The North is a nursery for millions of migratory birds returning from winters in places as far south as South America.
To help increase the awareness and conservation of Yukon’s birds and habitat, the Yukon Bird Club has launched another season of free interpreted birding walks and other events.
The trips began in April to view early migrants like swans, and end in the fall when birds head south again.
Shyloh van Delft, the Yukon Bird Club’s new president, says the trips are a key activity of the organization, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
“Field trip leaders are birders who know, and can help identify, birds in these diverse habitats,” she said.
According to the latest Yukon bird checklist, 329 species have been documented in the Yukon. Breeding has been confirmed for 195 species, and 43 species occur annually in winter. About 87 per cent of Yukon’s birds are migratory species that either pass through or stay here to breed and raise their young.
April and May are the two busiest months for returning birds. These include two species of swans, owls and raptors (like hawks), waterbirds, gulls, terns, songbirds, and shorebirds.
Each field trip is approximately two hours long. They’re often organized so that participants can carpool from a central rendezvous point, like the SS Klondike.
The trips – usually held in the evenings – include visits to a wide range of Whitehorse scenic spots including the Quartz Road wetland (good for young families), the McIntyre Creek ponds near Yukon College, and Paddy’s Pond.
There’s also an early-morning visit to McIntyre Marsh to learn bird-song identification.
Trip leaders often have viewing scopes to help get an exciting closer look at birds. They also provide a number of “loaner” binoculars.
This year the club is designating some trips as Learn To Bird events. Trip leaders will offer beginning birder tips on things like how to use binoculars and field guides
A record 28 trips are scheduled for Whitehorse and Dawson (Solstice birding), Watson Lake, Faro, Mayo, Haines Junction, Teslin and Carcross (Nares Mountain).
Partners include the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, the Yukon government’s environment department, and the Society of Yukon Bird Observatories, which does bird monitoring and banding seasonally at Albert Creek (near Upper Liard), McIntyre Marsh and Teslin.
A full-day workshop called Birding for Beginners is being organized for late May, just before the annual Helmut Grünberg Yukon Birdathon.
The 24-hour birdathon happens at birding hotspots all over Whitehorse to try to see as many birds as possible. The event starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 25 and ends at 5 p.m. on May 26.
“This is a great time to have fun watching and learning about birds,” says van Delft. “It also raises funds for research and education projects including youth bursaries.”
A pot-luck barbecue is held afterwards at Robert Service Campground. Prizes are offered in various categories.
For more information, go to the Yukon Bird Club’s website at YukonBirds.ca or contact van Delft at 332-2470.
Spring Birding Events
Thursday 3 May: Waterbirds of the Quartz Rdwetland with Tracy Allard. New birders welcome.Meet at Boston Pizza 5:30pm (1.5 hrs) #learntobirdSaturday 5 May: Faro – Birding with Scott Cameronat the Crane and Sheep Fest. Meet at the CampbellRegional Interpretive Centre. 7am. (2 hrs)
Saturday 5 May: Faro – Migration wonders – theincredible journeys of Yukon birds. A specialillustrated presentation by Cameron Eckert. Meet atthe Faro Rec Centre. 7:30pm. All are welcome!
Wednesday 9 May: Waterbirds of Quartz Rdwetland with Pam Sinclair. Family friendly. Meet atBoston Pizza 5:30pm. (1.5 hrs) #learntobird
Thursday 10 May: Haines Jct – Spring migration!Trip to the lagoons with Julie Bauer. Meet at theFrosty Freeze at 7pm. (2 hrs)
Friday 11 May: Lewes Marsh birds with BorisDobrowolsky. Meet at 5:30pm at the SS Klondike or5:50pm at Gunnar’s Road on the Alaska Hwy (2 hrs)Tuesday 15 May: Songbirds of Paddy’s Pond, anevening stroll with Mary Whitley. Meet at the SKKYhotel at 6:30pm. (2 hrs) #learntobird
Thursday 17 May: Yukon Wildlife Preserve with JakePaleczny and friends. 6pm. $7 entrance fee for non-YWP members. (2 hrs)
Saturday 19 May: Dawson – Spring birds of theKlondike with Greg Brunner & Cynthia Hunt. Meet atHenderson’s Corner north entrance at 8am (2 hrs)
Sunday 20 May: Upper Liard – Songbird migration atAlbert Creek with Ted Murphy-Kelly. Meet at theAlbert Creek Bird Observatory at 7:30am (2 hrs)
Tuesday 22 May: Youth birders take McIntyre Creekwith Shyloh van Delft and Ariel Durant. Meet atPorter Creek Super A at 6pm. (2 hrs) #learntobird
Wednesday 23 May. Judas Creek MigrationSpectacular with Cameron Eckert. Meet at the SSKlondike at 5:30pm, or Marsh Lake CommunityCentre 6:15pm. (3.5 hrs)
Thursday 24 May: Watson Lake – Spring birding atWye Lake with Susan Drury. Meet at Wye Lake Parkat 6:30pm. (2 hrs)
Thursday 24 May: What’s singing at Ear Lake? MeetJenny Trapnell at the SS Klondike at 6:30pm. (2 hrs)#learntobird
Saturday 26 May: Mayo – A spring bird walk withMark O’Donoghue. Meet at 5-Mile Lake campgroundat 8:30am. (3 hrs)
Sunday 27 May: McIntyre Creek Birdsong Workshopwith Pam Sinclair. Meet at Porter Creek Super A at7:30am. (3 hrs) #learntobird