Bird Watching & “Birding” Events In Western Canada

Ya’Gotta Birding
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Long Eared Owl

Long-Eared Owl
Photo: Trish Hartman

By: Bob Kenyon

With the arrival of spring in western Canada also comes the many trills, honks and songs of all the birds that make this part of North America their home, from spring to fall.

With bird watching becoming one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in the world and western Canada, being on the major flyways of the continent; it makes for a birder watcher’s paradise. Also important for “birding” are the amount of wetlands, in western Canada, that are essential habitat for the summer bird breeding grounds.

Wetlands International provides information on wetlands. The Ramsar Sites Sites Information Service designates sites as internationally important, under the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, 1971). These wetlands are commonly known as Ramsar Sites.

The following are a selection of Ramsar (R), as well as other excellent sites for bird watching and information in western Canada. For detailed Ramsar information, for designated site, check their link (above).

We’ve also added links in bold, to our corresponding Ya’Gotta destination pages, for birding locations.

British Columbia

  1. Creston Valley (R) is located on the floodplain of the Kootenay River, at the south end of Kootenay Lake.  If you are a fan of raptors, each June Creston hosts it’s Osprey Festival. (West Kootenays)
  2. Columbia Wetlands (R) From Canal Flats and Invermere, in southern BC to Golden, on the Trans Canada #1 Hwy. (West Kootenays)
  3. Alaksen (R) 40 km (approx.) south of of Vancouver.

Alberta

  1. Beaverhill Lake (R) 70 km (approx.) east of Edmonton, near the town of Tofield.
  2. Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary is one of the many bird watching sites in Alberta. It’s west of Edmonton and heading south to Devon.
  3. Ellis Bird Farm is both a non-profit company and a working farm. It was established in 1982 to carry on the legacy of Lacombe-area conservationists, Charlie and Winnie Ellis. It’s located east of Lacombe, AB and off the Queen Elizabeth II Hwy.
  4. Hay-Zama Lakes (R) 100 km (approx.) northwest of the town of High Level, AB.
  5. Peace-Athabasca Delta (R) The site comprises the deltas of the Athabasca, Peace and Birch rivers, lying mostly within the southeastern corner of Wood Buffalo National Park, northeastern Alberta, in central/northwestern Canada.
  6. Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory is located on the eastern shore of the lake, north of the Town of Lesser Slave Lake. They hold a Songbird Festival every June. 

Saskatchewan

  1. Quill Lakes (R) 150 km (approx.) northeast of the city of Regina, SK.
  2. Last Mountain Lake (R) Part of the Upper Qu’Apelle River system in south central Saskatchewan, 150 km southeast of Saskatoon and near Manitou/Watrous.

Manitoba

  1. Oak Hammock Marsh (R) 32 km (approx.) north of Winnipeg. Ducks Unlimited sponsors a nature centre at the marsh, with year-round activities.
  2. Delta Marsh (R) On the south shore of Lake Manitoba, 80 km (approx.) northwest of Winnipeg. The University of Manitoba operates a field station at the marsh.

Northwest Territories

  1. Whooping Crane Summer Range (R) Mostly within Wood Buffalo National Park, to the south of Great Slave Lake in the southern portion of the District of MacKenzie, Northwest Territories, and the adjoining portion of northeast Alberta, in central/northwestern Canada.

Yukon

  1. Old Crow Flats (R) 50 km north (approx.) of the town of Old Crow, close to the border with the State of Alaska (USA).

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