Showing posts with label Pipits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pipits. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Tree Houses

Yesterday morning was the second Saturday of the Friends of Fish Creek Park spring birding course.  With temperatures around 0°C and a bitter wind blowing snow from the north, the turnout was a little lower than last week but we enjoyed some good birding and stayed out for the full three hours.  If there was a theme to the outing, it was "birds in trees".  This probably seems somewhat trite but as you can see from the photos below there really were some birds hanging out in unusual spots, high in branches and dead trunks around the Fish Creek boat launch.  Two of the bloggers from Birds Calgary lead the Sunday morning outing and you can read about their observations from last week here.
The "as advertised" highlights were the two Great Horned Owl nests in this area of Fish Creek Park.  Here's Dad keeping watch near one of the nest trees.  The video below shows his mate on their nest at the top of a tall dead stump.



Other bird species also take advantage of the snags, hollows, and stumps in the surrounding forest to find nest cavities.
This is business as usual for a Hairy Woodpecker, excavating a nest hole (obscured by the bird's head)
Like the owls, Canada Goose Dad stand's guard while...
...Mom sits on the nest
Wood Ducks, this one a female, are one species of waterfowl that you might expect to find in a tree, although I've not often seen one quite so high up or quite so far out on a branch.
Why do all these birds nest in trees?  Here's one excellent reason...
I was far too busy enjoying watching this Coyote hunting in the undergrowth just thirty yards away to get a good photo.  Still, it's no surprise that all the geese were up high.
The one sighting of note from a biogeographical standpoint were American Pipits.  They have been spotted in this area most days this week - migrating through to their mountain breeding grounds.  We had not seen any all morning until an eagle-eyed Rob Worona checked a section of rocky ground beside the river.  The flock let us approach to within a few yards, I snapped the photos below and we counted about 30 individuals.  Then they took off and we realized that 80 birds had been hiding in the rocks in front of us.  Remarkable!
Three remarkably rock-coloured American Pipits 
A snowed-in American Pipit
As you can see, a productive morning of birding.  To conclude, I'll leave you with the list of species seen and a shot of one of our most elegant birds, the Tundra Swan...
...at its most elegant ;)
31 species total heard/seen - passerines were keeping a low profile in the wind and snow!

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Tundra Swan
  3. Wood Duck
  4. American Wigeon
  5. Mallard
  6. Northern Shoveler
  7. Bufflehead
  8. Common Goldeneye
  9. Common Merganser
  10. Ring-necked Pheasant (heard only)
  11. Great Blue Heron
  12. Red-tailed Hawk
  13. Killdeer
  14. Franklin's Gull
  15. Ring-billed Gull
  16. California Gull
  17. Herring Gull
  18. Great Horned Owl
  19. Downy Woodpecker
  20. Hairy Woodpecker
  21. Northern Flicker
  22. Black-billed Magpie
  23. American Crow
  24. Tree Swallow
  25. Black-capped Chickadee
  26. White-breasted Nuthatch
  27. American Robin
  28. European Starling
  29. American Pipit
  30. Song Sparrow (heard only)
  31. Red-winged Blackbird