We’ve just published a colourful and informative series of eight cards called “Protecting Birds of Alberta: How you can help.” Each card features beautiful photography as well as valuable “Did you know” and “What you can do” information on important topics such as: Birds and Bird Feeders, Birds and Cats, Birds and Pesticides, and more. Download your bird cards today. We also have a limited number of printed cards available – contact us for more information.
Canada’s bird and cat populations are in trouble and Nature Canada and its partners are calling on Canadians to help keep them safe with the launch of its campaign Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives to keep cats from roaming free. Learn more and take the pledge >>
This guide features 40 of total 48 IBA sites in Alberta, through images, maps, and important and interesting facts. Download your copy today (9MB PDF).
With its diversity of landscapes and abundance of birding ‘hotspots’, bird-watching is a popular recreational activity in Alberta. If you are new to birding and want to learn more, visit our store to purchase a copy of our Field Guide to Alberta Birds. If you are looking for some help, find a local natural history club. Scattered throughout Alberta, natural history clubs provide local naturalist programming—field trips, bird counts, study groups, seminars, conferences, festivals and more: a great way to learn and have fun!
Nature Alberta is a member of Alberta’s Endangered Species Conservation Committee. This committee reviews species at risk in Alberta, making recommendations to the Minister of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development on their listing and recovery. To date, bird species listed as endangered in Alberta include:
For fact sheets about these and other species at risk, please visit this website.
In Alberta, the status of bird and other wildlife species is assessed by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development through their General Status of Alberta Wild Species program. Because many birds in Alberta are migratory, other organizations, like Bird Studies Canada and Ducks Unlimited Canada, might participate in status assessments such as the recent State of Canada’s Birds.
Volunteer birdwatchers often play a major role in collecting data about the status of our birds. More than 1,000 volunteers played an important role in understanding the status of Alberta’s breeding bird populations via Nature Alberta’s breeding bird atlas project. Between 1987 to 1992, volunteer “atlassers” accumulated over 40,000 hours of completed bird surveys, collecting 122,400 bird records. Survey results were published in 1992 in The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta available through the Nature Alberta Store.
The distribution and abundance of bird species are constantly changing. Therefore, continual monitoring is required to maintain accurate, current information on their status. From 2000-2005, Nature Alberta again relied on its volunteers to gather data and produce an update of the initial atlas. The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta: A Second Look is available through the Nature Alberta store.
Over the last twenty-five years, bird atlas projects have become a popular international activity, with birdwatchers taking part in Bird Atlas Projects around the world. Bird atlas projects provide an opportunity for birdwatchers to have fun, make friends, and learn more about nature in their local area. At the same time they are contributing to the knowledge of natural history and ornithological research in the area that the atlas covers.
Led by BirdLife International, the IBA program is a global effort to identify, conserve, and monitor a network of sites that provide essential habitat for bird populations. Since its launch in Canada, the program has identified about 600 sites across the country, including 48 IBAs in Alberta (of which 36 are globally significant). To learn more about the national IBA program, please visit the IBA Canada website.
Nature Alberta is doing its part to help protect bird habitat in our role as the provincial coordinator of the IBA program in Alberta. The Alberta IBA program launched in the spring of 1999 (for a history of the project in Alberta, follow link).
1990s The IBA program, a world-wide initiative of BirdLife International, is brought to Canada with initial Environment Canada funding provided to the Canadian Nature Federation (CNF). Today, the national program is operated through a partnership between Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada (BSC).
1999 As the provincial affiliate, Nature Alberta initiates the Alberta IBA program. Early provincial supporters included the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) and Alberta Sport Recreation Parks and Wildlife Foundation (ASRPWF).
1999 The Alberta IBA Advisory Committee is established. Members included George Newton (Nature Alberta), Dave Prescott (ACA), Bruce McGillivray (Royal Alberta Museum), Gordon Court (Alberta Fish and Wildlife) and Paul Goossen (Canadian Wildlife Service).
June, 1999 Nature Alberta hosts an all-day IBA site nominating meeting with CNF and BSC staff and approximately 20 Alberta bird experts. After pouring over maps and discussing sites, participants nominate approximately 120 potential IBA sites. 48 sites are approved as IBAs—the bulk of global significance.
2000 – 2002 Guided by the Advisory Committee and local experts, ten conservation plans are written (Big Lake, Beaverhill Lake, Grande Prairie Trumpeter Swans, Lac La Biche, Lesser Slave Lake, Kimiwan Lake, Frank Lake [north], Chappice Lake, the McIntyre Ranch and Sage Creek.)
2004 Focus shifts from conservation planning to monitoring. With the support of ACA and birding expert Richard Thomas advising, a monitoring protocol is developed for Alberta (modeled after the Kenyan IBA monitoring initiative). The protocol is piloted at several select IBAs including Lac La Biche and Lakeland.
2006 Chuck Priestley, Strix Ecological, is hired to help with monitoring at select IBAs. He also helps to revise the field form, basing it on BirdLife’s Global Framework (using Pressure, State, Response indicators).
2007 – 2008 Chuck became the Alberta IBA Program Coordinator and focused on proposal writing, networking with the national partners, article writing and reporting.
2009 With support from TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., Nature Canada begins building the Canadian IBA Caretaker Network.
2010 Several IBA videos were developed to promote the program and the sites.
2011 An Alberta Caretakers meeting is held October 17 with several local IBA caretakers joined by numerous provincial and national representatives to discuss the program.
For a list of the province’s 48 Important Bird Areas, see the table below. Detailed information about each site may be viewed by clicking on the site name. Site summaries are not currently available for the following Alberta IBAs: Milk River, Suffield, Manawan Lake, Kimiwan Lake, McIntyre Ranch and Sage Creek.
|AB003||Lesser Slave Lake PP and Region||Global|
|AB004||Milk River Canyon and Area||National|
|AB011||St. Mary Reservoir||Global|
|AB015||Lake Newell and Kitsim Reservoir||National|
|AB016||McGregor Lake and Travers Reservoir||National|
|AB022||Little Fish Lake||National|
|AB028||Kirkpatrick and Fitzgerald Lakes||Global|
|AB032||Killarney, Dillberry and Leane Lakes||Global|
|AB034||Ewing and Erskine Lakes||Global|
|AB044||Whitford and Rush Lakes||Global|
|AB054||Utikuma and Utikumasis Lakes||Global|
|AB059||Hay and Zama Lakes||Global|
|AB070||Ministik, Joseph and Oliver Lakes||Global|
|AB078||Eagle, Namaka and Stobart Lakes||Global|
|AB079||Frank Lake (south)||Global|
|AB097||Lac La Biche||Global|
|AB100||Pelican Lake (Alberta)||Global|
|AB107||Grande Prairie – Trumpeter Swan IBA||Global|
|AB113||Metiskow and Sunken Lakes||Global|
|AB115||Frank Lake (north)||Continental|
|AB118||St. Lawrence Lake||Global|
There are many birding events throughout the year and around the province. To find out about these events, find a local natural history club near you, or click on our calendar. Two very popular counts include the May Bird Count and the Christmas Bird Count described below. For other birding projects you might want to get involved in, see our Citizen Science/Nurture your Nature section.
This annual spring ritual spells FUN for birders of all persuasions! And it’s a great time for birders just starting-out to get involved. But careful—you might get hooked! May Species Counts provide an unsurpassed opportunity for birders to ‘get’ more birds in a single day than any other time of year. Complement this with the company and camaraderie of other birders, the chance to enhance your birding skills (or share them with others), and the prospect of a long sunny day winding down around a camp fire, and the day has passed too fast.
Everyone is welcome to participate in the May bird counts which are held at several locations across Alberta. Most the counts will be held on the last weekend of May. For the details of where and when and the contact persons for each count please watch our What’s New page.
The oldest and longest-running Citizen Science initiative, the Christmas Bird Count is conducted in over 1800 localities across Canada, the United States and Latin America. Each local group of birders picks a day between December 14th and January 5th inclusive, sets out a 24-km diameter circle, then does their best to count all the birds within that circle on the selected day. Local rivalries and the long history of the count have made it one of the biggest social and sporting events in the birding world. More important for bird conservation, however, is the huge database on the distribution and numbers of North American birds that the Christmas Bird Count has amassed. The Christmas Bird Count is managed by Bird Studies Canada and the Audubon Society, with additional partners: Gulf Coast Bird Observatory in Mexico, and Instituto Humboldt and RNOA in Colombia. If you have any questions regarding the Christmas Bird Count in Canada, please contact:
Dick Cannings, Bird Studies Canada’s Christmas Bird Count Coordinator
1330 Debeck Road S.11, C.96, RR#1, Naramata, BC V0H 1N0
Phone: (250) 496-4049
If you want to know what birds you will find in Alberta, or in a particular part of the province, a bird checklist is a handy tool. Alberta’s Rare Bird Committee has compiled The Official List of the Birds of Alberta. Additionally, there are many local bird lists available through local natural history clubs, provincial parks or birding stores. Nature Alberta has also published this Alberta Birds Checklist 2014.
A trip to a local book store or an online search will quickly tell you there is a huge diversity of birding guides and tools available to birders. Some of these we’ve listed below:
Birds and Windows Project
In 1970, six natural history clubs joined together to form the Federation of Alberta Naturalists. Today, this same organization, known as Nature Alberta serves a membership of over 40 clubs and represents thousands of individuals across the province. Every one of these individuals share a passion for natural history.
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