Inglewood Bird Sanctuary self-guided walk
Welcome to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary!
This is a self-guided walk that you can take at any time it suits you. There are several stops along the map to tell you about the natural and historical features of this unique park.
Enjoy your self-guided tour of one of Calgary’s special protection natural environment parks!
Stop 1: Start (behind the Nature Centre)
Welcome to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.
As you walk along the trails stop at each point and tap on it to reveal information about what you are seeing.
Please remember to stay on the trails and be respectful of other parks users. It is also important to leave all of the natural materials that you find. Feathers and sticks are important nest building materials.
Enjoy your walk.
Head down the main trail to get to the next stop.
Stop 2: Magpie nest
After the little bridge look to the right to find a stand of choke cherry bushes. If you look carefully you might see a magpie nest. Magpies are one of the first birds to lay their eggs in the spring. This is why their nest looks like a big ball of sticks, it has a roof to keep Calgary’s spring snow away. Magpies are important birds here at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Their special job is to help clean up - they do this by eating dead things, extra berries, and bugs. They are very smart and are always learning, so if you see a magpie say hello.
Head down the main trail to get to the next stop.
Stop 3: Beautiful Bowmont
The big grassy field to your right is prairie grassland. It is home to several small brown birds like sparrows, but it is also good hunting ground for hawks, so check the skies for soaring red-tailed or Swainson’s hawks.
This land didn’t always look like this. It was once a big garden! In the 1930s to 1950s several Chinese families had market gardens where they grew food and plants for Calgarians. They lived here by their gardens with no heat or running water. Unfortunately, they were forced to leave when the property they were leasing was sold. Now it is a garden for Savannah sparrows and clay-coloured sparrows, to get the food they need.
Continue along the main trail and turn right at the T-intersection to get to the next stop.
Stop 4: Wetland sanctuary
The water in front of you is a lagoon, not a river, and its water moves VERY slowly. This means lots of plants and bugs can grow in the water to help feed all of the animals. The land across the lagoon is a large section of the sanctuary that is almost entirely surrounded by water, with the Bow River on the other side. Having water all around makes this a safe place for lots of different animals. Did you know that Sanctuary means safe place? This whole park is here to keep wild animals safe. Thank you for helping them to feel safe by staying on the trails and keeping quiet when you see them. Some geese and ducks have their own small sanctuaries on the little islands in the lagoon. When they build their nests here it is hard for coyotes and mink to get to their eggs unseen.
Continue along the main trail to the Brick House.
Stop 5: Historic Colonel Walker House
This big old brick house is known as the Colonel Walker House. It has been here a long time, do you want to take a guess at how old this house is?
Well, this house was built in 1910, making it 110 years old. It was built by Colonel James Walker and was lived in by him and his family. He built this house to be very sturdy and strong because he had some experience with houses being flooded and washed away – This being his third house on the property.
Colonel Walker is an important figure in Calgary’s history. He came to Alberta in 1882 as an accomplished military man, but quickly added to his accomplishments. He was:
• The First Justice of the Peace in Calgary
• The First president of Calgary Exhibition (later Calgary Stampede and Exhibition)
• Owner of the First telephone in Calgary from downtown to the Walker Sawmill at IBS
• Organizer of the first scout and cadet groups in Calgary... the list goes on.
When we think about this park and what it is today there are other people that played important roles. Selby Walker was the son of Col. James Walker. Selby loved to go hiking and rock climbing. One day he was out in the mountains and he met a lifelong friend – George Pickering. These two both loved nature and are the ones responsible for this land being protected by the Federal government as a Migratory Bird Sanctuary. It is because of them that this park has been protecting wildlife, and connecting Calgarians with nature for over ninety years.
When the park first opened (1929) George Pickering was the first Superintendent of the Sanctuary and worked at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary for free for 15 years, until he finally started to be paid for his work. He worked here for a total of 26 years; learning about and protecting wildlife. Pickering was an expert on the local birds. He began banding birds for research and built gardens, walkways and ponds. He also ran education programs for hundreds of school children.
A lot of his work continues today with the city of Calgary upkeep of the property and education programs, and the Calgary Bird Banding Society’s research.
Take a walk around the house and lawn as this is a good place to see wildlife.
Return to the main trail and turn right (south) to get to the next stop.
Stop 6: Water-loving rodents
This south end of the Sanctuary continues past the fence, but has limited access to people as it is a wildlife refuge, or in other words an extra safe place.
From the first bridge, you can see a dam that helps to keep the water levels constant in the lagoon. Even though this dam was built by humans it has been maintained by beavers. When beavers hear a trickle of water they move quickly to plug the hole.
Watch along the trail for trees and shrubs that have been chewed by beavers. They will chew down a tree for many reasons, building materials, food, and tooth maintenance. Rodents have front teeth that are long and sharp, but they are only sharp because these animals chew on things to sharpen them. These front teeth also grow continuously throughout the animals life.
This bridge is a good place to see another water loving rodent- the muskrat. Muskrats are much smaller than beavers, they have a skinny tail, and they are often out in the middle of the day (unlike beavers who are crepuscular- active at dawn and dusk).
Take a moment to watch for these water-loving animals.
Turn left at the next intersection to continue on the self-guided walk route.
Continue along the trail, after the second bridge turn left to get to the next stop.
Stop 7: Forest friends
This next stretch of trail will take you t hrough the forest. There is wildlife to be seen at all levels -from the ground to the tops of the trees. This forest in mostly made up of Balsam Poplar trees and under those trees there are lots of shrubs that provide food and shelter for animals.
Look carefully through the bushes for deer laying in the shade or snacking on leaves or twigs.
In mid-summer, the Saskatoon berry bushes become full of ripe berries. These berries are an important food source for several bird species. Waxwings are beautiful birds with black masks, yellow tipped tails and little red waxy nubs on their wings. They love to eat berries like Saskatoons. Listen for their high pitched trilled sound...when they're not filling up on berries that is.
Higher up, but below the canopy is a good place to look for Great Horned Owls. Their feathers blend in perfectly with the bark of the Balsam Poplar trees, so walk slowly and watch for movement. You can also listen for them and their low hoo HOO hoohoohoo.
Continue down the main trail to get to the next stop.
Stop 8: Beetle galleries and Woodpeckers
Take a look from the platform to see what wildlife is around, but also take a look at the logs at the entrance to the platform. These logs have lots of crazy lines dug into them.
This 'artwork' was created by insects living under the tree bark when these trees were standing. This is a very safe place for insects to live as the tree bark protects them, but not from everyone! Can you think of a bird that could get to these bugs?
That's right a Woodpecker.
These birds are specially designed to break through the bark with their strong beaks and grab the insects inside with extra-long tongues. Listen as you walk for the gentle tap-tap-tap of a woodpecker looking for food.
Continue down the main trail until you get to the big bridge. Turn left onto the bridge. This is the last stop.
Stop 9: Big bridge
The more time you spend in the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary; the more likely you are to see some of the over 270 species of birds. The big bridge has one of the best vantage points of the whole park. Take a minute to look all around and soak up the beauty of nature.
From this point, you can continue back to the parking lot (turning left after the bridge, then right at the T-intersection). If you have a little extra time, there are more trails to explore. Try taking a right after the bridge.