Great Canadian Birdathon 2016 Results

My 2016 Great Canadian Birdathon was Monday, May 23rd. Armed with my scope and phone, I digiscoped all the photos I took during the day, though I wasn’t able to photograph every species I saw.

Tree Swallows were the first species to make the list and just standing outside our front door at 6 am I could hear Sprague’s Pipits, Western Meadowlarks, Killdeer, and an American Robin.

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A digiscoped American Robin

I started off scanning the mudflats at the slough across from our house where I was able to find Killdeer, American Avocets, Semipalmated Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, White-rumped Sandpipers and a few Baird’s Sandpipers. Another flock of peeps flew in just a few hundred feet away, so getting closer I found a Stilt Sandpiper (FoS) and a Spotted Sandpiper. Along with all the sandpipers, there were Northern Shovelers, Blue-winged Teals, and Buffleheads on the slough.

I walked over to the woods and I added Baltimore Oriole, Song Sparrow, Least Flycatcher, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat (FoS), Warbling Vireo, Le Conte’s Sparrow, Red-eyed Vireo, European Starling, and Eastern Kingbird (FoS). It started to rain very gently, but the birds didn’t seem to be affected by it.

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American Avocet

I stopped at the house for more breakfast and an opportunity to watch for the Ruby-throated Hummingbird that had been frequenting our window feeder for the past few days. The female hummingbird showed up shortly after I sat down at the kitchen table!

I walked south behind the house to Indian Lake to look for loons and other passerines. I hadn’t been at the lake at all this spring for actual birding and I was surprised to see how much water the lake is holding. There is no longer a shoreline and the water has reached into the woods.

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Tree Swallow,

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Other than Buffleheads, Blue-winged Teals, and lots of Eared Grebes, I didn’t find any new species. I did hear some warblers “chipping” in the trees, so I followed the vocalizations away from the lake. In the trees I saw more American Redstarts and Magnolia Warblers, Clay-coloured Sparrows, and a Lincoln’s Sparrow — a new species for the day.

Blue-winged Teal,

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I was just about to leave the woods when I heard a Rose-breasted Grosbeak singing. I had never seen a grosbeak on any of my previous Birdathons before, so it was a really exciting to see not just one, but two!

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Rose-breasted Grosbeak

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Red-winged Blackbird

I drove over to our farmyard where I found Brown-headed Cowbirds, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Vesper Sparrows, and Black-billed Magpies. Two male Cinnamon Teals have been feeding in a little slough near our house everyday for weeks, but as I drove to the farm yard they were absent. I did my morning chores and then drove around to the next township road where the slough crosses the road.

There were American Avocets all over the road and my suspicion that there were nests around was correct. There were multiple nests on the road and others on the edge of the slough. More shorebirds landed nearby and there were two new species in the flock, Least Sandpipers and a Red-necked Phalarope.

The nests on the road,

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I was still missing a few species such as Ring-necked Ducks, American Coots, and Pied-pied Grebes but found them at another slough down the road. Lunch time was rolling around and back at the house I decided to try again for the teals and there they were, and a Mountain Bluebird on the barbed wire fence to boot.

After lunch I drove to my grandparents’ yard after lunch where I was expecting to find some particular species. On the drive over, there was a Turkey Vulture soaring over the road, with a Swainson’s Hawk below it on a fence post, and an American Kestrel sitting in a snag.

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This White-tailed Deer has just crossed the river when it started bounding into the tree. I wasn’t quite fast enough to get a good photo, but I was fun to watch it,

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I found Pine Siskins, an Eastern Phoebe, and Yellow-rumped Warblers in my grandparents’ yard. From their yard I birded the Vermilion Provincial Park — a Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorants, and Purple Martins helped my list grow.

I also found this mass of tent caterpillars on a trembling aspen,

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I continued birding throughout the afternoon picking up new species here and there. It was getting later in the evening, and as I counted the species on my list I realized I was very close to 100 species for the first time ever in my Birdathon. There were still a few species I could try to find and one of those was Common Grackle. We have some land 12 kilometres north of our house where there’s a slough surrounded by lots of mature trees — it gives the impression of a Boreal Forest slough. There was a Common Grackle singing on there other side of the slough and I heard a Ruffed Grouse drumming on a log.

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A male Blue-winged Teal on the slough

There are occasionally some Snow Geese hanging around on the larger sloughs in the area and though I didn’t see any at the first one, after scanning the far shore of the second I did find a lone Snow Goose mixed in with the Canada Geese.

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Wilson’s Phalaropes were MIA all day but I finally found two females a few kilometres west of the large slough. The last species of the day was a Veery at our farm yard which was my last stop for the day.

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Altogether my Birdathon was excellent and I tallied 102 species (I originally tallied 101 species, but noticed when writing this blog post that I had mistakenly omitted Northern Pintail on the list).

My goal for the Birdathon was $1,575, with my funds earmarked for the Calgary Bird Banding Society and Bird Studies CanadaI’ve received great, generous support and generosity from birders across North America, raising $1,205 so far. Thank you very, very much to everyone who has supported my Birdathon this year — I greatly appreciate all of the donations and encouragement.

If you’d like to add more to my total for the worthy cause of bird conservation (as a reminder, donations over $10 are tax deductible), you can visit my team page.

A list of all the species I saw on my Birdathon (in taxonomic order):

Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Eared Grebe Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Snow Goose, Canada Goose, American Wigeon, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Ruddy Duck, Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Swainson’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Gray Partridge, Ruffed Grouse, Yellow Rail, Sora, American Coot, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, American Avocet, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Baird’s Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Wilson’s Snipe, Wilson’s Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope, Franklin’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull, California Gull, Black Tern, Rock Pigeon, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Common Raven, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, Mountain Bluebird, Veery, American Robin, American Pipit, Sprague’s Pipit, European Starling, Tennessee Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Chipping Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Le Conte’s Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Lapland Longspur, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, and House Sparrow.

Great Canadian Birdathon Day

Today is my Great Canadian Birdathon Day!

Thank you all very much for your support and encouragement thank you to all my recent supporters, Janet, Dave, Stu (you can find his page here), Tracey, Darcey, Delores, and my very supportive parents!

You can add your support to my Great Canadian Birdathon by visiting my team page and clicking on the “Give Now” button. This year, I’m raising money for the Calgary Bird Banding Society and Bird Studies Canada. If you’re participating in the Great Canadian Birdathon before the end of this month, please leave a link to your page in the comments!

I’ll be posting some of my photos throughout the day on my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, and I’ll be using the hashtag #BSCBirdathon. I will also have a follow-up blog post with my official results.

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Thank You!

I would like to offer an enormous thank you to Angela, Curtis & Michelle, Dave of the Wild Bird Store in Calgary, Donna, Greg, Marcel, Nicholas of Hipster Birders, and Sandy for their amazing generosity and support in helping me reach so far, 41 percent of my goal for the Great Canadian Birdathon. Thank you each so very much!

I’m just a few weeks away from my Birdathon on May 21st, , and so far I’ve raised $640 of my $1,575 goal. If you’d like to help me reach my goal, you can visit my team page. Your support will be greatly appreciated, not just by me but also by the conservation groups receiving the funds I raise — the Calgary Bird Banding Society and Bird Studies Canada.

Thank you all so very much for your wonderful support!

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The Great Canadian Birdathon 2016

I signed up for my fifth Great Canadian Birdathon earlier this week. As you might know, I’ve participated since 2012 in the Great Canadian (formerly the Baillie) Birdathon, the oldest sponsored bird count in North America, hosted by Bird Studies Canada.

This year I signed up with the goal of raising $1,575. Part of the money will go to the Calgary Bird Banding Society, and the other part to Bird Studies Canada. This year, I’m hoping to see at least 100 species — I saw 76 last year. Here are my Birdathon results from 20152014, 2013, and 2012.

I would like to offer an enormous thank you to my good friends Curtis & Michelle, and to Sandy, for their early donations to my Birdathon!

If you’d like to sponsor me, you can visit my team page. I’d be delighted to reach my goal for my fifth Great Canadian Birdathon, to help the very worthy cause of bird conservation.

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Great Canadian Birdathon 2015 Results

I held my Great Canadian Birdathon on Saturday, May 30th — it was a cool and windy day but there were lots of birds to been seen!

The first bird I saw was a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at my window feeder at 6 am. I saw two female hummingbirds throughout the day while in the house for snacks.

At the slough across from our house where I was able to find many species of waterbirds, including Cinnamon Teals, Black Terns, Yellow-headed and Red-winged Blackbirds, Blue-winged Teals, Wilson’s Phalaropes, and American Coots.

A female Yellow-headed Blackbird,

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I walked over to the woods where I added Yellow Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Song Sparrow, American Robin, European Starling, and Clay-coloured Sparrow. I think the strong winds prevented many birds from singing, so I wasn’t able to find many songbirds in the woods.

A Bonaparte’s Gull,

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A Marbled Godwit,

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A male Ruddy Duck,

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A Red-necked Grebe,

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I stopped at my grandmother’s yard where I saw lots of American Goldfinches and another female Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

A male American Goldfinch,

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A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at my grandmother’s feeder,

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From my grandmother’s, I drove to the Vermilion Provincial Park. There weren’t as many species in the park as I was hoping for, but I was able to see Purple Martins, Yellow Warblers, a Great Blue Heron, and a pair of Northern Rough-winged Swallows (a life bird for me!).

I also saw this Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly in the park,

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After the park, I drove north on the gravel roads hoping to find more species to add to my list. On my drive through the countryside I picked up Northern Pintails, Eastern Kingbirds, Ring-necked Ducks, two Snow Geese, an American Kestrel, and possibly the best bird of the day — a Loggerhead Shrike (another life bird) several miles north of my house.

The shrike flew across the road in front of my truck and then landed on a fence post. The photos are very blurry since the shrike was quite a distance off,

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A California Gull with a duck egg,

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A Canada Goose,

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Altogether my Birdathon was very good and I tallied 76 species.

My goal for the Birdathon was originally $1,000, with my funds earmarked for the Beaverhill Bird Observatory and Bird Studies Canada, but thanks to great support and generosity, I’ve raised $1,750 so far. Thank you very, very much to everyone who has supported my birdathon this year, I greatly appreciate all of the donations and encouragement.

If you’d like to add more to my total for the worthy cause of bird conservation (and donations over $10 are tax deductible), you can visit my team page.

A list of all the species I saw on my Birdathon (in taxonomic order):

Horned Grebe, Eared Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Snow Goose, Canada Goose, American Widgeon, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Ruddy Duck, Swainson’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Sora, American Coot, Killdeer, American Avocet, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Wilson’s Snipe, Wilson’s Phalarope, Bonaparte’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull, California Gull, Herring Gull, Black Tern, Rock Pigeon, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, Warbling Vireo, Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Common Raven, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Sprague’s Pipit, European Starling, Yellow Warbler, Clay-colored Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch, and House Sparrow.

Birdathon Day!

Today is my Great Canadian Birdathon Day!

Thank you all very much for your support and encouragement — I can’t believe I’ve once again exceeded my fundraising goal for the fourth year in a row, raising funds for bird conservation in Canada.

You can add your support to my Great Canadian Birdathon by visiting my team page and clicking on the “Give Now” button. This year, I’m raising money the Beaverhill Bird Observatory in Alberta and Bird Studies Canada.

My Birdathon goal is to see 90 species today and my original financial goal was $1,250. I’ve already raised $1,650 with so much generous support. You can still give for another 62 days (until the end of July), and all donations of at least $10 are tax deductible.

If you are also doing the Great Canadian Birdathon before the end of this month (tomorrow!), please leave a link to your page in the comments!

I’ll be to posting some of my photos throughout the day on my Facebook and Twitter pages, and I’ll be using the hashtag #BSCBirdathon.

I will also have a follow-up blog post with my official results.

An American Goldfinch from last year’s Birdathon,

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Interview with Steven Price, Great Canadian Birdathon celebrity guest birder

This year’s celebrity guest birder for Bird Studies Canada‘s annual Great Canadian Birdathon (formerly the Baillie Birdathon) is Steven Price, the new president of Bird Studies Canada.

Today, I’m happy to share my interview with Steven. Thank you, Steven, for agreeing to do this interview, during what I know is a very busy time of year between presidential duties and spring migration.

Please consider donating to Steven’s Birdathon as all the money raised contributes to bird conservation in Canada. You can find his Great Canadian Birdathon page here; his Birdathon goal is $10,000.

Prairie Birder: Please tell us about yourself. 

Steven: I’m a biologist who’s become a conservationist, having worked over 30 years now in the nonprofit environmental sector in Canada. Trained in ecology and evolution, I enjoy birds as a hobby. This led me to apply for the president’s job at Bird Studies Canada in the summer of 2014 – and they hired me!

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PB: What are some of the changes you’re hoping to bring to Bird Studies Canada as the new president? What are some of your plans to raise public awareness of the need for bird conservation?

Steven: Mostly, I hope to keep BSC as the productive, science-based organization that it is, working across Canada and on all groups of birds. Globally, we are part of the BirdLife network, with representatives in dozens of countries worldwide. I hope to help BSC focus on urgent and important goals for research, awareness, and conservation, which are the three elements of our mission. Regarding public awareness, we plan to grow the number of volunteers who serve as “Citizen Scientists”, helping out with various bird and natural history surveys of all kinds.

PB: What would you tell Canadian birders in 2015 who want to know what BSC can offer them? And what would you tell Canadians who are not birders? 

Steven: Bird Studies Canada is the country’s only national, science-based, nonprofit organization devoted entirely to understanding, appreciating, and conserving birds. We are modest in size and immodest in pride about our role in bird conservation. To those who do not call themselves birders, I suggest you join a nature walk near where you live and watch a new hobby develop right before your eyes! It’s healthy, fun, inexpensive, and inspiring.

PB: This year’s Birdathon has a name change, from the Baillie Birdathon to the Great Canadian Birdathon. What do you hope the name change will do for the Birdathon? 

Steven: I have a great attachment to the memory of James L. Baillie. BSC will maintain his memory by keeping the James L. Baillie Memorial Fund. My earliest work with birds involved charting the birds he’d seen and noted in his diaries, stored in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. Most of his birding was in southern Ontario. Now, under the name Great Canadian Birdathon, we are encouraging Canadians to have some fun with family and friends birding anywhere in the country!

PB: Where and when is your own Great Canadian Birdathon taking place? Will you be birding as an individual or with other birders, and if so, with whom?

Steven: I look forward to my own Birdathon on May 29 in the Greater Toronto Area. Urban areas are often close to rivers, lakes, or oceans, offering a tremendous diversity of bird habitats and birds, even amidst considerable development. I’ll be birding with keen BSC staff in the Toronto area, and I hope to attract Rick Mercer!

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PB: Do you have a target number of species you’re hoping to see during your Birdathon? 

Steven: Well, keen birders like me always hope to top 100, somewhat of an arbitrary number, but an achievable one on a good day in May in southern Ontario. More importantly, we are urging people to not be hindered by the friendly competition for high species numbers, as the Birdathon is more about getting out, enjoying yourself, learning more about birds, and raising funds to conserve them.

PB: For people who aren’t able to donate to the birdathon, what is the next best thing they can do?

Steven: Everyone can donate through the Birdathon, and thereby support the cause. They can also examine their bird-friendliness in the backyard, at the cottage, on the farm, and at work: keep domestic cats indoors, reduce or eliminate pesticide use, and treat windows to reduce collisions.

PB: Where are some of your favourite places, in Canada and outside of Canada, to go birding?

Steven: I always enjoy familiar places, like my local ravine and family cottage in southern Ontario. But travelling to Long Point and Point Pelee in Ontario, or the Riefel Refuge or Okanagan in B.C., or the Prairies, or Maritime beaches – it’s all so beautiful and exciting for a birder. Outside of Canada, I’d say Costa Rica, Mexico, and Cuba have been favourite places of mine to visit and bird.

PB: Lastly, Canadian Geographic is looking for a species to represent the country as Canada’s national bird. Out of all the candidates, which species has your vote and why? 

Steven: This is a tough choice, but I like the Gray Jay, as it’s national in distribution and a good symbol of connecting people to nature, given how it can be so fearless around cabins, cottages, and campfires. This familiarity is what gave it the nickname, “Whiskey Jack”. The Gray Jay is not, however, regularly seen in urban areas, where most Canadians now live. But perhaps it is still appropriate as a draw to encourage people to get out and see natural areas.

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Thank you, Steven, for the opportunity to interview you and good luck on your Great Canadian Birdathon!