Volunteers Needed: WildResearch Alberta Nightjar Survey

Nightjars are some of the most understudied species in Canada, and there is concern that their populations are in decline. There are two species of Nightjars found in Alberta: Common Nighthawks which are listed as Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act; and Common Poorwills which are classified as a Data Deficient species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species (COSEWIC).

An adult Common Nighthawk. Photograph by Dwayne Gaschermann, used with permission.

An adult Common Nighthawk. Photograph by Dwayne Gaschermann, used with permission.

The WildResearch Nightjar Survey is a citizen science program that collects data for this family of birds. Before this year, the surveys were conducted only in British Columbia, but this year the program has expanded to five new provinces and territories, one of which is Alberta. WildResearch is looking for volunteers to survey for Common Nighthawks and Common Poorwills in the province this summer. Because of the nightjars’ nocturnal habits, little is known about them in Canada, and there is concern that the population numbers are dwindling.

Anyone with a vehicle and good hearing is capable of conducting a WildResearch Nightjar Survey! Signing up for a WildResearch Nightjar Survey route will require approximately two to three hours of surveying and one hour of data entry. Each route is a series of 12 road-side stops and needs to be surveyed at dusk once per year between June 15 and July 15. Routes are located along existing Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), and we would love to have help from existing BBS volunteers! Surveys will follow a new standardized national nightjar survey protocol. Data will be made publicly available on Bird Studies Canada’s NatureCounts portal.

As noted above, a survey route will require two to three hours of surveying and one hour of data entry. Each route needs to be surveyed once between June 15th, 2016, and July 15th, 2016. In Alberta, the routes use the existing Breeding Bird Survey framework, and surveys will follow a new national standardized nightjar survey protocol.

You can check out the available routes in your area, sign up for a survey route, and learn more about this program at the WildResearch website. If you have any further questions, please email Elly Knight at nightjars.ab@wildresearch.ca for more information.

Help WildResearch by volunteering a bit of extra time this summer to learn more about this cryptic species!

2016 Nightjar Survey poster - letter - AB

Young Birder Camps in Colorado

It’s wonderful to see so many bird-themed camps and activities offered over the summer for young birders. Some of the better known ones such as the Hog Island Audubon Camp, the ABA’s Camp Avocet, and Vent’s Camp Cascades have already reached full capacity, often just a few days after opening registration. Sometimes there isn’t much time to register for certain camps if you’re not quick enough on the draw. And then too some of the camps aren’t always located conveniently for families.

I just found out about young birder camps being offered by the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies based in Colorado. BCR has two overnight camps for young birders this summer. Young birders will meet other like-minded naturalists, conduct mini-research projects, learn field journaling, field sketching, and bird and plant identification.

The first camp, “Taking Flight” is June 12th to the 17th, for 12- to 14-year-olds. The registration fee for “Taking Flight” is $750. The second camp, “On the Wing”, for 15- to 17-year-olds is June 22nd to July 1st. the registration fee for this camp is $1,250. Full, half, and partial scholarships are available for each camp, so be sure to ask when registering.

The registration deadline for the camps is May 31st, and you can find more information about the camps and other programs hosted by the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies on their website.SummerOvernightcamp

Alberta Birding and Nature Festivals

Festivals are a terrific way to connect with other birders, learn about birding hotspots, hear new speakers, and learn from experts on guided tours. They are also great for outings with family and friends.

Alberta offers some fantastic bird and nature festivals, so I decided to compile this year’s listing as a handy reference. If you know of an event to add to the list, please let me know in the comments below so I can make the changes.

— April 23-24, 2016: This year marks the 17th annual Tofield Snow Goose Chase organized by the Edmonton Nature Club and the town of Tofield. In the morning, stop in at the town hall to see the displays and exhibits from the Edmonton Valley Zoo, Beaverhill Bird Observatory, John Acorn “The Nature Nut“, and Pete Heule from the Royal Alberta Museum. I’ll be there too with the Young Naturalists’ Corner. There will be an owl banding talk and public bus trips for viewing the Snow Geese, swans, and other spring migrants.

YNC

—  April 23-24, 2016: The Friends of Saskatoon Island along with Alberta Parks celebrate the return of Trumpeter Swans to the Peace Country by holding the Saskatoon Island Swan Festival, features guided tours, presentations, and activities for families.

—  May 28-29, 2016: The Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory holds a Songbird Festival in Slave Lake, Alberta. The event kicks off on Saturday with a pancake breakfast followed by guided birding hikes, workshops, and tours of the migration monitoring station.

songbf

— Saturday, June 18, 2016: The Camrose Purple Martin Festival will be celebrating its seventh annual festival this year with keynote speakers, bus and walking tours to Purple Martin colonies, activities for kids, and tips and techniques for making a wildlife-friendly yard.  

— June 19-23, 2016: The Waterton Wildflower Festival celebrates Waterton as the wildflower Capital of Canada. The festival features guided walks on plant identification and park ecosystems, family programs, and photographic presentations. Last year the festival offered birding sessions with experienced guides, so they might be available this year too.

— July 1st, 2016: The Ellis Bird Farm Bluebird Festival near Lacombe, Alberta, focuses on the Mountain Bluebirds that nest around the farm. Come to the farm for free crafts for children, a talk on Purple Martin and Mountain Bluebird migration research, and a Neighbour’s Market.

— July 23rd, 2016: The Ellis Bird Farm BioBlitz will feature biologists on site to share their expertise on all the wildlife at the farm, as well as site tours.

— August 6, 2016: The Ellis Bird Farm’s Bug Jamboree opens with a performance by John Acorn, “The Nature Nut”, and a butterfly count. Garden tours and children’s crafts are also part of the event.

— September (date to be announced): Waterton also hosts a wildlife festival in September, celebrating the park as one of the best places in the Rocky Mountains to view wildlife, especially mammals. Bighorn sheep, elk, deer, bears, and foxes, more than 200 species of birds, six species of amphibians, four species of reptiles, and 24 species of fish have been found in the Park. Workshops, presenters, and guided walks are some of the activities at the festival.
www

— October (date to be announced): Canmore celebrates the migration of Golden Eagles over the Alberta Rockies with a Festival of the Eagles. The weekend celebration includes guided hikes, bird walks, interpretive displays, and guest speakers. Spotting scopes are set up at Canmore Collegiate High School to view the migrating eagles.

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

Sorry for missing Feathers on Friday last week. Here’s photo of a Cedar Waxwing I took at the beginning of September,IMG_9598

More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Wolf Song Blog

Kathie’s Birds

JG Birds+

4forfeathers

Backyard Bird Blog

The Morning Side of Life

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

These Pine Siskins were feeding in our spruce trees this week. Can you count them all?DSC_0852

More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Wolf Song Blog

Kathie’s Birds

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

Happy Autumn! In the fall, I love watching the geese fly overhead. Here are some Greater White-fronted and Canada Geese,

DSC_0848

Just Canada Geese,

DSC_0849

More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Wolf Song Blog

Kathie’s Birds

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

Sandhill Crane migration has been very active lately — these cranes landed just across the road from our house earlier this week,

IMG_9741

More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Wolf Song Blog

Kathie’s Birds