North American Birds

VOLUME 68 NO2 2015

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

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V O L U M E 6 8 ( 2 0 1 5 ) • N U M B E R 2 237 Prairie Provinces believed to be a Chestnut-backed Chickadee x Boreal Chickadee hybrid was at Fish Creek P.P., AB 15 Dec (TL, ph.). Red-breasted Nuthatches were extremely scarce in s. Manitoba. A Hermit Thrush at Calgary 15-19 Feb represented the third winter record for Alberta (MK, ph.). Bohe- Manitoba between mid-Dec and early Mar were above average; there were 3 in Saskatchewan. Manitoba had 4 Coo- per's Hawks, Saskatchewan 2, and Al- berta had few. Very few Northern Gos- hawks were found, except for decent numbers in s. Alberta and a few locally in se. Manitoba. Nine Golden Eagle sightings in Saskatchewan included 3 near Lumsden 8 Feb (KM). A gathering of 33 American Coots at Big Knife Generating Complex 23 Jan was exceptional, given the conditions (RKl, TH). Not surprisingly, other than a few Killdeer in Alberta, no shorebirds were reported. The only gulls of note were a Ring-billed in a Calgary, AB parking lot 13 Feb (MH) and a Great Black-backed at Gardiner Dam 16 Dec (PhT, RJ, m.ob.), the latter a frst for any Saskatchewan C.B.C. Snowy Owls were scarce, with only a few daily tal- lies in the double digits, the best being 13 near Elrose, SK 10 Dec (fde DZ) and 26 in the Strathmore/Irricana/Beiseker area ne. of Calgary 23 Feb (RKu). Northern Hawk Owls and Great Gray Owls were almost completely absent in traditional wintering areas; a few of each ventured into Calgary, and the highest numbers were seen in the Southern Interlake region of Manitoba. Birds banded by Jim Duncan and as- sociates in s. Manitoba were healthy. A tally of 5 Northern Pygmy-Owls at the Sibbald Creek Trail, AB 14 Feb was high (HV). Similarly, 5 Northern Saw-whet Owls reported in Calgary made a higher total than usual (fde TK). One of the 7 Anna's Hummingbirds reported in sw. Alberta during fall 2013 was found frozen upside-down on a twig at Nanton 2 Feb; it had last been seen alive 17 Nov (J. Comstock, fde TK, ph.). A Red-headed Woodpecker wintering near Ste. Anne, MB was a seasonal rarity (fde JR). A Red-bellied Woodpecker, present since fall 2013 at Grenfell, SK, continued to draw many visitors through the season (DW, m.ob.). Three wintering Red-bellieds in Manitoba included a northerly one near Fisher Branch (JS, m.ob.). Both Gyrfalcons and Prairie Falcons were well reported in Alberta but scarce elsewhere. A Per- egrine Falcon near Dugald, MB 31 Jan (G&JG) was unexpected, as virtually all winter sightings in the province come from Winnipeg, where the species is not annually seen in winter. PASSERINES A Chestnut-backed Chickadee was reported, without details, at Edmonton, AB in early Dec; if accepted, it would represent the northeast- ernmost record in the province (fde TK). A bird Rudolf F. Koes Peter Taylor –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– B ird-wise, the winter of 2013-2014 was one of the quietest in memory. Bitterly cold weather gripped most of the Prai- rie Provinces: the December–March period in southern Manitoba was the coldest since 1898- 1899. Coupled with frequent high winds and above-average snowfall, this made for a miser- able winter. A lack of winter birds that gener- ally enliven the season added to the malaise. Towards the western part of the Region, condi- tions were not quite as severe, but as a rule, few waterfowl made it past early December, north- ern owls were scarce, Bohemian Waxwings were spotty at best, and "winter fnches" were almost absent. WATERFOWL THROUGH FALCONS Two unidentifed swans, likely Tundra, were at Wabamun Lake, AB 25 Jan (J&MM). Notable ducks included: 2 Harlequin Ducks at Leth- bridge, AB 31 Dec, with one remaining a few days longer (JN); a Long-tailed Duck on the Squaw Rapids, SK C.B.C. 3 Jan (RD et al.); and 2 Ruddy Ducks at Weed Lake, AB 29 Dec–early Feb (THo) and 2 more at Big Knife Generating Complex, se. of Edmonton, AB 23 Jan (RKl, TH). Two Willow Ptarmigan near Easterville, MB 26 Dec were well s. of their usual winter haunts (DR). Two Horned Grebes at Big Knife Generat- ing Complex 23-25 Jan were unexpected (RKl, TH, m.ob.). Bald Eagle numbers were healthy in s. Alberta (fde TK) but lower than usual in s. Manitoba. Sharp-shinned Hawks were "well reported" in Alberta, while 11 reports in s. A rarity in Saskatchewan was this frst-cycle Great Black-backed Gull at Gardiner Dam on 16 December 2013, a frst for any Sas- katchewan Christmas Bird Count. Photograph by Nick Saunders. This Anna's Hummingbird was found in early February 2014 frozen upside- down to a tree branch at Nanton, Alberta. What was presumably the same bird was last seen alive there on 17 November 2013. Photograph by Terry Korolyk. This Cassin's Finch at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan attracted a number of bird- ers and photographers during its stay from 24 (here 28) December 2013 through 4 January 2014. It represents the second Christmas Bird Count record for the province, and there are very few verifed provincial records at all. Photograph by Alan Smith. This Hermit Thrush at Calgary was present 15-19 (here 15) February 2014, providing Alberta with its third winter record. Photograph by Mike Kelly.

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