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It’s a packed season ahead for Ellis Bird Farm

Staff at the Ellis Bird Farm are excited about a full slate of events planned for the coming season.

Staff at the Ellis Bird Farm are excited about a full slate of events planned for the coming season.

First off, on April 1, John Bontje from the Purple Mountain Conservancy will be onsite at 10 a.m. to talk about ‘all things’ purple martin.

To register for this workshop, visit

Folks can register right up until the last minute.

“They can just give us a call so that we can ensure there are enough spots,” said Amy Jin, Ellis Bird Farm’s education and administration coordinator. Also, if people want to spontaneously pop in, that is okay, too.

“John has been our go-to guy for all our purple martin questions and needs - he also, along with another volunteer, has been taking care of our purple martin houses extensively - especially over the past couple of years.

“For this workshop, what will be happening is that he will talk about purple martins in addition to how to care for them, track them, and all those kinds of things. Purple martins are a bit unique in that they are community birds.

“They live not just in nest boxes, but in these ‘condos’ as well - and several families will live in these condos. So there is a bit of work that does go into taking care of them to help and ensure the increase of their survival rates, too, ” she added.

“We get so many calls about how to attract them.”

Next up, the nomination deadline for the annual, long-running ‘Blue Feather Award’ is May 1.

The Award itself it actually handed down in July.

Each year, Ellis Bird Farm presents the Blue Feather Award to an Alberta bluebird trail operator who has made a significant contribution to bluebird conservation in the province, said Jin.

“This is for anybody who takes care of their own bluebirds,” she said.

Nomination forms can be found at www.ellisbirdfarm.cca/blue-feather-award.

“If you know someone who is dedicated to operating a bluebird trail, email us the nomination form to by May 1.

“You don’t necessarily have to have a huge birding trail - it’s your passion for it that accounts for the award as well,” she said, noting their popularity stems in part from their striking sky-blue coloured feathers. “They are also one of the first birds to arrive in the spring!”

And of course, bluebirds were a passion for Ellis Bird Farm’s original founders, Charles and Winnie Ellis as reflected in former site manager Myrna Pearman’s book, Charlie, Winnie and the Bluebirds, which was released in the spring of 2019.

Looking into June, Gavin McKinnon from Meadowlark Birding Tours will be running an early morning bird walk at the Farm at 7 a.m. sharp.

“He is an amazing birder - and that is really an understatement,” said Jin.

“Last year, he came out for a birding walk and the number of species that he was able to identify was fascinating. I think we spotted just over 50 species,” she said. “It’s his passion. It will also be an amazing photography opportunity as well.

“It’s amazing to see the number of species that are in such a small area and how they co-exist. It’s also really fascinating how he can differentiate between the species.

“Whether you are an avid birder, a beginner, or a photographer, there will be something for you to enjoy.”

Jin noted that last year, about 50 people took part.

Those interested in this event can also register at, she said.

In the meantime, Jin is reminding folks to watch for owl-hatching activity soon on the Ellis Bird Farm’s Youtube webcam.

In reflecting on the Farm in general, she said that there have been lots of great changes and development under the guidance of new site manager Carolyn Ross.

“It has been phenomenal - the changes that she is bringing and the upgrades to areas of the farm. It’s been so good!”

Again, further information about any of these events or about the Ellis Bird Farm in general, can be found at

Jin also pointed out that the best way to stay up-to-date with the goings-on at the Ellis Bird Farm is to follow them on social media, too.

You can also email

Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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