Monday, 11 June 2012

Hummingbird Hunt

The last couple of weeks have been a little hectic.  My grandfather in England passed away peacefully at the age of 91.  I went over for the funeral and that had the roll on effect of putting me behind at school, just as report cards are coming due.  Nonetheless, I'm really glad I was able to go over and, as this is a nature blog, I should mention that there was some good birding in the UK.  I will post more on Granddad and the British birds at a later date.

In the here and now, it was nice to rejoin the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park birding group after a two week absence.  Last weekend we looked around Bowmont Park and this week we went back to the Weaselhead Natural Area to look for Calliope and Rufous hummingbirds.  These smallest of birds once again proved to be great ambassadors for birding and the session was very well attended despite the recent heavy rains and muddy trails.  Here are a few photos from the day:

Strictly an ID photo!  This profile view shows the purple and white throat streaks characteristic of a male Calliope Hummingbird, Stellula calliope.  This is the smallest bird species in North America, north of Mexico.

A somewhat clearer image of a Rufous Hummingbird, Selasphorous rufus, showing its buffy red flanks and shimmering orange-red gorget (throat feathers).
In the same bushy riverside area where we found the Rufous Hummingbirds there were lots of very approachable Cedar Waxwings, Bombycilla cedrorum.  These ones had pulled a flower from a caragana bush and...
...were passing it back and forth between them, an activity that helps to strengthen bonds between mates and within flocks.  Both of these images also show the red waxy droplets on the wings, from which we derived their name.
The Eastern Phoebe we had seen back in April was now a pair with a nest under the bridge.  This individual waited for us to move on before delivering the package in its beak to the waiting young.
If you are interested in looking for these hummingbirds yourself, check out this excellent post over on "Birds Calgary" which has detailed directions and maps.

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