We were delighted to have Kayla deRegt and Sarah Hogg visit EBF with their children. Both Kayla and Sarah worked at EBF as students and were delighted that we have added the nature play area. Their children loved it, even in the rain!
Monarch Butterfly at Ellis Bird Farm
Our resident butterfly expert, Benny Acorn, was excited to discover an adult Monarch butterfly at the EBF site on Tuesday, June 23. Its wings were well worn, indicating that it had migrated a long distance to reach the farm
This sighting is an exciting one, since Monarch butterflies rarely make it this far north. The last big eruption in Alberta was in 2012.
If you see a Monarch butterfly, please email us (image required to substantiate the sighting) at firstname.lastname@example.org
We have an abundance of Richardson's Ground Squirrels (gophers) on the EBF site this year. Not only are these small rodents an important food source for ows, hawks, foxes and coyotes, they delight us with their antics. This particular individual has discovered shelled sunflower seeds! When the resident Red Squirrel knocked a sunflower seed feeder off a branch, the gopher raced in to fill its pouches as full as possible!
EBF celebrated a wonderful Father's Day, despite thunderstorms arriving in the early afternoon. Many families, including the Leadley family from Sylvan Lake, enjoyed making their own bird feeder. The response to our opening has been very enthusiastic. We appreciate our visitors respecting AHS protocols.
We are pleased to announce that a pair of beavers have appeared at EBF. We are not sure when they arrived, but when we first noticed them on Monday morning, June 15, the lower pond dam breach (from heavy spring flooding) had already been repaired. We suspect that they arrived on the site sometime before the heavy rains on June 13th.
The pair seem to be checking out the old lodges and runs, and have been seen hauling away the poplar branches that we've offered them from the historic feeding station. They are quite tame, so EBF staff have had some great beaver viewing opportunities.
Most EBF friends and followers will recall that EBF had beavers on the site from the fall of 2010 to the fall of 2015, when they mysteriously disappeared. We are thrilled to have them back and we have our fingers crossed that they will decide to call EBF home!
We are pleased that the EBF site is now open to the public! Our first guests of the season were Russell and Tress Philips, who tell us that they love coming to Ellis Bird Farm to listen to the birds.
Although the Cafe and Visitor Centres are still closed, we welcome visitors to enjoy the birds, the gardens and the trails. We have a small outdoor gift shop, our new Nature Play Area is open for children to enjoy, and we've set up extra picnic tables so visitors can enjoy their own picnics around the site. The trails to Sandpiper Pond and the West Woods are newly mowed.
We will be open Tuesday - Sunday and holiday Mondays. We will also be hosting some events over the summer - all details are at www.ellisbirdfarm.ca. For more information, call 403-885-4477
Progress on Children's Nature Play Area
We are excited to report that progress is being made on the children's nature play area. The area has been designed by Kirstin Bouwsema. The main components of the area - two very large rocks - were kindly donated by the Ball family. Rob and Charlie Ball hauled the rocks over to the site, where they were then placed in the play area by Wayne Froese using a zoom boom.
We are excited that this area - funded by a TD Friends of the Environment grant - will provide children with the opportunity to experience nature through creative play.
EBF Motus Milestone!
We are pleased to announce the Ellis Bird Farm is the first Alberta organization to have a Motus wildlife tracking unit installed. The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is a collaborative research network that uses coordinated automated radio telemetry arrays to study movements of small animals. Motus is a program of Bird Studies Canada in partnership with Acadia University and collaborating researchers and organizations.
While EBF is registered on the Motus system and our unit is functioning, we have one last step to accomplish: getting the antenna up on a tower so it can be fully operational (it will track nanotagged birds for 15 km in all directions!). We look forward to accomplishing this last component over the next couple of weeks. We'll be sharing more details once the installation has been completed.
The family of the late Jessica Schamehorn recently installed a commemorative plaque on the viewing tower at EBF. Barry and Cheryl Simpson (Wel-Can Welding), her grandparents, donated the tower in her honour. It was installed last year and is greatly enjoyed by visitors.
Her mother, Kari Unsworth, shared this story about an experience they had in relation to this sign.
In 2019, my dad Barry Simpson built an observation deck for Ellis Bird Farm and dedicated it in my daughter Jessica Schamehorn’s name. I had a vision for a sign to hang on it and through Facebook I found Tammy Ryrie.
Mom (Cheryl Simpson), dad and I drove out to meet with Tammy and see what she had to offer. We spent a couple of hours with Tammy discussing what I wanted.
Mom and Dad had originally designed a much simpler sign so it came up in the discussion. Dad said “we were going to put a butterfly and a hummingbird on the top to fill in space”. Within seconds of him saying “hummingbird” we suddenly heard an insanely loud buzzing sound coming from the hall where we came in. Tammy jumped up to see what it was. It was a hummingbird that had flown into her house. The hummingbird was trying to fly out a closed window in the hallway. Tammy was so surprised and she said that she had never even seen a hummingbird in her yard in all the years of living there. Tammy grabbed a flower pot from her deck and tried to entice the hummingbird to land on it. That didn’t work. Dad took his baseball cap off and covered the bird hoping to catch it but that didn’t work either. I walked up and held my finger under the hummingbird and it jumped onto my fingers and was still. Honestly, I was so shocked, I didn’t move. The hummingbird jumped off my finger and started trying to fly out the window again. Mom asked me why I didn’t take it outside and I said I didn’t know. I reached up and put my finger under the hummingbird and it jumped onto my finger again and stood still. This time I walked down the hallway and outside and the hummingbird flew away.
We were all so surprised no one said anything for a minute. Then Tammy said “oh my God, that was totally a visitation from Jessica. She’s letting you know she’s here with you”!
It was such an amazing experience, it gives me chills every time I think about it. Dad is quite sure that it was a female Ruby throated hummingbird.
The sign Tammy created is everything I wanted it to be and it has a Ruby throated hummingbird on it because of our beautiful experience.
Summer Research Coordinator, Shaye Hill, is busy in the field, banding bluebirds and collecting data as part of her undergraduate research project.
Ellis Bird Farm
Video Stories here
When purchasing from our online bookstore, Myrna will be happy to "sign" any of her books for you.
All proceeds from the sales of these books support the education, conservation, and research programs of Ellis Bird Farm.
· Household brooms
· Yarn and plastic lacing cord
· Umbrellas to loan out to visitors on rainy days
· Wooden or nature-based plastic beads for our school and day camp programs
· Old fashioned one-speed bike (to keep the farmstead theme of EBF). This would be used for staff to open and close the gate and other errands around the site.
· Leaf blowers
· Bistro sets (small table, two chairs
We celebrate the contributions cats and birds make to our lives, our environment, and our communities, and invite Canadians to consider what they can do to make Canada a safer place for both cats and birds. Here.
EBF Wish List
Ellis Bird Farm
Sandy Van Dijk
Hours of Operation
Monday, May 18 - Monday Sept 7
Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Holiday Mondays 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Please note that Ellis Bird Farm is closed on most Mondays