Eyes will turn to Central Alberta skies in a unique salute to Canada’s 150th birthday.
Local bird watchers have set themselves the challenge of identifying 150 different birds in the coming year.
It’s a daunting task but since over the years there have been 264 different birds spotted in Red Deer County alone it’s an attainable target.
“With enough people doing it we should be able to hit 150,” said Red Deer River Naturalist member Judy Boyd, who has personally counted close to 30 so far.
The last bird count, which ran from Sept. 1 to Dec. 15 identified 45 birds. Winter tends to be on the lean side for bird spotting, but in April and May many varieties start returning.
Bird watchers are encouraged to head out into the countryside to scout out our feathery friends. It is best if areas are visited more than once to get the best shot at finding some new birds to add to the list.
Hitting the mark will mean identifying all of the LBJs, which stands for little brown jobs, said Boyd with a laugh.
“They’re the sparrows essentially is what they are. They are really hard to differentiate for novice birders.”
The spotting area is defined by the , which covers an area from Rocky Mountain House to Stettler, Ponoka to Olds and highlights prime birding areas. It can be found on the Red Deer River Naturalists website at www.rdrn.ca
Given the challenge of spotting birds out in rural areas compared with backyard feeders, it is recommended that two observers confirm a sighting in the countryside.
“When you’re out and about and you see something flying by and you go, ‘That’s a Cooper’s hawk’ and there’s nobody else to say that is a Cooper’s hawk, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s something else.
“If there are two people seeing it it just verifies what you are seeing.”
Birds spotted should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boyd said the Red Deer River Naturalists is hoping to set up a page on its website recording the species and numbers found so bird watchers know which have already been spotted.