New bird sighting added to list

9 February 2010. Edmonton, AB, Canada.

1115. This morning, as I walked out of Dr. Mark Wilson's systematics lecture towards the Biological Sciences Building on the University of Alberta campus, I heard an unmistakenable call coming on one of the tree branches high above me...

It was a warm and energetic song of the Eastern Phoebe, Sayornis phoebe, and not the dry cracking call of the black-billed magpie that one is accustomed to during the northern winter. Phoebes are tyrant flycatchers (Family Tyrannidae) that catching insects in mid-air with acrobatic maneuvers.

They are also the sure signs of spring in this part of North America; in central and northern Alberta and other regions of the northern plains, these insectivorous birds are summer visitors, leaving for warmer southern areas at the end of each fall. Their call this morning is a welcome one, as snow still covers the lawns on campus, but no longer is the wind chill bitter and sharp. Warmer weather is upon us, and longer days are leading us into the green season, a change not so distinct in California!

Hooray for spring!