The Binocular Site

Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta

Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta

Canada’s largest park is Wood Buffalo National Park. This park is mostly located in Alberta with the northeast of the park lying in the Northwest Territories.

First established in 1922, this park protects a few endangered species including whooping cranes, peregrine falcons, and especially wood bison. Whooping cranes draw birders the world over, and are recognized by their red and black heads, black-tipped wings, and white bodies standing at a height of five feet tall. The mating dances of the cranes are spectacular, and consist of ruffled feathers and elaborate leaps and bows meant to draw a life-long mate.

Each pair lays two eggs which incubate for a month, and together raise the resulting young. Still, predators and bad weather take a huge toll on the lives of chicks, and their population is often halved by the end of summer.

Naturally the wood buffalo gave their name to this park, which was designated in 1922 for their protection. Bison were shipped here in the 1920's, and continue to roam freely. Evidence suggests that people have lived here for more than 8000 years, including the Beaver, Slavey, and Chipewyan peoples.

Hunting, fishing, and trapping, continue to be part of the cultural history of Wood Buffalo National Park. See the Wood Buffalo 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 andrewfjohnson , used with permission under the creative commons license.

If you've visited Wood Buffalo National Park, please take the time to share your experience and any tips or insight you have about this Alberta birding location below.

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