Posts Tagged With: birds

Sunday Loving

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Categories: Calgary Zoo | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Feathers

This is the last Fun Foto Challenge as Cee will be on vacation (much deserved). Feathers is the theme this week!

Our resident female Tree Swallow

Our resident female Tree Swallow

One of about 15 Common Grackles that visit us in the early summer.

One of about 15 Common Grackles that visit us in the early summer.

A Rhea, who is a resident of our local zoo.

A Rhea, who is a resident of our local zoo.

Categories: Cee's Fun Foto Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

New garden visitors

For the past few years we have been trying to attract birds other than our mob squad of sparrows, with varying success. We have tree swallows that use our nest boxes, the resident robins that visit us daily and the common crackles that start popping in around this time of year.

However, what I have been hoping for has been finches. Last year I saw one finch in our garden, it never returned that year. So you can imagine my excitement when we spotted a pair of American Goldfinches feeding in our garden! And yes, they have been back since; in fact, I just saw the male feeding as I was getting ready to write this post. I think I am in danger of becoming a twitcher, the british expression for a birdwatcher. My husband bought me a book that shows all the birds that make Canada their home, seasonal and year round, so I guess I am well on the way!

I love the colours of the male American Goldfinch

I love the colours of the male American Goldfinch

The female American Goldfinch

The female American Goldfinch

Thankfully he sat still long enough to get my camera

Thankfully he sat still long enough to get my camera

Categories: Canadian Nature and Animals | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A day in the park

We have lived in the Calgary area for the past 7 years and only yesterday did we visit Fish Creek Provincial Park for the first time! A disgrace, if you ask me, as it turned out to be a great destination to explore. The park is the largest urban park in Canada and is among one of the largest urban parks in Northern America. The park itself stretches around 19 km/12 miles from east to west in southern Calgary. It is a haven for birdwatchers, as up to 200 different species have been spotted there. It was a pretty grey day yesterday, so no blue skies, but thankfully the rain held off until we got home.

Here are some of the birds we came across, some of which I am still trying to identify!

A couple of baby owls

A couple of baby owls

The Red-Winged Blackbird

The Red-Winged Blackbird

One of a few pheasants we had seemingly been surrounded by

One of a few pheasants we had seemingly been surrounded by

Not sure why this Canada Goose was up a tree

Not sure why this Canada Goose was up a tree

A  Great Blue Heron arrived at one of the lakes

A Great Blue Heron arrived at one of the lakes

These little birds where everywhere

These little birds where everywhere

Coming in to land

Coming in to land

The American Robin, whose song I really enjoy

The American Robin, whose song I really enjoy

Categories: Canada, Canadian Nature and Animals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

A pod of pelicans

A group of pelicans is called a pod, squadron or scoop. This pod was very tame and didn’t mind being stroked; turns out they feel very velvety.

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Categories: Nature/Animals | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Flamingos – the Liberace of the animal world

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After writing a lot about places and their history I thought it was about time to go wild – the animal kind of wild.

One of the places I visit very regularly is our local zoo; I never tire of going, there is always something new to discover.

My last visit was at the end of March, and whilst Calgary is not usually known for warm temperatures during that month, it was a beautiful sunny day and I was lucky enough that the flamingos were outside.

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The flamingos in our zoo are Chilean Flamingos (Phoenicopterus chilensis), and the species is currently classified as Near Threatened. As their name suggests, they are found in South America and in the wild can live up to 50 years; 40 years in captivity. I had no idea that flamingos get this old!

Chilean Flamingos are a large species of flamingo; they can grow up to 1.3 meters/4.3 feet and have a wingspan of up to 1.5 meters/4.9 feet.

Flamingos are known for their plumage, but did you know that their young are grey or white with grey legs and pink knees? The name Flamingo comes from the Latin word “flamma” meaning flame, and feather colours can be anything from pink to red and orange depending on the species. One of the things I love about this species is their red wing coverts; they stand out so well.

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Flamingos live in flocks ranging from a few dozen to thousands of birds. So, what do you call a flock of flamingos? There are a few options, colony, regiment, flurry and stand, but the best one has to be a flamboyance of flamingos!

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The other thing I always wondered about is why certain birds just stand on one leg, the flamingo being one of them. Some research on the internet reveals that flamingos sleep and stand on one leg to conserve energy and to maintain their body temperature.

The other odd thing about flamingos is their tongue; it is large and fleshy, which is unusual for a bird. Additionally, when the flamingo wants to sit down it bends its legs back in order to gracefully lower itself to the ground. Almost everything about these birds is so very different from other birds, including the way they feed. They use their feet to stir up the water, then put their head and bill upside down into it, suck up the mud and water and then move their heads from side to side to extract plankton, small fish, and fly larvae from the mud and water. Given this feeding technique it should come as no surprise that flamingos do not breath during this process.

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So, next time you are at a zoo, make sure to stop by the flamingos and have fun observing these gangly but beautiful looking birds (even better if you are fortunate enough to see them in the wild!).

 

 

Categories: Calgary Zoo | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Arthur and Guinevere Tree Swallow

Arthur and Guinevere Tree Swallow

Arthur and Guinevere Tree Swallow

Last year my husband build me three bird boxes and dutifully put them up in our garden. Within a few weeks we had some tree swallows making one of them their home, and then the June storms arrived, the areas around our town got flooded and we never saw the birds again.

I am happy to say that they have returned this weekend!

I spent the morning working in the garden when suddenly, in they flew. A lot of chatter took place before the pair settled on a box. I just love watching these birds; both seem quite undisturbed by humans and our two Westies, so I was lucky enough to be able to get reasonably close to take these photos. Our daughter decided they needed to have names, and after a little while we settled on Arthur and Guinevere.

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As with most bird species, the male is the more colourful one of the two. The blue of his feathers looks so brilliant when the sun hits it, whereas the female is a lovely brown. These birds are known for their air acrobatics and chase insects with some daring moves.

Arthur

Arthur

The tree swallow gets its name from the fact that it usually nests in tree cavities. The female will take anywhere between a few days to two weeks to build the nest, which she shapes into a cup by pressing her body into the gathered nesting material. She will lay around 4 to 7 eggs, which have an incubation period of 11 to 20 days. The eggs are a pale pink when first laid, and will turn white within 4 days.

Tree swallows are long-distance migrants. They begin migrating south in July and August, flying during the day and roosting in large flocks at night.

Apart from their aerial acrobatic displays, I love their constant chatter, as they are a very vocal species. There was another pair that flew in with them, and the noise these four made was astonishing, especially as they are only small birds.

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I truly hope this pair will breed in our nest box and keep coming back, they are such a joy to watch.

Guinevere

Guinevere

Categories: Canadian Nature and Animals | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Going south – albeit a little late

It’s that time of year, and to be frank, it has been for some weeks now, where the Canada geese are leaving us for their summer quarters.

We are lucky enough to be living right in their flight path, both leaving for the south in the winter and coming north in the summer. For me, the sound of the geese has always been the sound of Canada. When we lived on the prairies 15 years ago with the British Military, the sound of geese was natures summer soundtrack for us. So when we moved into our current home in May 2009 I was excited to see geese fly straight over it on their way north.

Every winter we wave them off, telling them to “come back soon”, and every spring we shout “welcome back” to the returning flocks. We always know when the change of the season is upon us thanks to our geese.

The two photographed here were seemingly a little late, only leaving this past week for their southern vacation, as we have had snow since the start of this month it seemed strange to still see them here.

Now, as you know if you have followed me for a while, I love to research facts for my posts and it is no different with geese. So here are some interesting facts, some of which I didn’t know up until now:

1. Canada geese mate for life, unless one of the dies and then they re-mate.

2. They can see 180 degree vertically and horizontally.

3. If they survive their predators attempts at attack, they can live up to 24 years.

4. There are 11 subspecies, ranging from one of the largest in the world, to the smallest in the world.

5. They can travel up to 1,000 km in a day during migration, which means they could fly around the world in 40 days.

6. The female has a lower voice than the male.

7. 50 geese can produce 2 1/2 tons of excrement a year.

8. Their young stay with them for their first year, before leaving their parents.

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Categories: Canadian Nature and Animals | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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