Birds in Calgary — An Avian Heaven for Birdwatching

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Sarah Things to Know
23 Min Read
By SueChem on Pixabay

Calgary brings you the opportunity to sightsee pretty and amazing species of birds in Calgary. It is a majestic Canadian city which is located near the expansive and mighty Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta.

These words will amaze you at the splendor of avian life in Calgary. The birds in Calgary will captivate with the gracefulness in their flight, the vibrancy in their plumage, and their sweet melodic songs.

Winter Birds in Calgary

In this article, we will share details about the species you can find in Calgary and places you can explore to gain the utmost from your birdwatching experience.

1. Awe-Inspiring Birds in Calgary

Birds in Calgary and even humans are attracted to the charming urban-ness of the city but also the diverse natural ecosystem. Lakes, rivers, wetlands, marshlands, shrubland biomes, and savannas are part of this city’s nature. This diversity and the closeness to the Rocky Mountains make it a perfect destination for birds and where you can have a birdwatching experience.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the diverse species of avian creatures, birds in Calgary, that you can find in this city.

1.1 The Great Horned Owl: The Bird in Calgary as a Mysterious Hunter

The Great Horned Owl is Calgary’s treasure and an iconic symbol or creature.

birds in Calgary
By HMaria on Pixabay

1.1.1 Appearance and Features

The measures of this bird range from 22 inches in height. The wingspan of the Great Horned Bill is commendable, with 4.5 feet.

It gets its name because of its tufts of features that look like the ear. They actually look like horns on the nocturnal’s head. These feature tufts are not actually the true ears of the Great Horned Owl, rather give the bird cues visually. These visual cues are what aid the bird to camouflage or hide itself as well as communicate.

The color of the bird diversifies into shades of murky brown, cloudy white, and gray. The bird also uses these colors to camouflage. The eyes of the Great Horned Owl are strikingly yellow. These piercing eyes are what give the bird excellent eyesight. All this contributes to the bird being a successful and scary hunter.

1.1.2 Habitat and Behaviour

The Great Horned Owl can adapt to many places and habitats that are found in Calgary. It has taken residence in the forests, woodlands, and even the suburban areas.

There are territorial in nature and nocturnal hunters. They often take a claim to a specific area as their place or territory. This place then becomes a territory of a pair of these species for hunting and breeding.

They can have a wide and diverse range of animals and creatures like smaller birds, rodents like mice, and even snakes and skunks. The Owl earns the title of the scary hunter because of its sharp talons and formidable beak. Both of these features allow this hunter to capture birds larger than oneself.

1.1.3 Encountering the Great Horned Owl in Calgary

It might seem a little impossible to spot the Great Horned Owl because of the tendency to be nocturnal. This is definitely not aided by the fact that they have amazing camouflage ability.

However, do not lose hope. Catching a glimpse of these birds will definitely be a rewarding experience, and a glance to the utility poles of Calgary might give you a sighting of these birds. During the daytime, they are occasionally perched on these utility poles, trees, and high heights

Great Horned Owl AllAboutBirds
By allaboutbirds.org

. If you are patient and wait long enough, you can also catch sight of them just before the sun is about to set, or in other words, during twilight.

Please keep in mind that these birds are in their own territory, which is their home. It is we who are trespassing in the territory of young birds and therefore need to maintain a respectful distance.

1.2 The Song Bird in Calgary: Black-Capped Chickadee

The Black Capped Chickadee is also known as Poecile Atricapillus. In a city like Calgary, which is diverse and an expansive land for a wide variety of species of birds, Black-capped Chickadee stands out strikingly and distinctly.

It is small in size, but this songbird has such a charismatic and cheerful aura that once you are in the bird’s presence, your attention will only be on these species.  You will be able to recognize this bird easily as it has very distinct markings as well as a friendly nature. Once you meet this small creature, you will realize how easily these majestic and adorable beauties have captured your heart.

Black-capped Chickadee

1.2.1 Appearance and Features

As mentioned above, the Black-capped Chickadee is small in size. The length of this bird is an average of just 4.7 to 5.9 inches in length.

These features of the birds are shaded such that it gives them a white belly and white cheeks. The black features make it look like this bird has a back hat and a black bib. Shades of white features adorn its wingspan, and the upper part of the bird is a mellow gray. These colors make the Black-capped Chickadee have a striking appearance against the backdrop of the green landscape of Calgary.

1.2.2 Behavior and Vocalization

They are cheerful, and they are a delight to Birdwatch. These birds are active and lively and flit from tree to tree, park to park in, and look for insects, berries, and other food. You can often observe these lovely birds flit between trees, whether right side up or even upside down!

They are small, but they are also steady and strong. They can withstand cold weather easily, and looking or hunting for food is not difficult for them during the winter and even in cold climates.

The Black-capped Chickadee is called “chickadee” because of one of their most endearing habits. This habit is vocalization.  The bird’s song or call is distinct with a “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” tune. This song is not merely a sound. These birds use a call to communicate with each other and establish their own territory.

This tune is soon followed by other melodic sweet notes and warbles which alleviate the natural areas of Calgary. The atmosphere and tranquility accompanied by Black-capped Chickadee’s song brighten your birdwatching experience.

Chickadee Bird Identification AllAboutBirds
By allaboutbirds.org

1.2.3 Habitat and Social Structure

These birds are lively and active. Therefore, there is no doubt that these birds are social in nature. If you get a chance to observe them, you will notice how they often forage together and how often they use their vocals for communication. They move in flocks, even more so during cold, harsh winters. Living in flocks and such social nature is what gets them through the cruel winter conditions where finding food is often difficult for bird species.

They are a common sighting in the neighborhood. They are also seen building nests and nesting in tree cavities as well as birdhouses. This tells us about how well the Black-capped Chickadee has adapted to urban development.

1.2.4 Encountering Black-capped Chickadee Bird in Calgary

Looking for these birds is not difficult. In fact, you might spot them even when you’re taking a quiet stroll through your neighborhood or even your own backyard!

Their distinct voice makes them easily recognizable, and they are often attracted to feeders.

You can visit the famous birdwatching spots in Calgary, like the Fish Creek Provincial Park and Nose Hill Park, for an exquisite bird-watching experience.

Remember to watch these baby birds only at a respectful distance and leave them in their natural environment undisturbed.

1.3 Bird in Calgary with a Majestic Strength: Bald Eye Eagle

A bird that represents power, strength, and grace, a species with such grace and luxury that it has captured the heart of tourists and residents alike. We are talking about none other than the majestic symbol of strength, the iconic Bald Eye Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).

majestic bald eagle riverside
By RobBrown2020 on Pixabay

1.3.1 Appearance and Features

The Bald Eye Eagle is a majestic raptor and a large bird of prey. Its size and wingspan lead it to be around 10 points and weight. The wingspan of an adult bird is around 7.5 feet, which is 2.3 meters.

Don’t be fooled by its name and think that the Bald Eye-eagle is actually bald. That’s not true! The name gets its origin from the fact that the bird’s entire body is covered with features that are deep brown in color. However, the top of its head has sleek white features, giving this bird a bald look.

The Bald Eye Eagle gets its appearance at about 4-5 years of age. Before that, its fur remains murky brown and matted.

The Bald Eye Eagle is a bird of prey. Therefore, one of its distinctive features is its powerful paws that allow it to carry heavy prey efficiently. For the most part, its prey consists mostly of fish. The hooked yellowish beak is also another notable feature of this bird in Calgary. The keen eye-sight of this bird allows it to spot fish under the surface of the water easily, even when this bird is flying at high altitude. The bird has impressive skills and can swoop down near the water body and catch its prey quickly and precisely.

Bald Eagle Eye and Vision Facts: Eye Know Eagle Eyes!

1.3.2 Habitat and Behaviour

The Bald Eye Eagle resides near water bodies that are primarily large such as rivers, lakes, etc., as its diet mainly consists of fish.

While fish is their primary source of food, this does not mean that they only rely on sea creatures for their food. Rather, they are scavengers and ruthless ones at that. They will scavenge rodents, small mammals, waterfowl, and other birds. They also look for food in carcasses and steal food from other species.

1.3.3 Encountering the Bald Eye Eagle Bird in Calgary:

If you are visiting Calgary, especially to sightsee this bird, you should consider venturing to natural areas that are situated nearby, like Glenmore Reservoir and Banff National Park. They are known to frequent these areas mentioned above. Since these are prey birds and usually fly at high altitudes, they are not easily viewable from the city limits.

Patience is key to catching the breathtaking sight of this majestic bird in Calgary soaring high in the sky. Try finding nests that are massive in high trees near water bodies and, of course, occasionally scanning the sky.

1.4 The Red-Winged Black Bird in Calgary: Resident Marsh Dweller

red winged blackbird branch singing
By Wildernessman on Pixabay

The Red-Wings Black Bird in Calgary is a beloved resident and charmer of the city’s natural habitats. This bird has striking and distinct appearance adds to its appeal and vibrancy among the avian species amongst the birds in Calgary.

1.4.1 Appearance and Feature

The Red-Winged Black Bird has epaulets that look like red and yellow shoulder patches. These epaulets are bright, and the color is striking against the glossy black feathers. These features make this bird truly, a sight to behold.

The birds engage in regular probing and foraging. The bill of this bird in Calgary is pointed and long, which aids them in these activities. The Red-Winged Blackbird has a wingspan of 12 to 15 inches and a measurement of around 6 to 10 inches. One of the easily recognizable features of this bird is its melodic voice.

1.4.2 Habitat and Behaviour

You can find these birds in various places in Calgary. These birds especially love the wetlands and marshes. They also nestle along the shores of lakes and ponds that surround Calgary.

Funnily enough, you will often spot them taking a seat on cattails and reeds. They love engaging in territorial displays, and these places, as well as shrubs near the water, make these places a perfect place for them to survey their surroundings and engage in territorial displays.

The male Red-Winged Blackbird protects its territory vigorously when it comes to territorial display. They will puff up their vibrant feathers and make shrill and distinctive sounds that combine into a beautiful and melodic distinctive song. This creates a beautiful ambiance for Birdwatchers and people visiting the wetlands.

1.4.3 Encountering Red-Winged Black Bird in Calgary

Ingle Wood Bird Sanctuary, Fish Creek Provincial Park, and other locations with marshes, ponds, lakes, and wetlands are areas perfect for spotting these birds. When you explore these areas, to find these birds, you have to look for the vibrant colors of their features, the flashes of red and yellow that you can find peeking from the vegetation.

Remember to maintain a respectful distance and let them engage in their habitat without interference.

1.5 Northern Flicker Bird in Calgary

northern flicker bird perched 1280
By Veronika_Andrews on Pixabay

Northern Flicker (Colaptes Auratus) is a bird in Calgary that belongs to the family of woodpeckers. You can recognize them from the patches on its breast. These patches are crescent in shape, and they are easily recognizable. These birds usually search for ants and beetles while they hammer on tree trunks. Have a fun trip in the forests of Calgary, and you might spot these beauties easily.

1.6 House Sparrow Bird in Calgary

As the name suggests, House Sparrow (Passer Domesticus) is a neighborhood delight. It is part of the city’s urban life and is easily sighted in the urban areas of Calgary. These small birds are chirpy and an absolute delight to listen to. They are often seen in parks, gardens, and manmade settlements.

1.7 Canada Goose: Symbol Bird in Calgary

A Canada goose (Branta Canadensis) is Canada’s symbol and holds a special place in the hearts of the Canadians. This bird is not only beautiful with its markings but also impressive in size; this makes it an appropriate symbol for the diversity found in Canada.

Northern Flicker Bird Guide
By allaboutbirds.org

2. The Art of Birdwatching

Art, or past time, as most people call it, has been one of people’s favorite activities for centuries to come. This is a rewarding experience on its own and gives you time alone from the fast-past word. This experience will allow you to reconnect with nature and will leave you in awe as you get introduced to the birds in Calgary and, to an extent, the avian world.

Birdwatching will allow you to observe the fascinating birds in Calgary in their natural habitat. This will be an amazing opportunity for you to learn about certain behaviors that these birds have and their significance in the ecosystem.

If you are someone who wouldn’t mind taking your binoculars and your patience to a memorial adventure, this tranquil experience of birdwatching is just for you.

3. Places to Watch Birds in Calgary

Here are some places you can visit in Calgary so that you can catch a glimpse of the majestic beauties mentioned in this article.

3.1 Inglewood Bird Sanctuary for Birds in Calgary

This sanctuary is a haven for avian enthusiasts. This sanctuary consists of an expansive amount of nature trails, and behold…over 270 Bird Species! The Inglewood Bird  Sanctuary is just a few kilometers (minimum 5), a short drive to the east of River Bow.

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary Calgary  | Journey Alberta

This is a hotspot for Birdwatchers. You can bicycle along the trails and have a fun adventure solo or with friends. While doing you, you can also keep an eye out for bird species like woodpeckers, warblers, herons, etc.

Take a stroll along the green meadow and wetlands and enjoy the serene birdwatching experience!

3.2 Fish Creek Provincial Park for Birds in Calgary

Fish Creek Provincial Park Bankside | Journey Alberta

This Provincial Park is located in the southern part of Calgary. This park holds the title of the second-largest urban park. The pathway of this park stretches for more than 80km, and you can sightsee over 200 bird species in Calgary.  Aside from that, enjoy this natural habitat by visiting the Bow Valley, biking down the trail, Silkome Aquatic Facility, etc.

3.3 WeaselHead Flats for Watching Birds in Calgary

You have to look no further for this place other than the mouth of  Elbow River in southeast Calgary. This is a great place for nature enthusiasts and for observing birds in Calgary, as it comprises marshlands and wetlands. Therefore, this habitat is ideal for birds that love water. You can spot the raptors such as northern Harriers and red-tailed hawks here or even a variety of ducks, geese, waterfowl, etc.

3.4 Banff National Park

This park is known for its wilderness and nature, the greenery, and the expanse of landscape that is vast and pristine. While this park might not be in Calgary, it is just a short drive away. You can sightsee birds like the white-tailed ptarmigans, alpines, the majestic golden eagle, and mountain bluebirds.

Banff National Park Canada 4K 🇨🇦

3.5 Nose Hill Park

If you are someone who wants a unique experience of birdwatching, this place is just right for you. Nose Hill Park has a prairie habit, an ecosystem of savannas, shrubland, and grassland. This habitat for the park is unique because this attracts birds usually found in open spaces.

You can bring binoculars along to keep an eye out for the meadowlarks, American Kestrels, and a wide variety of sparrows that will be amazed.

You are not limited to only visiting these sports to enjoy and watch the birds in Calgary.  In fact, the city is rich and diverse when it comes to bird species. So enjoy a stroll in the park, or spend a tranquil day in the city’s green spaces, and you will continue to discover the avian species that are nestled in this city.

One of the reasons why Calgary is naturally home to a wide variety of bird species is because of its location.

Exploring Nose Hill Park in Calgary: One of Canada

4. Conclusion

Calgary can easily earn the title of one of the best places to visit for avian enthusiasts. And as we keep reinstating, respecting the privacy and expectations of every visitor. Feeding them food that is meant for humans is highly discouraged since it would disrupt their natural foraging behavior.

You will admire nature’s wonder and the splendor of how creatures of the ecosystem come together to create a cohesive intricate web of nature. We guarantee you , you will be left awe-inspired.

Last Updated on by Sanjana

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