The Binocular Site

Elk Island National Park, Alberta

Elk Island National Park, Alberta

Elk Island National Park is located within an hour of Edmonton, and contains aspen parklands.

With over 250 species of birds, the park is rich in wildlife despite its small size (194 square kilometers), and 137 species are known to breed here. Rare breeders include trumpeter swans, chestnut-sided warblers, bobolinks, sedge wrens, black-billed cuckoos, and brown creepers. Mallards, shovelers, and pinwheel ducks are common here, along with red-necked grebes, mourning doves, and black-crowned night herons. One of the lakes also has permanent telescopes set up for bird watching. Look for common loons, herons, and ducks.

Hiking, skiing, camping, canoeing, and picnicking are popular activities here.

Elk Island National Park is perhaps best recognized by its extensive herds of free-roaming animals. Plains and wood bison are plentiful here, as are moose, deer, and elk.

The bison are carefully monitored and managed with strong fencing and roundups. Each year they are herded together, as they have been every year since they were introduced in 1907, examined for presence of diseases, and vaccinated. When numbers of bison are too high, surplus animals are sold in live auctions. This population control remains necessary as the bison are kept in safe numbers and in free-range areas that are nevertheless restricted to certain areas. See the Elk Island National Park website for more information.

The provincial bird of Alberta is the Great Horned Owl and you can find a birding checklist for Alberta here.

Photo credit to geoffreyrockwell, used with permission under the creative commons license.

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