Happy Halloween!

This will be the first Halloween I’m not going trick or treating. I’ve decided I’m too old, but luckily my brothers aren’t (they are 11 and 13), so I might still get some candy!

Here are some creepy, crawly, and cute Halloween photos!

Two giant and three smaller pumpkins we carved last year,

I carved this pumpkin (you can find the free printable here) on Saturday for a pumpkin carving contest at our library,

A Common Raven,

Rusty Blackbirds,

This Halloween will be rather snowy,

Feathers on Friday

Yesterday, coming home from a trip to town to the Provincial Park, I saw two Bald Eagles on one of the sloughs near our house that isn’t frozen over entirely yet.

As you can see from the pictures, the landscape has changed very dramatically in the past week. We had our first snow of the season last Saturday, and it has been snowing almost daily since, with very cold temperatures for this time of year.

The adult Bald Eagle and the Lesser Scaup,

The juvenile coming in for a landing,

I watched the eagles until they left,

My Big Sit Results 2012

I had great weather and a wonderful Big Sit on Sunday, and was able to count 30 species, one more than last year!

I started my official count at 7:30. Like last year, there was an abundance of Canada, Snow, and Greater White-fronted Geese, and also Tundra Swans. I saw a few Cackling Geese. My best sighting of the day was nine Common Redpolls. I was very surprised to see them because they usually don’t arrive in the East Central part of Alberta this early.

I finished my Big Sit after nine hours, at 4 pm, and I can’t wait to do it again next year!

All the species I saw on Sunday (in taxonomic order):

Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Cackling Goose, Canada Goose, Tundra Swan, Gadwall, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Common Goldeneye, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Bald Eagle, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, Ring-billed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, European Starling, Lapland Longspur, American Tree Sparrow, Brewer’s Blackbird, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, and American Goldfinch.

Sunrise at the beginning of my Big Sit,

Northern Shovelers,

Downy Woodpecker,

American Tree Sparrow,

Greater White-fronted Geese,

Tundra Swans,

I also saw two very large avian creatures*,

*(We have Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake about 150 kilometres north of us, so we have interesting fly-bys through the year)

Project FeederWatch Season is Coming!

Project FeederWatch starts November 10th, 2012.

A couple of years ago, I joined Project FeederWatch as part of my home school science studies. The first year, I didn’t think counting the birds at my feeders on selected days for almost a year would be fun; it was my mother’s idea and I wasn’t quite as, well, nutty about birds as I am now. But I was completely wrong. It was very exciting to see which birds, and how many, would come to my feeders on the days I chose, and ever since I’ve been participating in Project FeederWatch.

A Northern Shrike I saw on one of my FeederWatch days last winter,

Project FeederWatch is very helpful to scientists because they receive data from feeder watchers all over North America, which helps them look at population trends and see what species are increasing or decreasing.

When you sign up for Project FeederWatch in Canada you will become a member of Bird Studies Canada, and receive quarterly issues of BirdWatch Canada magazine, a large full color poster of common feeder birds of Western Canada and Eastern Canada, and other great material on bird feeding. Last season I filled out my data online instead of writing in the booklet and sending in the filled out forms at the end of the season, which I found much easier and convenient.

Project FeederWatch also has a wonderful blog, where they have links to help you identify similar species, great bird feeding tips, and a gallery of Project FeederWatch participant photos.

In the mail a few weeks ago I received a letter from Bird Studies Canada, with a complimentary renewed BSC membership as a participant in the 2012-13 FeederWatch program, for my participation in the Young Ornithologists’ Workshop at Long Point in August. It’s a wonderful gift and one I know I will enjoy using very much. Thank you very much, Bird Studies Canada!

I can’t wait for Project FeederWatch season to start and hope lots of birds visit my feeders too!

A Common Redpoll at my feeders last winter,

To join Project FeederWatch in Canada, click HERE

Become a fan of Project FeederWatch in Canada on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter

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To join Project FeederWatch in the US, click HERE

Become a fan of Project Feederwatch in the US on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter

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Also, the US website for PFW has a page with Educator and Home School Resources, along with a free PDF to download, “Homeschooler’s Guide to Project FeederWatch”; I never used it but it might be helpful for other students and home schoolers.

A Pine Grosbeak at my grandparents’ feeder last winter,

The Big Sit

The 18th annual Big Sit is next week, October 13th and 14th, 2012.

This will be my second Big Sit. I will be a team of one and will sit at the same location as last year: near a pretty large slough, grasslands, and woods. Last year I saw a total of 29 species and hope to match that total or see over 29 species.

The Big Sit was founded by the New Haven (CT) Bird Club and is being hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest. The Big Sit is an international event, you can register your team here.

You can sit for as long or as little time as you like and some teams collect pledges for each species they see, which they donate to their favorite nature club or bird observatory.

A Northern Harrier I saw on last year’s Big Sit,