The JRR Wildlife Report

Have you seen any interesting wildlife in and around the Retreat lately? Send us your photos and a few details about when and where you spotted your bird or critter and we’ll post it here for everyone to enjoy.

Wild Horses at top of our entry road on Mar 29 2018. Thanks Gary and Sarah for the Photo!

 

May's pups now teenagers? Crittercam, October 2016

May’s pups now teenagers? Crittercam, October 2016

 

Coyote hunting, October 2016

Coyote hunting, October 2016

 

Coyote pups near fish pond, June 2016

Coyote pups near fish pond, June 2016

 

Black bear in the retreat, May 2016

Black bear in the retreat, May 2016

 

Muscrat in the fish pond, May 2016

Muskrat in the fish pond, May 2016

 

Sandhill Cranes courting, May 2016

Sandhill Cranes courting, Twp Rd 344 NE of JRR, May 2016

 

Moose resting on Lot 12, Apr 2016

Moose resting on Lot 12, Apr 2016

 

Wolf caught on crittercam, Feb 2016

Wolf caught on crittercam, Jan 2016

 

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Mink under bridge, Oct 2015

Mink under bridge, Oct 2015

 

Moose caught on crittercam, Oct 2015

Moose caught on crittercam, Oct 2015

 

What IS that, anyway? Pine Marten caught on crittercam, south edge of JRR, Oct 2015

What IS that, anyway? Pine Marten caught on crittercam, Oct 2015

 

Great grey owl, James River Road, Oct 2015

Great grey owl, James River Road, Oct 2015

For the Birds: A Perfect Winter Project

This blogpost submitted by | Judy Roche

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Our recent JRR Pond Ponderings questionnaire indicated that many of us would like to work on developing habitat for our fine feathered friends (and our furry ones too).

Would you like to build (or donate) a birdhouse to the pond area? This might be a fun project to share with your children or grandchildren or just something that the woodworkers and hobbyists out there would enjoy.

Beyond building the birdhouse, you’ll be involved in placing your birdhouse somewhere in the pond landscape and maintaining it season to season.

If your birdhouse is ready early this spring, that would be a perfect time to do your installation.

Please keep your house in raw wood form – not painted or stained. Better for the birds and a uniform look in our common landscape.

Here are a few pointers to help you on your way:

  • You will attract different birds depending on where you place your birdhouse.
  • Place your house away from prevailing spring winds.
  • Hole size will determine what birds will nest in the home you have built.
  • Don’t put a perch on your birdhouse as this encourages predators.
  • For easy cleaning, it’s a good idea to have the roof or a wall hinged.
  • Slope the roof to prevent rain from entering and a few small holes in the base of the house for air circulation.

It’s all “for the birds”!

Chirp, chirp

Here are a few links that provide inspiration, patterns and advice:

Calgary’s Wild Bird Store offers a variety of birding essentials including seed, feeders and these readymade birdhouses and DIY birdhouse kits. This short video from the Audubon Society talks about the benefits of building bird-friendly communities and last, but not least, the Birdwatching Bliss website offers free birdhouse plans and how-to tips

 

 

The Pygmy Owls of JRR: small in stature, big on charm

This blogpost submitted by | Judy Roche

After first appearing on this website, this article was featured in the Winter issue of Nature Alberta

Ken and I were enjoying our ritual coffee on the front deck this past week when Ken spotted an unusual bird landing in our aspens. Luckily we had our binoculars on hand and were delighted to see a tiny pygmy owl!  We weren’t given much time to look at him before he flew off to another destination.

Figuring we wouldn’t be lucky enough to find this owl again, but deciding to try anyway, we went searching. We got lucky and found not one but two owls perched about 10 feet up in some other aspens.

We had camera in hand so took several shots from afar before trying to venture for a closer look. This pair seemed as curious about us as we were of them and allowed several photo shoots from about 3 feet away. They gazed at us with their wondrous eyes, preened and posed, all for the camera of course!

When our awesome visit with this pair ended, Ken did a search to find out more about this owl using an app he purchased called iBird Canada.  Ken keeps a log of the birds we see and discovered that we had seen another pygmy at the same time last year.  These owls are common around the Sundre area of the province.

Northern Pygmy Owls are active during the day which gives us a good chance of finding them.  Listen for their high, evenly spaced hooting calls or watch for a commotion of small agitated songbirds and you might see this owl in their midst. To quote iBird Canada,” These owls  can carry prey weighing more than twice their own weight. They often eat only the brains of birds and soft abdomen of insects.” Yum!

The pygmy owl is about bluebird size and often use a woodpecker hole to nest. They lay 2-7 white eggs, take about a month to incubate and another month to fledge.

We think they were attracted to our place because of the numerous birds we attract with our birdfeeders. Thankfully, this pair didn’t drop in to dine at our birdfeeder…not this time anyway.

 

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