Must-do birding destinations in the Peace River Region
Updated: Jan 9, 2020
I don't really qualify as a birder. No high magnification binoculars, or pile of bird ID books on my car front seat. No notebook to keep careful record of each species.
But I will be the first to admit the thrill of a Kingfisher sighting, a flock of pelicans landing on the river, or checking our telescope every day to observe a nesting pair of bald eagles incubate their eggs.
According to the IBA (Important Bird Area) guide for Alberta, all four of the major North American flyways (bird migration routes) converge on Alberta's northern boreal forest. Check out the guide to all Alberta areas at http://naturealberta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Important-Bird-Areas-of-Alberta-Guide.pdf
Here are some great venues for bird enthusiasts who venture north of Edmonton, Alberta.
1) The Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory. http://www.borealbirdcentre.ca/about.htm is not officially in the Peace Country, but your first birding stop on the way. Only 2 1/2 hours north of Edmonton, take the time to stop. Their lovely interpretive centre and many trails are worth it. A signature event is their Annual Songbird Festival at the end of May.
2) Kimiwan Bird Walk- Further up Highway 2, in the Town of Mclennan is access to the Kimiwan Lake from the bird walk interpretive centre http://www.kimiwanbirdwalk.ca/kimiwan-bird-walk.html . They will lend you binoculars, assist you in checking out the bird walk, and guide you to other great bird sites in the Peace Region.
3) Trumpeter Swans- Saskatoon Lake Provincial Park- This park, near Grande Prairie, was for years the site of the spring swan festival, celebrating the once endangered Trumpeter Swan. The festival has since been moved to September and integrated into the Saskatoon Island Fall Fair in September. https://www.albertaparks.ca/saskatoon-island/activities-events/events/#31082 While swans definitely tend to concentrate in the Grand Prairie area, they can be viewed in multiple locations all over the Peace River country, especially in spring and fall. Grande Prairie Herald Tribune photo
4) The Peace Athabasca Delta including Wood Buffalo National Park is the largest Important Bird Area in Alberta. The park is a UNESCO world heritage site. Access the park by going north on the MacKenzie Hwy #35 north of Grimshaw Alberta. Near Hay River, NT, The MacKenzie Highway links to Highway 5, providing access to the park and Fort Smith. The park is the breeding ground to the endangered Whooping Crane, not to mention hundreds of other migrating species. Plan to visit the Salt Plains to observe birds and wildlife.