Well winter is well and truly upon us, but thankfully in Calgary it has been fairly mild (at least compared to the record snowfalls last year) and the we’ve had some great winter bird visitors within the city limits already.
Firstly, it was fantastic to see the return of some of the winter finches, after being almost entirely absent last season. Among my favourites would have to be the Pine Grosbeaks for their gorgeous colours and their love of fruits which make for luscious backgrounds in the depths of freezing winter:
I believe this is an immature male Pine Grosbeak
A female Pine Grosbeak
Another female Pine Grosbeak getting stuck into the frozen berries!
A male Pine Grosbeak in its striking scarlet plumage
Redpolls have not been around in great numbers yet, but I have at least seen a few:
The Cedar Waxwings of summer have departed, while their cousins the Bohemians have taken up residence in their massive flocks:
But of course, we shouldn’t forget the hardy birds that call Calgary home from the always-cheerful Black-capped Chickadees:
to the ever-challenging-to-photograph Brown Creepers:
and the Pileated Woodpeckers which are a treat for the eyes no matter what the season:
A couple of personal highlights this winter has been seeing not one, but two of the smallest owls in the province – the Northern Saw-whet Owl:
and a pair of diminutive Northern Pygmy Owls that have gained celebrity status in the local birding community:
Check out those eyes! This Snowy was just on the outskirts of Calgary.
And last, but by absolutely in no way least, it wouldn’t be a proper winter in Alberta without the arrival of the majestic Snowy Owls which birders and non-birders alike seem to be enchanted by:
I look forward to sharing more winter bird photography in my next monthly blog!