This is a blog for, and written by, birdwatchers in the Calgary, Alberta region. Birds Calgary currently has four people posting on a regular basis, as well as a few guest authors and/or photographers.

We invite articles, photos or stories from anyone who wishes to contribute. The more contributors we have, the better birding in Calgary will be, so hop on board! Or if you’re looking for answers to bird questions, or identification puzzles, feel free to drop us a line or leave a comment on the blog. If we don’t know the answer, we have a list of naturalists to contact, so you’ll be sure to get the right answer!

Contact us at mail to:   

Meet the (bird) brains behind the blog:

Pat Bumstead

Pat has been a keen birder for more years than she will admit to, and lives in a very birdy yard – 109 species so far – with way too many bird feeders. As a former volunteer at the Calgary Zoo and the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, talking and writing about birds and wildlife is second nature to her, and she particularly enjoys seeing the next generations fall in love with bird watching.

Bob Lefebvre

Bob was born and raised in northern Alberta, and he came to Calgary in 1986.  Although he had long been interested in the natural world, he remained a backyard birder until 2008, when, inspired by the book Wild America, he began to go out on Nature Calgary field trips.  He helped to organize the Birds Calgary 2010 competition, and currently is assisting Gus Yaki on his Friends of Fish Creek birding field trips. He particularly enjoys teaching his young nephews about the fascinating world of birds.

Matthew Sim

Matthew is a young nature photographer who has always taken in interest in birds, however, he has only become a serious birder in the last few years. Though birds may be his calling, he loves all aspects of nature and is always keen to learn more about the world around him.

Dan Arndt

Dan has was born and raised in and around Calgary, and has always had a passion for nature, and in a roundabout way, birds as well. After graduating in 2006 from the University of Calgary with a B.Sc. in Natural Science geared towards palaeontology, it became clear that the closest thing to dinosaur watching he’d be able to do would be by taking an interest in their descendants. It wasn’t until a couple of tropical vacations in 2008 that kick-started the drive to photograph and discover in detail the world of birds. Dan is currently assisting Bob Lefebvre and Gus Yaki on the Friends of Fish Creek birding field trips, and is passionate about his photography, birds, and all of the wonders of the natural world.


41 thoughts on “Contact

  1. Hi there
    Not sure this is the right place to ask this but having trouble finding a place in Calgary where I can ask! Today, March 24 I see two robins in the flowering crab tree in my back yard [Ranchlands NW]. As the ground is covered with snow, I wonder what these two will eat? Do they eat the fruit off these trees and the high bush cranberries or should I put out something just for them? If so, what? These early arrivals must find it challenging. Please let me know if and how I can help them along until the ground is bare.


    • Hi Dianne

      Thanks for your concern for the robins! As I type this, I have 10 of them in my back yard, all sitting in my mountain ash tree. Their winter diet is berries/fruit left on any fruiting tree or shrub, and they do not come to feeders. It isn’t unusual to have them in Calgary over the winter – there were 6 of them living in Fish Creek Park all winter this year – but their numbers are getting bigger day by day as we are supposed to be having spring in Calgary. Your robins will be fine, and as soon as it warms up, they will start singing and digging for worms.

      Contact us any time you have bird questions – always glad to help!

      • Thank you so much. This is the first time I have blogged here and your reply has me “fired up” over this site…and glad those poor little things will be ok as we all struggle with this never ending winter!


    • Robins love dried cranberries. You could try putting some out until the snow is gone. But they seem to do fine on berries and apples left from last summer.

    • Hi David Just wanted to let you know that when you left a comment with a URL in it, the system automatically diverted it to the spam filter. If you send us a similar comment in the future, please let us know if it never shows up. We don’t always check the spam filter. Including your web address in a blog post is fine. Great roughie shots too!

    • We don’t have posting guidelines as such. As long as someone is talking about birds in Calgary or the region, it will suit the blog. Anything that would potentially harm birds, such as owl nest locations, will be edited though, and we also encourage following the ABA Birding Ethics, as our blog is intended to teach new birders. Our only limitation is picture size. The blog automatically resizes photos to a maximum of 1024 x 768, but a huge file size will make the page load too slow. We also advise people to be aware that any pictures they put on the blog may be downloaded by anyone, whether they have copyright notices or not. Feel free to email anything you would to go on the blog to either as part of the email or as a Word Doc, and attach pictures separately. Thanks for your interest – looking forward to your posts! Pat Bumstead

  2. There is great opportunity right now to view Eagles along the Bow River in behind the Lafarge plant located East of Deerfoot Trail and North of Glenmore Trail. There are a lot of waterfowl in the open water at this location, and it has brought in not only the Eagles, but also Magpies and Crows as well. On Sunday afternoon alone I spotted 6 eagles in this area. At first I thought they were all juvenile Bald Eagles, but now I am wondering whether any could have been Golden’s. I am still converting the images, but will post as soon as possible. I would appreciate any feedback that anyone has to offer.

    Thanks for reading, and happy birding!

  3. I have been invited by Calgary Herald to interact on one of their boards “Things to do in Calgary” ( ). For me, my favorite thing to do in Calgary is to go bird watching, a hobby I’ve had the majority of my life. I was searching for some Bird pictures, specifically a Bald Eagle and an Osprey, and I came across this site. These are the most beautiful photos of birds I ever seen for Calgary. I’m asking if it would be acceptable for you if I posted a couple photos on the Calgary Herald’s board to show others that Calgary is an incredible place to bird watch. Please contact me and let me know if I can have your permission to do so. (Honestly, my photos are horrible.) Thank you for having an awesome site that I will use now when searching for a specific bird I’ve seen or to help me locate an area to go watch for specific birds.

  4. March 13th 2012
    Live in Willow Park on the golf course. After the snow today we saw several unusual birds….. they were pecking on the brick patio with a group of juncos, the same size as the juncos. They were almost completely red with black wings, no colour bars on the wings and no mottling of feathers like a sparrow. They did not have a crossbill as I have seen those in past winters/springs in our yard. Nor were they redpolls. They had a beak like a finch and the size of a finch. Beautiful little birds, only about four of them in all. Can anyone help identify what I might have been looking at? Thank you. Marilyn Bushell.

    • Marilyn,
      It sounds to me like the birds you saw were Red Crossbills. Your description of ‘almost completely red with black wings, no colour bars on the wings’ fits the male Red Crossbill perfectly. I have found that these birds have bills that are not quite as distinctly crossed as the bill of White-winged Crossbills and therefore, it is not always evident that they are in fact crossbills. Also, the Red Crossbill ranges in size from 14-20 centimeters (5.5-7.75 inches), compared to the juncos 16 centimeters (6.25 inches) meaning that these two species are quite similar in size, exactly as you described. The behavior that you reported is also typical of crossbills- they will often descend from the conifer trees to take grit and salt from roads and sidewalks to aid in digestion. A great sighting! As a former resident of Willow Park (I just moved away in August), it is with some excitement that there are more people in the neighborhood observing birds than I realized!

      Hope this helps,
      Matthew Sim

  5. Matthew, thank you so much for your reply! I had not realized there were two types of crossbill as I have till now only seen the bird with the somewhat ‘twisted’ beak. We’ve not seen them in the backyard again this week. It’s interesting, we used to live in Lake Bonavista which as you appreciate is only 5 minutes’ away in the car… yet it’s amazing the different species of birds we see living on the golf course vs Bonavista. Only a week or so ago we watched a bald headed eagle perched high up in a poplar tree on the GC late afternoon looking for squirrels or jackrabbits. Living in such a quiet area now it’s become fascinating to watch all the different birds coming in to the backyard…. yes, even the flickers drilling the metal vents on top of our roof.
    This is an excellent website that I am so glad I have come across, thank you again for your very informative response. MB

  6. I noticed you do not have anything about a house finch. We have had about 15 come and feed off of our feeders and 8 are males. I am out in the spring bank area and they are loving my black sunflower seeds. We also have 5 Blue jays who visit regularly and a beautiful red breasted nuthatch,as well as a downy wood pecker, some mountain chickadees, a norther flicker, a pile of common red polls and in the last two day our newest addition a morning dove!! this winter we had cedar wax wings and pine gross beaks. I am new to the area and was not really into birds but everyday I am out there with my binoculars to see if I have a new one. I am a total birder 🙂 I have a bunch of pictures too as they are really close when they feed on our feeders I will email some to you guys. I hope to be the person who spots a rare one that I can show off to you

  7. So glad I found this WordPress blog for Birds Calgary and am delighted to be following it now!
    Question: In my treed yard in the SE, near Fish Creek Park, I was absolutely delighted to enjoy White-Crowned Sparrows coming in small flocks to eat at the feeders and scratch their way through my wildflower gardens in late April. They are brave and feisty, holding their own with the House Sparrows, unlike the Purple Finches that only come around when the House Sparrows have ‘stepped out’. I was hoping they’d stay and nest in the area but they were only here for a couple of weeks. Do they continue further North, or West? I miss their songs and antics in my gardens!
    Cheers, Gina

    • White-crowned Sparrows move on to the boreal forest, but some very rarely do nest here. One was seen on the weekend in the Weaselhead area. I had quite a few in my yard too but haven’t seen any since May 19. They will pass back through in September and October (but won’t be singing).

      By the way, are you sure you have Purple Finches? They are scarce in Calgary, and House Finches are common in yards.

      • Thank you for this and I am glad I included mentioning that favourite. I have been trying really hard to tell the difference and apparently I’m not alone. In the end I went with online bird calls (not that you can trust everything on the internet!). These birds in my yard have a red ‘blush’ on their heads & shoulders, and their call is a methodical series of notes ending in a rather harsh (but I like it) blurred sound. I am new to being a birder and am not sure how to type it out. Like a tttttthrp maybe? It very recognizable to me, a little song that always has the same happy notes then ends with a noticeable exclamation mark, so to speak. Now with your help, I shall quit calling these little darlings ‘Purple Finches’ and give them their proper moniker of ‘House Finches’. They are lovely and I want to call them by the right name. Oh and thanks for the tip to watch for the White-Crowned Sparrows in the fall. Their animated antics make me smile.

  8. Hi there,
    Just joined the blog! I live rural, 10 minutes directly east of Calgary, a whole mix of wetland, prairies and woodland. Tonight as I was walking out my back door I heard all the usual birds, swallows, robins, blackbirds (everything!) going mad! I looked up and saw a snowy owl flying out of my trees with all the little birds in chase. I have seen this before in Airdrie and came within 5 foot of the owl in some trees…..however, I am wondering about this – I am reading in many places that these birds aren’t in this area in summer? Am I correct? Because now I’ve seen two! I originate from NZ, so my knowledge of the local wildlife is not too keen yet.
    Thanks for any info,

    • Depending on the species, they may have migrated. If it is a variety of species and they aren’t showing up, perhaps you have a hawk or owl near your cottage that is spooking them.

  9. I think they all came to my feeder in Willow Park!! I’ve never seen so many nuthatches, chickadees, house sparrows, redpolls and crossbills all in one place over the weekend. They just about emptied my sunflower seed feeder with loads of them pecking seeds off the ground underneath it too. Noticed the nuthatches are already ‘hiding’ the seeds in the bark of the evergreens. I wonder if that’s a sign of a very cold winter ahead as they seem so busy this early on. Loads of this year’s young with them too.

  10. What kind of birds are congregating on Lake Bonavista right now? They are swimming and diving – few are flying around but saw one take off this morning loon-style – in fairly large numbers (~100). I would guess either a type of grebe or merganser.

  11. How common is the Harris’s Sparrow? Think i have one coming to my feeder out here on the ranch. It is the only bird that seems to match what I see.

    • If you are in the Calgary area, they are not common. We only get a few in Spring and Fall migration (although one overwintered in SE Calgary last year). This is the time of year that we see them on their southward migration. Last week there was one in north Calgary for a few days. This is a bird that should be reported to the Rare Bird Alert hotline at 403 221-4519. If you are sure that is the bird, call and leave a message with the location and dates, and your name. Or, if you are a member of the discussion group Albertabird, post a message about it there.

  12. Hi. I live just outside of Red Deer in the Boreal Forest area and I have been watching and feeding a Varied Thrush since Mid November. Glad to see he has survied the winter months. Has anyone else witnessed this uncommon sighting?

    • Varied Thrushes will sometimes overwinter here. There was one in NW Calgary that was seen for about three weeks in December 2012. I had one in my yard in SE Calgary from Dec. 25, 2011 until almost the end of March 2012. The last three weeks he was here he was singing daily. See this post:
      But other than the one that was in Calgary earlier this winter, I haven’t heard of any others overwintering this year. So you are lucky indeed!
      Bob Lefebvre

  13. I farm SE of Calgary, near Carseland. We have noticed two new birds around the feeders in the farm yard. Have never seen them before but checking the bird books we think they are Eurasian Collared Doves, have one pair for sure and probably two pairs in the yard. Is this unusual?. Have they moved this far N.? Looking forward to a reply, thanks.

  14. I have a larger bird of unknown species ( not a magpie or crow) that has made a nest on top of the outdoor speaker on my back deck. We live in inner city Calgary and are great bird lovers and feel it is a honour to have this bird choose our home to build it’s nest. Problem ? we love our deck and spend many, many summer hours there. The nest is about 8 feet above the deck floor and about 6 feet from our sitting area, we have no children at home so it’s fairly quiet but do a have a dog. Questions…what bird would build a nest so late in the summer? ( July 4th) or is this considered late and should we not visit our deck at all and for how long?
    ps..we will NOT turn the speakers on ! Any help with this problem would be appreciated.

    • I’m not sure what species this is. Some birds, like American Robins, will nest twice per season, so July is not too late for their second brood. It is also possible it is a bird that lost its first nest in the flood and started again. I would recommend using your deck as usual. If you don’t turn your speaker on, just being in the area will probably not disturb the bird too much. It would help to know the species – maybe you will get a look at it or a photo.

      • thanks..we have determined it is an American Robin, we are sitting out on the deck but very, very quietly…she is being tolerant of us..It’ll be a different story when her eggs hatch I imagine.

      • I have seen (just last weekend, actually) a pair of robins feeding 4 young on a nest on top of a light fixture which was right on a deck and next to the door. There were 45 people there, so almost always someone coming or going. The parents just picked their spots to go in and feed the young (dozens of times in a day) and remove the waste. They don’t like it when people are too close or are moving, but they are pretty tolerant.

  15. Hi, I was visiting my home town of Bonnyville, Alberta. There is a decent sized slough in the center of town and normally the slough or lake is full of birds and water fowl but this year it is deadly quiet. Does anyone out there know the reason why? Would it be because of the exceptionally cold and rainy spring they have had? If anyone has any information on this please send me some info or your views on this at:
    Many thanks.

    • Not sure what that might be – is this in Calgary? It’s tough to judge size but no bird is that small – our smallest hummingbird is 3 and 1/4 inches. The only common bird I can think of is House Finch (about 6 inches long). Males have reddish feathers on the breast and head, and females are quite streaky.

  16. A sad day-I came home from work and our daughter was upset. She found a dead Bohemian Waxwing bird in our front yard. She said she heard a large bang against the front window went to check, noticed feathers on front window and sure enough found the bird unresponsive. What can I do to avoid birds flying into the window? What is the proper procedure to handle a dead bird? It broke our hearts to see such a beautiful bird lifeless and would like to help avoid such unfortunate occurrences in the future.Thank-you!

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