Ravens, gyrfalcons, merlins and the like are back in Alberta in one of the early signs that spring is well on its way, says one Alberta naturalist.

Around 6:40 p.m. on Saturday evening, wildlife expert Brian Keating was sitting in his Inglewood home when a flock of no fewer than a couple of hundred gulls flew overhead, he said.

"They come every year about this time of the year, so it's nothing unexpected, but it's always a nice spring affirmation to see the birds," said Brian Keating, wildlife columnist for CBC's The Homestretch and Radio Active.

Merlin photo

Merlins, which typically weigh half a pound, are known to hunt pigeons that are often double their size. (Getty Images)

Probably the most accessible place in North America to spot the gyrfalcon, the largest falcon in the world, is an old Alberta government train terminal just north of Yellowhead Highway in Edmonton, he said.

Grain cars there are surrounded by spilled canola seed, making the area an unusual haven for birds of all kinds. Some experts have even called it the best free show in town, Keating said. 

He was lucky enough to spot one there last week, as well as a merlin and three ravens.

Canada geese, which have been spotted in Southern Alberta throughout the winter, have also reappeared in Edmonton, he said.

"I heard rumours that there's already swans in Alberta, so maybe someone can give me a heads up on that."


Trumpeter Swan in Alberta

Have you spotted any swans yet in Alberta? Send us a photo at calgaryphotos@cbc.ca. (Getty Images)

If you've got photos of birds who have made their return to the province, send them to us at calgaryphotos@cbc.ca, or tweet us @CBCCalgary.