Tis the Season

You might wonder why I am making a blog post in April that seems to have a Christmas theme but in reality, it does not. This post is all about the best seasons for wildlife photography. 

fine art photograph of a black bearBlack bear sow and cub in early fall

There are different times of year that present the best times to photograph different species. For example, bears look the best in late fall when they have gorgeous coats and are fattened up before denning, deer and moose are also best photographed in late fall when they have a full set of antlers, while spring is when you want to photograph eagles that have come back to mate.

fine art photograph of a bald eagleA female bald eagle takes a break from her eaglet but stays close to the nest

These past few months I have been focused on great gray owls as they were in mating season and very active during the day. This allowed for great bird in-flight photos as there was much more light and allowed for a higher shutter speed. As their mating season ended, the bald eagles have returned for nest making and breeding, making April a prime to photograph them. They will be staying close to their nest, making them easy to find, and will soon be bringing food back for the eaglets which will be born around the end of the month.  

Fine art photography photo of a greater yellowlegs piprtGreater yellowlegs piper that summers in Northern Alberta

Early to mid-April and the end of September to mid-October is a great time for migratory birds where I live. Many of the birds that summer in the arctic are usually passing through at this time allowing rare encounters with birds not otherwise found in this region. 

fine art wildlife photograph of woodland caribouWoodland caribou in their winter home

It is important regardless of where you live to understand the seasonal variation of the wildlife in your area. You can then plan which wildlife to be looking for and determine the best places to find them to give the best photos.

Here is an example of my annual wildlife calendar in Northern Alberta, and a few species like elk and bighorn that I photograph in Jasper each year:


  • Fox and coyote are in full coat and look great against the snow
  • Great gray owls will start being more active towards the end of January
  • Woodland caribou are accessible in the winter migratory range


  • Great gray owls are very active and in mating season
  • On snowy days it is nice to photograph the winter birds like grosbeaks and redpolls
  • Snowy owls migrate at the end of February or beginning of March


  • Great gray owls still active the beginning of March
  • Geese and bald eagles start to return


  • Bald eagles are nesting at this time
  • Migratory bird opportunities
  • Black bears have emerged from their dens
  • Fox kits just emerging from their dens


  • Opportunities to start seeing eaglets
  • Songbirds are back
  • Waterfowl and most birds are mating
  • Fox kits are out playing
  • Pelicans and great blue heron have returned
  • Osprey have returned and nested


  • Baby deer and moose can start to be seen with their moms
  • Ducklings and goslings are in abundance
  • Eaglets and young osprey can be seen in their nests
  • Fox kits will be wandering further from their dens last opportunity to photograph family units together


  • Hawks are hunting most days in the fields
  • Young waterfowl, deer, moose, fox, skunk, porcupine, coyotes, and a variety of other species are about


  • Elk are starting to rut
  • Last chance to photograph many of the summer songbirds


  • Elk still in rut, moose start rut begins
  • Migratory bird opportunities
  • Bears in full coat


  • Tail end of migratory summer birds leaving
  • Elk, moose and deer will have full antlers at this time
  • Deer start their rut season
  • Snowy owls begin to leave the North


  • Still great for elk, moose and deer
  • Deer in full rut
  • Bighorn mountain sheep begin their rut
  • Winter birds such as grosbeaks, snow buntings and redpolls arrive
  • Woodland caribou move into winter range area


  • Best time for woodland caribou
  • Fox and coyote are in full coat and look great against the snow
  • On snowy days it is nice to photograph the winter birds like grosbeaks and redpolls
Have you taken the time to plan yours?

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