Birding the Badlands

This excerpt is taken from:

Bird Watching on the River Parks and Trails of the Drumheller Badlands

by the Drumheller Regional Chamber of Development and Tourism

The Drumheller Valley and region offer much for bird watchers. The region is one of transition between prairie and parkland enviroments. The valley has spruce forests on some north-facing slopes, river-edge woods, prairies, and desert-like badlands. The mix of environments attracts a variety of birds.

It is not uncommon to see cliff-nesting Canada Geese, Turkey Vultures, Pileated Woodpeckers, Rock Wrens and Chickadees at one stop in the valley.

Tundra Swan - Photo copyright Hannu Hautala
Photo copyright Hannu Hautala
April offers a special treat. Our region is a major flyway for Tundra Swans. A drive through the countryside can result in seeing several thousand of these graceful birds. They are usually quite tame and can be seen from a vehicle from 100 metres or less.

Migrating warblers are abundant during the spring and fall in the trees and bushes along the Red Deer River. Despite this abundance, the numbers and species make-up are poorly known.

Rock Wrens are a natural part of the Badlands. Unexpected to some bird watchers is that is also prime habitat for Mountain Bluebirds and Say's Phoebe.

In bush in the coulees and along the rivers, Catbirds, Rufous-sided Towhees, and Yellowthroats are common. The larger trees closer to the river provide homes for a variety of woodpeckers, vireos, warblers, and Northern Orioles.

Mountain Bluebird - Photo copyright Don Baccus
Photo copyright Don Baccus
Peregrine Falcon - Photo copyright Don DesJardin
Photo copyright Don DesJardin
For those who like to observe birds of prey, Golden Eagles, Prairies Falcons, Merlins and Great Horned owls can be seen all year. Saw-whet owls can be heard along the river in the early spring. Summer offers a variety of hawks, including Ferruginous Hawks and the occaisional Peregrine Falcon.

The valley serves as a flyway for migrating raptors in the fall. On a good day, several eagles, and a good many hawks can be seen soaring along the banks in a few hours.

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