I suspect that most of you have had a pre-existing interest in birds — perhaps one that you developed as a child — or as an adult while your children were growing up — but there were always other priorities — so your time was limited. Over the years, you have probably acquired some knowledge and/or skill in the bird world. However, in your wisdom, you have recognized that you can still use some help.
Lets start right now by talking about the diversity of birds.
- Within Fish Creek Provincial Park there have been just over 200 species recorded … 207 is the latest count..
- Within the Calgary city limits, in the year 2000, 257 species were recorded.
- Within a 50-mile (80 km) radius of the Louise or 10th St Bridge over the Bow River, in the immediate Calgary area, there are just over 300 species. In a friendly competition completed in 2005, 295 species were seen
- In Alberta, just over 400 species have been seen.
- In Canada, about 550 species have been noted.
- In North America there have been about 900 species observed.
- On this tiny blue speck in the Universe called planet Earth, there are about 10,000 species of birds.
Every year, there are still about a half dozen new species being discovered, usually in formerly inaccessible areas, but often right under our nose — where two look-alike species are recognized as separate species – such as the Greater and Lesser Scaup in the past, or the Fox Sparrows or Marsh Wrens. Unfortunately, these additions are being offset by species rapidly going extinct — due to humankind’s impact on the planet.
Birds are everywhere: They have been seen at both the north and south poles; all over the ocean; and of course, over every landmass. Because they have wings, unusual birds may turn up anywhere. In the winter of 2007, people in London, England gathered to watch an American Robin that had managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
In April 2006, an American Woodcock showed up at Redcliffe, just outside of Medicine Hat. This is a bird of eastern North America. One had previously been reported at Edmonton in 1974. This one was photographed, providing the first documentary evidence that it occurred in Alberta.
In August, 2006, a Least Tern was found at Policeman’s Flats, the first one reported for Alberta. However, that sighting was surpassed in September when a Yellow-throated Warbler showed up at a private residence near Griffith Woods Park, here in Calgary another first for Alberta.
Birdwatching is a hobby where a novice with a camera has just as good a chance at making a rare sighting as the professionals, so get out there and enjoy the birds. You never know what might turn up!