The end of April’s Celebration of Swans at Marsh Lake comes at a good time.
That’s because at least a hundred other bird species are now arriving as part of the long-awaited spring migration.
This year, the Yukon Bird Club is offering free guided field trips in Whitehorse and 10 other locations to help both visitors and residents get a closer view of Yukon’s exceptional diversity of birds and their habitats.
Yukon has a total of 284 recorded species, with 187 species nesting here.
Trip leaders are skilled volunteers, and passionate birders personally and often professionally. They easily share their knowledge and tips with beginners as well as twitchers looking to add to a birding life list.
Binoculars and a scope are provided to help you get close-up views.
Song-birds, waterfowl and shorebirds are some varieties you can see on visits to popular spots like Paddy’s Pond, in Hillcrest, the Millennium Trail and the awesome urban wetland on Quartz Road, across from Walmart.
If you want to rise early, you can also attend a morning birdsong workshop at McIntyre Creek to listen to the season’s memorable dawn chorus. There’s a separate outing to check out bird life along the Fish Lake Road.
Judas Creek and the Yukon Game Preserve (a small entrance fee is charged here) are other great trip destainations. And you don’t always need a vehicle. Car-pooling is encouraged from central meeting points.
Meanwhile, community birdwatching events are being held in Haines Junction, Dawson, Carmacks and Carcross. In Watson Lake, Susan Drury and Jenny Skelton will be helping to identify local waterbirds at Wye Lake.
New this year is an “under-30s” bird walk to the McIntyre Marsh led by three young birders, Shyloh van Delft, Nick Guenette and Adam Perrier.
“Skill level doesn’t matters as long as you have an interest in birds,” says van Delft, who has been birding for nine years. Guenette caught the birding bug at a banding station (bird observatory) at McIntyre Marsh, while Perrier is also active on on the Yukon birding scene.
The three will join other young and older birders as friendly competitors at the Yukon Bird Club’s birdathon May 30-31.
The annual fundraiser in support of bird conservation co-incides with the peak of spring migration, and is an excellent way to explore Whitehorse trails, or your backyard.
“Birding gives you an opportunity to go outdoors on a regular basis, to experience new things and often unexpected close encounters with wildlife in different ways,” says van Delft.
“It really gives you the chance to build a personal connection to the outdoors and the area you live in.”
She says that searching for birds and finding ones she hasn’t seen before is “an adrenaline rush.”
The Yukon Bird Club’s field trips run through summer to late fall. That’s when you might get a second chance to see many of the same spring migrants, and their young, as they return to winter grounds as far away as South America.