Enjoy Birding in Your Own Backyard

Have you ever tried birding before? It’s a great family-friendly activity that gets you outside and exploring your community. It’s peaceful and calming yet instantly gratifying when you spot one and can identify it’s species. If you’re looking for new and exciting activities to do to get out of your house, there is nothing quite like bringing nature into your own back yard.

We teamed up with a local bird enthusiast, Larry Briggs, to share with us the basic equipment we need to get started, the best bird feeders to use and specific species to look out for in Calgary and the surrounding area. The best times for a variety of species are spring migratory and breeding seasons and the fall migratory periods. Spring is just around the corner and now you’ll be fully prepared to start birding.

Read through the information and at the bottom, enter to win your own birding starter kit.

Bird Identification Book – Have photos and descriptions and where & when they can be found in your area. The favourite among a lot of birders is the Sibley Guide in the full North America version or smaller, more portable Eastern and Western editions. You can also check out free resources online.

Binoculars to make it easier to see the bird and make identification. Larry recommends getting 7-power or 8-power binoculars—they’re a nice mix of magnification while still allowing you a wide enough view that your bird won’t be constantly hopping out of your image.

Notebook & Pen to record your bird observations. You can also make a list of the species you hope to see and check them off as you go. You can find a local checklist online to get you started.

Bird Feeder – To bring the birds into your backyard, you will need to make an investment in a bird feeder. Bird feeders come in all types: Start with a black oil sunflower feeder and add a suet feeder for the winter months (Suet will go rancid in the summer). You may want to add a hummingbird feeder for the summer.

Comfy Chair – if you’re going to be sitting in your own backyard, make sure you’re comfortable!

If you want to explore farther than your own backyard, get started in some of the Genesis Land communities for great birding experiences. There are several parks and wetland type of areas that have great birding opportunities especially once the ice has melted. Ice out on most lakes, is complete by May 1.

Birding in the West Airdrie Bayview/Bayside Area

Chinook Winds: Birds seen in the last month: Rock Pigeon, Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, Canada goose, Grey Partridge, House Sparrow

Nose Creek Park: Birds seen in the last month: Mallard, Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, House Sparrow, Bluejay

The Canals: Birds seen in the last month: Canada goose, Rock Pigeon, Northern Flicker, Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, Mallard, Grey Partridge, House Sparrow, American Crow

East Lake: Birds seen in the last month: Rock Pigeon, Black-billed Magpie, Grey Partridge, House Sparrow, Blue Jay

Sage Meadows and The Ridge at Sage Meadows

Symon’s Valley Nature Reserve
Surrounds this neighbourhood. There has been sightings of Great Horned Owls, Coyote, Mule Deer and many other species of song birds and wildlife

Saddlestone (NE Calgary)

The wetlands and trail system that starts in the North East corner of the neighbourhood and run parallel to Stoney Trail and to Manmeet Singh Park in Taradale. Once the ice disappears there are many migratory shore birds, ducks, and geese that inhabit the wetlands located in this corridor. Great Blue Herons, Avocets, Mallard, Canada goose, other varieties of ducks are appearing here year after year.

Here are a few birds to get you started:

Black-capped Chickadee

It is seen everywhere in all parts of the city and loves to come to feeders in your backyard. Usually picks a seed from the feeder and flies into neighbouring trees to eat. Very friendly and they will take seed from your hand sometimes.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Often seen at feeders with Chickadees. Loves peanuts and sunflower seeds like Chickadees. Just like the Chickadee usually picks one seed from the feeder and flies into neighbouring trees to eat.

European Starling

Can be seen in small flocks or flocks of hundreds. If you have crabapple trees in your yard they will come in late winter and spring by the hundred an eat the crabapples left on the trees.

Next time you’re on a Zoom happy hour or backyard BBQ, here are a few bird facts to share:

  • All have feathers, toothless beaked jaws, lay hard-shell eggs
  • Sizes from 2 inches (Bee Hummingbird) to 9 feet (Ostrich)
  • 10,000 types of birds worldwide

Get started with birding with your very own birding kit. We’ve put together everything you need including binoculars, a bird feeder and bird feed. Enter HERE to win.

Images courtesy of Larry Briggs Photography