Tag Archive | calgary nature walks

Nature Calgary’s Big Day

Update:  Results of the Big Day

The day started off well, but the weather gradually deteriorated, and by 4:30 in the afternoon, with cold driving rain, and after eleven hours of birding, we decided to stop.  The total for the group was 93 species.  I saw or heard 88 of them, so I’ll have to try another time to reach 100 species in a day.  Due to the weather we missed almost all shorebirds and warblers.

We went to the following locations:  Votier’s Flats, Bow Valley Ranch and Sikome, all in Fish Creek Park; Inglewood Bird Sanctuary; Elliston Park; Ponds one mile west of Shepard; Shepard; Shepard Slough (east of Shepard); a series of ponds south of highway 22X in the far SE; a pond just east of Spruce Meadows; the South shore of Glenmore Reservoir.  We didn’t go into the Weaselhead as planned.

Click here for the report, with a list of the species seen or heard, from Albertabird.


How many species of birds do you think you could find within the city of Calgary in a single day?  The answer at this time of year is over 100.  This weekend there will be a great opportunity to see if you can do it.

Birders call this a “Big Day” – an attempt to identify as many species as possible in a twenty-four hour period.  This is often done as a competitive or fundraising activity, usually with teams of birders all trying to get the highest total.

For the past few years, Nature Calgary has offered a guided Big Day field trip every Victoria Day holiday.  It can be a long, hard day, especially in bad weather, but it is a great chance to see most of the bird species present in Calgary in the spring.  This year the trip is on Monday, May 23.  We will meet at Votier’s Flats in Fish Creek Park (at the south end of Elbow Drive SW) at 5:30 am.  From there, the leader, Tony Timmons, will guide us to several different habitats within the city over the course of the day.  Bring a  lunch, and be prepared for whatever weather we might get.

Last year, the group managed to find 111 species!  The highlight of the day was a Virginia Rail calling at a slough in SE Calgary.

Virginia Rail. Photo by Mike Baird, from Wikimedia Commons.

In 2009, in very cold, wet conditions, the total was 108 species.  The birds are out there, so come out on Monday and help us find them!  If you need more information, call the leader, Tony Timmons, at 403-256-0754.  Like all Nature Calgary field trips, it is free and open to all members of the public.

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Early Morning Birding

At this time of year, the earlier you can get out birding the better.  The sun is up and the birds are singing before 6:00 am.  Sometimes it can be a little cold, but it’s a beautiful time of day to be out in the field.

Every Wednesday during the spring migration, Gus Yaki has been leading an early morning bird walk at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.   Last week I was able to join Gus and a small group of birders, and we found 42 species of birds.

This is a Nature Calgary field trip, so it is free and open to everyone.  The walk begins at 6:30 am at the parking lot and lasts for about two hours.  This coming Wednesday, May 25, will be the last of these early morning walks, so if you can manage it, it’s a good opportunity.

Here are some highlights of last weeks’ walk.

There is a partially albino female American Robin which has building a nest near the south end of the lagoon, opposite Walker House.  We were lucky enough to see it at close range, with its mate…

There were several pairs of Canada Geese and a few broods of goslings around…

A female Belted Kingfisher was perched over the lagoon…

Several Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen.  This one is an Audubon subspecies…

Two male Harlequin Ducks on a distant island in the river…

Two male Wood Ducks on the river…

A yawning female Common Merganser…

And lots of these guys looking for handouts…

Afterwards I went over to the adjacent Inglewood Wildlands Park.  There were several Savannah Sparrows singing…

And hovering over the pond, a Say’s Phoebe…

You don’t see these flycatchers in the city too often, and I got a good look at it…

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Free Summer Bird Walks

Last week, the first of Nature Calgary’s Tuesday evening bird walks was held.  For those of you who can’t make it out on weekend mornings, these evening walks may be a good opportunity.  Throughout the spring and summer, a free birding field trip to one of Calgary’s many parks will be offered every Tuesday beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

For information on upcoming walks, check the “Free Nature Walks” page on our banner above.  The page is updated regularly.  This evening, May 10, the field trip will be at Edworthy Park in the northwest.  Spring migration is getting into full swing, so get out and see the latest arrivals.

Carburn Park

All Nature Calgary field trips are free and open to all members of the public.  You don’t have to be a member of Nature Calgary to attend.  If you need any more information about a particular walk, you can phone the walk leader at the number listed.  But in general, you just have to show up!  Dress for the weather, have your binoculars and/or camera ready, and have fun while learning about the birds of Calgary and our natural areas.

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Elbow River Bird Survey

(Note:  The Elbow River Bird Survey is a Nature Calgary field trip.  Like all of Nature Calgary’s field trips, it is free, and anyone can participate – you don’t have to be a member.  The next survey is Monday, January 3.  Meet in the parking lot at Stanley Park on 42 Avenue SW,  just west of Macleod Trail, at 8:30 am.  If you would like to join us, call Gus or Aileen at 403-243-2248.)
When I began to bird seriously, I found that the fastest way to learn was to go on field trips offered by Nature Calgary (also known as the Calgary Field Naturalists’ Society).  The best way to see a lot of bird species and learn to identify them is to go out in the company of experienced birders.
One of my favourite field trips is the Elbow River Bird Survey.  This is a walk along the Elbow from Stanley Park to the Glenmore Dam.  It has been led on the first day of each month for over fifteen years by Gus Yaki and his wife, Aileen Pelzer.  The walk starts shortly after dawn and takes about three and a half hours.
IMG_1826 adj 
Wood Ducks perched beside the river, March 1, 2008. 
A Common Merganser on the River near Stanley Park, November 1, 2009. 

Gus is a lifelong naturalist and is very informative about birds, plants, and other natural history.  He keeps track of all the bird and mammal species seen, and the numbers of each.  He is gathering valuable data on the changes in bird populations along the river.

IMG_0970 trimmed
Gus Yaki (pointing) leading a walk on the Elbow River pathway, November 1, 2009. 
The walk is mostly flat and easy, with one small hill between Sandy Beach and the Glenmore dam.  There are a variety of habitats on the walk.  You can see waterfowl on the river and the reservoir, songbirds in the parks and along the tree-lined urban streets and backyards, woodpeckers in the stand of old poplars in Riverdale Park, and the occasional raptor almost anywhere.  In recent years Gus has been posting the list of species seen each month on the Albertabird Listserv.  You always see something interesting.
Goshawk - Elbow River trimmed 
This Northern Goshawk had just knocked a Common Goldeneye down onto the ice on the river. It flew off without pursuing the attack. February 1, 2009. 
Like all of Nature Calgary’s field trips, this walk is free and open to everyone.  You do not have to be a member of Nature Calgary to participate.  If you plan to attend, since this is a one-way walk, call Gus and Aileen ahead of time, so they can arrange to carpool us back to the starting point.  The starting time changes throughout the year so check the field trip list on the Nature Calgary website or on the Calgary Rare Bird Alert (RBA) on Albertabird.
The next survey is Monday, January 3, 2011.  Meet in the parking lot at Stanley Park on 42 Avenue SW,  just west of Macleod Trail at 8:30 am.  If you would like to join us, call Gus or Aileen at 403-243-2248.
The Elbow River with the Glenmore Dam in the Backgound. 
IMG_0976 adj
The Elbow River between Glenmore Dam and Sandy Beach. 
IMG_0972 Adj
Downstream from Sandy Beach. 

Some Recent Results of the Elbow River Bird Survey:   

  Wednesday, December 1, 2010. Sunny, calm, -02 to 02C.

  1. Canada Goose-262
  2. Mallard-60
  3. Common Goldeneye-1f
  4. Rock Pigeon-2
  5. Downy Woodpecker-2
  6. Hairy Woodpecker-1
  7. Northern Flicker-1
  8. Black-billed Magpie-31
  9. Common Raven-5
  10. Black-capped Chickadee-22
  11. Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
  12. White-breasted Nuthatch-3
  13. Townsend’s Solitaire-2
  14. American Robin-2
  15. Eur. Starling-4
  16. Bohemian Waxwing-60
  17. Dark-eyed Junco-1
  18. House Finch-1
  19. House Sparrow-12

(Eastern Gray Squirrel – 6 )

November 1, 2010, 9:20-11:50am. Partly cloudy, calm –1 to 6 C.


  1. Canada Goose-5
  2. Wood Duck-2
  3. Mallard-50
  4. Hooded Merganser-3
  5. Bald Eagle-1
  6. Rough-legged Hawk-1
  7. Ring-billed Gull-20
  8. Rock Dove-3
  9. Downy Woodpecker-4
  10. Northern Flicker-3
  11. Blue Jay-2
  12. Black-billed Magpie-52
  13. American Crow-1
  14. Common Raven-3
  15. Black-capped Chickadee-22
  16. Red-breasted Nuthatch-3
  17. White-breasted Nuthatch-1
  18. American Robin-4
  19. European Starling-13
  20. House Finch-7
  21. House Sparrow-15

 October 1, 2010. Mostly sunny, becoming windy, 20kph, 02-10C.
  1. Canada Goose-60
  2. Wood Duck-3
  3. Mallard-2
  4. Osprey-1
  5. Bald Eagle-1 ad/1 imm.
  6. Harlan’s Hawk, light morph-1, chased by 20 starlings, then harassed by 25 B.b. Magpies.
  7. Merlin-1
  8. Ring-billled Gull-4
  9. Rock Pigeon-4
  10. Northern Flicker-10
  11. Blue Jay-1+
  12. Black-billed Magpie-60
  13. American Crow-24
  14. Common Raven-1
  15. Black-capped Chickadee-16
  16. Red-breasted Nuthatch-6
  17. White-breasted Nuthatch-2
  18. American Robin-70
  19. European Starling-30
  20. Yellow-rumped Warbler-1
  21. House Sparrow-7
  • Eastern Gray Squirrel-9
  • Red Squirrel-1


September 1, 2010. Mostly cloudy, NW wind 20kph, 7-12C.  

  1. Canada Goose-2
  2. Wood Duck-4
  3. Mallard-17
  4. Common Merganser-3
  5. Red-necked Grebe-1
  6. Osprey-2
  7. Bald Eagle-1 imm.
  8. Sharp-shinned Hawk-1
  9. Cooper’s Hawk-1
  10. Merlin-1, repeatedly diving at Northern Flickers.
  11. Ring-billed Gull-1+
  12. California Gull-60
  13. Rock Pigeon-1
  14. Northern Flicker-12
  15. Western Wood-Pewee-1
  16. Red-eyed Vireo-1
  17. Blue Jay-3
  18. Black-billed Magpie-25
  19. Am. Crow-44
  20. Common Raven-4
  21. Black-capped Chickadee-1, unusually low number.
  22. Red-breasted Nuthatch-3
  23. American Robin-40
  24. Gray Catbird-1
  25. European Starling-5
  26. Cedar Waxwing-40
  27. Yellow-rumped Warbler-2 imm.
  28. Wilson’s Warbler-11
  29. Clay-colored Sparrow-1+
  30. House Finch-3
  31. Pine Siskin-20
  32. Am. Goldfinch-1 m.
 (Amazingly, first time without a House Sparrow).
Eastern Gray Squirrel-1
Mule Deer-1
 August 1, 2010, 0700-1045. Heavy overcast, light drizzle, 14-15C. 7 observers.

1.. Mallard-25
2.. Common Merganser-11
3.. Common Loon-2
4.. Osprey-1
5.. Merlin-1
6.. California Gull-41
7.. Rock Pigeon-25
8.. Downy Woodpecker-3
9.. Northern Flicker-18
10.. Western Wood-Pewee-3
11.. Least Flycatcher-1
12.. Black-billed Magpie-46
13.. American Crow-23
14.. Common Raven-5
15.. Tree Swallow-8
16.. Cliff Swallow-500
17.. Black-capped Chickadee-3
18.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-4
19.. House Wren-6
20.. American Robin-48
21.. Gray Catbird-5
22.. Cedar Waxwing-30
23.. Yellow Warbler-3
24.. Western Tanager-3, all 3 at different sites.
25.. Chipping Sparrow-6
26.. Clay-colored Sparrow-1
27.. Song Sparrow-1
28.. Brown-headed Cowbird-1
29.. Baltimore Oriole-1 juv. m.
30.. House Finch-15
31.. American Goldfinch-1 m.
32.. House Sparrow-60.
Also seen, amidst dense leaves at the Glenmore Dam, was a warbler head with a
gray face, eye-ring, light throat and with a yellow wash, apparently on the
upper chest. The first impression was that of a female American Redstart, but
the yellow was definitely on the chest, not on the flanks. At no time was any of
the rest of the body seen. The only other choice was a Virginia’s Warbler. Both
species of course are unlikely at this time. A birding mystery.

Eastern Gray Squirrel-1
Least Chipmunk.

July 1, 2010, 0630-11am, Stanley Park-Glenmore Dam.

1.. Canada Goose-51
2.. American Wigeon-1 m.
3.. Mallard-7 + young.
4.. Common Goldeneye-2 f.
5.. Common Merganser-3 f.
6.. Osprey-1 on nest
7.. Swainson’s Hawk-1
8.. Red-tailed Hawk-1+
9.. Rock Pigeon-5
10.. Downy Woodpecker-2
11.. Northern Flicker-9
12.. Least Flycatcher-3
13.. Red-eyed Vireo-1
14.. Black-billed Magpier-46
15.. American Crow-11
16.. Tree Swallow-10+
17.. Bank Swallow-3
18.. Cliff Swallow-20+
19.. Black-capped Chickadee-5
20.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
21.. House Wren-6
22.. American Robin-32
23.. Gray Catbird-4
24.. European Starling-14
25.. Cedar Waxwing-15
26.. Yellow Warbler-12
27.. Clay-colored Sparrow-4
28.. Song Sparrow-1
29.. Lincoln’s Sparrow-1
30.. White-throated Sparrow-1
31.. Brown-headed Cowbird-3
32.. House Finch-10
33.. House Sparrow-10
Eastern Gray Squirrel-12
June 1, 2010, 0640-1100.  Mostly cloudy, S wind 10kph, 5-12C.

a.. Canada Goose-34 + 15 yg/
b.. Mallard-15 m
c.. Common Goldeneye-2 f
d.. Common Merganser-1 f
e.. Osprey-1
f.. Red-tailed Hawk-1+
g.. Spotted Sandpiper-2
h.. Franklin’s Gull-10
i.. Rock Pigeon-14
j.. Downy Woodpecker-2
k.. Northern Flicker-10
l.. ?Western Wood-Pewee-1
m.. Black-billed Magpie-23
n.. Am. Crow-4
o.. Tree Swallow-36+
p.. Bank Swallow-1
q.. Cliff Swallow-20+
r.. Black-capped Chickadee-16
s.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-4
t.. House Wren-5+
u.. Swainson’s Thrush-1
v.. Am. Robin-36
w.. Gray Catbird-4+
x.. European Starling-20
y.. Yellow Warbler-16+
z.. Chipping Sparrow-5
aa.. Clay-colored Sparrow-8+
ab.. Song Sparrow-1 heard
ac.. Common Grackle-2
ad.. Brown-headed Cowbird-6+
ae.. House Finch-3
af.. House Sparrow-14
a.. Eastern Gray Squirrel-7
b.. Red Squirrel-1

Saturday May 1, 2010 0700-1200. Mostly sunny, calm, 0-10C.
  1. Canada Goose-15, with three clutches of 5, 5, and 3 young.
  2. Wood Duck-3 m.
  3. Mallard-20
  4. Bufflehead-10
  5. Common Merganser-6
  6. Ring-necked Pheasant-4 m
  7. Common Loon-1
  8. Horned Grebe-4
  9. Red-necked Grebe-1
  10. Cooper’s Hawk-1
  11. Red-tailed Hawk-1
  12. Merlin-2
  13. Rock Pigeon-8
  14. Franklin’s Gull-60+
  15. white-headed gulls, high in flight-10+
  16. Yellow-bellied? Sapsucker-3
  17. Downy Woodpecker-8
  18. Hairy Woodpecker-1
  19. Northern Flicker-10
  20. Blue Jay-1
  21. Black-billed Magpie-26
  22. American Crow-10+
  23. Tree Swallow-3
  24. Northern Rough-winged Swallow-6, over river, seen by Aileen.
  25. Black-capped Chickadee-35
  26. Red-breasted Nuthatch-10
  27. White-breasted Nuthatch-1 hear
  28. American Robin-60
  29. European Starling-12
  31. Song Sparrow-1
  33. House Finch-12+
  34. Pine Siskin-3
  35. House Sparrow-10

Eastern Gray Squirrel-6

Wednesday March 31, 2010 (for April), Partly cloudy, calm,
0-8C. Ice at Reservoir Dam still frozen.

1.. Canada Goose-16
2.. Mallard-20
3.. Common Merganser-2
4.. Ring-billed Gull-12
5.. Rock Pigeon-6
6.. Downy Woodpecker-8
7.. Northern Flicker-6
8.. Blue Jay-1
9.. Black-billed Magpie-16
10.. American Crow-4
11.. Common Raven-8
12.. Black-capped Chickadee-12
13.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-5
14.. American Robin-36
15.. European Starling-6
16.. House Finch-10
17.. Pine Siskin-1
18.. House Sparrow-6
Eastern Gray Squirrel-2

Monday March 1, 2010, 8:00-12:30. Sunny, calm, -4 to 9C.

  1. Canada Goose-140
  2. Wood Duck-1 pr.
  3. Mallard-60
  4. Common Goldeneye-1 m.
  5. Common Merganser-4
  6. Merlin-1 carrying prey.
  7. Rock Pigeon-5
  8. Great Horned Owl-2
  9. Downy Woodpecker-8
  10. Hairy Woodpecker-5
  11. Northern Flicker-6+
  12. Blue Jay-1+ heard.
  13. Black-billed Magpier-30
  14. Common Raven-3
  15. Black-capped Chickadee-22
  16. Red-breasted Nuthatch-5
  17. White-breasted Nuthatch-3
  18. Brown Creeper-2
  19. European Starling-5
  20. House Finch-6+
  21. Pine Siskin-2+
  22. House Sparrow-16

Eastern Gray Squirrel-6

Monday, February 1, 2010, 0815-1145. Sunny, Calm, -6 to -2C. 
1.. Canada Goose-190
2.. Mallard-160
3.. Common Goldeneye-2
4.. Common Merganser-2
5.. Bald Eagle-1 ad.
6.. Rock Pigeon-4
7.. Downy Woodpecker-4
8.. Hairy Woodpecker-1
9.. Northern Flicker-2
10.. Black-billed Magpie-45
11.. Common Raven-9
12.. Black-capped Chickadee-62, counted by Tony T.
13.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
14.. White-breasted Nuthatch-1
15.. European Starling-8
16.. Bohemian Waxwing-350
17.. House Finch-6
18.. House Sparrow-24
Eastern Gray Squirrel-4

Saturday January 3, 2010: 8:30-12noon, Sunny, calm, -12C. 7 participants

1.. Canada Goose-450
2.. Mallard 500
3.. Common Goldeneye-8
4.. Common Merganser-2
5.. Downy Woodpecker-7
6.. Hairy Woodpecker-2
7.. Black-billed Magpie-60
8.. Common Raven-14
9.. Black-capped Chickadee-32
10.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-7
11.. White-breasted Nuthatch-1
12.. Bohemian Waxwing-200
13.. House Finch-1
14.. Common Redpoll?-5
15.. House Sparrow-35
a.. Eastern Gray Squirrel-7
b.. White-tailed Jackrabbit-tracks.
c.. Coyote tracks

Posted by Bob Lefebvre 


  1. Canada Goose-262
  2. Mallard-60
  3. Common Goldeneye-1f
  4. Rock Pigeon-2
  5. Downy Woodpecker-2
  6. Hairy Woodpecker-1
  7. Northern Flicker-1
  8. Black-billed Magpie-31
  9. Common Raven-5
  10. Black-capped Chickadee-22
  11. Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
  12. White-breasted Nuthatch-3
  13. Townsend’s Solitaire-2
  14. American Robin-2
  15. Eur. Starling-4
  16. Bohemian Waxwing-60
  17. Dark-eyed Junco-1
  18. House Finch-1
  19. House Sparrow-12

 Eastern Gray Squirrel – 5

Nature Calgary September Field Trips

The following nature walks are free, and open to all. Join us as we get to know Calgary & the birds better!

Tue, Sep 1, 7:30am: Monthly Elbow River Birding Survey. Meet Stanley Park, 42 Av SW, just W of Macleod Tr. Walk to Glenmore Reservoir, ride back (3.5 hours). Call leaders, Aileen Pelzer/Gus Yaki, 403-243-2248, to ensure vehicle space for return.

Sat Sep 5, 8am: Bird Carburn Park, S from Glenmore Tr E at 18 St SE to second stoplight, then right & follow signs. Leaders, Dick/Lenora Flynn, 403-271-1269.

Sun Sep 6, 8:30am: Bird Pearce Estates, 1440 17A St SE, N of Blackfoot Trail. Leader, Al Borgardt, 403-281-4306.

Sun Sep 6, 9:30am: The Wild Berries of Weaselhead Natural Area. Meet parking lot, 37 St & 66 Av SW. Leader, Gus Yaki, 403-243-2248.

Sat Sep 12, 9am: Birding Bowmont Park. Meet Maranatha Church, 2111 52 St NW (N end of Home Rd). Leader, Horst Grothman, 403-286-3048.

Sun Sep 13, 8:30am: Bird Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, E. end of 9 Av SW. Leader, Al Borgardt, 403-281-4306.

Sat Sep 19, 8:30am: Bird Windham/Carseland Prov. Park. Bring lunch. Meet at Anderson LRT (Macleod Tr) S. of pedestrian walkway. Leader, Andrew Hart, 403-279-5209.

Sun Sep 20, 8:30am: Bird Griffith Woods Park, 2.5km W on Hwy 8 from Sarcee Tr SW, then left at 69 St SW into Discovery Ridge. Continue straight at traffic circle, then left on Discovery Link into parking lot. Leader, Grant Brydle, 720-4957.

Sat Sep 26, 9am: Bird Mallard Point, E end of Canyon Meadows Dr SE. Leader, Howard Heffler, 403-284-2961.

Sun Sep 27, 8:30am: Bird Windham/Carseland Prov. Park. Bring lunch. Meet at Anderson LRT (Macleod Tr) S. of pedestrian walkway. Leader, Howard Heffler, 403-284-2961.

Sun Sep 27, 9am: See the huge and unusual trees of Bowness Park; trees over 1 m in diameter, over 100+ ft tall; also the scarlet-hued leaves of Red Maple, etc. Meet in first parking