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Bird Competition Results for 2010

Congratulations to all birders who participated in our year-long bird count! We hope you had a lot of fun, and met some new birds and birders along the way.

The total number of bird species reported within the city limits was 262. We used the Calgary area check list which has 369 species, so that leaves 107 species that were not reported.

The highest individual count was reported by Michael Harrison, who racked up an amazing 240 species. There were another five participants with a count of over 200.

The committee unanimously picked the Oct 22 sighting of an Anna’s Hummingbird as the Bird of the Year, reported by Katrina Lybbert and family.   This is only the sixth or seventh record ever of an Anna’s Hummingbird in Alberta. It was first seen on October 22 by Gilbert Lybbert in their yard in Braeside SW. It was also seen by his mother Katrina that day, and it returned again on October 23. On October 25 and 26 it was again sighted by the Lybberts, and several other Calgary birders also managed to see it at that time. It was observed feeding on a honeysuckle bush in a neighbour’s yard. The final sighting of presumably the same bird wasn’t until three weeks later, on November 16, the day after the first big snowfall of the winter.

The winner of the photography contest was Brian Elder, with his outstanding picture of a Willet in flight. Second place went to Ken Johnson for his remarkable Red-breasted Nuthatch photo.Third place went to 13 year old Matthew Sim who captured for his stunning Bohemian Waxwing.

Winners in Other Categories:

  • Advanced:
  • Michael Harrison – 240 species
  • Colin Young – 238
  • Tony Timmons – 222
  • Intermediate:
  • Linda Bailey – 204
  • Cindy & Dan Parliament  – 175
  • Ed Kissinger – 172
  • Novice:
  • Susan Konopnicki – 142
  • Louise Moreau and Michael Geldorp – 120
  • Vic Urban – 62

Non-motorized Travel

  • Advanced:
  • Michael Harrison – 240
  • Colin Young – 234
  • Bill Wilson – 209
  • Intermediate:
  • Andrew Hart – 95
  • Linda Bailey  – 86
  • Bob Lefebvre – 78
  • NMT Youths:
  • Matthew Sim – 107
  • Jacob Farkas – 37

Youth Categories

  • Sub-adult:
  • Katie Donahue – 146
  • Reggie Lybbert – 85
  • Fledglings:
  • Matthew Sim – 151
  • Jacob Farkas – 103
  • Gilbert Lybbert – 96
  • Nestlings:
  • Jarom Lybbert – 72
  • Lucianna Lybbert – 69
  • Stephanie Sim – 48

Yard List:

  • Sim family – 81
  • Linda Bailey – 68
  • Brian Elder – 64

Fourth Quarter Winners

 Here are the top finishers in each category in the fourth quarter of the Birds Calgary 2010 competition.

Advanced:

•Kristin O’Connell- 76
•Jim St Laurent – 67

Intermediate:

•Janet Gill – 72
•Andrew Hart – 67
•Ed Kissinger – 67
•Jim Donahue – 67

Novice:

•Louise Moreau and Michael Geldorp – 48

NMT Advanced:

•Colin Young – 85
•Bill Wilson – 63

NMT Intermediate:

•Andrew Hart – 38
•Bob Lefebvre – 24

NMT Fledgling:

•Matthew Sim – 57

Youths:

•Katie Donahue (sub-adult) – 67
•Matthew Sim (fledgling) – 63
•Gilbert Lybbert (fledgling)– 32
•Stephanie Sim (nestling) – 26
•Lucianna Lybbert (nestling) – 21
•Jarom Lybbert (nestling)- 18
•Reggie Lybbert (sub-adult) – 17

Yard:

•Sim family – 35
•Lybbert family – 21
•Bob Lefebvre – 19

Third Quarter Winners

Here are the top finishers in each category in the third quarter of the Birds Calgary 2010 competition.

ADULT CATEGORIES

Advanced
Michael Harrison – 193 species
Jim St. Laurent  –  122
Kristin O’Connell – 111

Intermediate
Ed Kissinger     – 121 species
Cindy & Dan Parliament – 118
Janet Gill   – 114

Novice
Louise Moreau & Michael Geldorp – 83 species
David Sim   – 45

Non-Motorized Transport – Advanced
Michael Harrison – 193 species
Bill Wilson   – 163

Non-Motorized Transport – Intermediate
Linda Bailey   -78 species
Andrew Hart  – 69
Bob Lefebvre  – 55

Non-Motorized Transport – Novice
Louise Moreau & Michael Geldorp – 21 species

YOUTH CATEGORIES

Sub-adults (born 1991, 1992, 1993)
Katie Donohue – 94 species
Reggie Lybbert – 37

Fledglings (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997)
Matthew Sim – 89 species
Gilbert Lybbert – 57

Nestlings (born 1998 or later)
Lucianna Lybbert – 39 species
Stephanie Sim   – 37
Jarom Lybbert – 36

Non-Motorized Transport – Fledglings
Matthew Sim – 75 species
Gilbert Lybbert – 29

Non-Motorized Transport – Nestlings
Jarom Lybbert – 21 species
Lucianna Lybbert – 15

OTHER CATEGORIES

Big Day – Novice
Louise Moreau & Michael Geldorp – 24 species

Big Sit – Advanced
Colin Young – 52 species

Yard List
Matthew Sim & family – 62 species
Bob Lefebvre & family – 35
Lybbert family   – 31

Second Quarter Winners

Here are the winners of the second quarter of the Birds Calgary 2010 competition.  Congratulations to all you keen birdwatchers!

Kristin O'Connell, 2nd Place Advanced

ADULT CATEGORIES

Advanced

Colin Young – 192 species
Kristen O’Connell – 140 species
Jim St Laurent – 131 species

Intermediate

Linda Bailey – 168 species
Cindy & Dan Parliament – 134 species
Andrew Hart – 124 species

Novice

Susan Konopnicki – 118 species
Louise Moreau & Michael Geldorp – 91 species
Vic Urban – 73 species

Reggie Lybbert, 1st place Sub-adults

YOUTH CATEGORIES

Sub-adults (born 1991, 1992, 1993)

Reggie Lybbert – 61 species

Fledglings (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997)

Matthew Sim – 124 species
Jacob Farkas – 75 species
Gilbert Lybbert – 70 species

Nestlings (born 1998 or later)

Lucianna Lybbert – 53 species
Jarom Lybbert – 51 species

OTHER CATEGORIES

Big Day

Jacob Farkas – 41

Michael Geldorp, Louise Moreau and daughter - Various categories

Louise Moreau & Michael Geldorp – 35

Big Sit

Bob Lefebvre – 28

Non-Motorized Transport – Advanced

Colin Young – 190 species
Bill Wilson – 154 species
Chris Havard – 88

Non-Motorized Transport – Intermediate

Bob Lefebvre – 67 species
Andrew Hart – 65 species

Non-Motorized Transport – Novice

Louise Moreau & Michael Geldorp – 28 species

Non-Motorized Transport – Fledglings

Matthew Sim, Three 1st place wins

Matthew Sim – 69 species
Jacob Farkas – 37 species

Yard List

Matthew Sim & family – 64 species
Linda Bailey – 49 species
Bob Lefebvre– 35 species

First-Quarter Winners

Here are the winners of the first quarter of the Birds Calgary 2010 competition. Congratulations to all you keen birdwatchers!

Pileated Woodpecker by Ken Johnson

ADULT CATEGORIES

Advanced
Michael Harrison – 81 species
Colin Young – 78 species
Hank Vanderpol – 76 species

Intermediate
Cindy and Dan Parliament – 56 species
Bernie Diebolt – 55 species
Jim Donohue – 53 species

Novice
Susan Konopnicki – 50 species
Louise Moreau & Michael Geldorp – 38 species
Vic Urban – 35 species

YOUTH CATEGORIES

Sub-adults (born 1991, 1992, 1993)
Katie Donohue – 54 species

Fledglings (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997)
Jacob Farkas – 36 species
Matthew Sim – 35 species
Gilbert Lybbert – 22 species

Nestlings (born 1998 or later)
Lucianna Lybbert – 16 species
Jarom Lybbert – 11 species
Emma Bentley – 8 species

OTHER CATEGORIES

Big Day – Novice
Louise Moreau & Michael Geldorp – 15 species

Non-Motorized Transport – Advanced
Michael Harrison – 81 species
Colin Young – 75 species
Bill Wilson – 58 species

Non-Motorized Transport – Novice
Louise Moreau & Michael Geldorp – 8 species

Yard List
Arthur & Donna Wieckowski – 24 species
Pat Bumstead – 23 species
Val Pritchard tied with Phil Cram – 21 species

Bird Identification: The Six ‘S’ Rule

Least Flycatcher by Anne Elliott

Let me tell you about the Six “S” rule.

Once other folks know that you have some knowledge of birds, they will call upon you to tell them the name of a species that they recently observed. They’ll often start out by saying something like, “Last week, while visiting my cousin Philip at Lethbridge, I saw a black and white bird with yellow on it. What was it?”

Well, unless they can give you more information, you can only guess as to its possible identity. If you know them well, you might reply something to the effect, “When I drink too much I see those birds too”.

To readily identify any mystery bird, you need more detail — information encompassed in six wonderful words that begin with the letter “S”.

If you (or they) pay attention to them, it will enable you to quickly identify the quarry of their query. Those six “S” words are:

S for Size How large is it? Is it Sparrow-sized, Robin-sized, Crow-sized, Goose-sized?

S for Shape, silhouette or structure Is it a chunky bird like a European Starling or a partridge … or long and slim like a magpie?

S for Sound What vocalization did it make? It helps to write it out in phonetics, complete with accents, as you soon forget what you heard.

S for Season What time of the year was it seen? Locally, you don’t expect to see a hummingbird in January — or a Snowy Owl in July.

S for Site [S I T E] What habitat was it in? Ducks usually swim; hummingbirds visit flowers, not vice versa.

–And finally

S for Sight [S I G H T] What markings or behaviour did you note? Eye-rings, wingbars, spotted breasts. Was it alone or in a flock? If flying in a flock, was it in tight or loose formation, etc.?

Initially, you may be overwhelmed by the great number of species of birds. However, by starting now, at this time of the year, when there are relatively few species present, you will get to know their names and identification features. Having learned them, when you see a new species, you can quickly eliminate those you already know. Identification is largely a process of elimination.

Gus Yaki

Diversity of Birds

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.

Great Grey Owl by Anne Elliott

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!

Gus Yaki

Chairman’s Corner #4

Welcome to the Birds Calgary 2010 “big year” competition Blog. If you have not joined the competition please feel welcome to do so. It is for everyone, not just experts.

Well. Well. Well. Here we are at the end of January and still no Snowy Owl! I arbitrarily selected it as the target bird for January. I didn’t think we would go so long without finding one inside the City limits. For February, I thought it would be fun to keep the owl prowl going by expanding the challenge to include any owl – except the Great Horned.

Looking back at what has been reported I feel the Red Crossbills seen and photographed by 12-year-old Matthew Sim deserve special recognition. Mathew sent his photos to Gus, just be sure. I know I have looked at a lot of White-winged Crossbills, hoping to turn one of them into a Red, but no luck. So hats off to Matthew.

White-breasted nuthatch by Anne Elliott

We have received a donation of $1000 from TERA Environmental Consultants to cover promotion and administrative expenses for the competition. The funds will be given to Nature Calgary to manage. So far we have had almost all services donated. Printing posters would have been our biggest expense; however, most of this has been done for free by Minuteman Press on Macleod Trail. I expect the donation from TERA will cover the entire year and maybe even the wrap-up ceremony next February. We have had lots of prizes donated too, but will still need more. You can see the list of prizes on the page “Donors and Sponsors”.

I have not had any response to my request for people to lead a few field trips. These can be one of Gus’s scheduled outings or a special one to a new area or intended for novices.

We would like some outings that are focused on the competition beyond what is offered by the regular Nature Calgary walks. PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO OFFER A SATURDAY OR SUNDAY MORNING.

For those of you who are not prepared to act as trip coordinator, but would like to have an outing for some special aspect of the competition, please let us know about this too. Maybe some beginning birders would like an introductory program. Or you have a favourite area you would like to share with the rest of us. Maybe someone would like to try an NMT (non-motorized transport) outing.

Be safe out there. Especially when driving. And, respect private property.

Howard Heffler

Chair, Birds Calgary 2010

Chairman’s Corner #3

Welcome to the Birds Calgary 2010 “big year” competition Blog. If you have not joined the competition please feel welcome to do so. It is for everyone, not just experts.

We are three weeks into the competition and the total list of species seen to date stands at 66. But still no Snowy Owl! I arbitrarily selected it as the target bird for January. Maybe it is harder to find than I thought. There must be a Snowy Owl out there somewhere. With only a few days left in the month, let’s get on it!

Hairy Woodpecker male by Anne Elliott

I enjoy exploring the outlying areas. Remember that either you or the bird or both have to be within the City limits. It will be interesting to compare the results from this year with 2000. A lot of good habitat has been lost to development, but a lot of new land has been added. Anyone want to make a prediction? My guess is that we will not surpass the 2000 list. That year the combined total was 248 species. Ten competitors saw over 200. The winner had 224.

A couple of weeks ago I went public with my total-to-date on the Listserv and invited others to do the same. I thought it would bolster the competitive spirit, but no one else seems willing to admit to their total. Maybe that is the best strategy; just keep it secret until the end of the quarter. So this time I will try the opposite approach; if several of you advertize your total-to-date, I will let you see mine.

I want to thank the rest of the organizing committee; Gus Yaki, Pat Bumstead, Bob Lefebvre, Bill Wilson, Ryan Baxter, and Andrew Hart. We met again last Monday evening and are still looking for way to reach a wider audience. If you would like to help, don’t be shy.

I love to see bird photographs. You can follow the directions on the website and send them to Andrew. They do not have to be for the photography competition until you decide which ones to enter.

Please be safe out there. Especially when driving. And, respect private property.

Good luck and enjoy!

Howard Heffler

Chair, Birds Calgary 2010

Notes on Winter Birding

This, of course, is the coldest season of the year. Birding demands that you often stop and wait for the birds to show themselves. When standing still, you are not burning calories, therefore not generating heat. On stepping outside in the morning, some folks, thinking that it is relatively mild, decide to wear only a light jacket. After an hour they are chilled to the bone.

To fully enjoy this activity, you must wear enough clothing to keep comfortably warm. It is best to put on lots of layers. Wear a warm cap/hat/toque, for without a head covering you will lose a lot of heat. Be sure to wear warm footwear. If your hands and feet are still cold, it’s because you are losing vital body warmth. If you are cold, you just won’t be able to concentrate — and won’t enjoy the activity. Remember, the birds don’t care what you look like.

Some folks will want to bring a bird book, although the leader usually always has one with him/her.

If you are a note-taker, you may want to bring a notebook and pen(cil). Upon returning home, it is always a good idea to review the bird seen. After each field trip, we’ll also send you (by email), a listing of the species and the approximate numbers of individuals sighted.

 

Rough-legged Hawk by Anne Elliott

A few rules for these or other birding outings

The purpose of these outing is to see birds. Birds are often best located by hearing them first. Try to limit your socializing to the parking lot. If you are busy chatting, the birds may not be heard. When they are found, some folks cannot even be made aware of their presence because of an ongoing conversation, so will miss out on seeing them altogether.

Unless you are the leader, do not walk ahead of the group. The leader often knows of the presence of a certain bird, but if you go ahead, you may flush it so that no one gets to see it.

Keep together! If the group is strung out, by the time the stragglers catch up, the bird may have flown. Also, if the leader wants to inform you of certain details he/she may tell those at hand and then repeat it when the stragglers arrive, or by then, other observations may distract, so the stragglers miss out entirely. Of course, the leader can wait until everyone is present, but that is wasted time for those who do politely stay together.

Shorter people out front! If you are tall, back off. Don’t block the view it’s hard to see through you unless someone blasts an opening.

About binoculars

Binoculars are a great aid in seeing the beauty of a bird. Once you are used to them, you’ll never leave home without them! I usually have a spare pair in case you forget yours.

Today, there are many kinds of binoculars, ranging in price from $29.00 to $2900.00.

Generally, beginning birders can get by with inexpensive ones. Once you’ve had some experience, you’ll have a better idea of your needs if you want to upgrade.

Binoculars come in many types. Basically they will be marked as 7 X 35, 7 X 42, 8 X 40 or 10 X 50. The first number is the magnification; in other words, they make the object appear to be 7, 8 or 10 times larger or nearer than that registered by your eyes.

The second number is the diameter in millimetres of the large or objective lens of the binoculars. The larger the number, the more light it admits. This may not be significant on a sunny day, but it will be very important on a dull overcast day, or at dawn and dusk.

Generally 7 or 8 power binoculars are ideal for most people. You will get stronger magnification from a 10 power but they usually are heavier. If you cannot hold them steady for long, you have to contend with a greater distortion due to hand vibration.

There are many small opera-type glasses available, such as 7 X 26. Some of these are extremely lightweight and can easily be held by children with small hands. However, as pointed out above, they are not very suitable in low-light conditions. A lens that is only 26mm across lets in only about 25% of the light admitted by a 50mm lens.

Binoculars are made so that one size fits all. However, since we are not all the same, they usually require three settings to match your personal measurements. You need to make these adjustments before using them. Normally you will never have to do so again (unless altered, as when you lend them to others, etc.).

1. Most binoculars have rubber or retractable eyecups. If you wear eyeglasses, fold down the rubber cups or retract the hoods. This will allow your eyes to get nearer to the lens, thus giving you a greater field of view.

2. The distance between people’s eyes vary. The two binocular barrels are hinged so that they can be pushed or pulled apart, to compensate for this difference. When using the binoculars, the barrels should be spaced so that the pupils of your eyes look precisely through the centre of the small lenses. When properly adjusted, your view should be through that of a perfect circle, rather than two overlapping ones. [Note that the top of the hinge has a calibrated dial showing the angle of adjustment. If you recall that setting, you can quickly reset them if someone else uses your binoculars].

3. On most binoculars the right eyepiece (in some models, it is the left one), is adjustable, slightly rotating, to accommodate any differences in your eyes. To adjust for your vision, close or block your right eye while looking through the left eyepiece. It is best to look at a sign, license plate or other flat image about 30 meters away. Between the two barrels there is a centre focusing-wheel or rocker arm. Slowly adjust the centre focusing until you have as sharp an image as possible. Once satisfied that it is perfectly clear, bring your binoculars down for about 30 seconds, to let your eyes rest. Next, looking at the same scene, using only your right eye, rotate the adjustable eyepiece until that image is sharp, too. Again, bring the glasses down. After 30 seconds, now looking through both eyes at the same time, you should have a perfectly sharp image. If not, repeat the above steps until satisfied. [Note that the right eye-piece has a + and – symbol, usually with a few dots between them. On the barrel below, there is usually a white dot. Remember these settings]. [Note, if the adjustable eyepiece is on the left, reverse the order of eye use above].

Once the above steps have been completed, merely rotating the centre wheel will quickly bring any object, near of far, into sharp focus.

After birding for some time, some observers find they are unable to obtain a sharp image. The adjustable eyepiece may have been altered accidentally, perhaps by rubbing against your clothing, etc. An elastic band over the eyepiece and the upper part of the barrel will prevent it from moving.

It could also be that your eye(s) are getting tired. By again following the above steps, you can readjust to sharpen the image.

Your next challenge will be to learn how to aim the binoculars at the correct angle so that you can quickly find the bird in the tree, etc. This takes some practice — but will come naturally with repeated use. Try locating different objects while at home.

While raising your binoculars, keep your eyes on the object. Don’t look down at the glasses while lifting them. Try to memorize the location of the bird by noting how the branches cross, etc. Once you are looking through the binoculars, in the approximate location, quickly focus them (by rotating the centre-wheel) and then search the area where you last saw the bird.

Most binoculars are supplied only with a narrow neck strap. The weight of the binoculars may give some folks a headache. There are a number of harnesses or wider straps that aid in relieving that condition.

If you have further questions, do not hesitate to contact me. In the meantime, I look forward to showing and sharing the birds with you on this upcoming activity.

Gustave J. Yaki, Phone 403-243-2248 or email gyaki@calcna.ab.ca.