Explore Beautiful Alberta: Prairies and Boreal Forest, Warblers and Fossils!
Come on an exhilarating journey to beautiful Alberta, Canada! From prairie badlands through aspen parkland to the boreal forest, we will find a fantastic assortment of bird species and other wildlife on this one-week exploration. Calgary is only a short two-hour, direct flight away from Portland. Grab your passport and join us!
Our trip will begin in the prairies, searching for Lark Bunting, Chestnut-collared and McCown’s Longspur, Baird’s Sparrow, and Sprague’s Pipit. Prairie waterfowl will fill every watering hole, and prairie shorebirds such as the Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, and Upland Sandpiper breed in this area as well.
A highlight of this tour will be a stop at Dinosaur Provincial Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 35 dinosaur species found fossilized. It is famous for in-situ displays of fossil bones along the scenic loop road. Some birding highlights in the area will include Lark Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Prairie Falcon, and Rock Wren.
After a long, scenic drive up to Cold Lake, we will first touch base with boreal birds at the magnificent Cold Lake Provincial Park. Songbirds at this northern location will be singing their heart out at this time of year. We will search for the most sought-after warbler species such as Connecticut, Canada, Mourning, Chestnut-sided, Bay-breasted, Cape May, and Blackburnian Warbler, as well as Philadelphia Vireo, Le Conte’s, and Nelson’s Sparrow.
We will later make our way to Lac La Biche. The highlight of this area is undoubtedly Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park, a park located in east-central Alberta, renowned for its birding and old-growth forests. It is Alberta’s only park of islands in the basin of the crystalline waters of Lac La Biche. Again, we will look for warblers, vireos, and boreal birds. Around the lake, we may find Franklin’s Gull, Forster’s, Common, and Caspian Tern, breeding Common Loon and American White Pelican. We will focus on what we have not seen already. I found Mourning Warbler to be pretty easy there. A morning stop for LeConte’s and Nelson’s Sparrow will also be exciting.
Then we will stop at Long Lake Provincial Park en route to Calgary, with fewer boreal birds, but Canada Warbler can be pretty common. Elk Island National Park showcases Plains and Wood Bison, North America’s largest land mammal. A drive north from the prairies will take us to aspen parkland and the boreal forest. The boreal forest is dominated by black and white spruce, quaking aspen, and willow-lined fens and bogs. This habitat is home to many of the eastern breeders. Then we will leisurely bird our way back to Calgary to end what guarantees to be a fun, very birdy trip.