Tag Archive | christmas bird count calgary

Calgary Christmas Bird Count Results

By Phil Cram

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 61st Calgary Christmas Bird Count on December 16, 2012. A record number of 249 birders took part in this year’s count, with 113 feeder-watchers and 136 observers in the field. Birders in the field put in a total of 239 party-hours, 77 percent on foot, covering 239 km on foot and 1156 km by car.

Some count highlights:

65 species were recorded, equalling our average for the past 20 years.

57,149 individual birds were counted, our fifth-highest. Bohemian Waxwings were the most numerous, with almost 17,000 counted, and over 1000 individuals were counted for another nine species.

We had a new species for the count, but unfortunately just for count-week. A Clark’s Nutcracker was seen in Hawkwood on Saturday, perhaps a first-ever sighting in the city. One other rarity was a Yellow-rumped Warbler in Wentworth, first seen and photographed earlier in December and which has survived at least until count-day.

Other unusual species (recorded in two or less years in the prior ten): Trumpeter Swan, 2; Gadwall, 1; and Common Grackle, 1.

Record numbers for: Trumpeter Swan, 2; Redhead, 23; Northern Goshawk, 8; Mourning Dove, 4; American Crow, 152; Common Raven, 537; and Brown Creeper, 31.

High Counts (more than three-times the prior ten-year average) for: Lesser Scaup, 9; Red Crossbill, 237; White-winged Crossbill, 1101; Common Redpoll, 1940 (second-highest count ever); and Hoary Redpoll, 9.

Low counts (less than one-third the prior ten-year average) for: Common Goldeneye, 332 (compared with 3062 last year, the highest in Canada); European Starling, 109; Cedar Waxwing, 2; and Snow Bunting, 1.

Missing species (seen on count-day in seven or more years in the prior ten, but missed this year) were: American Wigeon, Harlequin Duck, Hooded Merganser and Mountain Chickadee.

Species seen by only one route (All feeder-watchers counted as one route):  Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Redhead, Greater Scaup, Ruffed Grouse, Red-tailed Hawk, Killdeer, Belted Kingfisher, American Dipper, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Tree Sparrow, Snow Bunting, Rusty Blackbird and Common Grackle.

Species seen by only two routes (All feeder-watchers counted as one route):  Trumpeter Swan, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Cooper’s Hawk, Mourning Dove, Pileated Woodpecker, Townsend’s Solitaire, White-throated Sparrow and Purple Finch.

Unverified Species, not included in species list (Awaiting further details and/or documentation): Double-crested Cormorant, Chestnut-backed Chickadee and Song Sparrow.

I will be presenting the results at the Bird Study Group meeting on Wednesday January 9, 2013 at 7:30 PM in Room 211 of the Biosciences Building, University of Calgary, as part of the traditional Calgary region CBC review evening. Please let me know if you notice any omissions or errors in this provisional compilation. Final results will be posted on the Audubon database within two weeks. I will be putting together a route-by-route compilation and will be pleased to email you a copy on request.

List of species recorded on count-day:

Canada Goose, 8399; Trumpeter Swan, 2; Wood Duck, 10; Gadwall, 1; Mallard, 9465; Northern Pintail, 2; Redhead, 23; Greater Scaup, 2; Lesser Scaup, 9; Bufflehead, 148; Common Goldeneye, 332; Barrow’s Goldeneye, 8; Common Merganser, 101; Gray Partridge, 115; Ring-necked Pheasant, 7; Ruffed Grouse, 3; Bald Eagle, 25; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 8; Cooper’s Hawk, 2; Northern Goshawk, 8; Red-tailed Hawk, 1; Rough-legged Hawk, 6; Merlin, 24; Killdeer, 2; Rock Pigeon, 2518; Mourning Dove, 4; Great Horned Owl, 7; Belted Kingfisher, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 139; Hairy Woodpecker, 26; Northern Flicker, 135; Pileated Woodpecker, 2; Northern Shrike, 6; Blue Jay, 97; Black-billed Magpie, 2295; American Crow, 152; Common Raven, 537; Black-capped Chickadee, 1570; Boreal Chickadee, 27; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 632; White-breasted Nuthatch, 59; Brown Creeper, 31; American Dipper, 3; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 54; Townsend’s Solitaire, 2; American Robin, 86; European Starling, 109; Bohemian Waxwing, 16889; Cedar Waxwing, 2; Yellow-rumped Warbler, 1; American Tree Sparrow, 4; White-throated Sparrow, 2; Dark-eyed Junco, 99; Snow Bunting, 1; Rusty Blackbird, 1; Common Grackle, 1; Pine Grosbeak, 152; Purple Finch, 2; House Finch, 1350; Red Crossbill, 237; White-winged Crossbill, 1101; Common Redpoll, 1940; Hoary Redpoll, 9; Pine Siskin, 65; and House Sparrow, 7898.

Christmas Bird Count – Count Week Birds

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

The Calgary Christmas Bird Count is coming up this Sunday, December 16, and that means that we are now in the Count Week period.  Any species which are seen from December 13 to 19, but missed on the count day itself, are included in the database as Count Week birds.  Sometimes there are very good birds which are known to be around but can’t be found on count day, and sometimes it’s an unexpected bird showing up before or after the count. 

If you see an unusual or out-of-season bird during count week, and it is inside the Count Circle, make a note of the sighting.  If the bird is not reported on count day, pass the information about your sighting to Phil Cram, the count coordinator, at crampj(at)gmail.com.

Christmas Bird Count Circle

The Count Circle for the Calgary CBC. Note that the circle does not include all of the city.


This Song Sparrow has been hanging out at Votier’s Flats in Fish Creek Park for a few weeks – outside the count circle.  Can we find one inside the circle? (Photo by Daniel Arndt)

There have been several sightings of Snowy Owls inside the city recently.  This would be a great bird to add either on Count Day or as a Count Week bird.

Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on CBC

Coordinating all the people and data for the Christmas Bird Count is a tremendous undertaking, and we thank  Phil Cram for his dedication to the birds.

On Thursday Dec 22, Phil will be talking about the Calgary count with David Gray on the CBC Eyeopener show. Tune in to CBC Radio One at 6:40 in the morning – start your day with bird thoughts and discussion.

Update to the Christmas Bird Count

While my Common Grackle didn’t show up on Sunday, he obligingly visited my feeders on Tuesday Dec 20, so he did make it into count week!

Posted by Pat Bumstead

Calgary Christmas Bird Count Results

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 60th Calgary Christmas Bird count on December 18, 2011. A record number of 239 birders took part in this year’s count, with 117 feeder-watchers and 122 observers in the field.

Conditions on count-day were excellent. Light overnight snow stopped just at the start of the count and it was generally cloudy throughout the day. The temperature remained in a narrow range between minus 3 deg and zero deg. Snow cover was around 10 – 15 cm. Glenmore Reservoir was fully frozen and the Bow and Elbow Rivers were partly frozen. Birders in the field put in a total of 238 party-hours, 68 percent on foot, covering 229 km on foot and 1021 km by car.

Some Count Highlights

69 species were recorded, tied for third highest-ever; we have averaged 65 species for the past 20 years. Two additional species have been recorded in count-week (December 15-21) so far, Long-tailed Duck and American Dipper

66,529 individual birds were counted, our highest-ever. Bohemian Waxwings were the most numerous, with almost 20 000 counted, and over 1000 individuals were counted for another ten species, four of them finch species.

We had a new bird for the count, our first since 2005. This was an American Pipit found on the Bow River. The bird had first been sighted there on December 3. Other rarities were a Pied-billed Grebe found at the outlet of the Elbow River (4th count record) and a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (2nd count-record). Excellent photographs were taken of these rarities which will greatly aid the documentation process.

Other unusual species (recorded in two or less years in the prior ten): Canvasback (1), Northern Harrier (1), Hoary Redpoll (21) and Evening Grosbeak (2).

Record numbers for Cooper’s Hawk (6), Rough-legged Hawk (17), Northern Flicker (142), Pine Grosbeak (852) and White-winged Crossbill (1129).

High Counts (more than three-times the prior ten-year average) for two regularly recorded species: Prairie Falcon (3) and Common Redpoll (1543).

Low counts (less than one-third the prior ten-year average) for one regularly recorded species: American Wigeon (2).

Five “missing” species (seen on count-day in seven or more years in the prior ten, but missed this year): Green-winged Teal, Redhead, Harlequin Duck, Mountain Chickadee and American Dipper.

I will be presenting the results at the Bird Study Group meeting on Wednesday January 4, 2012 at 7:30 PM in Room 211 of the Biosciences Building, University of Calgary, as part of the traditional Calgary region CBC review evening. Please let me know if you notice any omissions or errors in this provisional compilation. Final results will be posted on the Audubon database as soon as it is re-functioning.

MOST IMPORTANT — please inform me of any count-week sightings of any species not on the list below.

List of species recorded on count-day

Cackling Goose, 2; Canada Goose, 8191; Wood Duck, 7; American Wigeon, 2; Mallard, 14623; Northern Pintail 1; Canvasback, 1; Lesser Scaup, 1; Bufflehead, 178; Common Goldeneye, 2993; Barrow’s Goldeneye, 20; Hooded Merganser, 5; Common Merganser, 60; Gray Partridge, 125; Ring-necked Pheasant, 24; Ruffed Grouse, 3; Pied-billed Grebe, 1; Bald Eagle, 19; Northern Harrier, 1; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 8; Cooper’s Hawk, 6; Northern Goshawk, 6, Red-tailed Hawk, 1; Rough-legged Hawk, 17; Merlin, 19; Gyrfalcon, 2; Prairie Falcon, 3; Killdeer, 5; Gull sp., 1; Rock Pigeon, 3221; Great Horned Owl, 5; Belted Kingfisher, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 131; Hairy Woodpecker, 24; Northern Flicker, 142; Pileated Woodpecker, 1; Northern Shrike, 2; Blue Jay, 102; Black-billed Magpie, 2366; American Crow 51; Common Raven, 192; Black-capped Chickadee, 1360; Boreal Chickadee, 10; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 344; White-breasted Nuthatch, 55; Brown Creeper, 12; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 18; Townsend’s Solitaire, 8; American Robin, 63; European Starling, 515; American Pipit, 1; Bohemian Waxwing, 19593; Cedar Waxwing, 10; American Tree Sparrow, 6; Harris’s Sparrow, 2; Dark-eyed Junco, 213; Snow Bunting, 3; Rusty Blackbird, 1; Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, 1; Pine Grosbeak, 852; Purple Finch, 1; House Finch, 1280; Red Crossbill, 139; White-winged Crossbill, 1129; Common Redpoll, 1543; Hoary Redpoll, 21; Pine Siskin, 571; Evening Grosbeak, 2 and House Sparrow, 6214

Total species, 69. Total individuals, 66 529.

Phil Cram


Christmas Bird Count

As a follow-up to Bob’s post on the Christmas Bird Count this year, I am posting from my experiences last year.

For the 2010 Big Year birding here in Calgary, I decided to participate in my first Christmas Bird Count. I had heard great stories about this annual winter event and I was not disappointed. I was scheduled to a very productive route on the Bow River, with Southland Park and Carburn Park our main birding spots. We had a very good turnout for species, recording about 29, if I remember correctly. Some of the highlights on our route, were Killdeer, a Northern Shrike, a Rough-legged Hawk, a pair of Great Horned Owls and two immature Trumpeter Swans. These swans were seen continually in January of 2011 and were identified as one immature Tundra Swan and one immature Trumpeter Swan.

A fellow bird-counter participating in the 2010 Calgary CBC

Overall, almost 200 people took part in the 2010 count, with 102 feeder-watchers and 92 birders in the field. Temperatures ranged from -15 to -13 degrees Celsius with some light snow falling in the morning. Birders in the field put in a combined
205 party-hours total, 230 km  on foot and 881 km by car. These stats were compiled by Phil Cram, Donna and Arthur Wieckowski, Bob Lefebvre and John McFaul and can be more extensively viewed  by following this link:


Bald Eagles are usually seen on the Bow River

My group divided ourselves up into small parties in the morning, scanning the Bow River on either sides in and around Southland Park. Once we had spent several hours scouring the snow-swept landscape for birds, we headed to the nearest Tim Hortons for some warmth, where we traded stories and identification tips over refreshments. We headed back out, this time to Carburn Park, where we added Bohemian Waxwings, the shrike and some Barrow’s Goldeneyes. We ate lunch in our heated cars at Carburn and spent the afternoon searching our range for any missing species. That evening, all CBC participants from all over the city flocked to the Flynn’s house where we were served delicious chili and shared our tales from the day.

Birds are not the only wildlife seen on the Christmas Bird Count

The 2010 Christmas Bird Count was very enjoyable; if you have never done it before I highly recommend it. Calgary is historically a very high count in North American for number of participants; last year we had a total of 194 participants which was the 7th highest count in the US and Canada (Edmonton was 1st in North America with 439 participants!!!). Calgary also had the most species of birds recorded on the CBC in Alberta with a grand total of 64.

I will be back in Calgary for the holidays and I hope to see you there!

Posted by Matthew Sim

Christmas Birds Counts – We Need Your Help

In 1900, to oppose the so-called “side-hunt” wherein groups of gunners competed to see which could shoot the most wildlife on Boxing Day, American ornithologist Frank Chapman asked North Americans to head out on Christmas Day, to count the birds in their communities and submit the results as the first ever “Christmas Bird Census”. His suggestion has evolved into one of the largest organized birding events in the world, and now is  a holiday tradition during the Christmas season for well over 50,000 participants each year.

The 110th annual Christmas Bird Count, as it is now called, is conducted in well over 2200 localities across Canada, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The bird observations, collected during one-day counts between December 14th and January 5th, within a 12 km diameter circle, have been amassed into a huge database that reflect the distribution and numbers of winter birds, over time. The northward spread of many wintering species, so depicted, shows clear evidence of climate change.

The next annual Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) are coming up shortly. About 370 Canadian CBCs are reported to Bird Studies Canada each year. In all, some 12,000 to 20,000 people participate across Canada. You can be one of them. It’s a great way to get to know your area, and to see and to learn more about the birds that you can expect during the winter months.

The Christmas Season is a busy time for many, but it also offers some free time for others. If you have that time, regardless of your knowledge, you are invited to join in this fun-filled activity. Most CBCs are all day outings, but you can participate for half-days, if you so wish.

To help you to plan, below are the dates for some of this season’s upcoming local activities. Participation in the Calgary activities will be particularly valuable for the 2010 Big Year Bird Competition, as you will learn where to find the rarer species beginning Jan. 1st.
Sun Dec 13, 8:30am to noon: Scout some local Calgary CBC territories. (One is the Elbow River from Stanley Park to Rideau/Roxboro). Meet at 420 Brunswick Av SW [approximately at 46 Av & 4 St SW] in time to leave at 8:30am. Return at noon for a hot complementary lunch. Contact Gus Yaki, 403-243-2248.

Tue Dec 15, High River CBC. We’ll leave Calgary approx. 7am, and return about 7pm, after a potluck evening meal.

Sat Dec 19, Banff/Canmore CBC. We’ll leave Calgary approx. 6:30am, returning about 5pm.

Sun Dec 20, Calgary CBC. Join one of the approximately 30 parties that will be scouring Calgary’s parks and natural areas.For assignment to a group, contact Phil Cram, 403-228-4142 or crampj@telusplanet.net. Alternatively, meet at 420 Brunswick Av SW, in time to leave at 8:15am. Depending upon the number of participants, we usually break into two groups, to cover both sides of the Elbow River. At noon, we return for hot soup and sandwiches. After lunch, if you have the time and energy, we’ll drive in the Mount Royal area for additional species, ending at about 4pm. After 5pm, optional, we’ll gather at the home of Dick and Lenora Flynn’s, 71 Mapleburn Dr SE, to tally the day’s results – and to have supper, $4.00

Sun Dec 27, Nanton CBC. We’ll leave Calgary about 7am, assembling at Laurie Messner’s home, 3.2 kms W of Hwy #2,on N side of Twp Rd #154, staying in the field until dusk, then compiling the results and partaking of a complementary supper, arriving home about 7pm.

Tue Dec 29, Cochrane Wildlife Preserve CBC. (Water Valley area). Depart about 6:30am. Return home about 5:30pm.

Wed Jan 6, 7:30pm: Summary and analysis of some of the local area CBCs results. Meet in Room 211, Biosciences Building, Univ. of Calgary.

See January CBC trips on our Free Nature Walks Page


NOTE: To cover costs of processing the huge amount of data collected, there is a fee of $5.00 for each CBC, free if you are under 18 or are a member of Bird Studies Canada (BSC). Individual membership in BSC is $35.00 annually ($25.00 for student). You will receive an informative, in-depth publication quarterly and can elect to also get bi-weekly electronic newsletters. For more information, contact http://www.birdscanada.org.

Questions anyone? I will gladly answer any that you may have. Please feel free to contact me at 403-243-2248; or by email: gyaki@calcna.ab.ca. Once you register for any activity I’ll supply further updated information as we approach the actual date.

Gus Yaki