Tag Archives: winter

Project 366 – Post No. 294 – This is where to bird in -30 °C!

What is Project 366? Read more here.

So my prediction in yesterday’s post Where to bird in -30 °C? was correct. Offer food and the birds will come. Every winter the city sets up a large number of bird feeders in Hermitage Park and keeps them filled with an assortment of bird treats throughout the winter. The birds are well aware of this and the feeders are always busy. It was a beautiful sunny day today with the temperature hovering around -30 °C this morning. We arrived at the bird feeders around 10:30 am. There were no other people around, quite likely due to the bitter cold, but there was lots of avian action at the feeders. As the feeders are all clustered in a treed groove right off the parking lot we just pulled up the vehicle as close as possible and ended up doing some car birding. I am usually not a big fan of birding from the car, it seems like an oxymoron – you go birding to enjoy nature, yet you never leave the confines of the car. With the bone crushing cold, however, if seemed like a reasonable compromise. All in all we ended up seeing 8 species of birds, all of which were busy gorging themselves on sunflower seeds, nuts and suet.

Edmonton--Hermitage Park Bird Feeders, Edmonton, Alberta, CA
Jan 18, 2020 10:45 AM - 11:00 AM
Protocol: Stationary
Checklist Comments:     A sunny and clear but bitterly cold morning (-30C). No people around but lots of avian activity at the feeders.
8 species

Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)  4
Hairy Woodpecker (Dryobates villosus)  1
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  1
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  3
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  20
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  3
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  5
A White-breasted Nuthatch enjoying the bird buffet on a cold winter’s morning at Hermitage Park.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

Project 366 – Post No. 293 – Where to bird in -30 °C?

What is Project 366? Read more here.

As the cold keeps its bitterly grip on all of Alberta I have not been able to do any birding at all for over a week now. Even if I would decide to brave the elements and go birding the question is where would I go. A quick glance at the last few weeks reports on eBird from the Edmonton area shows that the majority of hotpots have no sightings reported (no as in zero). One has to be careful when interpreting. No submitted sightings does not necessarily mean that the birds are not there, it could also mean that the birders are not there seeing the birds. It is likely a combination of both factors that result in the lack of observations. It;s too cold for birders to go birding and the birds, who are undeniably out there, are likely hiding and trying to stay warm. The only thing that might entice birds to be active in these low temperatures might be a food offering. In terms of birding this likely means that the best option to see birds would be at bird feeders. As it turns out the city has bird feeders set up every winter in Hermitage Park. Over the last few weeks 19 species of birds have been observed at the feeders here, a pretty good number for this time of year. We will see if I decide to challenge myself to venture our for some birding at the feeders this weekend.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

Project 366 – Post No. 292 – A week of extreme cold warnings

What is Project 366? Read more here.

We have now had Extreme Cold Warnings for all of Alberta issued daily for almost a week…, and counting. An extreme cold warning is issued by Environment Canada to inform the public about cold temperatures in their region that are expected to last for at least two hours. An extreme cold warning is issued based on either the temperature or the wind chill being a certain value for at least two hours. The values range from −30 °C in the south to −55 °C in parts of the Arctic. In Alberta an extreme cold warning issued when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach -40°C for at least two hours.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

Project 366 – Post No. 291 – Eating to stay warm

What is Project 366? Read more here.

As the temperatures continues to stay in well below the seasonal average, right now we are sitting at -31 °C and the the average for this time of year is -7 °C, one starts to wonder how wild animals are able to cope with long periods of these extreme temperatures. Animals such as birds can obviously take shelter in dense foliage or in tree cavities or snow caves to get shelter from wind, but when the temperature reaches the extremes that it has been doing over the last few days, that will only go so far. The answer is in fluffing up the feathers to increase their insulating capacity and by stoking the metabolism by increasing energy intake. For example, Black-capped Chickadees, one of our most common and iconic winter bird consume up to 10% of their body weight during the day and burn it over night. As it turns out the chickadee has another trick up their…, er…, feathery sleeves to cope with the most extreme temperature. Chickadees have the ability to drop their body core temperature allowing them to tolerate lower temperatures by reducing the amount of energy required for generating heat.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

Project 366 – Post No. 289 – Extreme cold warning

What is Project 366? Read more here.

The bitter cold continues with the temperature reaching -39 °C tonight. Any form out outing, nature walk or birding is out of the question. The forecast is predicting similar temperatures for the rest of the week so there will not be much in terms of new pictures until the temperatures ease up (currently predicted to occur on Sunday). As the situation is now, I’ll be lucky if the car starts tomorrow morning. As I am writing this the temperature hit -40 °C.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

Project 366 – Post No. 288 – Bitterly cold

What is Project 366? Read more here.

You know it is cold when the local ski hills shuts down due to the bitter cold and the weather forecasts start to refer to the temperature as “bitterly cold”. The thermometer on my backyard deck reads about -25 °C, once you factor in the breeze the windchill drops the temperature down to -37 °C. At these temperatures exposed skin can get frostbites in less than 10 minutes. Yesterday I did try to got for a nature walk at the Grey Nuns White Spruce Park in St. Alberta. I lasted for about 30 minutes before I had to call it a day, and that was about 5 °C warmer than today. While I was hoping for milder temperatures today, once I checked the temperature this morning I knew that heading out for a walk and birding was out of the question. So today’s picture will be of my thermometer this morning.

Backyard temperature in the morning…, without the windchill.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

Project 366 – Post No. 285 – Cold snap

What is Project 366? Read more here.

Until recently the winter has been mild by Alberta standards, dipping down to -15 ºC at the lowest. That has all changed now. Today the temperature was hovering around -20 ºC, and right now, at 9 pm it has dropped down to -24 ºC. Overnight temperatures are forecast to drop all the way down to -36 ºC. It is a quite typical for the winter temperatures to drop quite substantially in January and February. Only time will tell if we will reach the magnitude of last year’s cold snap, both in terms of how low the temperature goes and for how long (see the post Owling in the Frozen Wilds for a write up of last years record cold snap).

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.