The Prairie Provinces

The Summer 2019

Rudolf F. Koes
135 Rossmere Crescent
Winnipeg, Manitoba R2K 0G1
[email protected]

Christian Artuso
170 Cavell Drive
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3J 1P1
[email protected]

Recommended citation:
Koes, R. F., and C. Artuso. 2019. The summer 2019: Prairie provinces. North American Birds 73(4).

While much of the north of the Prairie Provinces region was wetter and cooler than normal, the south saw the opposite conditions. From southeastern Alberta through southern Manitoba, extremely dry conditions existed. July was the fourth driest on record in southeastern Alberta, while the first six months of the year were the driest ever in southern Manitoba. In the latter region, there was some relief in the form of rain in the first half of July. Many marshes, sloughs, and lakes either completely or largely dried up, resulting in depressed numbers of breeding grebes, waders, and species reliant on damp grass and sedge meadows. Breeding Bird Atlas work in Saskatchewan, now in its third field season, turned up some fine rarities and provided extensions of known breeding ranges for a number of species. Cold conditions at Churchill, Manitoba, in early June resulted in a completely frozen river mouth, which led to lower-than-usual daily lists and a lack of real rarities for visiting birders.

After nearly 30 years of co-editing the Prairie Provinces Region for North American Birds, Peter Taylor has decided to step down. During these decades he has strived to keep the reports concise, readable and error-free, enlivening them at times with his dry wit. Christian Artuso will step into the role of co-editor, at least for the time being. Thank you, Peter, and welcome aboard Christian.

Contributors (provincial compilers in boldface)

Christian Artuso, David Bell, Louise Buelow-Smith, Bonnie Chartier, Ward Christianson, Red Clarke, Vince Cottrell, Bruce di Labio, Bruce Dorward, Kathleen Dvorak, Alvin Dyck, Gabriel Foley (GFy), Gerry Fox (GFx), James Fox, Howard Friesen, Ben Ginter (BGi), Hilary Goble, Bob Godwin (BGo), Michelle Houston, Aaron Hywarren, Aaron Janzen, Meghan Kearly (MKe), Mark Kubisz (MKu), Richard Klauke (RKl), Laurie Koepke, Rudolf Koes (RKo), Pat Lucas, Bob Luterbach,  Lynnea Parker, David McCorquodale, Emily McIntosh, Robert Parsons, Sara Pearce Meijerink, Erica Nol, Daniel Sawatzky (DSa), Michelle Schreder, Dana Schroeder (DSc), Colin Starkevich, Jo Swartz, Agnes Toth, Andrew Venning, Marlene Waldron, Don Weidl, Kim Wetten.

Alberta NAB Committee: Yousif Attia, Gerry Fox, James Fox, Milt Spitzer, Michael Sveen.

Alberta NAB Committee Advisors: Michael Harrison, Jocelyn Hudon.

GEESE THROUGH WOODPECKERS

Accompanying a flock of Canada Geese near Deleau, MB 21 Jul were 19 Snow Geese, a Ross’s Goose, and a Greater White-fronted Goose, the latter two species quite rare in summer (AH, RP). Another Ross’s Goose was at Muddy Lake, SK 12 Jun (DB). The only ducks of note were an American Black Duck at Elkwater Lake, Cypress Hills P.P., AB 2 Jun (ph. MS) and two male Barrow’s Goldeneyes, with two unidentified female goldeneyes, at Cypress Lake, SK 12 Jun (DW). At the latter lake, 1,200 Eared Grebes were tallied the same day, providing one of the few notable grebe counts in the region (DW). Multiple sightings of a Band-tailed Pigeon up to at least 16 Jun were made at a feeder at Douglas P.P., SK (BD). A White-winged Dove found during a breeding bird atlas survey in the Weyburn area 9 Jul provided Saskatchewan with its fifth record (ph. LK). Although Common Poorwill is known to occur in extreme sw Saskatchewan, it is rarely reported. One was heard near Maple Creek 6 Jul (BdL), while just across the border one was at Cypress Hills P.P. 13 Jul (DM). Three Vaux’s Swifts were seen along the Crowsnest Highway, AB 4 Jul (DB). Although there have been numerous sight records over the years, the species is still awaiting confirmation to be accepted on the Alberta list. A female Black-chinned Hummingbird visited a feeder at Hillcrest Mines, AB off and on during the summer (ph. PL, m. ob.).

At Whitewater, MB, one of the few areas with suitable shorebird habitat, tallies of 2015 Stilt Sandpipers, 824 Pectoral Sandpipers, 2794 dowitcher sp., and 795 Greater Yellowlegs 28 July were notable (CA, EM, JS). A Willet at Churchill 11 Jun was extremely rare (EN et al.). Also in early June Little Gulls and Sabine’s Gulls were reported at Churchill, but outstanding gull rarities were missing this year. Out-of-range waders included a Great Egret at Buffalo Lake near Red Deer, AB, where the species has now been noted for five consecutive years (ph. HG, m. ob.), and a Green Heron at Regina, SK 10 Jun (GFy). Just a few years ago, hundreds of Cattle Egrets and White-faced Ibises could be found at Whitewater Lake; this year there was not a single report of Cattle Egret and only a handful of ibises were noted (m. ob.). A Lewis’s Woodpecker visited the same yard as the Black-chinned Hummingbird on 31 Jul; three birds were seen nearby in fall 2018 (ph. PL). Also rare in Alberta were single Red-headed Woodpeckers at Vauxhall 2 Jun (ph. CS) and at Red Deer 23 Jun (HF). A female Red-bellied Woodpecker was a good find near Prince Albert, SK 15 Jun (ph. BGo).

PASSERINES

An Ash-throated Flycatcher at FortWhyte Alive, Winnipeg became Manitoba’s 400th species. It was ably identified by Matt Gasner on 13 Jul and subsequently seen and photographed by many until at least 23 Jul. Eastern Bluebirds were more prominent than usual in Alberta, with two nesting pairs in the Cypress Hills (ph. GFx, m. ob.), one nesting pair near Ardmore 16 Jun (ph. RKl, m. ob.), and a female that raised young with a Mountain Bluebird nw of Edmonton 19 Jul (VC, m.ob.). A Varied Thrush was rare at Regina 12 Jun (GF), as were a Northern Mockingbird at Ardenville, AB 5 Jun (ph. MKe) and another mocker in the Weyburn area 9 Jul (DSa, BL). Lark Buntings have been all but absent in Manitoba in recent years, but a late May sighting was followed by a bird at Dunnotar 2 Jun, both unusually far east (well away from where this species has nested in Manitoba) (LBS). Field Sparrows were at Bird’s Hill P.P., MB 4 Jun (AD), at Hadashville, MB from 16 Jun to at least 21 Jul (WC, MW, m. ob., ph.) and for at least a week up to 7 Jul at the Borderlands Lookout near Maple Creek (GFy). An out-of-range Timberline [Brewer’s] Sparrow was banded at Ft McMurray, AB 10 Jun (ph. KW), while an out-of-season Harris’s Sparrow was at Altona, MB 3 Jul (ph. BGi). An Eastern Towhee at Ekapo Lake, SK 5 Jul was west of its usual range (DW).

Rare parulids included a Hooded Warbler at Riding Mountain N.P., MB 6 Jun, about the 20th for the province (CA), a Cape May Warbler at Churchill 10 Jun (BC et al.), the third for the location, and a Black-throated Blue Warbler at Beaverhill Bird Observatory near Tofield, AB 4 Jul (ph. SPM). A Scarlet Tanager at Trochu, AB 15 Jun was about the 21st for the province (ph. MH). Another one near Melville 26 Jun was closer to its normal range (ph. DW). Churchill’s third Western Tanager was photographed on 14 Jul (MKu); it was seen again two days later. Northern Cardinals are ever-so-slowly expanding their range northward onto the Prairies. In Alberta there were reports from Sherwood Park, West Edmonton, and Bon Accord (m. ob.), in Saskatchewan from Prince Albert (ph. KD), and in Manitoba from several locations, including three in one area of Winnipeg (RKo). A male Lazuli Bunting at Kildonan Park, Winnipeg, present for most of June, occupied exactly the same territory as a bird did in 2017 (fide CA, m.ob., ph.). An Indigo Bunting at Moose Mountain P.P., SK 12 Jun was at the western edge of its range (DSa); much farther west was one at Lily Lake, near Opal, AB 13 Jun (ph. AV). Reports of hybrid Lazuli Bunting x Indigo Bunting came from Calgary, AB 6 Jun (ph. AT) and two locations in Winnipeg: 31 May to 12 Jun (AJ, LP, DSc) and 26 Jun (RC).

Pictorial Highlights–Prairie Provinces region, Summer 2019
Hover or click on each image to read the caption.