This is the first Kingbird I’ve seen this season. Although technically a songbird, their call is no substitute for a meadowlark! I’ve never heard one singing before though so this was a pretty cool encounter for me. And it’s always cool when a bird will continue to sing while it’s being watched rather than immediately flying away instead.
These are some of the later birds to show up in the Calgary area in the spring and their arrival is a pretty good sign that summer is just around corner. The main reason for their late arrival is that they overwinter in South America. That’s a long way to fly in the spring and the fall!
I’ve been trying to find a Meadowlark that was willing to pose for me all through the spring without much success. I have actually seen a couple of the birds before now, but I hadn’t been able to make any good images. So I was very excited to find this one happily singing away on a fencepost. The sad part was that it stopped singing as soon as I got there. The song is even more beautiful than the bird!
Sometimes you make the image you plan to make. Sometimes you get the butt…
NOTE – these birds were found while visitng my parents home in Winfield (near Kelowna, BC), not in Alberta. I had an interesting request for information from Jocelyn Hudon (Curator of Ornithology at the Royal Alberta Museum, and the Chair of the Alberta Bird Record Committee) wondering whether I had found these in Alberta. That would have been a much more exciting find since, according to Jocelyn, there have been fewer than 15 such discoveries in Alberta. This was not quite so exciting as that, but still interesting for me!
Check the Official List of the Birds of Alberta at http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/natural/birds/birdlist/intro.htm
I had a lot on my mind today and so I took a short break this afternoon to go for a drive in the country East of Calgary. It was quite cloudy and very bright, which can sometimes make it hard to see birds and animals against the snowy landscape (they tend to look black against a white horizon), but it turned out to be a great day for birding. It was a very welcome diversion from my thoughts.
The Canada Geese are in the full swing of their spring migration and I saw thousands of them. There were huge flocks of them in every farm field and there were swarms of them flying in formation in the skies above as well. I also saw Common Mergansers, Goldeneyes, and Mallards in the sloughs and on the irrigation canals. There were European Starlings in every slough and puddle, and there were also quite a few raptors perched high in trees and on power transmission lines.
The highlight of the day for me was a finding a Merlin perched on a fencepost! Although these tiny falcons are considered to be year round residents of the Calgary area, I haven’t seen any of them all winter. I was very excited when I saw the distinct shape of the bird as it flew by, and then when it actually landed on a nearby post I was ecstatic!
I also saw I saw a beautiful pheasant on the side of the road and pulled over immediately. It flushed as soon as I stopped, but it quickly landed on the shoulder of the road just a short distance away. I slowly approached it hoping to get a few closeup shots, but it took off again. This was the only image I managed to make.