For birders, May is the magical month. That’s when Yukon’s migrating birds – and especially songbirds – find their way back home.
Of the 303 bird species recorded in the Yukon, 95 come here to mate and raise a family.
And several species of swallows fly from as far away as South America to do so.
Once our migrants arrive, they use a wide range of habitats to start life anew.
One of the great things about bird-watching is that you get to explore the many different places where they live. This includes rivers, ponds and forests – even your local neighbourhood.
This year, the Yukon Bird Club (YBC) is offering 11 field trips in May, in Whitehorse and a few communities.
This includes trips to local “hotspots” like the McIntyre Creek wetlands, the Millennium Trail (Yukon River), Hidden Lakes in Riverdale and Paddy’s Pond in Hillcrest.
Venture a little further and you can explore Judas Creek, Tagish and areas near Carcross and Mayo.
One of the most popular trips (May 5) is a guided tour of the Quartz Rd. wetlands across from the Walmart parking lot. This year biologist Katie Aitken will lead this one-hour, child-friendly trip.
Looking for something a bit more adventurous?Put the Dusky Grouse hike at Nares Mountain near Carcross (May 6) on your list. Dan Kemble and his partner Nancy will lead a short trek up a ridgeline – with a cocoa break along the way – to await the dusk-timed performance of the male grouse.The surrounding view is well worth the climb, too.
For something new, on International Migratory Bird Day (May 14), YBC is offering a new “birdy” trip to Mountain View golf course with Devon Yacura.
More community-minded?In Mayo, regional biologist Mark O’Donoghue is leading an early morning trip May 28 to Five Mile Lake.
There are more events than I have space to mention in this column, but if you put one thing on your calendar this season, it’s the annual Yukon Birdathon, May 27-28. Birdathon founder and well-known biologist Jim Hawkings is once again leading the flock for this special fun – and fund-raising – event in support of bird conservation projects.
For more info and a list of field trips, birding events and bird observatory (aka bird banding locations) schedules, please visit the Yukon Bird Club website at http://www.yukonweb.com/community/ybc/ or visit your local library or visitor information centre. You can also watch and listen for ads or contact me directly.
Clarification: The column in the April 14 edition should have mentioned that the Pacific Coast population of trumpeters that stop in Swan Haven also venture further west into Kluane and into Alaska, after leaving M’Clintock Bay.