Tag Archive | calgary christmas bird count

Carburn and Southland Park Christmas Bird Count

This year, I also did the Christmas Bird Count; I was assigned the S1 route, encompassing both Carburn and Southland Park. We started the morning birding from the Eric Harvie bridge in Southland, right beside the dog park, before splitting up, 2 groups going south along the river (one on each side) and 2 groups going north along the river. The day was off to a good start as we observed 2 adult eagles and 2 immature eagles flying low overhead; the rising sun was beautiful, adding to the good beginning and silhouetting the many ducks and geese on the Bow River.

We observed thousands of Mallards, Common Goldeneyes and Canada Geese throughout the day with several hundred Buffleheads as well. There were also several Barrow’s Goldeneyes in these waterfowl flocks.

The Common Goldeneyes weren’t quite as numerous as the Mallards however they were still present in large numbers.

We continued to walk further down the river, spotting Redpolls, plenty of waterfowl, Killdeer, magpies and… RUSTY BLACKBIRD!!! As we were hiking along the river, we flushed up a brownish-black bird about the size of a Robin from the bank. It landed nearby at the top of a poplar where we all got good looks at it. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my photographs of this species! This blackbird, is an unusual bird in Calgary, explaining, perhaps, my excitement at the sighting (also, this was only my second time seeing this species).

We headed back to the meeting spot, the Eric Harvie Bridge, where we saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk and discovered that another group had found an American Wigeon. We then headed to our next stop, Tim Hortons! After warming up and getting refreshments at Tim Hortons, we headed out near the Glenmore bridge, where at a pullout, we walked out and did some more birding, turning up a Killdeer and a Hairy Woodpecker.

The next and final stop for our group was Carburn Park. Our goal at Carburn, was to find an American Pipit  that had been reported here a little while earlier. Though we couldn’t agree to the location where this bird had been seen, we did manage to find it. This happens to be the first pipit recorded on the Calgary CBC since its beginning, 59 years ago.

Also in Carburn, we found a pair of Great Horned Owls, that were extremely well camouflaged against the tree branches they were perched on, several more Barrow’s Goldeneyes and another juvenile eagle. I decided to head home early and only found out later that the rest of the group had also found a Northern Pintail and a Wood Duck in Carburn. I birded around my neighborhood, which was inside our count circle, and managed to add both species of crossbills, a robin and a Merlin to our list, among other species.

The pipit and the Rusty Blackbird were definitely the highlights of the day for me, however they were only two of the 33 species and 7924 individuals recorded by 10 counters in this particular area. Here are the complete results:

Canada Goose, 1500; Wood Duck, 1; American Wigeon, 1; Mallard, 3000; Northern Pintail, 1; Bufflehead, 150; Common Goldeneye, 2800; Barrow’s Goldeneye, 20; Common Merganser, 20; Bald Eagle, 5; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1; Merlin, 1; Killdeer, 5; Rock Pigeon, 25; Great Horned Owl, 2; Downy Woodpecker, 5; Hairy Woodpecker, 2; Northern Flicker, 3; Black-billed Magpie, 125; American Crow, 3; Common Raven, 12; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 3; White-breasted Nuthatch, 3; American Robin, 1; Dark-eyed Junco, 1; Rusty Blackbird, 1; House Finch, 4; Red Crossbill, 12; White-winged Crossbill, 26; Common Redpoll, 25; House Sparrow, 110; American Pipit, 1.

Posted by Matthew Sim

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Christmas Bird Count in the Weaselhead

This year marks my first ever Christmas Bird Count. As the date approached and the weather forecast flip-flopped from cold and blustery to a warm winter chinook, I was confident that no matter the weather, I’d make the best of it and tough it out. Thankfully, we had a beautiful day. Almost no wind to speak of, and the birds were out in force.

The organizer, Philip Cram, had put me in one of the walking groups by request, with Rob Worona, David Pugh, and Bernie Diebolt, all familiar names to me, but my first time birding with Rob, the group leader, and David, a fellow photographer.

Starting at western-most parking lot at South Glenmore Park, we made our way across the valley wall and westward into the Weaselhead proper. It started out quiet, with the usual suspects making their appearances. The Common Redpoll, the Black-capped Chickadees, and the White-winged Cross-bills we’ve seen so much of lately.

Common Redpoll
Common Redpoll
Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee
White-winged Crossbill
White-winged Crossbill
As we headed further toward the bridge spanning the Elbow River, we were mobbed by a group of Black-capped Chickadees, and were alerted to the presence of a rarer Chickadee species, the Boreal Chickadee. As the Black-capped Chickadees flocked, the wheezy, higher pitched nasally tones of the boreal species edged closer and closer, until finally it made an appearance. Though not brave enough to hand-feed, it did come close, and finally dropped down to eat some of the black-oil sunflower seed on offer.
Boreal Chickadee

Boreal Chickadee

Continuing down the path we were greeted again by another new sight. Perched high up across one of the smaller tributaries to the Elbow River was this juvenile Northern Goshawk. The bright white eyebrow and the jagged tail-bars were distinct enough for Rob to confidently make the species ID.

Juvenile Northern Goshawk

Juvenile Northern Goshawk

Finally we reached the bridge, and in amongst the Common Redpolls earlier, we thought we may have seen a Hoary Redpoll or two in amongst the flock. We were granted a second, much closer view of one of them, and as we compared it to the others, we became more and more convinced. Another first for me, the Hoary Redpoll:
Hoary Redpoll

Hoary Redpoll

We stopped for lunch to compile our count numbers and to re-energize, but again were mobbed by hungry birds and a Red Squirrel or two, but as we were finishing up, a couple of very brave Red-breasted Nuthatches flew in for a bite.
Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Though it was a fairly warm winter’s day, the sun hadn’t really made much of an appearance, but when it did, these Pine Grosbeaks began singing and for the first time, I heard a soft cooing from the females, almost like that of a Rock Pigeon or Eurasian Collared Dove. I was completely unaware that Pine Grosbeaks made sounds anything like this.
Female Pine Grosbeak

Female Pine Grosbeak

 At this point, we stopped once again for a water, coffee, and snack break while this Common Raven vocalized above us with its unearthly and very unusual croaking call. I’m always amazed at the variety or Raven behaviour and vocal range. I’ll have to follow-up with a post on the variety and uniqueness of corvid behaviour among the birds.
Common Raven

Common Raven

Around a bend and over another tributary channel of the Elbow River and we were back to the base of the southern valley wall. At the crossroads of the trail heading back to the top of the southern wall we stopped at a feeding station to where a number of species were found. The White-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker, and Downy Woodpecker:
Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

The last few hundred meters did turn out productive though, granting us a Ruffed Grouse, a few House Finches, a Pine Siskin, and a very good angle at some close Pine Grosbeaks atop the spruce trees bordering the path.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse

House Finch

House Finch

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Male (R) and Female (L) Pine Grosbeak

Male (R) and Female (L) Pine Grosbeak

All in all, a great day both for the birds, and for the hardy birders who were out in Calgary yesterday. Once the numbers are tallied up and made public in the New Year, they’ll be posted here, though I suspect we’ve got a banner year for finches with the huge number of Grosbeaks, Redpolls and Crossbills seen in the last few months.

Posted by Dan Arndt

59th Calgary Christmas Bird Count Results

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 59th Calgary Christmas Bird count, December 19, 2010. Almost 200 people took part in this year’s count, with 102 feeder-watchers and 93 birders in the field.

Special thanks go to Lenora and Dick Flynn for hosting a most enjoyable wind-up party, to Donna and Arthur Wieckowski, Bob Lefebvre and John McFaul for helping with the compilation, to Jean Moore and her team captains for organising the feeder-watch part of the count, and to Terry Korolyk, John McFaul and Jim Washbrook for helping to organise the teams in the field.

Conditions on count-day were cool but very pleasant. The temperature remained in a narrow range between minus 15 deg and minus 13 deg, and light snow fell during part of the morning. Snow cover was around 20 cm, probably deeper in places. Glenmore Reservoir was fully frozen and the Bow and Elbow Rivers were more than half-frozen.

Birders in the field put in a total of 205 party-hours, 70 percent on foot, covering 230 km on foot and 881 km by car.

Some count highlights were:
63 species recorded, the same as last year, compared with an average of 65 species for the past 20 years. Two additional species have been recorded in count week so far, Gull sp. and American Dipper.

43 705 individual birds were counted, which is 15 percent below the average for the past ten years. For the more common species, more were at below-average levels than above-average, perhaps reflecting mortality due to the recent periods of cold .

Unusual species (recorded in two or less years in the prior ten): Cackling Goose (5), Trumpeter Swan (2), Mourning Dove (1), Black-backed Woodpecker (1) – second count record) and Purple Finch (at least 1).

Record numbers for: Trumpeter Swan (2), Bald Eagle (30), Hairy Woodpecker (32), Common Raven (364) and House Finch (1551).

High Counts (more than three-times the prior ten-year average) for three regularly recorded species: White-throated Sparrow (6), Snow Bunting (9) and Red Crossbill (195).

Low counts (less than one-third the prior ten-year average) for five regularly recorded species: Wood Duck (3), Common Goldeneye (404), European Starling (65), Cedar Waxwing (3) and Common Redpoll (55).

Eight “missing” species (seen on count-day in six or more years in the prior ten, but missed this year): American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Redhead, Harlequin Duck, Gyrfalcon, American Dipper and American Tree Sparrow.

Species seen by only one route (All feeder-watchers counted as one route): Trumpeter Swan, Wood Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Hooded Merganser, Prairie Falcon, American Coot, Killdeer, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Cedar Waxwing, Purple Finch and American Goldfinch.
Species seen by only two routes (All feeder-watchers counted as one route): Barrow’s Goldeneye, Ruffed Grouse, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Mountain Chickadee and White-throated Sparrow.

List of species recorded on count-day:

Cackling Goose, 5; Canada Goose, 9,705; Trumpeter Swan, 2; Wood Duck, 3; Mallard, 12,044; Greater Scaup, 2; Lesser Scaup, 1; Bufflehead, 114; Common Goldeneye, 404; Barrow’s Goldeneye, 22; Hooded Merganser, 4; Common Merganser, 37; Gray Partridge, 64; Ring-necked Pheasant, 9; Ruffed Grouse, 2; Bald Eagle, 30; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 7; Cooper’s Hawk, 3; Northern Goshawk, 3; Red-tailed Hawk, 2; Rough-legged Hawk, 2; Merlin, 19; Prairie Falcon, 2; American Coot, 1; Killdeer, 4; Rock Pigeon, 1,777; Mourning Dove, 1; Great Horned Owl, 4; Belted Kingfisher, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 142; Hairy Woodpecker, 32; Black-backed Woodpecker, 1; Northern Flicker, 108; Pileated Woodpecker, 3; Northern Shrike, 1; Blue Jay, 54; Black-billed Magpie, 1,870; American Crow, 44; Common Raven, 364; Black-capped Chickadee, 1,476; Mountain Chickadee, 2; Boreal Chickadee, 20; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 287; White-breasted Nuthatch, 58; Brown Creeper, 8; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 12; Townsend’s Solitaire, 4; American Robin, 89; European Starling, 65; Bohemian Waxwing, 4,104; Cedar Waxwing, 3; White-throated Sparrow, 6; Dark-eyed Junco,134; Snow Bunting, 9; Pine Grosbeak, 28; Purple Finch, 1+; House Finch, 1,551; Red Crossbill, 195; White-winged Crossbill, 89; Common Redpoll, 55; Pine Siskin, 460; American Goldfinch, 1; and House Sparrow, 8,155

Total species 63. Total individual birds 43,705.

Phil Cram