A chickadee perches on Keith Kline’s hand while birding recently (contributed photo)

Central Alberta’s 150th bird species already sighted

Organizer says the count will go on until end of 2017

Never underestimate keen birdwatchers on a mission.

The Canada 150 Bird Count has already reached its target more than a month before this country’s official sesquicentennial on July 1st — thanks to a growing number of intrepid Central Alberta birdwatchers who’ve been keeping their eyes to the skies.

“The 150th species was counted. It’s a yellow warbler. It’s a very, very common bird, but they’re late migrants,” said the count’s organizer Keith Kline, a member of the Red Deer River Naturalists.

The city resident was pleasantly surprised that the 150th bird species has been spotted so soon.

When Kline came up with the idea of doing a 12-month bird count to mark Canada’s 150th birthday, he speculated 150 species just might be identified across the region by the end of 2017. He later upgraded his expectations after 60 species were counted by the end of March.

Kline stated he wouldn’t be shocked if the count reaches 150 by July.

But in fact, the yellow warbler was identified in Sylvan Lake on Sunday, May 21, by Leo Degroot, a fairly new participant in the Red Deer River Naturalists bird count.

Kline is very pleased that birdwatchers who’ve never previously taken part in counts are sending in reports of sightings. “We have some extra counters since we put it out in an RDRN email and we got some publicity.”

Enthusiastic birdwatchers from Sundre to Stettler, Rimbey to Three Hills have jumped on board with the project because “it’s fun and people are gaining knowledge,” he added. “It’s also a unique way to say, ‘Happy Birthday, Canada!’”

Although no unusual species were spotted so far, Kline said that doesn’t mean “surprises” won’t turn up. At the very least, someone could see a majestic blue heron, which flies through this area. The graceful bird is hard-to-spot, despite its large size, because it blends so well with the sky and lakes.

Kline said the 150 Bird Count will continue to see how many different kinds of species can be seen in Central Alberta by Dec. 31.

For more information on the Canada 150 Bird Count, or Kline’s Saturday morning birdwatching tours, please visit www.rdrn.ca.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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