Spring Arrival Dates for Alberta Birds

Spring Arrival Dates for Alberta Birds

Spring is approaching and birds are preparing to fly north to their nesting grounds, so it’s time to start thinking about when spring migrants will arrive.

I recently asked a question on the Alberta Birds Facebook group about possible blog ideas — Delores and Karen each suggested a post of what species to expect in the spring, and the general arrival dates of migrating birds in Alberta. With that suggestion, I’ve created a list of spring arrival dates (March through May according to eBird) for species that migrate though and breed in the province of Alberta. I used the eBird frequency graphs for my arrival dates data.

In this list, I didn’t include species that are rare in Alberta during spring migration, resident or irruptive species, and species that are more frequently encountered during the winter months.

I also didn’t include species such as Killdeer, American Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, American Goldfinches, and some species of waterfowl, since these species overwinter in parts of Alberta — mainly Calgary and Edmonton — and it’s too hard to average out their arrival date. If you’re interested in finding out when these species will arrive in your area — click here.

Please keep in mind that Alberta is a vast province with a variety of habitats and species arrival dates will vary based on your location in the province. The arrival date will be earlier in Calgary but later in my home area (seven hours north of Calgary). For example, the first arrival date for Barn Swallows in Calgary is April 15th, while it’s April 22nd in my area.

A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird,

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A Barn Swallow in our yard from June 2011,

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Here are the average arrival dates for some of the more common Alberta species. If you think of a species that’s missing from the list, please let me know and I’ll add it to this list.

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First arrival date: March 1st

Ruddy Duck, Ring-billed Gull, Canvasback, American Coot, and Snow Goose.

First arrival date: March 8th

Mountain Bluebird, White-crowned Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Purple Finch, Rusty Blackbird, Franklin’s Gull, Hooded Merganser, Brewer’s Blackbird, Ferruginous Hawk, Wood Duck, and Ring-necked Duck.

First arrival date: March 15th

Red-tailed Hawk, Chipping Sparrow, Double-crested Cormorant, Tree Swallow, Northern Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Say’s Phoebe, and Greater White-fronted Goose.

First arrival date: March 22nd

Swainson’s Hawk, Common Loon, Ruddy Duck, American White Pelican, American Avocet, Sandhill Crane, Red-necked Grebe, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Western Grebe, Thayer’s Gull, Fox Sparrow, Black-necked Stilt, and Greater Yellowlegs.

First arrival date: April 1st

Osprey, Turkey Vulture, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Phoebe, Clay-coloured Sparrow, McCrown’s Longspur, Bonaparte’s Gull, Spotted Sandpiper, Cassin’s Finch, Violet-green Swallow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Marsh Wren, Chestnut-collared Longspur, and Solitary Sandpiper.

First arrival date: April 8th

Wilson’s Snipe, Black-crowned Night Heron, Red-naped Sapsucker, American Bittern, Yellow-headed Blackbird, American Pipit, White-winged Scoter, Spotted Towhee, and Lesser Yellowlegs.

First arrival date: April 15th

Loggerhead Shrike, Vesper Sparrow, Barn Swallow, Common Yellowthroat, Willet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Rough-winged Swallow, Marbled Godwit, Hermit Thrush, White-faced Ibis, Sprague’s Pipit, and Semipalmated Plover.

First arrival date: April 22nd

House Wren, Purple Martin, Wilson’s Phalarope, Grasshopper Sparrow, Common Tern, Cliff Swallow, Pectoral Sandpiper, Swainson’s Thrush, Eastern Kingbird, Nelson’s Sparrow, Sora, Le Conte’s Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbird, Nashville Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Bank Swallow, and Upland Sandpiper.

First arrival date: May 1st

Tennesse Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Least Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Yellow Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Baird’s Sparrow, Palm Warbler, Lark Sparrow, Western Tanager, Brown Thrasher, Black-and-white Warbler, Rufous Hummingbird, Rock Wren, Black-throated Green Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Piping Plover, Brewer’s Sparrow, Philadelphia Vireo, Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Winter Wren, and American Golden Plover.

First arrival date: May 8th

Red-eyed Vireo, Black Tern, Calliope Hummingbird, Veery, American Redstart, Blue-headed Vireo, Western Kingbird, Cassin’s Vireo, Black-bellied Plover, Lazuli Bunting, Canada Warbler, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and Whooping Crane.

First arrival date: May 15th

Grey Catbird, Magnolia Warbler, MacGillvray’s Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak, Bay-breasted Warbler, Lark Bunting, Bullock’s Oriole, Mourning Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

First arrival date: May 22nd

Common Nighthawk, Sedge Wren, and Great Crested Flycatcher.

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You can look up your own arrival dates on eBird, here.

A male and female Northern Shoveler in early April 2014,

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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.

A pair of Barn Swallows built a nest in our garage earlier this month and the nestlings fledged on Saturday. Here’s one of the young swallows resting on one of our trucks,

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More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Summer Poll Results 2013

Thank you very much to everyone who voted on my Summer Poll.

The results are in (below), and the Favorite Summer Bird is the American White Pelican!

American White Pelican: 7 votes

Barn Swallow: 6 votes

Killdeer: 3 votes

Other votes: 3 votes for Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 2 votes for American Avocet, 2 votes for Eastern Bluebird, 1 vote for House Finch, 1 vote for Painted Bunting, 1 vote for Chimney Swift, 1 vote for Northern Parula, 1 vote for Blackburnian Warbler, 1 vote for Arctic Warbler, 1 vote for Common Nighthawk, 1 vote for Purple Martin, 1 vote for Eurasian Hobby, 1 vote for Yellow Warbler, 1 vote for Swainson’s Thrush, 1 vote for Summer Tanager, 1 vote for Western Meadowlark, 1 vote for Mountain Bluebird, 1 vote for Clay-colored Sparrow, 1 vote for Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 1 vote for Mourning Warbler, 1 vote for Baltimore Oriole, 1 vote for Northern Cardinal, and 1 vote for a Savannah Sparrow.

I hope you have a chance this summer to see your favorite summer bird at least once!

Thanks very much to all who voted and played along with my summer game!

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Summer Poll 2013

To celebrate the Equinox and first day of Summer yesterday, I have a poll!

Vote for your favorite Summer bird by the evening of Friday, June 28th, and I will post the results on Saturday, June 29th. Thank you!

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New Bird Canada Blog Post

My monthly post is up at the Bird Canada blog, about what to do — and what NOT to do — if you find a baby bird at this time of year. Come over and join us!

A fledgling Barn Swallow,

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