My Baillie Birdathon Results

My Baillie Birdathon was a few days ago, and I was hoping to go from midnight to midnight, but I was so tired from Saturday’s 6:30 am start to our local Spring bird count, and then two long days at the 4H beef club show and sale, that I accidentally overslept. So my Birdathon was from 6 am Wednesday to 6 am Thursday.

My goal was to see 80 species and I came so very, very close, with 79 species. My first species was a Barn Swallow and the last was a Marbled Godwit. Most of the species were seen around our farm, house, and my grandparents’ yard, and I saw four species at the local Provincial Park.

All the species I saw:

Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Eared Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Canada Goose, American Wigeon, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Ruddy Duck, Northern Harrier, Swainson’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Ruffed Grouse, Sora, American Coot, Killdeer, American Avocet, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Wilson’s Snipe, Wilson’s Phalarope, Franklin’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Black Tern, Rock Pigeon, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Common Raven, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Mountain Bluebird, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, European Starling, Yellow Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, and House Sparrow.

I was very happy that my scope arrived from Pelee Wings in time for my Birdathon. The scope was a huge help because I could see so far into and across the river, sloughs, and lakes.

My Swarovski scope is an ATM 80 with a 20-60 zoom eyepiece, and a Manfrotto 190 tripod with 128RC head,

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(I am wearing one of my favorite t-shirts, from NYC Audubon by Social Pakt)

Some of the birds I saw during my Birdathon, including a Willet,

A male Ruddy Duck displaying,

Swainson’s Hawk,

A very beautiful male mountain Bluebird at the Provincial Park,

Gray Catbird,

Great Blue Heron,

American Wigeon,

A Pied-billed Grebe,

Thank you everyone for helping me exceed my goal for my Baillie Birdathon, I had so much fun and can’t wait for next year!

Must-see birds: August

I got the idea for a northern Alberta version of “Must-see birds” from Pat Bumstead’s and Bob Lefebvre’s Birds Calgary blog. Matthew Sim, who is another young birder, had the idea for the “Must-see birds” posts and writes them all.

August is the month for early migrants, especially on the Canadian prairies, so be watching for them. I wanted to find the best birds for Must-see birds: August. Here are some birds that you can still find in the month of August.

1. Western Meadowlark

The male Western Meadowlark is a very striking bird, with a black V on the male’s breast. The breast is bright yellow, the bill is very thick and sharply pointed. The Western Meadowlark is an open grassland bird, so look for it on fence posts and small bushes,

2. Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is a very large bird, with a blue-gray back, a very long neck, and a long pointed bill used for spearing small amphibians. This heron can be found at heron rookeries, lakes, ponds and sloughs,

3. Spotted Sandpiper

The Spotted Sandpiper is a relatively small sandpiper, with a brown back, orange bill, white eyebrow, and white breast with bold spots,

4. Yellow Warbler 

This is a female Yellow Warbler so unlike the male she doesn’t have the orange streaking down her breast. The Yellow Warbler has olive-green wings and tail, and the head and breast are bright yellow,

5. Purple Martin 

The Purple Martin is the largest North American swallow, which nests mostly in man-made boxes. The martin’s color is iridescent blue-black. This bird can be found at golf courses wherever a nest box has been put up,

Heron Rookery

Yesterday my father, brothers, and I visited a neighbor’s farm to buy a bull. A few years ago, for the same reason on the way home my father discovered a Great-blue heron rookery just down the road from the farm with the bulls.

Yesterday, after picking up our new bull, we stopped off at the rookery and at first we couldn’t see the nests. But after scanning the trees Dad saw them first. The rookery has about a dozen nests, I would have liked to get closer to them, but the river was in the way. Here are pictures of the nests, and in some you can the herons.

A parent bird standing on its nest,

Here are a few nests very high up in the trees,

If you look closely you can see a bird in this nest (the to of the head toward the back),

Early Morning Bird Walk

My father and I went out again this morning to the swamp nearby.

When we arrived, the Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Common Moorhen were there, and after awhile two Yellow-crowned Night Herons and three Green Herons flew by, and one Green Heron stopped but too far away for a close-up picture. But I took advantage of the fact that it had stopped anyway and took a picture.

I was hoping to get close to the Great Egret for a picture as I was returning to the car, and caught a glimpse of yellow and followed it in to the trees. To my surprise two Solitary Sandpipers were there, but I hadn’t forgotten about the yellow bird. I peered into the tree, it was very hard to see the bird, but I got a fairly good look at it so I think it was a Yellow Warbler. I hope it was.

The Great Egret,

This morning there was only the one male Common Moorhen,

The Great Blue Heron,

The Green Heron,

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Brown Pelicans on a fishing boat,

Just as we got in to the car and started going down the road I saw some kind of a black bird. I told my dad to back the car up,  got out and started to look for the bird, and saw it was an immature Glossy Ibis,

A Good Day for Birds

I went out this morning at 6:15 to watch the birds in my grandmother’s garden. My dad heard me get up, so he asked me if I wanted to go to the nearby freshwater swamp. When we arrived I was very happy to see the resident great egret fishing for crabs and a very still Great Blue Heron. After a little bit of time passed, two Common Moorhens appeared, but then the best part of the trip was three Green Herons.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so of course they came right up to us and it was very exciting. My dad and I hope to go out even earlier tomorrow morning, and I will make sure to bring my camera.

This morning I spotted:

1 Great Blue Heron

4 Common Moorhens

3 Green Herons

1 Yellow-crowned Night Heron

2 Zenaida Doves

2 Gray Kingbirds

5 Cattle Egrets

2 Bananaquits

1 Pearly-eyed Thrasher

6 Lesser Antillean Bullfinches

2 Magnificent Frigatebirds

3 Brown Pelicans

2 Purple-throated Caribs