The Bonnyville / Cold Lake region is a birders paradise, with over 292 species within the transition zone between Alberta's aspen parkland and northern boreal forest.
Cold Lake is the key entry point for neotropical migratory birds such as Wood Warblers.
In late May and early June, Cold Lake Provincial Park and other recreational areas around Cold Lake become the destination for birders who wish to experience a wild weekend of warbler watching with a potential of 23 warbler species to be observed. These include the provincially uncommon Chestnut-Sided, Nashville, Blackburnian, Bay-Breasted, Connecticut, and Mourning Warblers.
The fall migration through late July and August draws a repeat crowd. Couple this rare attraction with a host of waterfowl species, including one of Alberta's largest Western Grebe colonies, and a spill-over population of Pelicans, Cormorants and Gull species, and you have a birding paradise. The occasional Turkey Vulture can also be found along the lake shore.
Ethel Lake has become home to one of Alberta's most reliable count areas for the provincially uncommon Yellow Rail and Sedge Wren.
Bonnyville is highlighted by Jessie Lake, a shallow wetland home for many species of waterfowl. Here, from viewing platforms and a walking path around the lake, you can see nesting populations of our most beautiful shorebird, the American Avocet, and watch the undulating flight of a hunting Short-Eared Owl. To the west, Moose Lake Provincial Park, Franchere Bay, and Pelican Point recreational areas offer excellent boreal forest, lake, and wetland habitat and often yield surprises for even the most experienced birder.
At Muriel Lake, several of the low islands and parts of the shoreline provide restricted access protection to one of Alberta's largest breeding populations of the endangered Piping Plovers as well as to several large colonies of Gulls, Terns, and Cormorants.