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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Nov 24, 2011

Alberta winter birds

Today's outing brought home both a surprise and new knowledge about winter and birds in Alberta.  In fact, the day brought more than one surprise.  Starting with the temperature outside, which being -4 this morning, is not typical for Alberta at this time of the year.  In fact that's almost balmy for Albertans.  I said hoora to that and unpacked my camera, having packed it away for winter because it doesn't do well in extremely cold weather.  I will admit that I didn't go far and I was hoping to see some Common Redpolls at the very least, but I really wasn't expecting to see much more than the usual neighborhood birds such as Blue Jays, Chickadees, Merlins, Owls and one, or both species of nuthatch, just to name a few.

Goldfinch female

The first of the birds I heard was not one of those, in fact it had me moving right quickly to locate it.  It's song sounded much like that of the Pine Grosbeak, but that, I realized when I saw it, was the wrong id, since those birds are definitely not yellow.  The photos I got aren't very clear because the bird is at the top of a tall tree and, unfortunately, I don't have a telephoto lens yet.  However I can make out just enough of this bird's coloring to identify it, but to do that I had to do some digging.  I ended up doing a general search on the internet about wintering birds in the province and got more than one surprise, all them good. 

The first is that the bird at the top of that tree turns out to be a female American Goldfinch, a first sighting for me.  The second surprise is that many more bird species remain in Alberta over the winter than most people assume, including hawks and ducks.  Although the American Goldfinch does migrate, not all of them do, just like not all Canada Geese migrate.  This of course is wonderful news for me, which means I can't wait to get out there again, provided it isn't too cold.  If you wish to find out which species are regularly sighted in Alberta every winter just follow this link: http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/maybank/other/abwinter.htm

Purple Finch male and female
My last surprise of the day was another first sighting.   One that I didn't realize I had made, because I was totally focused on getting another glimpse of the Goldfinch.  When I got a good look at all of my photos for today, I discovered a photo of Purple Finches in yet another tree top.  Again the photo isn't particularly good, although better than the one of the Goldfinch.  But that's ok, usually if I see a bird once, I see it again sooner or later, although hopefully sooner.  That means better photos are in store eventually.


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