Birding News #8

:: A Florida subspecies of Burrowing Owl has found its way to Nova Scotia, a long way off from its usual place

:: A study on the decline of Rusty Blackbirds

:: Connecticut’s “State of the Birds” finds a decline of 17 species of birds that eat only insects caught while flying

:: A story from The New York Times about the plight of the Sage Grouse, a nearly extinct species

:: In Texas, a man pleads guilty to the shooting of an endangered Whooping Crane

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Dan Arndt, beat writer, at Birds Calgary: Wednesday Wings — Short-eared Owls

:: From Tammy Karr, beat writer, at Birding Is Fun: Synchronized Fishing

:: From Sharon at Birdchick: The latest Birdchick Podcast (Sharon mentioned my Digiscoping post in her podcast!) Thanks so much, Sharon.

:: From , beat writer, at Thermal Birding: Review — The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern Birds

My 10 Best/Favorite Photos of 2012

2012 was filled with very memorable, fun, and exciting moments, and my trip to Long Point this August will be my most cherished memory!

At the end of last year, I wrote a post on “My 10 Favorite Birds of 2011“. I wanted this year’s year-end post to be different from that, so here are my 10 best and favorite photos of 2012.

One of the most exciting birds I saw at my feeders this year was a Northern Shrike in March,


Holding a Burrowing Owl at the Tofield Snow Goose Chase in April,


One of the Gray Catbirds I counted during the local May species bird count,


At the Bird Studies Canada Headquarters in August during the Young Ornithologists’ Workshop,


A banded Canada Warbler at Long Point in August,


My friend Katie holding an Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle at Long Point during the YOW,


A young Turkey Vulture after being banded in late August,


A Northern Harrier in September,


A Long-tailed Weasel at my grandparents’ yard in November,


A Pine Grosbeak at my grandparents’ yard in December,


Snow Goose Chase 2012

The other week I joined the AlbertaBird listserv to find out about bird sightings through the province and also connect with other Alberta birders.

After joining I got an email from one member, Bob Parsons, who is the Special Events Co-ordinator for the Edmonton Nature Club, inviting my family and me to the annual Snow Goose Chase on April 28 in Tofield. Luckily, that day was free (the only free April Saturday on our calendar in fact) so I was able to say “Yes”!

We did our morning chores as quickly as possible despite a heavy spring snowstorm all day Friday and early Saturday, and left at 8 am to be at Tofield by 10. On our drive I saw about 50,000 Snow, Canada, and Greater White-fronted Geese, 11 American Kestrels, 16 Red-tailed Hawks, many species of ducks, three Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and many Purple Martins in Tofield.

There were some terrific displays at the Community Centre, including three live raptors from the Edmonton Valley Zoo; celebrated Canadian naturalist John Acorn, whose show, “Acorn the Nature Nut” my brothers and I loved when we were younger; a live garter snake (a female, approximately one meter long), scorpion, and Malaysian katydid, from the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM), shown by Pete Heule, the Museum’s Bug Room Co-ordinator (we like his features on CBC radio); a live Burrowing Owl from the Beaverhill Bird Observatory, which I’ve just joined as a member; a Bugs & Beetles wetland display, including fairy shrimp which I had never seen before; and animal pelts from Bill Abercrombie of Alberta Trapline Adventures.

One of my favorite exhibits was the mounted owls of Alberta, displayed by Jocelyn Hudon, curator of ornithology at the Royal Alberta Museum. I also found out that the RAM has a new exhibit, “Fashioning Feathers” about the dangerous connection between fashion and natural history, running from March 24, 2012 to January 6, 2013, which I am very eager to see, especially because I read a little bit about the subject while researching the Carolina Parakeet for my 4H speech.

Mr. Parsons did a wonderful job organizing everything and also taking time out to welcome my family and me on what was such a busy day for him. It was also great to meet some of the other members of AlbertaBird — including John Acorn and Jocelyn Hudon — and put faces to the names. I had a terrific day and hope to go again next year! Below are some pictures I took Saturday.

A Spectacled Owl from South America, from the Edmonton Valley Zoo,

A Great-horned Owl, also from the Edmonton Valley Zoo,

A badger pelt,

The Burrowing Owl from the Beaverhill Bird Observatory, which I was able to hold (photo by Alexander Wasylik),


Mounted owls of Alberta from the Royal Alberta Museum,

The Malaysian katydid,

Two Nature Nuts — here I am with John Acorn (photo by Caroline LeCourtois),