Visitors to the Ellis Bird Farm at the start of the season were greeted with a rare treat, and it started a long summer of learning and activity at the sanctuary east of Red Deer.
On opening weekend in May, three owlets guarded the path leading into the bird farm.
“That was a great day, they were excellent because they were about 10 feet away from people,” said Claudia Lipski, bird farm staff member and interpreter. “They left fairly soon after that. They’re still on site, but they hide away.”
Celebrating its 35th year, the Ellis Bird Farm had a busy schedule, but now that most of the birds that take up summer residence had flown home it was time to close down for the year.
New at the site this year was a deck designed and built by site foreman Ron Biel. For the anniversary celebrations, there was a smudging ceremony on the deck.
Like many other organizations, the bird farm celebrated Canada 150 in its own way with crafts and activities.
There was also a milestone for the site’s staff as Myrna Pearman, resident biologist and site services manager, celebrated her 30th year working for the bird farm.
On Sunday, the bird farm held its end of the season festivities featuring a performance from the Red Deer Golden Music Makers.
As well, a former summer student at the farm, Alisha Ritchie, gave a presentation on one of the bird farm’s more common resident, the purple martin. This year, they had more than 100 nesting pairs.
“She went on to do her masters and she put on a presentation about her research,” said Lipski, adding about 30 people listened to her presentation.
Other events held during the summer included a pollinator workshop; a bio-blitz, where several biologists set up displays; the annual bluebird festival and a bug jamboree.
The non-profit relies on the support of a number of organizations including: Dow Chemical, the TD Canada Trust Friends of the Environment Foundation, the Red Deer and District Community Foundation, Lacombe County, Kiwanis International, Red Deer Twilight Homes Foundation and the Red Deer River Naturalists. This year, they also received funding from a Canada 150 grant.