With its proximity to the river and abundance of mature trees our community has a diverse array of feathered friends. Everyone has likely seen house sparrows, magpies, and robins but did you know that warblers, waxwings, and woodpeckers are also frequent visitors in the neighbourhood?
You’ll need to pay close attention to spot warblers because they’re tiny, always in trees and move really fast. They leave Canada when it gets cold; some flying as far south as Central America. In Rosscarrock we’ve seen orange-crowned warblers, whose bodies are a solid yellowish-green colour. Yellow-rumped warblers are more common in the neighbourhood. The males are black and white with yellow patches and the females are brown with yellow patches. Both species are about the size of a chickadee.
Waxwings are one of the coolest looking birds in Alberta, with their dark masks and subtle yellow and red markings. They travel in large flocks and we usually spot them perched in fruit trees grabbing a snack. You’ll often hear them before you see them; they make a high-pitched call as they flutter overhead. We’re lucky enough in Calgary to get both Cedar Waxwings and Bohemian Waxwings. The two species look very similar, and the easiest way to tell them apart is by the rust-coloured underside of the Bohemian’s tail.
The northern flicker is a large woodpecker. The male often hammers away on chimneys and telephone poles in spring to attract a mate and announce his territory. They have bright orange tail feathers and vivid markings. You will often see them on the ground looking for food or occasionally sitting on a wire. The northern flicker is found in Calgary all year.
Downy woodpeckers are also common in Rosscarrock. They are much smaller than a northern flicker and are black & white. The male has a bright red patch on his head. Downys spend all their time in trees so be sure to look up the next time you go to the park! We’ve seen them in the trees beside the baseball diamonds near the community centre. Downy woodpeckers can be seen in Calgary any time of year, though you’re more likely to see them at your bird feeder in the winter.
Bird Nerds tip: if you’re interested in attracting birds to your yard, water is the best way to do it! All living creatures need water and birds are no exception. A well-placed ‘bird bath’ is sure to draw many feathered friends to your home.
Vince and Sandra have been living in Rosscarrock since 2015. They run a website called birdnerds.ca where you can follow their adventures and see photos of all the Rosscarrock birds at birdnerds.ca/essentials/backyard birds. You can also find them on Instagram @birdnerdscanada