By Bob Lefebvre
Here at the Birds Calgary blog, we receive a lot of questions from bird-friendly folks throughout the province. We are sharing some of them with our readers as just another way to spread bird knowledge.
If you have a question, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may post your question and our answer. We won’t print your name or email address without permission.
Here’s a question we received last September, but which is relevant again this year.
Q: Hi. There are birds that sit on the light standards on 16th Ave NE over the tracks alongside Deerfoot Trail. They appear to be sleeping when I drive by at 8 AM, I am curious to know what they are. There have been 2 or 3 on the westbound side and usually one on the eastbound side. Thanks.
A: It’s hard to say what they are without some idea of the size, shape, or colour of the birds. But I’m familiar with the area, and I think you might be referring to the “odd” birds that are sometimes seen there, which look long, slim, long-necked, and black. If so, those are Double-crested Cormorants. Their silhouette looks like this (photo taken in Fish Creek Park last week [September 2011]):
In better light they look like this, also taken last week [September 2011]:
Double-crested Cormorants are waterbirds that dive for fish and crustaceans. They are often seen holding their wings out to dry off after a dive. There are quite a few in the area of the weir on the Bow River, but they will soon be heading south.
Q: It’s definitely the Cormorants – last year there was just one, but now there are 2 or 3 on the westbound side and one on the eastbound side of 16th. They are always there in the morning but not always on my way home at 4:30. It’s quite high up so I can’t see much details from the car but definitely have the yellow beak and dark feathers.
(Note: In the past three weeks I have been seeing up to 35 cormorants in the area of Harvie Passage (the old weir on the Bow River) often perched in trees or on light standards along Deerfoot Trail.)