20 Favourite New Bird Photos from 2020

Bufflehead duck, Saskatchewan
Bufflehead duck
Male bufflehead coming in for a landing, Thickwood Hills.

Near the end of each year we usually do a posting on our favourite wildlife photos that we got during the year. As it turned out, birds dominated most of our wildlife photography this year, so we decided to keep the list focused on our feathered friends.

It would be an understatement to say that 2020 was a year like no other, with the pandemic calling the shots as to where and when we could travel. We were fortunate to do a trip to Colombia early in the year, arriving back home just before the pandemic was declared. The bird life there is nothing short of spectacular, with species we have never seen before and some dazzling birds looking as if they have been dipped in paint.

Summer tanager, Salento, Colombia
Summer tanager, Salento, Colombia

We’re also fortunate to live in a bird-rich area with a combination of grassland, wetland, and boreal species. So many of our favourite shots were close to home, with some literally in our backyard in Saskatoon, or on or near our farm in the Thickwood Hills.

It also helps to be smack on the Central North America Flyway where we get phenomenal numbers of migrants passing through. New for us this year was getting photos of endangered whooping cranes which often stop in central Saskatchewan during their southward fall migration. You can read more about our experiences with whoopers here.

Whooping cranes, Saskatchewan
Whooping cranes landing in a Saskatchewan grain field.

If we had to pick a top favourite it would probably be the antics of the bufflehead ducks. One part of their spring mating ritual is to chase each other across the surface of the water while half-running and half-flying, and making a big fuss with lots of splashing. Sometime it’s a male and female and sometimes it will be two males competing, and sometimes fighting, while trying to catch the eye of a female. It’s not an easy behavior to capture because it happens extremely quickly and it’s hard to know when it will happen, if at all.

Bufflehead duck, Saskatchewan
The need for speed. Male bufflehead duck racing across the water while making the maximum amount of splashes.
Bufflehead ducks, Saskatchewan
Two male buffleheads race and compete while trying to catch the eye of a female.
Bohemian waxwing
In spring, Bohemian waxwings arrive to clean the berries off a tree in our backyard..
Sharptailed grouse, Saskatchewan
The sharp-tailed grouse is Saskatchewan’s official bird. During the spring mating ritual, males point their tails upward, drop their heads down, then propel themselves around with rapid foot stomping. The theory is that females will find this irresistible.
Snow geese, Saskatchewan
Lift off of migrating snow geese at Luck Lake Heritage Marsh, Saskatchewan
Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore oriole, Thickwood Hills.
White-throated sparrow, Saskatchewan
White-throated sparrow, Thickwood Hills.
Black-crowned night heron
Black-crowned night heron, near Jackfish Lake.
Barn swallow chicks, Saskatchewan
Barn swallows. Quite appropriately, we found these three youngsters inside the barn. They were old enough to be outside their nest, but not yet ready to leave the safety of home.
Black-capped Chickadee, Saskatchewan
Black-capped chickadee. Common birds that we see frequently, but we especially like this pose.
Meadowlark. These grassland birds seem to be moving farther north. For many years we only heard or saw them occasionally in the Thickwood Hills, but this year there were plenty around.
Merlin, Thickwood Hills
Merlin, Thickwood Hills.
Spotted sandpiper, Thickwood Hills.
Spotted sandpiper, Thickwood Hills.
Chestnut-tipped toucanet, Filandia, Colombia.
Chestnut-tipped toucanet, Filandia, Colombia.
 Inca jays, Filandia, Colombia.
Inca jays, Filandia, Colombia.
Buff-tailed coronet hummingbirds, Colombia
Buff-tailed coronet hummingbirds, Salento, Colombia
Bay-headed tanager, Salento, Colombia.
Bay-headed tanager, Salento, Colombia.

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6 thoughts on “20 Favourite New Bird Photos from 2020

  1. These are breathtaking, Robin and Arlene! So glad you managed at least one trip away this year. Sadly, our travelling days are done, but we are quite content to stay in the comfort of our home and enjoy your beautiful pictures and descriptions. Thank you so much! 🦉🦅🦆

    1. Hi Laura and Canute – We are so pleased that you enjoyed this post. It was fun to go through our bird photos and relive many of the experiences. We really appreciate your comments.

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