Posted by Dan Arndt
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the second week of the Friends of Fish Creek Winter birding course as I was out of town on personal business, but I knew that I’d hate to leave the regular Monday readers high and dry. As such, here is a post I’ve been sitting on for a while, and since the coldest days of winter are still ahead of us, and some folks just can’t handle the cold for long periods of time, here’s a suggestion of somewhere to go to brush up on your exotic bird identification skills!
While birding even in the coldest days can bring out some incredible surprises, there are much warmer places with incredibly gorgeous birds all year round. The Calgary Zoo houses a wide variety of bird species, from native Canadian species such as the Burrowing Owl, Whooping Crane, and Bald Eagle, to exotic birds from all over the world, the ugly-pretty Vulturine Guineafowl from Central Africa, the ever-popular and charismatic Rockhopper Penguin, and the beautiful and majestic Andean Condor, from South America.
While none of these birds would count on any list (except maybe a “Seen in Captivity” list), they’re great subjects to photograph, and familiarity gained with these birds here at home would aid significantly in identifying them if you ever end up in their native habitat looking for their wild cousins. On top of that, the public education and awareness of wildlife that the Calgary Zoo engenders with their live collections, public outreach, and captive breeding programs go much further to increase the popularity and appreciation of all animals, not just the charismatic megafauna that they have on display.
I hope you enjoy the photos of a variety of birds I’ve taken at the Calgary Zoo in the past few years!