American Golden Plover
The American Golden Plover makes one of the longest migrations of any shorebird; summering in the Arctic and wintering in central and southern South America. Observe these birds on open ground and mudflats.
American Robins usually arrive in the western Arctic in May and stay until August. Female American Robins choose the nest location and take around two to six days to complete it.
American Tree Sparrow
Despite their name, you’re more likely to spot American Tree Sparrows on the ground, or in shrubs, than in trees. If an American Tree Sparrow doesn’t eat enough in a day, they can lose up to a fifth of their body weight.
The Arctic Tern completes the longest migration of any bird species; travelling from Antarctica to the Arctic to breed annually. Arctic Terns can be incredibly defensive of their nests, swooping at potential predators who come too close.
The Baird’s Sandpiper is one of four species of Sandpiper that can be observed in the western Arctic. Baird’s Sandpipers migrate quickly; covering approximately 15,000 km in just 5 weeks.
Watch for these geese flying in a well-defined V formation. The most widespread goose, look for them close to ponds, lakes and marshes in the western Arctic.
Identify Common Redpolls by their sharp, buzzy call notes and energetic trills and chatters. Though they usually spend winters in southern Canada, Common Redpolls can survive temperatures up to -54 degrees Celsius, making them well suited for Arctic climates.
Green-winged Teals are the smallest breed of dabbling duck in North America. Observe Green-winged Teals most frequently in small flocks during the spring and summer throughout Canada.
Gyrfalcons colour ranges from dark brownish-gray to almost pure white. Gyrfalcons are a northern bird. Find them year-round in Alaska, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Similar to chipmunks storing seeds in their cheeks, Hoary Redpolls are able to store seeds in their esophagus. Hoary Redpolls call the Arctic home year-round. You’ll have to visit to increase your chances of seeing one!
Frequently observed on the tundra during spring and summer, identify Horned Larks by their black and yellow faces and two tufted horns. Females collect pebbles, dung, and clods of dirt to place beside their nests. It’s speculated that these may help stabilize the nest while it’s being built.
Identify Common Ravens by their deep, gurgling croak. Ravens are one of the smartest birds in the world, similar to other corvids, continuously solving complicated problems created by scientists.
During their summers on the tundra, Lapland Longspurs eat approximately 3,000-10,000 seeds and insects per day, and feed their chicks about 3,000 insects per day. The name “longspur” refers to the unusually long hind claw on this bird.
The smallest shorebird in the world, Least Sandpipers weigh in at about 1 ounce and measure about 12-15 cm long. Least Sandpipers breed across the far north, from Alaska all the way to Newfoundland.
Female Lesser Yellowlegs tend to leave the breeding area before their chicks can fly, leaving the male to defend the young until they are ready to leave the nest. Though Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs look quite similar, they are not each other’s closest relatives. The Lesser Yellowlegs is more closely related to the much larger Willet.
Long-tailed Jaegers prey on lemmings during their summers in the Arctic, but spend the majority of their year at sea preying on fish and competing with other seabirds. Most breeding adults lose their long central tail feathers during non-mating season.
Merlins do not build their own nests, instead opting to reuse the abandoned nests of other raptors. Similar to most raptors, female Merlins are larger than males.
Pacific Loons are smaller than Common Loons. Identify them by their gray heads and slender, straight bills. Observe Pacific Loons on lakes in the tundra during the summer, and coastal waters during the winter.
Pectoral Sandpipers nest on the Arctic tundra. Some migrate to Australasia for the winter, but the majority winter in southern South America. This means that some Pectoral Sandpipers make a round-trip migration of nearly 31,000 km every year! During breeding, male Pectoral Sandpipers expand and contract their inflatable throat sac during display flights, which sounds like a series of hollow hoots. It is one of the most unusual sounds heard on the arctic tundra during the summer.
Peregrine Falcons have been clocked at 320 km/h, approximately 200 km faster than a Cheetah! Peregrine Falcons are found on every continent except Antarctica.
Red-breasted Mergansers breed farther north and winter farther south than any other American merganser. Red-breasted Mergansers commonly breed throughout the Arctic in North America, but have also been observed on the coasts of Greenland and Russia as well.
Female Phalaropes have more colourful feathers than males, and will fight fiercely over males they want to mate with. Red-necked Phalaropes breed in the Arctic, and occupy the open ocean during much of their migration.
Red-throated Loons are the smallest breed of loons that frequent the western Arctic during summer. Like other loons, Red-throated Loons dive for fish from the surface, but they have also been observed hunting from air; flying swiftly and dropping with falcon-like precision.
Identify Sandhill Cranes by their loud, rolling, trumpeting call. Sandhill Cranes mate for life and are well known for their mating dance choreography which includes stretching their wings, pumping their heads, bowing, and gracefully leaping into the air.
Say’s Phoebes have a wide breeding range from Mexico all the way to the Arctic. Say’s Phoebes frequently reuse other birds’ nests, such as Swallows, Robins, and other Phoebes, for their own.
Identify Semipalmated Plovers by their upslurred, whistle; a chu-weet sound. Observe the Semipalmated Plover in roosts and flocks with other small shorebirds.
Snow Geese nest in scattered areas throughout the northern Arctic. Goslings have the ability to walk up to 80 km with their parents from the nest to a more suitable brood-rearing area within their first three weeks of hatching.
Snowy Owls breed and nest in the most northern areas of the Canadian Arctic. Snowy Owls take full advantage of the 24 hours of daylight during summer in the Arctic, hunting at all hours of the day. With all this extra time to hunt, Snowy Owls have been known to eat as many as 1,500 lemmings in one year!
During their breeding season in the far North, Tundra Swans sleep almost entirely on land, but in the winter they sleep more often on water. Tundra Swans defend their nests and young against predators ranging from foxes, weasels, wolves, bears, and other birds.
Identify White-crowned Sparrows by their thin, sweet whistle. White-crowned Sparrows will share their territories with Fox Sparrows, but chase away Dark-eyed Juncos until they leave.
A year-round inhabitant of subarctic tundra, Willow Ptarmigans are pure white in winter and a mix of browns and reds in summer. Willow Ptarmigan form flocks during winter, and where food is abundant, flocks of up to 2,200 birds can be observed!
Yellow-billed Loons are larger than Common Loons and are easily distinguished by their pale, straw-coloured bills. The Yellow-billed Loon is one of the four species of loon that breed in the western Arctic.
Yellow Warblers eat mostly insects, making them a welcome predator for mosquitos that swarm the western Arctic during the summer. Observe Yellow Warblers in Willows and other small trees.