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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Sunday, October 30, 2016


    The Red Deer River Naturalists  (RDRN) have five major speakers per year . Speakers are chosen for their expertise on naturalist topics.

     On Thur Oct. 27 Dr. Gilbert Proulx spoke to us on the payment of bounties for the capture of nuisance wildlife. Many RDRN members are very concerned about payment of bounties.

    Dr. Proulx gave us reasons why bounties don't work.

    With wolves or coyotes, if a large number are killed the remaining population has larger litters so you have just as many animals and they are young and stupid so potentially more of a problem.

     Only a small number of wolves or coyotes are problem animals. You can kill lots of animals and if you don't get the ones causing the problem, you still have your same old problem.

     There are too many opportunities to cheat the bounty system and just make money. In some places money is paid for one foot. Well the animal has 4 feet. Animals are taken in non bounty zones and bounties claimed in bounty paying zones.

    Methods of killing the animals are very cruel. Snares and strychnine cause a very painful death.

    Dr Proulx's talk was humorous, interesting and informative.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


   This week I saw a red breasted nuthatch with only one leg. It was with other nuthatches that were at my feeder. It seemed full of energy and handled the feeder well. However, one has to wonder what the long term survival is for such a handicapped bird. I would think that as winter approaches a bird such as this would gradually weaken and die or become prey for the local merlin.

   In the fall we have many birds hit the windows. Robins seem to be one of the worst window hitters. Sometimes you go out and there's no bird in sight. sometimes you find a very groggy robin that is unable to fly or move. Most of these birds revive and go on their way. And sometimes you go out and find a dead robin under your window.

    So why do birds hit windows. In the fall there are many young birds in migration. The young birds are sometimes confused by reflections of trees in the window. What's the solution? Try to cut down on tree reflections in your windows.

    The two year survival rate for birds is pretty low. They need all the help they can get. So people put out feeders and water. They control cats. They try to make their yards bird friendly.

     So I wish my little red breasted nuthatch well and hope it survives with just one leg.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Don't Bet on the Birds

      I lead a birding group on Saturday afternoons in Red Deer. I like to get the group focused on something so I quite often mention what we might see in an area.

      Saturday we were at Heritage Ranch in Red Deer .Before we started I suggested we might see the usual suspects like chickadees, nuthatches and magpies. I also suggested that there could be possible sightings of kinglets and brown creepers. Kinglets would be in the top of spruce trees so would be almost impossible to see. You might hear a soft tinkly sound. Creepers are well camouflaged and you could miss them if they were right beside you. So off we go with our eyes and ears ready to make sightings.

     We did have a good afternoon but we didn't see any of the birds I suggested we watch.

     We did see a chickadee on the way down to the river. On the river we saw mergansers and I didn't expect them. We also found a few mallards which were no surprise. A km down the river there was a sandbar covered with gulls. Then, there's a hawk like bird sitting high up in an old spruce spar. We had a good look and then it flew off. It turned out to be a sharp shinned hawk.

     Half way up the trail we found a male and female downy and then out of nowhere a piloted woodpecker crashed the party.

    After that one lonely raven flew over.

    So you see my predictions were not even close.

    It would have been a bonus if we'd seen a kinglet or creeper.

    How are your predictions?

    The pileated woodpecker was very close and Jurgen got a great photo.


Sunday, October 2, 2016


      Last week it was forecast that we would have some aurora borealis to watch particularly Wednesday and Thursday. There was heavy cloud here so I don't know if there was anything to see?

      Did anyone see northern lights this week?

      I happen to like northern lights and have been privileged to see many. I was brought up on a farm at Esk, Sask. The country at that  time was dark so there wasn't any light pollution. Most nights we played outside and as a result saw northern lights many times. I've never forgotten them.

     Northern Lights are a natural phenonenom so a natural fit for this blog.

     The photo from the internet shows a spectacular display of northern lights.

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