Forest Winter Birding Tour: 6 Great Gray Owl Quest Options

FOREST WINTER BIRDING TOUR - Quest for Great Gray Owl and Northern Hawk Owl

Both Private and Budget-priced Public Group Self-Drive Birding Tour options available. This tour is part of our Northern Owl Adventure Tour Series.

GIFT CERTIFICATES

GIFT CERTIFICATES: Click here for information about purchasing a gift certificate for this tour or any of our other tours.

BOOK NOW - PAY LATER

You may reserve your 2022 tour now and not pay until January 15, 2022.

TOUR DESCRIPTION - Forest Winter Birding Tour (Great Gray Owl Quest)

  • Join our experienced local birding guide for an Extended 1-Day or 2-Day Forest Winter Birding Tour. We will drive to visit the Boreal Forest habitat in or near Prince Albert National Park and adjacent areas north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
  • Visit best areas for observing and photographing Great Gray Owl and Northern Hawk Owl!
  • Great Gray owls may occur in large numbers.
  • As time permits, we will also visit best areas for finding  other forest birds. Some possible species include American 3-toed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Canada Jay, Ruffed Grouse, Spruce Grouse, Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak, Common Redpoll, Hoary Redpoll.
  • Good opportunities for bird photography especially on private tours!
  • 1-Day tour departs Saskatoon 9 am and returns about 9 pm.
  • 2-Day tour departs Saskatoon at 9 am on Day 1 and overnights in or near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Tour returns to Saskatoon at end of Day 2.
  • Alternately, participants may opt to join the tour in Prince Albert about 11 am and/or end the tour there about 6 pm. See below for Prince Albert area accommodation options.
  • Other locations where the tour may be joined include Rosthern and Christopher Lake, Saskatchewan.
  • Participants drive their own personal or rented vehicle while the leader drives in a separate vehicle. We will use hands-free cell phones or CB radios to talk during tour.
  • Car Rentals from many companies available at Saskatoon airport.
  • This Forest Winter Birding Tour is part of our Northern Owl Adventure Tour Series organized by Saskatoon Custom Bird Tours. This tour can be taken following our Snowy Owl Tour.

HOW MANY OWLS WILL WE SEE?

For the past 30 years, your leader has enjoyed taking winter day trips into this part of the boreal forest in search of Great Gray Owls and Northern Hawk Owls. The number of owls seen on each trip fluctuates from year to year due to differences in snow depth (deeper is better) and difference in mouse populations.

In a typical year we normally find roughly 3 - 6 Great Gray Owls and 1 - 3 Northern Hawk Owls. During the best years, we may find up to 25 Great Gray Owls and up to 15 Northern Hawk Owls. On poor years, one of these owl species may be absent from the area we visit. For this reason, we cannot guarantee finding both owl species on this tour.

We plan to post updates on this website during this winter to advise how many owls my friends are finding in the area of interest. If the only reason you wish to consider taking this tour is to see these 2 owl species, then I suggest that you mention that issue in the comments section when you reserve your tour date. We then suggest that you do not pay for the tour until you are comfortable with the numbers posted on this website or after discussing the expected numbers with us by phone (306-652-5975).

COVID SAFETY POLICY ON TOURS

  1. Your tour leader is fully vaccinated. For everyone's health and safety, participants must bring a paper copy showing their personal proof of full covid vaccination.
  2. Clients must normally drive themselves in their own personal or rented vehicle. The leader will normally drive in a separate vehicle. We will use cell phones to communicate between each other during the tour.
  3. Please wear a mask and maintain physical 2 meter distancing when walking outside or viewing birds through the spotting scope that I will set up. Isogel available on tours.
  4. This policy may change when public health orders change or when Covid case numbers decrease.
  5. Please contact us before booking tour if you have any special requests with regard to this policy. In certain cases if requested, leader may be willing to ride in client's vehicle.

POSSIBLE WEATHER DELAYS

The long-term average climate information for the area we visit is published here. It shows that the average expected daily high temperature in mid-afternoon in February will be -8 C (+18F) . The average minimum temperature near sunrise will be -20 C (-4 F). These temperature values typically vary by +- 5 C on different days. Participants need to wear warm winter clothing (winter boots, winter coat, long underwear, etc.)

Although unlikely, it may be necessary to postpone the scheduled date of your tour to this region for the following possible weather related reasons.

  • Unusually Extreme Cold Weather - Predicted high temperatures below about -20C.
  • Blizzard conditions that have or might close roads

If necessary, the expected weather delay date for our special February 20 tour will be February 23. The date for weather-delayed private tours will be discussed with clients. If you are travelling to Saskatoon for this tour, plan to stay for a few extra days in case of tour delays due to bad weather.

PRIVATE TOUR OPTIONS

Option A: Private 1-Day Forest Birding Tour for your group of 1 - 4 persons

  • Extended Full Day Private Escorted Birding Tour from Saskatoon to Prince Albert National Park and/or adjacent forests to seek out Northern Hawk Owl and the majestic Great Gray Owl.
  • Ideal for bird photographers
  • Available most days mid-November through April
  • Tour begins at your Saskatoon hotel about 9 am and returns about 9 pm.
  • Clients not wanting to drive at night may choose to end tour about 6 pm in Prince Albert and plan to stay overnight in or near that city.
  • Extended Full Day Private Tour Fee: CAD $790 (about US $630) .
    Fee includes guiding services. Meals and accommodation and transportation are NOT included. Clients drive their own personal or rented vehicle.
  • Tax receipt issued for 50% of fee.

Option B: Private 2-Day Forest Birding Tour for your group of 1 - 4 persons

  • Private 2-Day Escorted Birding Tour from Saskatoon to Prince Albert National Park and adjacent forests to seek out Northern Hawk Owl and the majestic Great Gray Owl.
  • Ideal for bird photographers
  • Available most days mid-November through April
  • Day 1. Tour begins at your Saskatoon hotel about 9 am. We will drive back roads near the southern edge of the forest boundary to look for owls until about 6 pm. Overnight at a hotel/motel/ bed & breakfast of your choice in or near Prince Albert.
  • Day 2. Tour will visit Emma Lake, Anglin Lake and Prince Albert National Park to look for spruce grouse and winter finches. Alternatively, we can choose to spend much of the second day driving additional roads north of the park to look for more owls. Tour normally ends at Saskatoon about 9 pm although we can choose to return by 6 pm if you prefer
  • Clients not wanting to drive at night may choose to end tour about 6 pm in Prince Albert and plan to stay overnight in or near that city.
  • 2- Day Private Tour Fee: CAD $1190 (about US $630) .
    Fee includes guiding services. Meals and accommodation and transportation are NOT included.
  • Tax receipt issued for 50% of fee.

Option C: Combined Forest Winter Birding Tour with Snowy Owl Tour or other Saskatoon winter tours.

In addition to registering for the above 1-day or 2-day Forest Winter Birding Tour, you may also choose to join 1 or both of the following private birding tours out of Saskatoon.

Click Title for more information.

SPECIAL PUBLIC GROUP TOUR DESCRIPTION - Forest Winter Birding Tour (Great Gray Owl Quest)

DAY 1 - Sunday, February 20, 2022

  • Our small tour group departs Flyin J Travel Center in Saskatoon at 9:00 AM.
  • Alternatively, you may join tour at Rosthern about 9:45 AM or at Prince Albert about 11:00 AM.
  • During the remainder of daylight hours, we will drive the best back roads north of Prince Albert to search for Northern Hawk-owls and Great Gray Owls that often visit roadsides at this time of year.
  • We will stop long enough for everyone to observe and/or photograph each owl.
  • Participants drive their own personal or rented vehicle while the leader drives in a separate vehicle. We will use hands-free cell phones to talk during tour.
  • Day 1 tour ends at Prince Albert about 6 pm.
  • 2-day tour participants should plan to stay overnight in or near Prince Albert
  • 1-day tour participants may opt to drive back to Saskatoon in the evening or stay overnight in Prince Albert to avoid having to drive at night.
  • Car Rentals from many companies available at Saskatoon airport.

DAY 2 - Monday, February 21, 2022

  • Our small tour group departs Prince Albert at 9:00 AM.
  • During the morning, we plan to make birding stops at Emma Lake and Anglin Lake and hike a trail in Prince Albert National Park to search for Spruce Grouse.
  • During the afternoon, we can decide to either explore other park trails or drive to other spots near the park in search of more Northern Hawk-Owls.
  • Tour ends at Prince Albert about 6 pm.
  • Participants may choose to stay overnight in or near Prince Albert or drive back to Saskatoon during the evening.

PUBLIC GROUP TOUR OPTIONS

Option A:  SPECIAL 1-Day Public Group Forest Winter Birding Tour for your group of 1 - 4 persons

  • Extended Full Day Public Group Escorted Birding Tour from Saskatoon to forests near Prince Albert National Park to seek out Northern Hawk Owl and the majestic Great Gray Owl.
  • Part of Northern Owl Adventure Series February 18 - 21, 2022
  • Clients may photograph birds at each stop.
  • Available Sunday, February 20, 2022 (Family Day Holiday Weekend)
  • Tour begins in Saskatoon at 9 am and ends at Prince Albert at 6 pm or in Saskatoon about 9 pm.
  • SPECIAL 1-DAY February 20 Public Group Forest Winter Birding Tour Fee: CAD $590 (about US $465) .
    Fee includes guiding services. Meals and accommodation and transportation are NOT included.
  • Tax receipt issued for 50% of fee.

Option B: SPECIAL 2-Day Public Group Forest Winter Birding Tour for your group of 1 - 4 persons

  • 2-Day Public Group Escorted Birding Tour from Saskatoon to forests in and near Prince Albert National Park to seek out Northern Hawk Owl and the majestic Great Gray Owl.
  • Part of Northern Owl Adventure Series February 18 - 21, 2022
  • Clients may photograph birds at each stop.
  • Special 2-day Tour: Sunday, February 20 - Monday, February 21, 2022 (Family Day Holiday Weekend)
  • Day 1: Tour begins in Saskatoon at 9 am and ends at Prince Albert at 6 pm.
  • Day 2: Tour begins in Prince Albert at 9 am and ends at Prince Albert at 6 pm or at Saskatoon about 9 pm.
  • SPECIAL 2-DAY February 20-21 Public Group Forest Winter Birding Tour Fee: CAD $790 (about US $630) .
    Fee includes guiding services. Meals and accommodation and transportation are NOT included.
  • Tax receipt issued for 50% of fee.
  • This option has the lowest daily cost

Option C:  SPECIAL combined Forest Winter Birding Tour with Snowy Owl Tour or other Saskatoon winter tours.

In addition to registering for the above 1-day or 2-day Special Public Group Forest Winter Birding Tour, you may also choose to join 1 or both of the following public birding tours out of Saskatoon.

Click Title for more information.

SPECIAL 1-DAY February 19 Snowy Owl Public Group Tour Add-On Fee: CAD $490 (about US $390).
Fee includes guiding services. Meals and accommodation and transportation are NOT included.
Tour begins in Saskatoon at 9 am and ends about 5 pm.

SPECIAL 2-DAY February 18 - 19 Combined  Saskatoon Winter Birdwatching Tour / Snowy Owl Public Group Tour Add-On Fee: CAD $590 (about US $465).
Fee includes guiding services. Meals and accommodation and transportation are NOT included.
Day 1 Saskatoon Winter Birdiwatching Tour begins in Saskatoon at 9 am on February 18 and ends about 12 noon.
Day 2 Snowy Owl Tour begins in Saskatoon at 9 am on February 19 and ends about 5 pm.

TAX RECEIPT: A tax receipt for 50% of the tour fee will be issued to the person paying for the tour.

RESERVATIONS - Forest Winter Birding Tour

RESERVATIONS: Please complete and submit the following form or email us your full name(s), mailing address, email address and requested tour dates.

E-mail: birdtours@sasktel.net
Phone: 306-652-5975
Text: 306-281-2215

If you don't have a cell phone, enter your landline number.
Mailing address needed for tax receipt.
Payment for special tours not needed until January 15, 2022.
Payment not needed until January 15, 2022
Smoking is allowed only inside your own personal vehicle. No smoking is permitted during meals, anywhere in shared accommodations or outside during birding stops or hikes.

If you do not hear back from us within 24 hours, then please email: birdtours@sasktel.net or phone 306-652-5975.

Great Gray Owl by Nick Saunders
Northern Hawk Owl by Nick Saunders
Hoary Redpoll by Nick Saunders

HOW TO GET TO SASKATOON

Air: Saskatoon International Airport (YXE) is served by Air Canada, Westjet, and their partners United and Delta.

Train: Saskatoon's Train Station is served by Via Rail's Canadian train serving Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Jasper and Vancouver.

Bus: Saskatoon - Edmonton and Saskatoon - Regina bus service

Car: Saskatoon is located on Canada's Yellowhead cross-country highway plus 6 other major highways connecting with all cities in Canada and USA. If you drive, you do not need to rent a car for our tours.

ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS NEAR PRINCE ALBERT

If you prefer to reduce the driving distance during this tour, you may choose to stay overnight at a motel or resort in or north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Here is a partial list for your convenience. Click on the name for their website. A google search will find more motel plus bed and breakfast options.

PRINCE ALBERT

EMMA LAKE (48 km north of Prince Albert)

ANGLIN LAKE (72 km north of Prince Albert)

LIST OF POTENTIAL BIRD SPECIES

Some of the birds that we might encounter include:

  • Common Goldeneye
  • Gray Partridge
  • Ruffed Grouse
  • Spruce Grouse
  • Sharp-tailed Grouse
  • Bald Eagle
  • Northern Goshawk
  • Merlin
  • Gyrfalcon (rare)
  • Great Horned Owl
  • Snowy Owl
  • Northern Hawk Owl
  • Barred Owl
  • Great Gray Owl
  • American 3-toed Woodpecker
  • Black-backed Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Northern Shrike
  • Canada Jay
  • Blue Jay
  • Black-billed Magpie
  • Common Raven
  • Boreal Chickadee
  • Bohemian Waxwing
  • Snow Bunting
  • Pine Grosbeak
  • White-winged Crossbill
  • Common Redpoll
  • Hoary Redpoll
  • Evening Grosbeak

TOUR GUIDE

Tour Guide: Stan Shadick. Click for more information about your tour guide.

OTHER TOURS

Tour may be combined with:

Other Tours and Workshops: Click here to see a complete list of our upcoming tours and workshops

Proceeds support Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation

PREVIOUS TOUR CLIENT IMAGES

Here are a few images of one actively hunting Great Gray Owl captured by client Brian Henderson during a 2021 tour. We found 4 Great Grays on that trip.

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl