Posts Tagged With: birds calgary 2010

First-Quarter Winners

Here are the winners of the first quarter of the Birds Calgary 2010 competition. Congratulations to all you keen birdwatchers!

Pileated Woodpecker by Ken Johnson


Michael Harrison – 81 species
Colin Young – 78 species
Hank Vanderpol – 76 species

Cindy and Dan Parliament – 56 species
Bernie Diebolt – 55 species
Jim Donohue – 53 species

Susan Konopnicki – 50 species
Louise Moreau & Michael Geldorp – 38 species
Vic Urban – 35 species


Sub-adults (born 1991, 1992, 1993)
Katie Donohue – 54 species

Fledglings (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997)
Jacob Farkas – 36 species
Matthew Sim – 35 species
Gilbert Lybbert – 22 species

Nestlings (born 1998 or later)
Lucianna Lybbert – 16 species
Jarom Lybbert – 11 species
Emma Bentley – 8 species


Big Day – Novice
Louise Moreau & Michael Geldorp – 15 species

Non-Motorized Transport – Advanced
Michael Harrison – 81 species
Colin Young – 75 species
Bill Wilson – 58 species

Non-Motorized Transport – Novice
Louise Moreau & Michael Geldorp – 8 species

Yard List
Arthur & Donna Wieckowski – 24 species
Pat Bumstead – 23 species
Val Pritchard tied with Phil Cram – 21 species

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Bird Identification: The Six ‘S’ Rule

Least Flycatcher by Anne Elliott

Let me tell you about the Six “S” rule.

Once other folks know that you have some knowledge of birds, they will call upon you to tell them the name of a species that they recently observed. They’ll often start out by saying something like, “Last week, while visiting my cousin Philip at Lethbridge, I saw a black and white bird with yellow on it. What was it?”

Well, unless they can give you more information, you can only guess as to its possible identity. If you know them well, you might reply something to the effect, “When I drink too much I see those birds too”.

To readily identify any mystery bird, you need more detail — information encompassed in six wonderful words that begin with the letter “S”.

If you (or they) pay attention to them, it will enable you to quickly identify the quarry of their query. Those six “S” words are:

S for Size How large is it? Is it Sparrow-sized, Robin-sized, Crow-sized, Goose-sized?

S for Shape, silhouette or structure Is it a chunky bird like a European Starling or a partridge … or long and slim like a magpie?

S for Sound What vocalization did it make? It helps to write it out in phonetics, complete with accents, as you soon forget what you heard.

S for Season What time of the year was it seen? Locally, you don’t expect to see a hummingbird in January — or a Snowy Owl in July.

S for Site [S I T E] What habitat was it in? Ducks usually swim; hummingbirds visit flowers, not vice versa.

–And finally

S for Sight [S I G H T] What markings or behaviour did you note? Eye-rings, wingbars, spotted breasts. Was it alone or in a flock? If flying in a flock, was it in tight or loose formation, etc.?

Initially, you may be overwhelmed by the great number of species of birds. However, by starting now, at this time of the year, when there are relatively few species present, you will get to know their names and identification features. Having learned them, when you see a new species, you can quickly eliminate those you already know. Identification is largely a process of elimination.

Gus Yaki

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Chairman’s Corner #3

Welcome to the Birds Calgary 2010 “big year” competition Blog. If you have not joined the competition please feel welcome to do so. It is for everyone, not just experts.

We are three weeks into the competition and the total list of species seen to date stands at 66. But still no Snowy Owl! I arbitrarily selected it as the target bird for January. Maybe it is harder to find than I thought. There must be a Snowy Owl out there somewhere. With only a few days left in the month, let’s get on it!

Hairy Woodpecker male by Anne Elliott

I enjoy exploring the outlying areas. Remember that either you or the bird or both have to be within the City limits. It will be interesting to compare the results from this year with 2000. A lot of good habitat has been lost to development, but a lot of new land has been added. Anyone want to make a prediction? My guess is that we will not surpass the 2000 list. That year the combined total was 248 species. Ten competitors saw over 200. The winner had 224.

A couple of weeks ago I went public with my total-to-date on the Listserv and invited others to do the same. I thought it would bolster the competitive spirit, but no one else seems willing to admit to their total. Maybe that is the best strategy; just keep it secret until the end of the quarter. So this time I will try the opposite approach; if several of you advertize your total-to-date, I will let you see mine.

I want to thank the rest of the organizing committee; Gus Yaki, Pat Bumstead, Bob Lefebvre, Bill Wilson, Ryan Baxter, and Andrew Hart. We met again last Monday evening and are still looking for way to reach a wider audience. If you would like to help, don’t be shy.

I love to see bird photographs. You can follow the directions on the website and send them to Andrew. They do not have to be for the photography competition until you decide which ones to enter.

Please be safe out there. Especially when driving. And, respect private property.

Good luck and enjoy!

Howard Heffler

Chair, Birds Calgary 2010

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NMT Birding

Birds Calgary 2010 has several categories you can enter when you submit your counts:

  • The Big Year – biggest bird lists for the entire year.
  • Big Quarters – biggest bird lists in each of the four quarters of the year.
  • Big Day – all the birds observed during a single calendar day.
  • Big Sit – all the birds observed during a single calendar day within a 5-metre circle
  • Yard List – all the birds seen or heard from within the residence or yard
  • Best Bird Find of the Year – all participants are eligible to be the finder of the best bird of the year.

Mountain Chickadee by Anne Elliott

One of the categories you may not be familiar with is NMT Birding.

NMT stands for non-motorized transport. One establishes a fixed home base (e.g., one’s house), and all NMT trips have to start from that home base. All NMT birds have to be seen without using motorized transport at any time from home base to when the bird is seen.

There are two versions of the rules for getting back to home base. Some people think of NMT birding primarily as a way of improving fitness, and being green is a nice byproduct. In that case, motorized transport is permitted on the return journey, but the moment one steps onto motorized transport, no further birds are countable NMT until one reaches home base again.

The other interpretation is for the NMT list to be a green list, and getting fit is a nice byproduct. This interpretation usually requires no motorized transport out or back.

Either interpretation is acceptable for the contest.

In my own case, when I’m on my bike I ride out and back, but when I walk I generally take the bus or C-Train back. This doubles the distance I can reach on foot, because a 30-km round trip walk only gets me to Beaverdam Flats, but a 30-km one way trip (& C-Train back) gets me all the way to Hull’s Woods in Fish Creek park.

A year of great NMT birding has come to an end (only to start anew!) Good exercise, good weather (usually), good birds.

  • Totals for 2009 seen (heard): Calgary city, 159 (160); Calgary region, 179 (180).
  • Total cycling: 1008 km. Walking: 375 km.
  • Longest trip cycling: 95 km. Walking: 35 km.
  • Regrets: None.

I’m not sure what qualifies as a best bird, but here are some contenders, in the city unless otherwise specified:

Pacific Loon
Black-crowned Night-heron
White-faced Ibis (region)
Cackling Goose
Broad-winged Hawk
Prairie Falcon (region)
Glaucous Gull
Thayer’s Gull
Sabine’s Gull
Alcid – none (well, at least it was fun looking for them!)
Mountain Chickadee
Magnolia Warbler
Connecticut Warbler
Harris’s Sparrow

Bill Wilson

Posted by Pat Bumstead

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January Target Bird

Male Snowy Owl by Anne Elliott

Our target species for January is the beautiful Snowy Owl. These Arctic owls are currently being seen east of the city, but we’re all anxiously awaiting the first sighting within the city limits.

For more details on Snowy Owls and winter birding, see Birding By Month.

Good birding!

Pat Bumstead

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Early Bird Prize

Preparations are well under way for the Birds Calgary 2010 Event!

We would like to announce we will be awarding an “early bird” prize to one lucky participant. The winner will be selected by a random draw
from among everyone who is registered by midnight of October 31, 2009.

Birds Calgary 2010 is a friendly competition, free and open to all.

Participants keep a list of the bird species they see within the city in 2010, and submit their results quarterly. There are many different categories and some special competitions. The complete rules can be seen on the Nature Calgary website.

One objective of this competition is to encourage new birders and young people to participate. We hope to increase the number of people involved in birding and nature study in Calgary, with the long-term goal of strengthening the voice of the conservation movement in Alberta.

We are offering prizes as incentives, and if we can get a large number of registrants, we will be in a stronger position to solicit local companies for prizes and sponsorship. With that in mind we would like everyone to register as soon as possible, and to encourage others to do so.

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