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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Monday, December 19, 2016


       Red Deer River Naturalists (RDRN) had their Christmas bird count on Sun, Dec 18. Many other groups held their bird count on or about the same date.

       We tried to remember how long RDRN has been doing bird counts. We don't know and will have to do some research on old records.

      Sunday  was a rather  gray day with minus 10 C to minus 4 C in the afternoon.

      I have not seen totals but most counters were saying they saw fewer birds and species.

      I saw 8 species and a little of 150 birds in REd Deer in Bower Woods /Kin Kanyon. I saw blue jay. magpie. black capped chickadee, bohemian waxwing, raven, crow, house finch. A friend saw a brown creeper. I also saw birds the looked like pigeons but were not pigeons. I should have seen a few other  species like house sparrows, red breasted nuthatch, downy woodpecker, pileated woodpecker as they are in the area.  

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    We had a pot luck in the evening to finish off the count.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


     I love it when the bohemian waxwings make their first major appearance in early winter. If we've had  streak of very cold weather, all of a sudden a large flock of waxwings appear as if by magic.

      This year I've seen  a flock of waxwings several times. They seem to be around for a day and then they're gone for 10 days. I don't know if they go to other areas in the city or go back out into the woods. Or if it's not cold enough for them to hang around city subdivisions.

      Yesterday I was looking out my back window to see if there was any action in the feeder in my backyard. As I was watching I noticed a large flock of waxwings in my yard and the other nearby yards. I think waxwings are beautiful quiet little birds. They have very majestic flight and I'm always in awe when the whole flock takes off at once.

    I was concentrating on the beauty of the flock. All of a sudden a different bird was flying through my yard. It had sharp wings and rapid wingbeats. You know him...the merlin. In an instant the waxwings scattered and left. I didn't see if the merlin made a catch as he flew around some spruce trees and I lost sight of him.

    So there are beautiful birds and there are other beautiful birds. These birds are opposites. I find it fascinating to watch both of them.

    Have you had waxwings in your area this winter?

Sunday, December 4, 2016


    On Dec. 3, 10 Red Deer birders spent a couple of hours at Mackenzie Trails in Red Deer.  At this time of year it's pretty predictable what you are going to see in natural areas in town. You can expect to see black capped chickadees. red breasted nuthatch, magpie , blue jay, raven, and maybe a boreal chickadee or downy woodpecker. Anything else is a bonus.

     We hit the bonus yesterday. All was quiet until we got to the south side of Mackenzie trails. We had seen a hairy woodpecker on the north side. We've been looking for a black backed woodpecker all fall. Yesterday we saw  black backed woodpecker. She was quietly doing what black backs do, sitting still and quietly pecking away the spruce bark to find the larva. We had a good look at her and got some photos. It's hard to get a good photo in the gloomy forest so thanks to Bonnie Mullin.

    We also saw a pileated woodpecker nearby. We stopped at a feeder. There were several downys at the feeder. All of a sudden a pileated was in a tree right beside us. Before people got their cameras lined up the woodpecker took off into the dense bush. a minute later we had another pileated beside us. This happened 4 times. Now was it the  same woodpecker going back and forth or were there several woodpeckers in the area.
Bonnie Mullin caught this guy looking for lunch.

    Most days we don't see a woodpecker but yesterday we saw all 4 species.