Judy Boyd, bird count compiler at Red Deer River Naturalists, spotted a Northern Hawk Owl in the May Species Count. A hawk was also spotted during the count week in December. (File photo contributed)

Red Deer River Naturalists maps out bird watching hotspots

Annual banquet on Oct. 26 features award-winning geologist and author Dale Leckie

Red Deer River Naturalists are helping bird watchers to focus on the best places to visit in the region.

Club secretary Judy Boyd said additions and corrections are being made to its successful birding trail map.

“They were very popular, so we’re going to redo them. We’re just about out of the maps,” Boyd said on Friday.

She said among the additions are NOVA Community Nature Trail, Lacombe Lake and JJ Collette Natural Area north of Lacombe.

“We took off Three Mile Bend because there’s too many dogs,” she said with a laugh about the off-leash dog park.

She said the map currently has eight locations and this will be the first time it will be updated. More sites may also be added to the naturalists’ website, since a map only has so much room.

For anyone who wants to try bird watching, fall is great for beginners, she said.

“It’s a good time because there’s not a bazillion birds that you have to try and choose from when you’re trying to identify them.”

Some birds stay all year long and they are easier to spot when the leaves have fallen, she said.

Boyd, who works on the May species count and the Christmas bird count, said the Red Deer area bird population is holding fairly steady.

“However, barn swallows are going to be put on the threatened list because they’re just not doing well. A lot of the insectivores song birds are not doing well, the ones that eat insects.”

The use of chemicals on insects is having an impact, she said.

On Tuesday, the naturalists, in partnership with Kerry Wood Nature Centre and Ellis Bird Farm, will host biologist and author David Bird. His presentation, Feathering One’s Nest, will start at 7 p.m. at Kerry Wood Nature Centre, 6300 45th Ave. Admission is free.

Bird has led the campaign to get the grey jay renamed the Canada jay.

Boyd said speakers are popular events and the club holds them in February, March, April, September, October and November.

For something different, the group is bringing in award-winning geologist and author Dale Leckie, who will tell the story of Canada’s Rocky Mountain national parks, for its annual banquet on Oct. 26.

“It’s not birds or mammals. It’s geology, and we’ve never had a speaker talking about geology,” Boyd said.

The banquet will be held at Pioneer Lodge, 4324 46A Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 and available at Kerry Wood Nature Centre.

Naturalists will lead four bird focus group walks in October. Another October activity is an insect focus group at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon. The topic is caddisflies, nerve-winged insects and beetles.

For more information, visit www.rdrn.ca.


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