Tag Archive | Pileated Woodpecker

Sunday Showcase: Pileated Woodpecker

Rob English got these last Friday in Carburn Park in southeast Calgary, and says this was the first time he’d ever managed to see one there. The bird was so easy going he couldn’t stop taking pictures. When she did fly it was only 50 or 60 feet so he stayed with her for about an hour just shooting and watching her peel bark. Click on the photos for a larger view.

Walking the Weaselhead


As a Calgary native, I consider it a particularly unfortunate state of affairs that it’s only in the last two years that I began exploring the Weaselhead. Accessed from either North or South Glenmore Park, it is quite likely one of Calgary’s most unique micro-environments, in which three species of hummingbird can be found in the summer, and the Boreal Chickadee can be found in winter. Hearing that it would be the location for our final birding walk of the autumn birding course, I was excited at the opportunity to see some new and exciting species.

It began by walking down the winding trail from the 37th Street parking lot at the western entrance to North Glenmore Park. After stocking one of the feeding stations, we briefly left, but rushed straight back when we noticed a robin-sized bird fly in and land on the ground at the feeder. It was another photo first for me to be able to snap some very close-up shots of a Pine Grosbeak. One of the distinctly beautiful birds both for its song and plumage, with a brutally sharp bite.

Heading down to the bottom feeder stations, we were delighted by the number of Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Common Redpolls taking advantage of the free food available at the feeders.
This Downy Woodpecker also was taking an interest in the feeders, and seemed entirely unfazed at how close we were able to get.
Across the bridge we were treated to the sight of a few more Common Redpolls, followed by Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches feeding at the fence-posts along the pathway.
I think our best bird of the day though was this Pileated Woodpecker who made an appearance and actually sat still long enough for us to get some shots of it.
The feeding station where the Boreal Chickadee pair had been seen all week was productive, but unfortunately the Boreal Chickadees didn’t show up. We did get some nice close views of the Red-breasted Nuthatches again, and the more common Black-capped Chickadees and a single Northern Flicker.
Finally we headed back, only seeing the same species at those feeders on the way back, and nothing in particular that really stole the show from the beautiful Pileated Woodpecker.
And that wrapped up the Autumn Birding course for us. In the new year, Bob Lefebvre will be leading a Sunday walk with the same group until mid to late April, and between now and then are a few important outings on my list, the biggest of which being the Christmas Bird Count, which I’ll post my photos and stories from next week.
Posted by Daniel Arndt.

Family Time For The Birds

I had a day off this last Tuesday so I took the opportunity to go biking and birding in Fish Creek Provincial Park. It was a beautiful morning; the sun was out, the sky was blue, the birds were singing and the weather was warm; finally! I got to Fish Creek at around 8:30 a.m. entering the park just off the intersection of Canyon Meadows drive and Acadia . I was preparing to go down the steep hill into the park only to find that the trail was flooded! Instead I followed the trail around the ridge until I entered the park beside the ranch.I did some random wandering on small paths through Fish Creek, finding a pheasant, a kingfisher, several catbirds and 3 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, among other birds. I then carried on to bridge number 11, leading to Hull’s Wood. Rounding a bend in the path I was surprised to see a male Pileated Woodpecker, just  meters from the path. Before I could get my camera out of my bag, he had flown further away; apparently he was surprised to see me!

I reached Sikome Lake and rode my bike up the hill, in hopes of finding some Great Horned Owls and their owlets; I was not disappointed! There in their regular tree, was the Great Horned Owl family, two young ones and one adult.

As I continued my circuit, I found some more interesting birds, including some Green-winged Teal.

And the Pelicans! The water is so high in the river that pelicans are everywhere; I was able to count up to 27 pelicans at one time, half in the water, half circling in the sky, their bright white feathers contrasting magnificently with the clear blue sky. Another post on the pelicans will follow this one. However, this day, was truly the day of families. At one secluded spot near the river, I found 4 different nests all within a couple of feet of each other. The first belonged to a Downy Woodpecker, the second to a House Wren and the last two to Tree Swallows.

At the Downy Woodpecker nest, the male would visit the hole every couple of minutes and would be instantly greeted with the call of the hungry young in the inside. He continued his work incessantly, feeding his ever hungry offspring.

The House Wrens hardly ever came in and out of their nest but the male was always nearby, singing very loudly and stopping only for the occasional break.

The Tree Swallows would vigorously defend their nests from potential threats, such as the kestrel that flew over several times. The Kestrel in turn would chase away a Swainson’s Hawk that could have been a potential threat to the Kestrel’s family.

As I was leaving the park in late morning I came across a coyote sitting on a hill, looking very content as well as many Savannah Sparrows singing.

Family time for the birds is a busy time of year; I saw 52 species of birds that morning and I had luck as I got to see  some of them raising their families.

Posted by Matthew Sim

Birds of the Weaselhead

Last week we went for a walk through the Weaselhead area of SW Calgary.  It was very wet and the rivers were high, but we did manage to find some nice birds.

The creek near the junction with the Elbow River.

Eastern Phoebes are nesting under both of the wooden bridges…

There are lots of Least Flycatchers in the area…

It appears that Beavers have chewed through this retaining wall, just to make it easier for them to get from the forest to their pond…

We saw this male Calliope Hummingbird do its spectacular U-shaped display flight, where it climbs to a height of about 80 feet, and then dives rapidly towards the ground, and up again…

We never saw any Pileated Woodpeckers, but there is evidence of their activities on many of the big trees…

Cliff Swallows at their mud nests under the bridge over the Elbow River…

A Spotted Sandpiper was feeding on top of some logs in the river…

Cedar Waxwings were busy flycatching along the waterways…

And there were several Red Squirrels, looking for handouts…

Posted by Bob Lefebvre