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Cemeteries as a natural environment

section of Queen's Park Cemetery
Queen's Park Cemetery

City of Calgary cemeteries are special places. They offer a final resting place for loved ones and they are a lasting reminder of Calgary’s history and humble roots. In addition to being places of solemn reflection, our cemeteries also offer a quiet place to enjoy our natural environment in a similar fashion to a natural environment park. Passive recreational activities such as walking, cycling or jogging on the pathway are permitted in our municipal cemeteries. While you are out and about exploring these great spaces, watch for the abundance of nature around you!

Peaceful wildlife watching

Bench in Queen's Park Cemetery
Queen's Park Cemetery bench

Watch for white-tailed prairie hares. They enjoy the open fields and abundant grasses and plants to feed on. If you visit throughout the seasons, you can observe the hares responding to the changing weather. Their coats change from brown to white as winter approaches. Spring is breeding season and the hares become quite energetic as they chase each other around vying for mates. If you visit in the summer, you will likely see baby bunnies roaming around.

Coyotes also enjoy the quiet open fields. They are experts at staying out of sight and are often heard but not seen. If you look closely, you can see them as they search for hares and other small animals.

Our cemeteries are also great places to bird watch. There are many opportunities for observing bird nesting behaviour. Because the grounds are so open, it is possible to spot birds from quite some distance, allowing you to observe them while keeping disruptions to a minimum. If you find a nest, you can return to it periodically and watch the young as they progress through their life stages. Birds leaving the nest (fledglings) are quite charismatic and can provide endless hours of entertainment. Some of the frequently seen bird species include the black billed magpie, American crow, common raven, and American robin, just to name a few. Other types of birds that can be spotted around Union Cemetery include merlins (a little falcon), Swainson’s hawk (a prairie hawk with broad wings that likes treed open areas), and great horned owls.  If you look closely you might spot a great horned owl nest.

In addition to wildlife, blue spruce trees are well suited for surviving harsh Calgary winters. The needles are covered in a thick waxy coating that prevents water loss during cold spells and the triangular shape of the tree prevents heavy snowfalls from snapping branches. Look for wildlife in and around these trees. They provide shelter and a great windbreak for the cemetery grounds.