Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Red-winged Blackbirds

If you look carefully at this tangle of last year's cattails you should be able to spot a small nest hiding in amongst them. It's the nest of a Red-winged Blackbird, and it's right next to the bird blind on the West Gaetz Lake.

Like many other birds, the male of this species (left) is much showier than the female (right). Males depend on their bright plumage to help attract mates, but females need to be more camouflaged so that they can safely sit on the nest.

Here's another look at the male:

As always, click on the photo for a larger version.

This time of year it's very important to be quiet while using the viewing decks, and this year it's even more important than usual. The high water levels in the lakes has led to many more nests close to the decks. Noise on the decks may discourage the birds from using these nests, and the extra energy needed to rebuild elsewhere can sometimes lead to nest failure.

Enjoy visiting our birds, but please remember to visit responsibly.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bat Homes

The bats are here. They will reduce the number of unwelcome insects around your yard such as mosquitoes. In order to survive a bat needs to eats almost its weight in insects per day. Bat houses are available at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre Bookstore. They are very well constructed and follow the directions as per the book, Naturescape , by Myrna Pearman. You may purchase a painted one for $42.95(black) or an unpainted one for $38.95. Instructions for the successful erection of the homes accompany each bat house. For more information call Bob at KWNC Bookstore 346 2010

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bird report May 24, 2008

Jason Rogers reports:
Canada Goose - 8
Gadwall - 1
American Wigeon - 2
Mallard - 10
Blue-winged Teal - 7
Northern Shoveler - 2
Canvasback - 10
Redhead - 6
Ring-necked Duck - 1
Lesser Scaup - 14
Common Goldeneye - 5
Ruddy Duck - 8
Common Loon - 1
Pied-billed Grebe - 2
Red-necked Grebe - 7
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 1
Sora - 5
American Coot - 10
Spotted Sandpiper - 2
Franklin's Gull - heard
California Gull - heard
Rock Pigeon - 2
Mourning Dove - 2
Downy Woodpecker - 1
Northern Flicker - 2
Pileated Woodpecker - 1
Least Flycatcher - 8
Eastern Phoebe - 1
Blue-headed Vireo - 1
Black-billed Magpie - 1
American Crow - 2
Common Raven - 1
Tree Swallow - 2
Bank Swallow - 3
Black-capped Chickadee - 9
Boreal Chickadee - 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 6
House Wren - 4
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1-2
Swainson's Thrush - 1
American Robin - 6
Gray Catbird - 2
Yellow Warbler - 18
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 4
Ovenbird - 1 just south of the Sanctuary
Common Yellowthroat - 1
Chipping Sparrow - 17
Clay-colored Sparrow - 13
Savannah Sparrow - 1
Le Conte's Sparrow - 4
Song Sparrow - 2
Lincoln's Sparrow - 3
White-throated Sparrow - 6
Dark-eyed Junco - 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 2
Red-winged Blackbird - 19
Brown-headed Cowbird - 8
Baltimore Oriole - 1
Purple Finch - 2
House Finch - 2
Red Crossbill - 3
White-winged Crossbill - 30
Pine Siskin - 8
American Goldfinch - 3
House Sparrow - 2

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spring on the lake

Although this photo doesn't really show it, things are starting to look like spring around here. It only takes a few steps out the back door to hear the songs of territory-setting birds (and frogs. Our Boreal Chorus Frogs are singing up a storm right now), and if you keep your eyes open you may even see signs of the start of nesting season.

The Canada Goose in the photo above has chosen an old muskrat mound as a nesting site. This particular mound is fairly close to one of the viewing decks on the West Lake, and that's already given a couple of youth groups a chance to see nest care up close.

Please remember that there may be other, more hidden nests around our viewing decks this time of year, and help us help the birds by using the decks as quietly as possible.


Project Porchlight recently posted a feature on Kathryn on their blog. For more information on Project Porchlight, check out their site here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

We've got bats

Not in our belfry, no, but we do have bats on the building.

For the past few years a small colony of what are probably Little Brown Bats (I haven't managed to get close enough to do a proper identification, so that's an educated guess) has made its home in a "secret" location on the Nature Centre.

As of last week, our bats have returned from their winter hibernaculum and are again hanging out (literally) at their summer home.

I put "secret" in quotation marks because the location that our bats have chosen probably is a secret to most of our visitors. If you're interested in the bats, though, our staff knows where to find them and would be happy to show you.

You might be surprised to learn how close you can be to wildlife without even realising it.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Spring butterflies

A couple of us were out on the trails this morning enjoying the unexpected sunshine -- and working, of course -- when we were lucky enough to spot our first butterflies of the season. If you happen to be out on the Wishart Trail (the section closest to 67th Street), keep your eyes open for brown butterflies with white margins. They're called Mourning Cloaks, and they're often the earliest butterflies you'll find.

Our early butterflies manage to be early butterflies because they are hibernators. According to Alberta Butterflies, butterflies like the Mourning Cloaks and Tortoise Shells overwinter as adults in brush piles or leaf litter, emerging as soon as it becomes warm enough to fly.