Beaverhill Bird Observatory
Location: About 75 km from Edmonton, on the south end of Beaverhill Lake a 50-minute drive and 20-minute walk to the observatory. Exit Edmonton on Hwy 14 east to Tofield. You can take the route through town by following the Watchable Wildlife signs, or stay on Hwy 14, turning north at Hwy 834, just past Tofield. Go north until you reach a T-intersection, then turn right (east) onto Rowan’s Route. Follow Rowan’s Route almost to the end and drive through the swing gate on the left. Close the gate behind you and proceed across the field to a second gate. Park your vehicle inside the second gate to prevent cattle from scratching against your car. A trail map is displayed at the kiosk. Walk east along the trail and follow the signs to the observatory.
Info: The public is welcome at any time, but swimming is not permitted. 780-918-4804; www.beaverhillbirds.com.
The Beaverhill Bird Observatory monitors bird migration almost every day from May 1 to June 9 and from August 1 to October 10. Birds are captured using mist nets and brought to the lab for identification, aging, sexing, and banding. Between 2,000 and 4,500 birds are banded every year, and visitors may watch bird-banding operations in the mornings. Researchers monitor saw-whet owls nightly from September 10 to the end of October.
Located at the southeastern corner of the lake, the observatory provides tours in spring and summer. Directional signage and a kiosk at the main parking area will lead you to excellent water bird, songbird, and raptor viewing opportunities. Please note that Rowan’s Route can get slippery when wet. Some years Beaverhill Lake is dry, while Lister Lake, which feeds into Beaverhill on the south end, always has water.
The observatory maintains and monitors 150 tree swallow boxes and 20 bluebird boxes along the lake’s south shore and along Rowan’s Route. They organize nocturnal owl surveys and serve as stewards of the Beaverhill Natural Area. Two major public events are hosted on site. The Big Birding Breakfast, held in late spring, celebrates songbird migration and Steaks and Saw-whets, held in early fall, highlights the fall movements of this tiny owl.