Spring Birding in Southern Alberta – Take 2

A singing Song Sparrow is a sure sign of spring (trying saying that a few times!)

During spring, you don’t have to travel too far in any direction from Calgary to find lots of bird activity and sometimes the hardest part is choosing where to go! To give a taste of the variety and abundance on offer, here is just a sample from my weekend wanderings from the past two months…

To the north…

Checking out a few small ponds, there’s a very good chance you will come across a nice selection of waterfowl such as these:

Red-necked Grebe

A Bufflehead, just before it exploded into flight…

A Redhead drake

A nice surprise…a female Hooded Merganser hanging around with the Redheads

A Gadwall

Within the city limits at Calgary’s famous Fish Creek Provincial Park…

A Common Grackle dropping down to a stream for a quick drink

A Black-crowned NightHeron stalking a pond, before flying off to new hunting grounds…

Fish Creek has several different habitats within the boundaries of the park, and this was just a sample from one particular area:

A little Spotted Sandpiper, constantly bobbing its tail, as it patrolled the banks of a stream:

The icing on the cake was the big, beautiful American White Pelican that fished the pond in front of me for a good half hour:

Apparently these little minnows were the main catch in this pond…

To the east and the sloughs and prairies…

Pretty much any slough with a smattering of bulrushes will attract blackbirds of both the Red-winged and Yellow-headed variety. And while we locals may take them for granted because of their abundance locally, I can still recall how as a newcomer to Canada a decade ago how impressed I was with these colourful and raucous characters. I find them great photography subjects to boot as blackbird are constantly chirping, singing, flying, feeding and chasing off rivals given you plenty of opportunities for interesting images:

Northern Shovellers are one of the slough regulars and I had some good fun shooting a pair of drakes chasing each other around as they vied to get the undivided attention of a lone hen:

Grebes can also be found with regularity and the Horned Variety are quite striking in their own right:

Shorebirds like Stilts and American Avocets are also a good bet in these areas:

The West and South…

A trip out to Banff and the Rockies in search of grizzlies failed to turn up any bears, however I did find a pair of American Pipits that seemed a little puzzled by the late May snowfall:

While a later trip down to the south-west towards Waterton Lakes National Park yielded some colurful characters in the form of Tree Swallows actively defending the turf around their nesting boxes from other swallows:

However, I never cease to be captivated by the gorgeous male Mountain Bluebirds…their glowing blue hues really are hard to beat!:

And, while not from Alberta, it was too hard to leave out this gorgeous Barn Swallow that was hanging out with the warblers at Point Pelee in May:To see more of my images, please visit:

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