.  The walk begins at 6:30 am at the parking lot and lasts for about two hours.  This coming Wednesday, May 25, will be the last of these early morning walks, so if you can manage it, it’s a good opportunity.

Here are some highlights of last weeks’ walk.

There is a partially albino female American Robin which has building a nest near the south end of the lagoon, opposite Walker House.  We were lucky enough to see it at close range, with its mate…

There were several pairs of Canada Geese and a few broods of goslings around…

A female Belted Kingfisher was perched over the lagoon…

Several Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen.  This one is an Audubon subspecies…

Two male Harlequin Ducks on a distant island in the river…

Two male Wood Ducks on the river…

A yawning female Common Merganser…

And lots of these guys looking for handouts…

Afterwards I went over to the adjacent Inglewood Wildlands Park.  There were several Savannah Sparrows singing…

And hovering over the pond, a Say’s Phoebe…

You don’t see these flycatchers in the city too often, and I got a good look at it…

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Swainson’s Hawk

While we were at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary doing our Big Sit, we came across a very interesting sight. There, perched on the ground, maybe ten feet off the path, was a dark-morph Swainson’s Hawk. The dark-morph Swainson’s Hawk has a dark-brown colour over most of its body; the more common light morph has a brown bib contrasting with white underparts. This particular hawk had a Richardson’s Ground Squirrel clutched in his claws and was regarding all the photographers and interested visitors with a haughty look.

This Swainson’s Hawk intrigued many visitors to Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.

And there he sat; for over an hour we were told, he had stayed in the same spot. He finally got tired of all this hustle and bustle, deciding to try to find a quieter place to enjoy his meal in peace. However, he had not counted on catching such a heavy meal…

 Attempted take-off

After he couldn’t achieve lift-off by taking a running leap, he tried a different tactic: taking off from the spot where he stood.


Well that didn’t work either…

The hawk then decided that, seeing as he wasn’t going anywhere with his meal, he might try to eat it right then and there. And that’s what he did. He hopped back a couple of feet with his meal, to a slightly more secluded area and began to eat.

 Here, he shields his meal from potential thieves.

Hopefully his meal didn’t weigh him down too much after he ate it; otherwise, he might not be able to take off again!!!

Posted by Matthew Sim

Big Sit results

A very windy morning was spent down at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary by us three bloggers; several people came by to join us. The large gusts of wind kept the birds down and hard to hear but we still had some great birds. From 8 -10 a.m., we counted birds down at the river recording 24 species of birds.

  1. Canada Goose
  2. American Wigeon
  3. Mallard
  4. Common Goldeneye
  5. Common Merganser
  6. Double-crested Cormorant
  7. Osprey
  8. Swainson’s Hawk
  9. Merlin
  10. Spotted Sandpiper
  11. Franklin’s Gull
  12. Rock Pigeon
  13. Belted Kingfisher
  14. Northern Flicker
  15. American Crow
  16. Common Raven
  17. Tree Swallow
  18. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  19. European Starling
  20. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  21. Song Sparrow (heard 5 minutes before 8a.m.)
  22. Red-winged Blackbird
  23. Common Grackle
  24. Brown-headed Cowbird

At 10a.m., due to the frigid wind, we moved base to the Walker house ( we were there 10:30-12:15) where we added:

  1. Cooper’s Hawk
  2. Red-tailed Hawk
  3. Black-capped Chickadee
  4. Chipping Sparrow
  5. House Finch

All and all, not a bad morning to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day; a grand total of 29 species of birds from within the count circles. There were also some good birds from outside the circles; right after we called it a morning and took down the circle, an American Kestrel showed up. We also saw White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, House Wren, Warbling Vireo, Northern Pintail and a Barn Swallow. One of the highlights was a Swainson’s Hawk less than twenty feet off the path, with a kill. A story will follow shortly!

Posted by Matthew Sim

Migratory Bird Day: The Big Sit

Saturday May 14 is World Migratory Bird Day.  To celebrate this, and to see the birds of Calgary at the peak of our spring migration, Birds Calgary will be doing a Big Sit at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.

Sit birding is an activity that requires the birder to count all the birds that are seen and heard while remaining within a circle seventeen feet in diameter.  Essentially, you stay put and let the birds come to you.  On May 14, the Birds Calgary writers will see how many species they can find from a spot in the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary near the Bow River.

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, 2425 9 Avenue SE, Calgary

We will begin the count at 8 a.m. and go until 11 a.m (noon if the birds keep coming).  Anyone who wants to join us for the count and help out is welcome.  You can also just drop by at any time during the count to see how we are doing.  If you plan to stay, bring a lawn chair, binoculars, water, and either sunscreen or rain gear (or both) as the weather requires.

Harlequin Ducks, male and female, seen last year from our Big Sit spot.

Here is a link to the World Migratory Bird Day website:  http://www.worldmigratorybirdday.org/2011/

I hope you can join us next Saturday for a great morning of birding!

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Here’s Looking at You-Whoo!

As 2011 began, the Northern Saw-whet Owl was right at the top of my list of Birds I Must See.  I had heard them singing in the spring before in both the Weaselhead area and in Bowness, but I had never seen one.  They are very small, about eight inches (20 cm) high, and active at night.  They spend the daytime roosting in tree cavities or dense conifers.  So although they are quite common, they are rarely seen.


On Saturday, March 19, the Friends of Fish Creek Park Society outing was at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, where we were looking for returning gulls and waterfowl.  Before starting, the leader, Gus Yaki, mentioned that a Northern Saw-whet Owl had been reported a few days previously at the sanctuary.  We would look for this little bird near the end of our walk, in the row of spruce trees that run north from Walker House. 


However, as we turned north by the lagoon, I noticed a pair of Black-capped Chickadees that seemed quite agitated.  Two of us hung back to investigate as the rest of the group went ahead.  After a couple of minutes a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches arrived, and then a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches and another pair of chickadees.  All the birds were noisy, flicking their tails, and making short sweeping flights into the tree.  I have seen birds behave like this before – they are trying to drive away a predator.  Still, despite circling the tree a couple of times, I could see nothing.  Finally, from a spot right under the tree branches, I found the owl:

Then he found me back:



These owls sit still when confronted, and this one barely moved, except for batting his eyes, as you can see in the video.


Good Birding!

Bob Lefebvre

Inglewood Birds

We received the following email this weekend, and four incredible bird pictures. Thank you so much for sending them to us Rosanna!

My husband and I were down at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary this past week and were able to capture these images. Hope you can use them!

Mrs. Rosanna Evans
Calgary, AB