Red Deer River Naturalists

The Red Deer river Naturalists are a group dedicated to learning about and preserving natural history. They have regular programs with speakers and many field trips.


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Sunday, September 18, 2016


     Yesterday I went with 7 other birders to the Nova Nature Trail. I had never been to this area and it was a very pleasant surprise. Nova Chemicals has set up a nature trail on 280 acres just north of the plant. Jones Creek runs through the center of the area so there are some very good wetlands.

     As I said the main feature is the creak. Some of the area is reclaimed land. Other parts are pastured areas. There is brush, riparian treed and grassed areas. This makes for great bird and animal habitat.

      They have put in 7 Km of gravel rails. There are many bridges over wetlands so it affords great views to the area.

    I was quite pleased to see that Nova Chemicals had set aside and improved the area so well.

    We saw 19 species of birds that we could identify and a few that we didn't get a good enough look at in order to identify them. We saw:Canada geese, crow, great blue heron, red tailed hawk, mallard, flicker, yellow rumped warbler, American tree sparrow, vesper sparrow, tree swallow, raven, Savannah sparrow, downy woodpecker, black capped chickadee, red necked grebe, coots, American goldfinch, shovellers.

    I highly recommend that you visit this area.

     I will certainly be out next spring to check on breeding birds.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Crazy Robins

      Every fall we get a few days where robins are abundant and tear around as if they've completely lost it.  It's when I get phone calls about all the robins in the yard.

      Today was one of those days with crazy robins. There were many robins in the area. They chase each other and you'd think they are acrobats by their flying. At this time it's common for robins to hit your windows. It is fall migration. They are feeding heavily to fatten up and have spare energy. We will get several rushes of robins. Robins nest on the Arctic coast so we have robins go through from much further north. I would think our local robins have gone south a few weeks ago.

     In spite of all the emphasis on fall migration, we have quite a few robins who stay with us all winter. I've seen robins in every month of the year. We usually get robins counted in the Christmas bird count.

     Now added to the fun today were the black birds. We usually have a day or two with masses of blackbirds. Trees are full of blackbirds and they fly as a flock. I can spend a whole day watching black birds from my windows.

     So I'll be watching for more robins and blackbirds tomorrow.

     Tell me if you have large flocks of birds going through the area.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Origins of Naturalwise.

      Naturalwise is a blog that is under the wings of the Red Deer River Naturalists (RDRN) .The header very clearly lays out the aims and objectives of the naturalist group. So with the idea of promoting more knowledge about natural history the blog was started in August 2010.

      The idea was a that a good blog could reach a wide audience. There are many good writers who are members of the Red Deer River Naturalists so there should be lots of material to post on a blog. It's very easy to become a writer on Naturalwise but people were reluctant to post. The few people who did post wrote some very interesting articles. They tried it once and for some reason did not continue.

      To have a good blog you need fresh and regular material. Posting everyday gets a larger readership than posting once a week. Keeping fresh material was a struggle and the blog ceased posting in April 2013. Strangely enough the last two posts had a 120 and 93 visits each. We were quite successful for the effort we put in on the blog.

     However, I always kept the blog in mind. I would go back and look at it. Finally, I forgot the password and other information.

     So this year I decided to get the blog going again. I decided to post once a week.

     It's a challenge to attract  again. However, I am hopeful that more people will stop and take a look at Natural wise.

     We also have a face book page which keeps postings very current. there are over 2000 photos on the face book page. I use them for the blog.
    So this is not only an invitation to follow natural wise but to contribute material to the blog. If you've got something you'd like to post let me know. Something very interesting would be just a photo posting. Go for a hike and post it here.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

More Conflict

     The other day I was weeding near the huge tree in my yard where I had recently hung a feeder.

      I noticed a magpie and red squirrel in the tree. They were both very quiet which is odd.  This is very different for red squirrels who chatter constantly. Magpies chatter constantly. This caused me to take a second look. The two were eying each other very closely. The squirrel would move a small distance and the magpie would shift. I thought something pretty exciting could happen very quickly.

     Finally the squirrel got behind a large limb and went higher in the tree. The magpie remained. I guess the magpie thought that the silly little beggar would have to come down sooner or later.

     All of a sudden two squirrels were chasing each other. The second squirrel must have been in the upper branches of the tree. Here's were the excitement took place. The two squirrels chased each other around the trunk. They screeched  and yelled at each other. They were trying to keep the trunk in between each other.

    Finally, one squirrel left the tree and ran across the yard. First squirrel said, "Aha, I sure fixed him!" The magpie was still sitting on his perch and probably thought "Well, that was very interesting." I thought it was interesting and exciting too.

    How about you? Have you seen some territorial disputes?

Photo by Angela-Cormier MacLean

Photo by Duke Fraser

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Blue Jay and Robin Conflict

      I have an old sprawly lilac on the east side of my yard. It's a great shrub as it has a very dark lilac blooms and many times birds inhabit this tree.

     A few days ago I looked out to see a blue jay frantically flying around and around in the upper branches. Then I noticed a robin on the ground under the tree. The robin was watching the blue jay and also running back and forth.

     The blue jay made a mistake. He took his eyes off the robin for a second. The robin quickly moved into a dense bed of old irises. The blue jay just a quickly forgot about the robin and took off.

     It seemed as if the blue jay thought, "I sure fixed him." and the robin was breathing a sigh of relief that he had escaped a nuisance.

     I was surprised to see this competition as it's well past nesting season. I have no idea what they were squabbling about, but it was interesting while it lasted

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Squirrel Tussle

This morning I was looking out my front window to check on  feeder. I got more than I bargained for.

    Two squirrels were chasing each other around and around the trunk of a large green ash. They continued this torrid pace for at least two minutes. I was expecting them to quit from exhaustion. I found out that they had a very high level of fitness.

    Now my interest in watching the chase was to see how it ended. Was there going to be  big squirrel dust up? Was one squirrel going to escape? Would it end up in a draw?

    Well it ended in a draw. One squirrel ran into the upper branches and the other squirrel did not pursue. 
     Red squirrels are very territorial. Usually they just chatter at one another. You hear the chattering going on and again you wonder when they will be out of breath. 

     So the territorial squirrels can get very physical in claiming their territory.

     I wish these characters would chase each other far away. They are a nuisance at my bird feeders.

    How about you? Have you seen squirrel fights? How do you control squirrels at you bird feeders?
Photo by Angella Maclean

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Super Birding Day

      I live in Red Deer, Alberta. Today I had one of those odd days where birds seem to think that my place is the one to visit. Today was a day when everybody came at once. 

      I have just recently set up a new feeder in my front yard. Of course, the resident squirrel found the feeder and proceeded to operate it as his own. I was watching the squirrel when a few birds showed up. There were lots of house sparrows and a few others that had to wait for identification until I got my field glasses. They were having a feast under the feeder. More birds arrived and all a sudden there was a feeding frenzy.

     There must have been a half dozen house sparrow families. Then all the house finches from the neighborhood showed up. House finches really dominate the feeder. In all of those birds you look for something different. I found song sparrow, chipping sparrow and Lincoln sparrow. Along with those there was the usual black capped chickadees and red breasted nuthatches. All of a sudden there were robins wheeling around chasing each other. Then blue jays chased each other. As if this wasn't enough, the magpies and crows had to check things out.

    I kept checking my back yard but there wasn't any action there.

    After lunch the back yard was where the action was. I have a jungle of a vegetable garden. That was the place to hang out in the afternoon. There were two  more species to add in the afternoon .a yellow warbler and a family of house wrens.

   That made thirteen species in one day. That's a record for this yard. 

  I was running from the back of the house to the front and forgot about my camera. Some day I will think Camera! It's funny this guy didn't show up.

    Do any of you have days when birds are very active at your place?.