Birding is one of the most popular ways to get out and enjoy nature. Here are several birding opportunities and resources to explore.
Getting Started with eBird
eBird was created by Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the purpose of supporting both birders and bird conservation. There are now more than 700,000 eBird users worldwide. Our Getting Started with eBird page provides an overview of this remarkable initiative along with tutorials to get you going.
Many local nature clubs host birding events throughout the year. Going out with a group is a great way to learn about birding and meet people who share your passion for nature. Check out our Events page to find out when and where these outings are happening. Here are three of Alberta’s most popular birding events:
May Bird Count
A fun annual spring event for everyone from beginning birders to eagle-eyed veterans. Everyone is welcome to participate in the May Bird Counts, held at several locations across Alberta. Most of the counts occur on the last weekend of May. The May Bird Count provides an unsurpassed opportunity to identify more birds in a single day than any other time of year. Enjoy the company and camaraderie of other birders, the chance to enhance your birding skills (or share them with others), and the prospect of winding down around a campfire, and it all makes for an awesome day.
Christmas Bird Count
The Christmas Bird Count is our oldest and longest-running citizen science initiative. It is conducted in over 1,800 localities across North America. Each local group of birders picks a day between December 14 and January 5, defines a circular study area 24 km in diameter, and does their best to count all the birds within that area on the selected day. Local rivalries and the long history of the count have made it one of the biggest events in the birding world. More important for bird conservation 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 Birds Canada and the Audubon Society, with additional partners.
Snow Goose Festival
The Snow Goose Festival on the south shore of Beaverhill Lake, 45 minutes east of Edmonton, was launched in 1993. The festival was established as a celebration of spring migration, providing an opportunity for nature enthusiasts, bird watchers, and the general public to come out and view the many species of birds that stop over in the Beaverhill Lake region during their northward migration. This family-oriented celebration provides transportation, guided tours, and hikes in the Beaverhill Lake region led by volunteer naturalists. The event is held in April and is organized by several local organizations, including the Beaverhill Bird Observatory, the Edmonton Nature Club, and Nature Alberta.
Bird-Oriented Nature Clubs
Winter Birding Tips
Don’t let Alberta’s cold winter deter you from bird watching. As the temperature dips, birding opportunities can arise. It’s a great time of year to encounter seasonal visitors not present in the summer. Moreover, trees are bare, sunrise is late, and there are fewer bird species to tease apart. And there are no bugs!
Robyn Perkins, with the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory, offers these great tips for winter birding in Alberta:
- Bird feeders: Make friends with your bird neighbours by putting up a feeder. This helps you see birds up close and it helps the birds survive those cold winter months.
- Chickadee flocks: Learn to recognize the common calls of the black-capped chickadee. Not only do these birds of a feather flock together, but other species, including nuthatches and woodpeckers, sometimes join in.
- Winter possibilities: Create a list of species you can anticipate finding locally in the winter. Knowing who you are likely to find can help eliminate otherwise similar-looking species.
- Look down: Some species, such as grouse or ravens, can be easily tracked in the snow. Wing prints can also be found where a bird has landed to scoop something up.
Nature Alberta Publications
Alberta Birds Checklist
Shorebirds of Alberta
A Homeowner’s Guide to Protecting Birds of Alberta
Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas of Alberta
Field Guide to Alberta Birds
The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta
The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta: A Second Look
Nature Alberta is incorporated as the Federation of Alberta Naturalists under the Alberta Societies Act and is a registered charitable organization.