Tag Archive | winter birds in alberta

Awesome Snowies!

Jim Walling has sent us some truly outstanding Snowy Owl photographs. The rest of us can only hope to ever get shots like these!

Male Snowy Owls are almost pure white.

Females and juveniles have the dark bars and spots, with the heaviest markings on immature birds.

According to Lillian Stokes, “this is a clear Snowy Owl irruption year, although not for the usual reason of their food source, lemmings, having a population crash. There were an abundance of lemmings during this breeding season, leading to now an abundance of young Snowy Owls who cannot compete with adults for food on their wintering grounds, so these owls head south.”

They have been recorded as far south as Kansas and Missouri this winter, and birders in the Calgary area are putting in many hours on country roads to join in the Snowy Owl bonanza. Our Snowy Owl Sightings page is currently the most popular one on the blog, and it’s updated with each reported sighting.

Posted by Pat Bumstead

Rare Bird Alert Calgary: Dec 22

Have you seen an unusual bird in Calgary? If it is on this Reportable_Birds (PDF), please report it to the Nature Calgary Rare Bird Alert line at 403 221-4519 and leave a message after the beep at the end of the recording. If you would like some help with species identification, us email us at zoxox@shaw.ca  To report injured wildlife call the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society at 403 239-2488, or the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation at 403 946-2361.

This report was prepared on Thursday December 22.

Bird Sightings

Several Christmas bird counts over the last week produced some interesting birds as follows:

December 18, Calgary bird count produced 69 species, including the following species of interest: AMERICAN PIPIT (first ever for the count); GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-INCH ( second ever for the count); CANVASBACK, PIED-BILLED GREBE, NORTHERN HARRIER, HARRIS’S SPARROW, RUSTY BLACKBIRD, COMMON GRACKLE, RED-TAILED HAWK, LONG-TAILED DUCK, HARLEQUIN DUCK AND AMERICAN DIPPER.

December 20, High River count produced a record 56 species, including the following species of interest: RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, TUNDRA SWAN, PEREGRINE FALCON , and COMMON MERGANSER, all a first for the count. Five species of owls included LONG-EARED AND NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL.

December 18:
–KILLDEER: Up to 12 different birds were seen by three different parties along the Bow River; near the 22x bridge; at Policeman’s Flats; and two at Griffith’s Woods along the Elbow River.

December 19:
–NORTHERN HAWK OWL(1), just W. of Turner Valley along Hwy.546; by Andrew Slater
–GOLDEN EAGLE (imm), 1km. S. of Turner Valley along 208 Str., by AS.

The next scheduled update of the Bird Alert is on Monday, December 26.

Rare Bird Alert Calgary: Dec 5

Have you seen an unusual bird in Calgary? If it is on this Reportable_Birds (PDF), please report it to the Nature Calgary Rare Bird Alert line at 403 221-4519 and leave a message after the beep at the end of the recording. If you would like some help with species identification, us email us at zoxox@shaw.ca  To report injured wildlife call the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society at 403 239-2488, or the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation at 403 946-2361.

This Bird Alert was recorded on Monday December 5.

Bird Sightings:

Dec. 1

HORNED GREBE, Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park, Malcolm and Joan McDonald

WESTERN GREBE, same, MJM

GREEN-WINGED TEAL (9), second Vermilion Lake, Banff, NP, MJM

TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE, Vermilion Lakes Drive, Banff NP, MJM

GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCH (200+), Barrier Mountain Drive feeder, Exshaw, MJM

Dec. 2

CANVASBACK, above weir at Carseland, MJM

GREATER SCAUP, same, below weir, MJM

PEREGRINE FALCON, field on W side of Frank Lake (6 km. E of High River on HWY
23)

HERMIT THRUSH (probable), HWY 546 W of Turner Valley, woods between hwy and
Sheep River, Jeff Bennett.

Dec. 3

RED-NECKED GREBE, Lake Minnewanka, Phil Cram, Brian Elder, Ray Woods

WESTERN GREBE (4), same, PC, BE, RW

TUNDRA SWAN (probable, bird was an adult), Policeman’s Flats, end of Bow Riverbottom Trail, off Dunbow Rd., just SE of Calgary, Terry Korolyk

GADWALL (male and female), same, TK

NORTHERN SHOVELER (female), same, TK

REDHEAD (male and female), Elliston Park, E Calgary, TK

GREATER SCAUP (female), Policeman’s Flats, TK

LONG-TAILED DUCK (imm. female?), Elbow River, upstream up 25th Ave. bridge, MJM

HOODED MERGANSER (2 male, 1 female), Elliston Park, TK

GYRFALCON, HWY 532 just E of HWY 799, (bird was a gray morph), TK

BROWN CREEPER (4), Fenland Trail, Banff NP, PC, BE, RW

TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE (2), Vermilion Lakes, PC, BE, RW

Dec. 4

AMERICAN WIGEON, Beaverdam Flats, Bow River, Kingsley Blades on behalf of the
Nature Calgary field trip

The next scheduled update of the Bird Alert is on Thursday Dec 8.

BIRD STUDY GROUP:

Bird Study Group meets 1st Wednesday of the month, Room 211, BioSciences Building, U of C except June through August when field trips replace the meetings.

December meeting is Wednesday,December 7. Topic will be “Birding in Brazil”, presented by Rob Worona. Meeting time is 7:30pm.

Snowy Owl Sightings

Snowy Owl from Wikipedia

Snowy owls are one of the best things about a southern Alberta winter. These beautiful birds escape the harsh Arctic winter, and travel south to the grasslands of Canada and the northern USA. From the time the first one is reported, the country roads around Calgary are very popular with birders.

The adult male is virtually pure white, but females and young birds have some dark bars and spots, which are darkest on immature birds.

To make it easier for owl spotting, we’ve added a page to the blog titled Snowy Owls 2011. We’ll be updating this on a regular basis, as soon as snowy sightings are reported on Alberta Bird. By keeping a running list of locations, it’s easier to plan your drive, and increase your chances of a sighting.

If you’re not signed up for Alberta Bird and find a snowy owl, please leave the location in the comments below, and we’ll add it to the list.

Posted by Pat Bumstead