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Located in Red Deer in the province of Alberta, the federally protected Gaetz Lakes Migratory Bird Sanctuary is home to many nesting and non-nesting waterfowl species and encompasses two oxbow lakes. Migratory sanctuaries are established to protect migratory birds during the life cycle, and they play a critical role in the survival of the birds. Enjoy the best in bird watching as you wander through 300 acres of forests, grasslands, and wetlands.


4 Tips for Visiting the Gaetz Lakes Migratory Bird Sanctuary


1. Hands-On Education


A great place to start your visit is the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, which is considered the sanctuary’s gateway. There are interactive exhibits and hands-on historical interpretations, and the sanctuary is known as Alberta’s year-round educational destination. The centre is named after a local wildlife writer, Kerry Wood, who later became the volunteer warden for the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary.


The outdoor classroom and learning play space is great for kids to instinctively explore and learn about nature, or stop in at Harmony Garden, where outdoor musical instruments spark imagination and creativity.


2. Hit the Trails


Grab your checklist from the Nature Centre and head out to the 5 kilometres of walking trails, a bird blind, and multiple viewing decks awaiting your bird-watching pleasure. The trails are firm gravel, and one is wheelchair accessible. The trails are open September through May, and when visiting after the snow flies, snowshoes are available to rent.


If you visit when the Nature Centre building is closed, you can still access the trails via the north side of the building. George Trail is a 1 km paved trail with bird blind, and Wishart Trail is 4km of unpaved terrain with three lookout stations. The south end trail is hilly and has numerous stairs, which can be icy in the winter.


3. For the Birds


The main features of the bird sanctuary are the two oxbow lakes, which many species call home. Not only are the forests, grasslands, and wetlands a nesting spot for some waterfowl species, but you might also see songbirds, deer, moose, coyotes, and fox roaming around the area. Over 200 species will migrate through the sanctuary each year, and the time of year you visit will determine the types of birds you can see.


4. Take In Some History


Red Deer is full of rich history and culture, and the Historic Fort Normandeau offers extensive educational programs on the environment, natural and human history, with temporary and permanent exhibits to explore and learn. You can access the river and experience what was considered as the safest place to cross the river and known to the locals as ‘The Crossing.’ Access to the river and boat ramps are non-accessible when the facility is closed.


With plenty of bird watching, interactive and hands-on exhibits, and enriching educational programs, your visit to the sanctuary will be a day to remember. If you prefer not trekking out on your own, guided tours are available. Visit the sanctuary, enjoy nature in the middle of the city, and make some new memories. Then visit us at Southside Dodge Chrysler for the areas best selection of cars and trucks.


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