North American Birds

VOLUME 69 NO2 2016

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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Page 78 of 139

V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R 2 253 Prairie Provinces PASSERINES A Steller's Jay 16 Dec – mid-Jan (AS) and 2 Clark's Nutcrackers 10 Jan (KK) were Calgary rarities. High Common Raven counts in the Regina area included 105+ near the municipal landfill 5 Jan (KM) and 180 on the Moose Mount C.B.C. 5 Jan (VT). An exceptionally large tally of 500 Horned Larks near High River, AB 10 Jan (BE, RWe) was an anomaly in an otherwise quiet winter for the species. A Chestnut-backed Chickadee was a good find on the Cochrane C.B.C. 27 Dec (fide TK). Red-breasted Nuthatches were conspicu - ous in mixed-forest areas of se. Manitoba, but few appeared outside the forest. A Pacific Wren was rare at Fish Creek P.P. 21 Jan (SO, ph.). A Hermit Thrush at a Winnipeg feeder from 4 Nov or earlier through 3 Feb was a winter rarity (RC, m.ob., ph.). A Gray Catbird at Lethbridge 1-2 Dec (D&TD, ph.) provided the first Alberta winter record. Also rare was a Brown Thrasher at Emma Lake, SK 3 Dec (fide NS). Only Alberta hosted large numbers of Bohemian Waxwings, including a flock of 5000+ at Fish Creek P.P. in Feb (GY et al.). A McCown's Longspur with Horned Larks at Crowsnest Pass 29 Jan (PS, ph.) was a winter first for Alberta. An American Tree Sparrow appeared at Val Marie, SK 21 Jan (KM), and a Chipping Sparrow was recorded on the Morden, MB C.B.C. 29 Dec. An exceptional total of 27 White-throated Sparrows in Alberta included 16 on the Edmon - ton C.B.C. Several Harris's Sparrows wintered in Alberta and Manitoba, with one Saskatchewan report at Ituna (SA), and 6 White-crowned Spar - the s. Prairie Provinces, illustrated dramatically by 26 in two trees at Calgary's Beaverdam Flats Park 26 Jan (fide TK); the species was recorded on nearly every C.B.C. in s. Manitoba. Sharp- shinned Hawks were well represented in Alberta, including 10 on the Calgary C.B.C. 14 Dec; s. Manitoba hosted the now normal handful, while about 4 were reported in Saskatchewan (m.ob.). Regionwide, Cooper's Hawks were reported less frequently than Sharp-shinneds. Single Harlan's Hawks were reported near Kyle, SK 1 Dec (DZ) and overwintering near Calgary (TK). The only concentrations of Rough-legged Hawks were found in the Alberta foothills w. and sw. of Cal - gary (fide TK); elsewhere in the Region, they were absent or scarce. A Virginia Rail was found on the Banff–Can- more C.B.C. 20 Dec; this is the only Prairie Provinces location where the species is report - ed with any regularity in winter. An American Coot on the Winnipeg C.B.C. 14 Dec (BS, BC) was one of Manitoba's latest ever. Farther w. were 4 coots at Boundary Dam, SK 3 Dec (KH), one at Echo Valley P.P., SK 6 Dec (RD, DS), 5 on the Medicine Hat, AB C.B.C. 14 Dec, and 2 at Banff, AB 17 Dec (AM). Not a single gull was reported in s. Mani - toba, even in early December. In Alberta, a Herring Gull was present 14-25 Dec, provid - ing a first for the Calgary C.B.C.; other gulls on that count were 2 Ring-billed and an apparent Herring Gull x Glaucous Gull hybrid (TK, RR). A Glaucous Gull was found on the Waterton, AB C.B.C. A concentration of 100+ Eurasian Collared-Doves at Maple Creek, SK (AH) contrasted with just a handful of Mourn - ing Doves scattered across the s. of the three provinces. Northern Hawk Owl reports included up to 4 season-long at Spruce Siding, MB (m.ob.) and a few scattered Saskatchewan sightings southward to White City (fide GK). Each province had only a couple of Great Gray Owl sightings; the season was much the poorer without them. An above-average total of 19 Northern Saw- whet Owls was reported in Alberta, with most birds at Calgary but also singles at Lethbridge and Red Deer, plus 4 on the Edmonton C.B.C. Many of the Red-bellied Woodpeckers found during fall 2014 in s. Manitoba survived the win - ter. As usual, Alberta had the lion's share of Gyrfalcon sight - ings, including a rare white- morph bird at Water Valley, AB 28 Feb (DC). Rare in win - ter was a Peregrine Falcon on the Manyberries, AB C.B.C. 4 Jan (fide MS). Rudolf F. Koes Peter Taylor –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– A lthough there was heavy snow early in the season in the Alberta foothills, pre - cipitation elsewhere in the Region was light and temperatures generally mild, especial - ly in southern Alberta. By contrast, February in Manitoba was unpleasantly cold. The balmy conditions in southern Alberta enticed many waterfowl to linger, but virtually all ducks and geese had departed Manitoba during the bit - terly cold November. Saskatchewan observers reported moderate waterfowl diversity, mostly in early December. Northern owls, especially Great Grays, were scarce, likely due in part to the light snow cover. Snowy Owls bucked the trend somewhat, being at least average in most of their usual open-country haunts. Winter finches provided a mixed bag, with redpolls present locally in good numbers but most other species scarce. A few outstanding rarities livened up an otherwise uneventful season. WATERFOWL THROUGH FALCONS Forty-seven sleeping swans near Foremost, AB 13 Feb (RW) were likely early returning Tundras. Thousands of Cackling Geese lingered with tens of thousands of Canada Geese at Boundary Dam, SK 3 Dec (KH). Very high numbers of Mallards, with smaller numbers of other duck species, re - mained in the Calgary, AB area throughout the period (TK). A nice find was a male Mallard x Northern Pintail hybrid at Fish Creek P.P., AB 21Feb (EG, ph.). Also noteworthy were 2 Gad - walls at Crooked Lake, SK 22 Feb (DW) and one at Echo Valley P.P., SK 6 Dec (RD, DS), 2 Greater Scaup at Banff, AB 19 Dec (CA) plus a single at Calgary 22-25 Jan (RR, TK, JT), a Barrow's Goldeneye x Common Goldeneye hybrid at Fish Creek P.P. 26 Jan (TK), and a Ruddy Duck on the Winnipeg, MB C.B.C. 14 Dec (BS, BC). A flock of 13+ Wild Turkeys near Millarville, first found 31 Dec, were n. of the main Alberta population and attracted many birders (J&MM, m.ob., ph.). Two Turkey Vultures reported dur - ing the C.B.C. period at Cypress River–Spruce Woods, MB were winter rarities (fide KDS). Bald Eagles winter in increasing numbers in These four Wild Turkeys were part of a flock of thirteen or more birds that wintered at a farmyard near Millarville, Alberta. Discovered on 31 Decem- ber 2014, they are seen here on 23 January 2015. It is not known whether the birds had been recently released. Photograph by Terry Korolyk. This Mallard x Northern Pintail hybrid at Fish Creek Provincial Park, Alberta 21 February 2015 made for an interesting find. Photograph by Emily Gorda.

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