Over 250 species of birds have been identified in Waterton Lakes National Park, including those associated with alpine areas, subalpine and montane forests, prairie, lakes and wetlands.

Common birds in Waterton Lakes National Park:
  • American dipper
  • Common goldeneye
  • Gray jay
  • Steller’s jay
  • Mountain chickadee

There are many good locations for viewing birds in the park. One of the best is the Maskinonge Lake area near the park entrance. The Bertha and Rowe trails also provide a good assortment of birds. The Carthew-Alderson trail is a good place for alpine birds like rosy finches and ptarmigan.

For best results, visit a variety of habitats, especially the aspen/prairie areas of the park and along the Waterton River.

The most spectacular birding time is in the late fall when large numbers of waterfowl migrate through the park.

Hundreds of swans, including the rare trumpeter swan, and thousands of Canada geese plus assorted diving and dabbling ducks can be seen. It's not unusual to see a bald or golden eagle harassing large rafts of coots. The best viewing locations are the Maskinonge and Lower Waterton (Knight's) Lake.

Hundreds of golden eagles also migrate through here as part of a larger eagle migration along the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains. The best viewing is along the mountain fronts in the eastern parts of the park, particularly Lakeview Ridge, in mid-March and early October.

Winter birdwatching

Two visitors birdwatching in winter
Bird watching is fun and rewarding for visitors

There may be fewer birds around in winter, but with no leaves on the trees, they’re easier to see! Chickadees, grouse and woodpeckers roam wooded areas, while ravens and eagles soar above, and dippers and goldeneye are in open waters.

The community has the best variety of birds, while Cameron Lake is the place to see cheeky Steller’s and gray jays, boreal chickadees, crossbills and pygmy owls. Keep your eye on roadsides for snow buntings and redpolls.

If the snow isn’t too deep, access the Waterton River using the Hay Barn or Marquis Hole roads. Walk along the river to see ducks, dippers, and many other birds. Something surprising often pops up!

Winter and spring bird counts

The Lethbridge Naturalists' Society holds spring and Christmas bird counts in the park each year. An average of 95 species are seen on spring counts, and 25 on the Christmas counts.