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Great-horned Owl Bubo virginianus ©Creative Commons

Birding Alberta

From alpine meadows to prairie potholes, from the northern forests to the southern badlands, Alberta's range of habitats, with a bird list of 385 species, offers a wide variety of places to explore for both serious and amateur birder alike. For our most rare species, Alberta contains the breeding grounds of the endangered Whooping Crane, in Wood Buffalo National Park, on the northern border of the province. This is the only migratory flock of these beautiful cranes, and they annually migrate to Aransas National Wildlife Reserve on the Texas Coast each year. From a low of only 20+ birds in the mid 1900s, the population has rebounded to just under 200 migratory birds that arrive in Aransas each fall.

Beaverhills Lake, just east of Edmonton, is possibly the best birding location in Alberta. Located at the intersection of the North American Central and Mississippi flyways, the lake comes alive in the spring with several hundred thousand Snow Geese, Tundra Swans, Sandhill Cranes, American White Pelicans and innumerable waders heading for their northern breeding grounds. Extensive Mountain Bluebird trails around the lake are responsible for re-introducing this species into northern Alberta. Vagrants that have shown up at Beaverhills in the last year include Snowy Egret and White-faced Ibis.

During the last ice age, the prairie landscape was scoured by glaciers, leaving thousands of shallow potholes which fill with water as the winter snows melt. This area, stretching from Alberta through Southern Saskatchewan and into North Dakota, is often referred to as the Duck Factory of North America. Through this range, the farming landscape is bisected by Township roads every two miles north and south, and Range roads every mile east and west. A few hours touring around these back roads in the spring will find that every pothole contains waterfowl busily getting about the business of courting, breeding and raising young. Ducks, grebes, geese, loons (divers); gulls, terns, coots and teal are every where you look, all dressed in their courtin` clothes!

Alberta's mountain National Parks of Banff and Jasper, and the eastern slope foothills offer an entirely different set of birds, in the midst of some of the most incredible scenery on earth. Birds such as breeding Harlequin and Wood Ducks, Common and Barrow's Goldeneye, American Dippers and other waterfowl haunt the mountain streams and lakes, while White-tailed Ptarmigan, Townsend's Solitaires, Grey-cheeked Rosy-finches, and a wide variety of sparrows make their home in the alpine meadows above the tree line. Swainson's, Red-tailed and Ferruginous Hawks, Golden and Bald eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, Great Grey and Great Horned Owls and other raptors share these protected areas with bear, moose, deer, wapiti, coyotes, wolves, beaver and other mountain wildlife.

Southern Alberta offers some desert species like Burrowing Owls in the Badlands area of Drumheller through to Medicine Hat, and extensive populations of partridge, grouse and pheasant species in the Lake Newell area in the southeast corner of the province.

Alberta's capital city, Edmonton, is the Peregrine Falcon capital of Canada, with birds returning year after year to nest on the downtown high-rises. Edmonton also has the highest concentration of Merlin in North America, according to the Christmas Bird Count - possibly because it also has an extremely high population of Bohemian Waxwings that over winter in the area. Common and Hoary Redpolls, Snow Buntings and an annual infusion of Snowy Owls join these winter specialties. Woodpecker aficionados can find Downy, Hairy, Pileated, Three-toed, Black-backed, and Lewis's Woodpeckers, along with Yellow-bellied and Red-breasted and Red-naped Sapsuckers throughout the province.


Tina MacDonald


Number of Species

Number of bird species: 421

As of 1st January 2016
Provincial Bird - Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus


iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

Alberta Birds 1971-1980, Volume 1: Non-Passerines

HW Pinel, WW Smith & CR Wershler | Alberta Museum | 1991 | Paperback |

ISBN: 0773205381

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Alberta

Chris Fisher & John Acorn | Lone Pine Publishing | 1998 | Paperback | 384 pages, colour illustrations |

ISBN: 1551051737

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Field Guide to Alberta Birds

W Bruce McGillivray & Glen Semenchuk | Federation of Alberta Naturalists | 1998 | Paperback | 350 pages, colour photos, distribution maps |

ISBN: 0969613423

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Quick Reference to Alberta Birds

By John Acorn, Chris Fisher & Andy Bezener | Lone Pine Publishing | 2013 | Unbound | 12 pages, colour illustrations |

ISBN: 9781551058948

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta

(A Second Look) | Edited by The Federation of Alberta Naturalists | Federation of Alberta Naturalists | 2007 | Hardback | 626 pages, 300 Colour photos |

ISBN: 9780969613497

Buy this book from NHBS.com


Alberta Bird Record Committee


This is a provisional list of species of birds known to occur, or to have occurred recently, in Alberta as compiled by the Alberta Bird Record Committee, the body presently responsible for the evaluation of reports of rare birds for the province…

Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation


Active since 1982 and more recently a registered charity, the Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation is Alberta's first privately licensed raptor rescue and conservation organization. We are located two hours south of Calgary in the heart of Canada's wild prairies...

Big Lake Environment Support Society


The Big Lake Environment Support Society (BLESS) is in its ninth year as a registered non-profit organization. Its objectives are related to the conservation of the Big Lake wetlands, through advocacy, public education and data collection programs. It is a regional organization, with Board members from each of the four municipalities bordering the wetlands.

Calgary Bird Banding Society


Bird banding is an integral aid to the study and protection of wild birds. It is typically facilitated by using a fine net (known as a mist net). Birds that fly into the mist net are gently removed and a permanent aluminum or alternate light-weight band is placed around the lower leg. Often the birds are measured, weighed, sexed and aged before release back into the wild…

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park


Venture off the Trans Canada highway south onto highway 41 and in 20 short minutes you have escaped to the Cypress Hills, Alberta. For 7000 years people have traveled these Hills. Located in the middle of the Canadian prairies, they offer a surprising and diverse environment to all those who explore them.

Edmonton Natural History Club (Edmonton Bird Club)

Facebook Page

October 2004 after the Edmonton Natural History Club and the Edmonton Bird Club Merged….

Lac La Biche Birding Society

Facebook Page

The Lac La Biche Birding Society was incorporated in the spring of 1998. Prior to that an unofficial club had been active since its first Christmas Bird Count in 1992. The club is also a corporate member of the Federation of Alberta Naturalists. The club participates in the Christmas Bird Count, the May Species Count and public education on the value of wild birds in the Lac La Biche region and their conservation/environmental importance…

Lethbridge Naturalists Society

Facebook Page

To encourage the development of knowledge and appreciation of natural history and understanding of ecological processes by residents of Lethbridge and surrounding areas of Alberta…

Nature Alberta


Nature Alberta is a federation of natural history organizations operating in Alberta. Alberta is fortunate to have a wide diversity of wildlife and wild spaces! All native plants and animals have a right to co-exist with Albertans, who in turn benefit by having access to a healthy, natural environment. Increasing our understanding of nature will lead to increased enjoyment of it. Today, more than 40 natural history clubs are engaging Albertans across the province in the conservation and appreciation of our natural heritage….

Nature Calgary


Encouraging the appreciation, observation, study, conservation and protection of all components of the natural world….

Red Deer River Naturalists


RDRN, incorporated in 1906, is the oldest natural history organization in Alberta…

Vermilion River Naturalist Society


You can also reach Charlotte on Facebook (Charlotte Wasylik), at the Alberta Birds group, and on Twitter as Prairie Birder, @birding111 (https://twitter.com/birding111)

Weaslehead Society


The Society is dedicated to the task of preserving the environmental integrity of the Weaselhead Natural Environment Area as well as North and South Glenmore Park…


Abbreviations Key: See the appropriate Continent Page (or Country Page of those used on country sub-divisions)

Alberta's Provincial Parks & Protected Areas


It’s easy to see why Albertans love their provincial parks. Anyone wanting nature at its finest will marvel at the endless variety of landscapes. Check out the vast, untamed parks of the north, the wide open plains and river valleys of central Alberta and the grasslands and badlands in the parks of the south. Blow your mind some more and explore the rugged beauty of Kananaskis Country – so cool it needs its own page. The parks are teeming with wildlife, aboriginal culture and history, and outdoor adventure. Many have visitor centres and provide interpretive programming.

Banff National Park


Satellite View

For the best bird watching in Banff townsite, head to the older residential areas at the foot of Tunnel Mountain, the Bow River upstream from the Bow River Bridge, and the area around the riding stables below Cave Avenue…

Beaverhill Lake Nature Centre


Satellite View

Beaverhill Lake, an internationally renowned and recognized staging area for 270 species of birds, is perhaps the town's largest attraction, and the Beaverhill Lake Nature Centre provides a doorway to this fascinating natural world…

Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary


Satellite View

The Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary has been designated as one of Alberta's "Special Places". One of the many "Watchable Wildlife" sites in Alberta, it harbours a variety of marsh and plant life, birds and animals and is an ideal location for a nature walk on a pleasant day…

Elk Island National Park


Satellite View

Located less than an hour away from Edmonton, Elk Island National Park of Canada protects the wilderness of the aspen parkland, one of the most endangered habitats in Canada. This beautiful oasis is home to herds of free roaming plains bison, wood bison, moose, deer, and elk. Also boasting over 250 species of birds, the park is a bird watcher's paradise…

Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary


Satellite View

Since 1924, the Gaetz Lakes have been protected as a federal migratory bird sanctuary. Now part of Waskasoo Park, the Sanctuary's 118 hectares (almost 300 acres) are set aside as a home for plants, mammals and birds…

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary


Satellite View

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is a 34-hectare (80 acre) site located in a federal migratory bird sanctuary along the Bow River in Calgary…

Jasper National Park


Satellite View

Jasper is the largest and most northerly Canadian rocky mountain national park, part of a spectacular World Heritage Site. Comprised of delicate and carefully protected ecosystems, Jasper's scenery is non-the-less rugged and mountainous. In this special corner of Canada you can thrill to the thunder of Sunwapta Falls, enjoy the serene beauty of Mount Edith Cavell, connect with nature along 1,000-plus kilometres of trails, experience Athabasca Glacier up close or just resign yourself to a relaxing soak in Miette Hotsprings.

Wagner Natural Area


Satellite View

Natural Areas are Government protected lands with a dual purpose: To allow some recreation but also to preserve aspects of the province's biological and physical diversity. Though not strictly protected as parks and ecological reserves, they are not highly developed for recreational use either…

Waterton Lakes National Park


Satellite View

Rugged, windswept mountains rise abruptly out of gentle prairie grassland in spectacular Waterton Lakes National Park. Here, several different ecological regions meet and interact in a landscape shaped by wind, fire, flooding, and abundant plants and wildlife…

Wood Buffalo National Park


Satellite View

A total of 227 bird species have been recorded (including species characteristic of all boreal forest habitats) which include great grey owl Strix nebulosa and snowy owl Nyctea scandiaca, willow ptarmigan Lagopus lagopus, redpoll Acanthis spp., crossbill Lorix spp. and boreal chickadee Parus hudsonicus

Forums & Mailing Lists


Mailing List

To post to list: Albertabird@yahoogroups.com

List contact: Albertabird-owner@yahoogroups.com

To subscribe to list: Albertabird-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

ALBERTABIRD is an unmoderated discussion list comprised of persons interested in the birds of Alberta Canada. We speak for no group. All opinions expressed are those of the individuals sending mail.

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Pal


Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Eagle-Eye Tours

Tour Operator

This birding tour will visit southeast Alberta, a superb area for short-grass prairie and grassland birds, and we visit when breeding is in full swing. We have a chance of seeing one of the rarest breeding birds in Canada, the Mountain Plover, although this “prairie ghost” isn’t always found every year.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…


Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2010 [07 July] - Petri Hottola - Bow Summit

Report PDF

On the first week of July 2010, I was visiting Alberta, Canada, in order to see some of the few North American bird species still missing my world list. The situation was far from ideal, because I had fallen on a trail in Hawaii, injured myself and got a bacterial infection in the right leg. On arrival in Calgary, there was good reason to suspect deep vein thrombosis in the inflamed leg…

2013 [07 July] - Keith Taylor - Peace River Park

Report PDF

Yours truly woke at five twenty-five and proceeded to shut the balcony door on the morning of the eighth. The iPad and computer were switched on in bed at that time to bring the memoirs up to date and to correct the total of Murphy's Petrel before creating new PDF files with the headings adjusted properly. That was underway at five thirty-three with a new PDF and a reduce-sized PDF file made at seven minutes past six. Yours truly then climbed out of bed to wash the now greasy hair and to sponge bath. The final packing took place subsequently with the toys and such placed in the gym bag as well as using the backpack as a second suitcase for clothes and to protect the computer, A squat on the toilet took place before shutting off the water supply….

2017 [02 February] - Jay VanderGaast & Chris Benesh


...we had tallied 15 owls of 6 different species, a respectable total, especially when you factor in the "Big Three" of Great Gray, Snowy, and Northern Hawk owls. These are generally the three most sought-after northern owls on a trip like this, and we did very well with all of them. The Northern Hawk Owl was the icebreaker that first afternoon, and our views of it perched nearby in plain sight, then flying, hawk-like, across the road, raised our spirits after our trying morning....

2017 [06 June] - Stefan Schlick

PDF Report

... The white-spruce patches held Blackburnian, Cape May and Bay-breasted Warbler. Boreal Chickadee, Blue-headed Vireo, and Gray Catbird and Bank Swallow along the causeway added to the cast....

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Alpenglow Inn B&B


Located amidst the scenic splendor of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Canmore`s Alpenglow Inn Bed and Breakfast is an ideal staging point for your Rocky Mountain vacation. Situated in the Bow Valley beneath the Three Sisters mountains, the Alpenglow Inn is only an hour`s drive west of Calgary (1.5 hours from the Calgary International Airport) and a mere five minutes from the east gates ofBanff National Park.

Jasper National Park - Lodging


Our Jasper directory offers a complete list of hotels and lodging options in Jasper National Park of Canada. All the hotels we offer have been rated and approved by AAA and the Mobil Travel Guide…

Mountview Cottage B&B


Park-like gardens. Magnificent valley and mountain view. Evening tea, Guest rec room with fireplace, TV/VCR and billiards. Corral available. 8km Northwest of Cochrane..

Pathway Cottage B&B - Calgary


Pathway Cottage Bed & Breakfast backs onto the south ridge of Fish Creek Park, the largest Provincial Park (3000 acres) located within any Canadian city. Yet, Pathway Cottage is only a four minute drive from restaurants, banks and extensive big store shopping…

Red Deer Lodge


The Red Deer Lodge has completed a 2 million-dollar renovation project! The project included upgrades to all 233 guestrooms. Items such as carpet, paint and wall coverings, draperies, bedspreads, bathrooms, and furniture have now been replaced or refurbished.

Wild Rose Guesthouse


With a gorgeous backdrop of the Peace River and Valley surrounding this home, guests will find all the amenities and luxuries found in a modern, high quality hotel in a metropolitan city.


Beaverhill Bird Observatory

Observatory Website

Satellite View

In 1997 Beaverhill Lake was identified as an Important Bird Area of Global Significance because of the large numbers of shorebirds and waterfowl that use the area as a stop-over site during migrations…

Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory

Observatory Website

Satellite View

The story of the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory (LSLBO) is about partnerships. It is a partnership between Alberta Environment, the Forest Industry, Conservationists, the Tourism Industry, the Not for Profit sector, and the Ornithological community. The Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory is a non-profit society, established in 1994, and operated by a dedicated group of volunteers. Its mission is to monitor migratory landbirds and contribute to bird conservation in the Americas. Our research site is located in Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park.


Provincial Museum of Alberta


Ornithology is the study of birds. Alberta has a rich, diverse bird life with over 250 breeding species. The province has distinctive natural regions (Boreal Forest, Aspen Parkland, Grasslands and Rocky Mountains); each with characteristic bird species. The eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains creates an active zone of contact between distinct forms of numerous species. The evolutionary and taxonomic consequences of contact remain an exciting area of ornithological research. Bird exhibits are a popular feature of the galleries of The Provincial Museum…


Canadian Birder


I am an avid birder and amateur bird photographer based in Calgary, Alberta. I have been birding since I was seven years old. I have travled to southeatern Arizona, Point Pelee NP (multiple times), and Newfoundland. If I had to choose a favorite bird it would be the Red Knot.



Looking for birds at home on our farm, and anywhere my family travels…

The Morning Side of Life


Backyard birding blog from Alberta Canada - and also some traveling birding adventures

Other Links

Big Lake IBA


Big Lake, Alberta has been declared to be a globally significant Important Bird Area (IBA). One of the criteria that led to this distinction is the use of this large wetland area by Tundra Swans during migration…

Operation Grassland Community - Alberta


The Western Loggerhead Shrike Recovery Team meets once a year and is made up of scientists, researchers and invited guests from across western Canada. The Recovery Team is the working arm of Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife (RENEW) which responds to status reports commissioned by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Operation Grassland Community is an invited guest at the meetings and provides input as to our activities during the previous year.

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Ann Sherba


Photographs from NW Alberta…

Photographer - Brian Wolitski


…a nature and wildlife photographer for over two decades, I have established a diverse stock file collection exceeding 100,000 images ranging from wild animals and birds to landscapes. I also have an macro-image library of reptiles, amphibians and insects. My work frequently appears in nature magazine and books as well as on posters, murals, calendars and greeting cards…

Photographer - Eddy Matuod - Wild Birds of Alberta


Some of my recent photos (some are videos) of wild birds taken in Alberta Canada…

Photographer - Peter Stahl


Peter Stahl's Photoblog of birds seen locally (Alberta) or in travel…