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  • Photograph of Black Bear

    Black Bear in Alberta by Mike Hunter.

    ALBERTA

    Best Wildlife in Alberta

    Mammals
    (American) Black and, possibly, Grizzly Bears, American Bison, Moose, Elk (Wapiti), Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Pronghorn, Coyote, Hoary Marmot, American Pika, American Beaver, Muskrat, Least and Red-tailed Chipmunks, Columbian, Golden-mantled and Richardson's Ground Squirrels, Red Squirrel, Snowshoe Hare, and Mule and White-tailed Deer.

    Birds
    The birds listed are usually present during June. Bald Eagle, Harlequin Duck, Varied Thrush, Mountain Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing, Calliope and Rufous Hummingbirds, and Clark's Nutcracker, as well as Trumpeter Swan, Wood Duck, American Wigeon, Blue-winged Teal, Bufflehead, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Great Northern Diver (Common Loon), Red-necked and Western Grebes, American White Pelican, Great Blue Heron, American Bittern, Osprey, Northern Goshawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Golden Eagle, Sora, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Curlew, Wilson’s Phalarope, California and Franklin’s Gulls, Black and Forster’s Terns, Great Horned Owl, Common Nighthawk, American Black and White-throated Swifts, Belted Kingfisher, Red-naped Sapsucker, Lewis’s, Pileated and (American) Three-toed Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Eastern and Say’s Phoebes, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Eastern and Western Kingbirds, Grey and Steller’s Jays, Shore (Horned) Lark, Violet-green Swallow, Boreal Chickadee, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, Rock Wren, American Dipper, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Western Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Grey Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Sprague’s Pipit, Blackpoll, Townsend’s, Wilson’s and Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Western Tanager, Lazuli Bunting, Chestnut-collared and McCown's Longspurs, Clay-coloured, Lark and Vesper Sparrows, Dark-eyed (Slate-coloured) Junco, Baltimore Oriole, Western Meadowlark, Brewer’s, Red-winged, Rusty and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Pine Grosbeak and Two-barred (White-winged) Crossbill. Also a chance of Blue and Spruce Grouse, White-tailed Ptarmigan, Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Burrowing Owl, Lark Bunting, Grey-crowned Rosy Finch and Baird’s Sparrow.

    Plants
    Many colourful and spectacular plants including aquilegias, castillejas, tofieldias and orchids such as Calypso Orchid.

    Other Natural Wonders of Alberta

    Icefields Parkway
    The road between Banff and Jasper, thought by some people to be the most scenic road route in the world.

    Athabasca Glacier
    This 6 km (4 miles) long glacier, an arm of the Columbia Icefields, is close to the Icefields Parkway.

    Dinosaur Provincial Park
    This park is one of the best places for dinosaurs in the world, and the striking ‘badlands’ landscape includes mudstone pinnacles capped with sandstone known as hoodoos.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Alberta

    Best Times for Wildlife in Alberta

    June. Mammals such as Mountain Goat usually venture down the mountains a little more at this time, in search of minerals, making them easier to see.

    Recommended Books etc. for Alberta

    Mammals of North America by R W Kays and D E Wilson. PUP, 2009 (Second Edition).

    Mammals of North America by F A Reid. Peterson North American Field Guides, 2006 (Fourth Edition).

    Peterson Field Guide to Finding Mammals in North America by V Dinets. Houghton Mifflin, 2015.

    Field Guide to the Birds of North America edited by J Dunn and J Alderfer. NGS, 2011 (Sixth Edition).

    Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America by K Kaufman. Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

    The North American Bird Guide by D Sibley. Helm, 2014 (Second Edition).

    Birds of Alberta (Field Guide) by C Fisher and J Acorn. Lone Pine Publishing, 1998.

    Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America by J Brock and K Kaufman. Houghton Mifflin, 2003.

    The Butterflies of Canada by R Layberry, P Hall and D Lafontaine. NRC Research Press, 1998.


    Apps etc.


    National Geographic Birds: Field Guide to North America.

    The Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America.

    Peterson Birds of North America.

    Audubon Birds - A Field Guide to North American Birds.

    iBird Ultimate Guide to Birds.

    Trip Reports for Alberta

    Many trip reports, some for Alberta, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Alberta. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Alberta' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Alberta

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Alberta

    Some Organized Tours to Alberta

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to Alberta in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.