Banff is the touristy bit of where we were going but still has a few good places to visit: Cascade Gardens at the end of Banff Avenue, Cave and Basin, Bow Falls, Vermilion Lakes and Lake Minnewanka.
Cascade Gardens is an area of landscaped gardens leading up to pine forest. We visited here three times and each time we saw something new for the area. First visit was the evening of our first day in Banff. Here we saw our first of many Dark-eyed Juncos: this was the 'Oregon' form. We also saw the 'Pink-sided' form. Chipping Sparrows were easy to find, as were Pine Siskins. Two Clark's Nutcrackers flew over, rather too high to be seen well though, and we saw another Northern Flicker. Our first Ravens for the trip were seen near here. Next day we visited this site again and added Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow Warbler and Mountain Chickadee.
Next day we did a tour of Banff with a company called Brewster's Tours - good tours and one of the few ways of getting around the area if you don't have a car. This tour stopped at a place called Cave and Basin, an area of pine forest, sulphur springs and marshland. There is a good path down to the 'Basin', leading through woodland, overlooking the marsh and then leading to a blind. As we walked down here we heard one of the few bird songs we had managed to learn: 'witchety, witchety, witchety'. This soon led to great views of a male Common Yellowthroat, and, flying over the marsh, a male Sharp-shinned Hawk.
From the blind can be seen marshy scrub, open water, woodland and open marsh. A pair of Killdeers showed well here, eventually flying to land a few metres in front of the blind. Also here we found Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Savannah and Song Sparrow, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers. We visited Cave and Basin again next day and added Yellow-rumped Warbler, three Wilson's Phalaropes, Belted Kingfisher and Lesser Yellowlegs. We felt that most if not all of the waders (except the Killdeers) were migrants passing through.
Leaving the marsh we walked around the 'Cave' museum buildings. Here we saw the tan form of White-throated Sparrow, a beautiful male Townsend's Warbler and Brewer's Blackbirds.
Also in the Banff townsite area we saw Golden-crowned Kinglet, Boreal Chickadee (nesting in a streetlight), American Goldfinch and Blue Jay, the latter two whilst eating breakfast in our hotel!
Bow Falls was where we saw our only American Dipper. All the rivers and streams look like they should hold Dippers but none did!
Next day we decided to visit Vermilion Lakes, walkable from Banff. Unfortunately the area is a calving ground for Elk (which are everywhere at this time of year) and we found we couldn't go there on foot. Having discovered this we again visited Cave and Basin.
On our final whole day in Banff we visited a place called Lake Minnewanka. The lake and carpark added another Bald Eagle, 100+ Cliff Swallows, two Hairy Woodpeckers and six Gray Jays. Also Common Loon (Great Northern Diver) breed here.
We didn't get to visit Johnston Canyon but this is one of the places to find Black Swift.