Nature Happenings - December

  • Project FeederWatch continues, www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw
  • Participate in Citizen Science by helping with the 2019 Christmas Bird Count. You can count birds visiting your feeder, drive the roads, or survey local woodlots to 'beat the bush' for birds, birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count for locations in our area. Or join the Edmonton Christmas Bird Count organized by the Edmonton Nature Club by visiting their website.
  • Watch for Bald Eagles along the rivers. Open water areas near large urban areas are patrolled daily by Bald Eagles.
  • Beaver mating season.
  • Rather than search for worms in the frozen soil, large winter flocks of robins will visit fruit trees for food.
  • Bohemian Waxwings will visit yards in search of fruit, often staying for hours before moving on.
  • Juncos will hunt for fallen seed, often before dawn.
  • The smaller the bird, the earlier its hunt for food in the winter darkness.
  • In preparation for the earliest nesting period of any bird (late-January through February), Great Horned Owls can be heard hooting at night in courtship. Look for them in the Whitemud Ravine camouflaged in trees along the trail between Fox Drive and Snow Valley park.
  • Now through late March is a difficult time for birds; providing food and an open source of water is important.
  • Winter is a great time to look for birds' nests. Admire the craftsmanship, but leave the nest in place.
  • Coyotes may turn to garbage and compost piles for food as the weather gets colder. Safeguard these edibles and report any aggressive coyotes to Alberta Fish and Wildlife.
  • Watch for irruptive winter visitors like Red Crossbills or White-winged Crossbills - both are remarkably tame species.
  • Open water near the power plants of Wabamun Lake host good numbers of the beautiful and animated Hooded Merganser.
  • Dec 21 is the shortest day of the year - spring seems a long way off in the coldest of winters, but at least the days now get longer!
  • If winds are light, take a Christmas Eve birding trip on Highway 827 between Colinton and Newbrook to see Northern Hawk Owls and Great Gray Owls.
  • Take a drive on Range Roads 260 and 261 north of St. Albert near Manawan Lake to check on this year's 'crop' of Snowy Owls.
  • The Long Nights Moon, or Cold Moon is full on December 12.
  • Geminid Meteor Shower is mid-month in the pre-dawn hours of Dec 13 and 14.