Must-see birds: April

In April the early Spring migrants start to arrive, but there are still winter birds lingering like Common Redpolls, Northern Shrikes, and Snow Buntings. Here are my two Must-see birds for March (all photos by me):

1. Northern Shrike

The Northern Shrike is one of the most interesting songbirds to see and hear. The body is gray with a black tail and wings with a white spot on the wings. The black mask is bordered by a thin white line, and the bill is slightly hooked. Look for these predatory songbirds at bird feeders, fence posts, and dead trees,

2. Common Goldeneye

The Common Goldeneye is a very beautiful diving duck with the male being mostly white and having an iridescent green-black head, white cheek patch, and yellow eyes. The female has a gray body, brown head and the same yellow eyes as the male. Look for these ducks on ponds and sloughs. The males will probably be displaying as these ones were,

Must-see birds: January

(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.)

January, a new month, a new year, and new birds. January is very similar to December bird-wise, so I don’t have much to write about January, other than one is still able to find many different species of birds in the cold winter months. Here are my two Must-see birds for January (all photos by me):

1. Common Redpoll 
The Common Redpoll is a small finch with a red cap, black chin and lores, boldly streaked flanks and undertail coverts. Redpolls can be found at feeders that people have provided or feeding on birch seeds,
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2. Hairy Woodpecker
Unfortunately I don’t get Hairy Woodpeckers at my feeders but my grandmother does. The Hairy Woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker with a longer bill than a Downy Woodpecker and a contrasting black-and-white body,
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Must-see Birds: December

(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.)

December is a wonderful month for birds; the birds from the Arctic and the boreal forest fly down to spend the winters in the more temperate zones. I had a very hard debate with myself to find the best birds for the month of December, and I believe I’ve found them. Here are my two Must-see birds for December (all photos by me):

1. Pine Grosbeak

The Pine Grosbeak is a large and robust finch with a stubby bill. The adult Pine Grosbeak is pinkish red and the juveniles and females have greenish coloring on the head and rump and more distinctive white wing bars than the adult male. Pine Grosbeaks can be found is medium-sized flocks, feeding on seeds from coniferous and deciduous trees. My mother thinks they look like Christmas ornaments in the trees,

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 2. Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl is very large and regal looking. The adult female is white with dark barring on the back and chest and feathered feet and toes. Look for Snowy Owls sitting atop a trees or a fence posts,

Must-see birds: November

(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.)

Starting in October, birds were starting to be very scarce, and now in the coming winter they will be even more so. So instead of five Must-see birds for each month, I’ll have just two Must-see birds monthly. I will resume the five Must-see birds in the spring. Here are my two Must-see birds for November (all photos by me):

1. Northern Harrier  

A few Northern Harriers can be still found in Alberta in November but they won’t be here much longer. I saw one yesterday. The adult Northern Harrier is gray with black wingtips and the juvenile has a rusty colored body and a distinctive white rump. Northern Harriers can be found in marshes and fields.

2. Tundra Swan

The Tundra Swan is completely white with a black bill with a yellow spot on the base. You can still find Tundra Swans flying around in November. So catch one while you can,

Must-see birds: October

(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.)

In October, most of the summer migrants have left, but you might be lucky and see some late migrating shorebirds and warblers. Here are my five must-see birds for October (all photos by me):

1. Dark-eyed Junco

The Dark-eyed Junco is a medium sized sparrow, with a pale pink bill, gray body, and white belly and under tail. I was able to get a lot of photos of the junco,

2. Greater White-fronted Goose

The Greater White-fronted Goose is my new favorite goose species. The GWFG has a mostly brown body, white at the front of the face, pink bill and orange feet. They can be found in flocks of Canada Geese and Snow Geese,

3. Black-bellied Plover

I saw this Black-bellied Plover on Friday, it was my favorite bird of September. The Black-bellied Plover is a medium sized plover: grayish body with white spots, brown cheek patch, white eyebrow and white rump,

4. Horned Lark

The Horned Lark is a medium sized songbird with a brown body, pale yellow throat, black mask, brown cap and ear tufts. The Horned Larks were in the same field as the Black-bellied Plover,

5. Snow Goose

Snow Geese are very beautiful birds. Snow Geese have a white body, black wing tips and pink feet. Here are some on a nearby big slough,

Must-see birds: September

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.

September is the month of migrants. Many of the shorebirds have left, and so have our hummingbirds. I wanted to find the best Alberta birds for Must-see birds September (all photos by me):

1. Sandhill Crane

The Sandhill Crane is a large wading bird with gray body, white cheek patches, and a red cap on the adults. The Sandhill Cranes are starting to migrate, so look for them flying high in the sky,

2. Osprey

I spotted this Osprey at Kehewin Lake on the way to 4H camp. I took this picture as we zoomed past the nest platform in our truck. The Osprey is a large raptor with a white head, a black eye stripe and dark upper parts,

3.  Bald Eagle 

I saw this Bald Eagle yesterday as I was riding my bike, and as soon as I saw it I knew it would be perfect for this post. The Bald Eagle has a dark brown body, yellow bill, and a white head and tail,

4. American Kestrel

The American Kestrel has two facial strips (I think they look like sideburns), a rust colored tail and blue-gray wings. This kestrel has caught what I think is a mouse and was flying around with it,

5. Lesser Yellowlegs

The Lesser Yellowlegs is a large sandpiper with a short straight bill, yellow legs, and a spotted back. A good field mark is the white rump,

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,