Archives > February 2018

Calgary’s Best Winter Walks

There are exactly 21 days left until the first day of spring (but who’s counting) and while you wait for warmer weather, here’s a list of a few parks in Calgary that are perfect for enjoying even when the weather is less than warm and sunny.

Fish Creek Provincial Park

This massive park in Calgary’s south is the perfect destination for a winter jaunt. Some pathways are cleared of snow in the winter, while some snow-covered trails are used by Calgarians for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Bonus: from time to time, nature talks are held at Fish Creek Provincial Park. Check them out here.

Dog Friendly: yes, but coyotes and other wildlife are known to reside in this park, so be sure to keep dogs on their leash at all times.

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

This 3,200 acre park just outside of Calgary was established in 2006 and features more than 25 kilometres of pathways. Glenbow Ranch is a working ranch, which means that you can expect to run into cattle during your visit.

Bonus: the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation has developed plant and wildlife checklists that visitors can complete to help track the prevalence of species in the park. Find them here.

Dog Friendly: yes, but be sure to make sure dogs are kept on leash at all times, as there are cattle in the area.

Nose Hill Park

Nose Hill Park, named for its apparent nose-like appearance from certain angles, covers 11 square kilometres in Calgary’s northwest. Perched high above the city, Nose Hill Park provides a perfect vantage point to view the city skyline. Trails wind through treed areas and meander through wide open expanses.

Dog friendly: yes, but coyotes and porcupines live in the area, so be sure to keep dogs on their leash at all times, though there are designated off-leash areas.

Weaselhead Flats

A bird watcher’s dream, this park in the city’s southwest lies at the mouth of the Elbow River. Wander through the trails that wind through the white spruce forest. Be sure to come prepared, as black bears have been spotted in the area.

Dog Friendly: yes, but be sure to make sure dogs are kept on leash at all times, as you may encounter wildlife.

Bowmont Park

This large natural environment park in the northwest of Calgary lies along the northern bank of the Bow River and features peaceful, meandering trails.

Dog Friendly: yes, and features designated off-leash areas.


Also, have you purchased your tickets to AIWC’s 25th anniversary celebration yet? Party like it’s 1993 and get your tickets here before they sell out!

A Tour of AIWC’s Enclosures

One of the most critical components to a successful rehabilitation and release of a wild animal in AWIC’s care is the enclosures we keep them in.

 When a patient is admitted, they are given a full examination by the vet and/or vet technicians on staff that day and usually placed in one of the smaller indoor enclosures.

 Our indoor enclosures range in size similar to a dog or cat kennel, all the way to the size of a small den or bedroom. The reason they are placed here is to allow AIWC staff to monitor their health, things like their eating behaviour, indifference, and overall condition, before placing them in one of the larger, outdoor enclosure for conditioning before release.

 Once patients are healthy and recovered enough to move to larger enclosures, they are placed in the appropriate outdoor enclosure for conditioning before being released back into the wild, usually in the same area they were found.

 In the last year, AIWC was fortunate to receive funding to construct several new enclosures for our patients.

 Through sponsorship by the Airdrie Rotary Club and Imperial Oil, we saw the construction of aerial insectivore enclosures, which are used for recovering bats, swallows and song birds. These enclosures housed several birds over the last season which were successfully released back into their natural habitats when they were fully recovered and ready.

Photo from inside aerial insectivore enclosure taken in February 2018. Song birds migrate south in the winter and are kept indoors if we have any in care during the winter. There are currently no patients in these enclosures.


Photo of a mountain bluebird in one of the outdoor insectivore enclosures taken in September of 2017.

 Inter Pipeline Ltd. sponsored an outdoor waterfowl enclosure and an outdoor aquatic mammal enclosure. The waterfowl enclosure will be the final stage of rehabilitation for water birds such as ducks, geese, swans, coots, and others. The outdoor aquatic mammal enclosure will be used for beavers, otters, muskrats and others.

View from outside of the outdoor waterfowl, aquatic mammal and aerial insectivore enclosures (left to right).

View from inside the outdoor waterfowl enclosure. The facilities are currently incomplete but once they are ready, will have pools that allow the patients to dive and mimic activities they would do in the wild.

 Shell Canada sponsored an enclosure for large mammals such as carnivorous mammals like foxes (photo not included in this blog).

 AIWC is looking forward to seeing these new enclosures in use in the upcoming busy season!

 We also have several older outdoor enclosures, such as the flight cage pictured below. The flight cage is used for large birds of prey to give them plenty of space to stretch their wings and get back into the air before being released.

View from outside the flight cage. The trees give a sense of how tall the flight cage is to allow birds of prey to take flight inside.


View from inside the flight cage. Several perches allow the patients to choose where they would like to rest between flights.

 AIWC has been open for nearly 25 years and as the needs of our patients grows, we will need to expand to grow with them and upkeep existing facilities. We have several other older outdoor enclosures with different purposes that were not featured in this blog.

 If you are interested in donating or have information on possible sponsor, we would love to hear from you! Additionally, we are hosting an event on Saturday, April 21 for our 25th Anniversary. For tickets to the event, please visit our website here: Proceeds from the event will go back to caring for wildlife admitted to AIWC.

By Tayler Lafreniere, AIWC Volunteer

Best of 2017

2017 was a big year for AIWC, with over 1,400 patients admitted to the centre for care.

As we have now transitioned into the second month 2018 (and our 25th year of being in operation) we thought we’d take this opportunity to look back and reflect on some of our favourite blog posts of 2017.

This post on Alberta’s Species at Risk classification system outlined the ways our province identifies threatened species.

This post highlighted one of Alberta’s most majestic species: the grizzly bear.

This post listed some good reminders on ways to ensure our own backyards aren’t harming wildlife.

In March of 2017, AIWC welcomed a mink patient for the first time in about ten years!

This post on ducklings and goslings was easily one of the cutest of 2017.

This post on Alberta’s most common bird species had us paying close attention to the skies!

This guided tour of Frank Lake has us packing up to pay this wetland a visit.

This post on swallows (and the amazing photos that accompanied it) was a favourite of 2017.

This post on making the most of your fall nature walks was a good reminder to get outside and enjoy all of Alberta’s four dramatic seasons.

This post introduced your neighbour who you’ve likely never met!

For those curious about a day in the life of an AIWC volunteer, this post is for you!

For those going a little stir-crazy, this post on wildlife games created a much needed diversion over the holidays.

We wish you all the best in 2018 and thank you for following along in our journey to aide Alberta’s injured and orphaned wildlife.

Winter Wildlife Reading

When the weather turns bitterly cold, there’s nothing better than finding a cozy spot and settling into a good book.

To get you through the rest of this cold spell, we’ve compiled a list of wildlife and nature-themed books that will chase away the winter doldrums!

The Inner Life of Animals by Peter Wohlleben

This book provides amazing insight into the emotions of the animals all around us. Did you know that ravens call their friends by name, and that rats regret bad choices? You’ll never look at an animal in the same way again.

Find it at the Calgary Library here, or on Amazon here.

White Fang by Jack London

If you grew up in Canada, chances are you had to read this book in grade school, but it’s a lovely read as an adult as well. While it’s not specifically about wildlife per se, it’s worth including on this list.

Find it at the Calgary Library here, or on Amazon here.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien

In 1985, biologist Stacey O’Brien adopted an injured barn owl who could not survive on his own. Filled with insight into the behaviour and intelligence of owls, this book profiles the relationship between Wesley the owl and O’Brien.

Find it at the Calgary Library here, or on Amazon here.

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

This stunning book examines the idea the forest is a social network and that trees communicate, support each other, and warn each other of impending danger. This book will forever change your future walks in the forest.

Find it at the Calgary Library here, or on Amazon here.

Animal Kingdom: Colour Me, Draw Me by Millie Marotta

To be fair, this one isn’t exactly a book you can sit down and read, but it’s worth getting your hands on anyway. This colouring book is geared towards adults, and each page is filled with intricate, gorgeous drawings just begging to be filled in.

Find it on Amazon here.

Scared Skunk by Michelle and Denver Suttie

No wildlife book list would be complete without mentioning AIWC’s first children’s book, which profiles a baby skunk who has lost her mother.

Find it on the AIWC store, here.