Posted by Dan Arndt
Canmore’s Christmas Bird Count is was held this year on December 15th, the day before Calgary’s. While I’ve lived in and around Calgary for almost my entire life, I’ve never really spent much time birding around Canmore. Hiking, mountain biking, and road-tripping, sure, but just looking for birds? Never before. Quarry Lake is also an area that I hadn’t ever set foot in, so it was an adventure to explore and learn more about the native birds to the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains.
My Canmore Christmas Bird Count area
The added bonus about birding in Canmore is the amazing scenery.
EEOR, or East End of Rundle peak, just west of Canmore
Left to right: Princess Margaret Mountain, Mount Charles Stewart, Mount Lady Macdonald
My total area was about 1.5 square kilometers, and within that area I tallied up nearly 8km of traverses back and forth in the park, and up and down the streets of the adjoining neighborhood. I was fairly impressed too, with 14 species, including a couple that I would be very lucky to have on any Calgary list.
I did manage to get a few decent shots of some absolutely gorgeous birds in my morning out, and I hope you had as much fun on your Christmas Bird Count adventures as I have this year!
female White-winged Crossbill
male White-winged Crossbill
male Pine Grosbeak
Posted byDan Arndt
Aside from co-leading one of the weekend walks with the Friends of Fish Creek, I do like to get out and get some birding in while I’m away on vacations, trips, or even after work once the evenings get a bit longer. In my attempt this year to reach 200 species in Alberta (which is about the same number as I had on my total life list in January) I signed up for a number of alerts on eBird to assist me in getting the birds I hadn’t seen so far for the year. In early March, I took a Saturday morning to catch up on some species that had been plaguing me for quite some time: Gray Partridge, Harris’s Sparrow, and some overwintering Cedar Waxwings were on my “Needs” list, and I was able to get all three, along with a couple of bonuses; American Tree Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco.
American Tree Sparrow
Then, over the Easter weekend, the better half and I took a trip up to Jasper. As a Calgary boy, born and raised here my entire life, I had never made it to Jasper, and I have to say that it was well worth the drive. I was hoping for a bit better birding opportunity while I was up there enjoying the crisp mountain air, but there were two birds I was really hoping for on the trip: White-tailed Ptarmigan, and Mountain Chickadees. Another bonus bird that I added to my list was Clark’s Nutcracker.
How's that for camouflage?
As an addendum, I would highly recommend this book: “Birding Jasper National Park” if you’re heading to that area. It was indispensable in my ability to find the birds I was looking for, as well as the best birding locations in and around the townsite. It’s incredibly affordable too, at a meagre $5.00, and is available in the store at the Jasper National Park Information building right in town.
Birding Jasper National Park
An abundant breeding bird of the boreal forest, the Common Redpoll is seen in Calgary primarily in the winter. Even then, it generally occurs during cyclical irruptions, when flocks of seed eaters occasionally leave the forest and move south.
Redpolls are about 5″ high, and have a bright red forehead and a black chin. This little flock of four birds that visited last week are either juveniles or females, as the males have a pink breast. Very rarely, you may see a Hoary Redpoll, which is a very similar species that has lighter streaking on the flanks, and a stubbier bill.
These tiny members of the finch family move through our area in early October and late April. They often travel in mixed flocks with other finches such as the Pine Siskin or House Finch. In my yard they all prefer the sunflower chips to the niger seed feeders.
Posted by Pat Bumstead