Have Your Camera Ready - It's Migration Season!

 great blue heronAn early arrival of a great blue heron during the spring migration

As the migration of birds back to the north using the Central Flyway begins in April, it presents an excellent opportunity for bird photographers to capture some of the most beautiful and unique species that pass through the region. Alberta boasts a diverse range of habitats, including wetlands, forests, grasslands, and mountains, each providing a unique backdrop for bird photography. As a photographer here are some opportunities to be looking for during the annual migration

  1. Waterfowl in Wetlands Photographers can capture stunning shots of ducks, geese, and swans in their breeding plumage as they flock to the region's wetlands to mate and nest. Some of the best places to photograph waterfowl in Alberta include the Beaverhill Lake Natural Area and the Bow Valley Provincial Park. 

swansTrumpeter swans migrating through to the territories
  1. Raptors in Flight  During the migration season, Alberta is home to various raptor species, including bald and golden eagles, and variety of hawks and falcons. You can capture breathtaking shots of these birds in flight, soaring over the prairies or perched on trees along the Central Flyway. The best places to photograph raptors in Alberta include the Frank Lake Conservation Area and the Kananaskis Country.


An osprey in flight
  1. Songbirds in Forests Alberta's forests are home to numerous songbird species, including warblers, thrushes, and sparrows. You can capture these beautiful birds perched on trees or singing in the forest canopy that can make stunning backgrounds especially when sunlight filters through.  The Boreal Forest is a particularly excellent place to photograph songbirds during the migration season. The Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park, Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park and the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park are great places to encounter a variety of songbirds.

American robin photoAn American robin one of the first songbirds to return in the spring
  1. Shorebirds on the Prairies The prairies are an important stopover for many shorebird species during their migration north. You can capture stunning shots of sandpipers, plovers, and other shorebirds as they feed along the shores of lakes and ponds in the region as they pass through to northern locations. Some of best places to photograph shorebirds in Alberta include the Pakowki Lake, the Bow Habitat Station, Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park and the Lloydminster Nature Reserve.

piperA greater yellowlegs piper on a lake shore at Sir Winston Churchill Park early in the spring
  1. Unique Species in Mountains The Rocky Mountains provide a unique backdrop for bird photography. You can capture stunning shots of high-altitude species such as the white-tailed ptarmigan (which was an award winning photo in last year's Audubon Photo Contest), gray-crowned rosy-finch, and the golden eagle as they pass through the region during the migration season. Some of the best places to photograph mountain birds in Alberta include Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, and Waterton Lakes National Park.

stellar jayA stellar jay photographed in Jasper, Alberta

Make sure you have your camera ready! The migration of birds back to north  using the Central Flyway in provides bird photographers with an excellent opportunity to capture stunning shots of some of the most beautiful and unique species that pass through the region. Whether you're interested in waterfowl, raptors, songbirds, shorebirds, or high-altitude species, Alberta's diverse habitats offer endless possibilities for bird photography. Remember to respect the wildlife and their habitats and follow ethical photography practices when capturing these breathtaking shots.

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