FROM: Crowsnest Conservation Birding Committee
On May 24 and 25 enthusiastic birders took part in the 12th annual Crowsnest Pass May Species Count organized by Crowsnest Conservation Society’s birding committee. On the first day of the count thirteen volunteers braved powerful winds to count birds and mammals in an area extending from Summit Lake at the BC/Alberta border to the east end of Hillcrest. On Thursday we travelled from the junction of Highways 3 & 22, north to The Gap, exploring side roads en route.
135 bird species (2,957individuals) were counted, our second highest species total since Crowsnest Conservation began participating in the provincial event. This compares to the 132 species observed in 2016. However, last year the number of individuals was higher at 3,628.
The birds that did show up kept us entertained. At one stop, while watching an aerial battle between a raven and a ferruginous hawk, a Swainson’s hawk jumped into the fray. Then a bald eagle just coming into adult plumage joined the fight, followed by a subadult golden eagle—an incredible display of doggedness and aerial manoeuvers, over in about five minutes.
At our next stop, we spotted another raven and a bald eagle sitting side by side in a field. The eagle appeared to be perched on a deer carcass, which the raven had its eye on. The raven harassed the eagle until the larger bird eventually left—perhaps because it had already had its fill and wasn’t prepared to scrap over scraps.
Other highlights reported by count participants included an extended look at a northern waterthrush, a small warbler with a loud voice, easy to hear but often difficult to see, and watching three pairs of harlequin ducks riding the rapids.
The Crowsnest Pass spring count is one of many citizen science events that take place annually throughout Alberta to provide information on the health of our natural environment. All participating groups share their data with Nature Alberta.
Details of the Crowsnest Pass count can be viewed here. 2017CNPMaySpeciesCount_Summary_CCS
A big thank you to the volunteers who came out for the count and to the many others who recorded bird sightings in their backyards and during their nature walks.
Join us for our next birding event during the 2017 Crowsnest Pass Doors Open and Heritage Festival in August.