Red Deer River Naturalists

The Red Deer river Naturalists are a group dedicated to learning about and preserving natural history. They have regular programs with speakers and many field trips.


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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Christmas Bird Count

        My Christmas bird count was a little blue this year. On a previous post I wrote about what I could expect. Sometimes there is a possibility to see 12  to 14 species and 150 birds and sometimes you can end up with 7 species and less than 50 birds. This year my success was the latter.

       The day was overcast , minus 12 to 14 and light winds. This should have been a good day to count birds. Birds should have been moving and easy to see and count. I was out for about three and a half hours and walked about 7 km. Many of the places that I would stop at before and wait a minute and see 15 to 20 chickadees did not produce.

      Am I disappointed? No. I know that bird counts are only trends. One small area by itself does not hold much weight. I was out doing something I really like and that was the main thing. I will be back next year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Robin in Red Deer Dec.15

      This afternoon when I parked my car down town about 2:00 PM I noticed a robin in a mountain ash. I was attracted by all the noise house sparrows were making when I noticed the robin quietly going about his business feeding in the mountain ash. This bird looked comfortable and in good health.

      I have seen robins in every month of the year since I have lived in Red Deer. This is the first time I have seen robins in both Nov. and Dec of the same year.

     The Christmas bird count is Dec. 19 so I wonder if some one will see this bird or some other robin. Usually when I see robins in the winter there are usually 4 or 5.

     Use the comments on this blog to tell me if you have seen robins this fall as well.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pine Siskin Invasion

       Yesterday as I was watching a small feeder I noticed a different bird for a change. At this time of year I have many house finches. I had to take a second look to see that the new visitors were pine siskins.

      Pine siskins are very interesting little visitors. They move in flocks of 20 to 50 and move often. They seem to move off as one ...the whole group flies. They like birch trees and the fine seed of birch. They chatter continuously. In the summer they seem to like my beets.

      These birds are very plentiful some years and then are absent for a few years.
      One time I looked after a feeder which was out in a park. There were a large number of pine siskins in the area that fall. One day I went to the feeder and found it totally empty. There were about 50 pine siskins complaining rather loudly. I think squirrels had been invading. As I put my hands up to open the feeder about ten birds landed on my outstretched hands and about ten birds landed on my cap. Of course, I flinched and all the birds left. The magic moment only lasted a split second but I have never forgotten it. I still like to see the pine siskins visit.

     Use the comments section to let me know of interesting encounters you have had with pine siskins.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Shoe Hares in Bower Woods

      Yesterday I went for a walk through Bower Woods which is a park area in  a ravine made by Piper Creek. This area is heavily wooded with old growth spruce and some poplar. It was heavily grazed before it became parkland in the city of Red Deer. 

     Yesterday I was pleased to see all kinds of evidence of snow shoe hare in the area. There has not been any evidence of snow shoe hare for some years. I know that it's the end of the peak cycle for snow shoe hares and that they peak in isolated areas after the more non fragmented areas. I didn't see a hare but there was all kinds of evidence...tracks, droppings and bark taken off young poplars.

     So I hope this time that one or two are left during the low part of the the cycle.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


       Our Christmas bird count takes place on Sun Dec. 19. Let us know if you would like to count  birds in the Red Deer area and we will assign an area for you to count birds.

        Counting takes place from 9:00AM to 5:00PM. You can walk, run, ride or maybe even fly!!!! You will be given a Christmas bird count tally sheet. Be sure to fill out all the information correctly.

      Afraid to go counting on your own? Birds can be dangerous you know!!! I broke my wrist doing the 1992 count. If you do not wish to go alone you can be paired up with someone. It's always more fun to bird in a group.

     So let's hear from you this week. Come with us and enjoy the Christmas bird count. There is a potluck supper at the Nature Center at 6:00PM. There will be a program at 7:00PM.