Northern Canada & Greenland: Spring 2017

Spring 2017: 1 Mar–31 May

Cameron D. Eckert

Recommended citation:

Eckert, C. D. 2021. Spring 2017: Northern Canada & Greenland. <> North American Birds.

Impressive numbers of migrants across a diversity of species groups were seen throughout the region. Diligent observations by birders not only helps monitor bird populations, but highlights important migration sites and staging areas. The Yukon added one new species to the territory list, and a suite of rarities elsewhere made for an exciting season.

Contributors (sub-regional compilers in boldface)

Tracy Allard, Libby Anderson, Julie Bauer, Serge Brodeur, Bruce Di Labio, Boris Dobrowolsky, Cameron Eckert (Yukon), Willow English, Scott Freeman, Gabor Graehn, Jim Hawkings, Kristina Hick, Reid Hildebrandt, Sharon Irwin, Jukka Jantunen, Dan Kemble, Clare Kines (Nunavut), Shonto Noeldeke-Catholique, Richard Popko, Susan Saunders, Ben Schonewille, Scott Schuette, Pam Sinclair, Terry Skjonsberg, Graham Sorenson, Jason Straka, Mike Suitor, Shyloh van Delft, Gary Vizniowski, Lena Ware, Jamie Weedmark, Shelly Weedmark, Yukon Bird Club, Brian Zawadski.

Geese through Terns
A high count of 150 Cackling Geese along with 40 Snow Geese were recorded at Karrak Lake, NU 18 May, and 25 Ross’s Geese were there 25 May (SF). These numbers were overshadowed by a count of 2000 Snow/Ross’s Geese at Karrak Lake, NU 28–31 May (SF). A record count of 37 Blue-winged Teal was recorded at M’Clintock Bay, YT 13 May (JJ). A male Cinnamon Teal, rare in south Yukon, was at Judas Creek 18 May (JH, YBC). A notable count of 800 Green-winged Teal was recorded at Teslin Lake outlet, south Yukon 8 May (JJ). Tagish Narrows, south Yukon hosted 200 Canvasback 5 May (JJ). Impressive counts of 700 Greater and 1200 Lesser scaup, along with 210 Ring-necked and 240 Long-tailed ducks were recorded at the Whitehorse sewage lagoons, south Yukon 13 May (CE); while the season’s high count of 300 Barrow’s Goldeneye was there 3 May (CE).

Two Harlequin Ducks, rare in the Yellowknife, NT area, were at Tartan Rapids 21 May (RH). A total of 660 Surf Scoters were at Watson Lake, southeast Yukon 16 May (JJ). Black Scoter is casual during spring in south Yukon; singles were at Teslin 10 May (JJ), and Schwatka Lake 18 May (TA, CE). The annual Nares Mountain Dusky Grouse hike produced a tally of seven on 28 Apr (DK, YBC). Meanwhile, the spring grouse caravan to Duke Meadows, southwest Yukon tallied 17 Sharp-tailed Grouse 22 April (BD, CE). A notable count of 365 Common Loons was recorded at Tagish Narrows, south Yukon 10 May (JJ). A fly-over Yellow-billed Loon was a surprise at Kakisa, NT 18 May (GS). Yukon’s Southern Lakes Region is known to host high numbers of migrating grebes, with notable counts this season of 343 Horned Grebes at M’Clintock Bay 5 May (JJ); and 450 Horned and 80 Red-necked at Lake Laberge 6 May (CE). Ft. Smith, NT is the region’s hotspot for American White Pelican; the first birds of spring (18) were noted there 28 Apr (JS), with a high count of 66 on 26 May (GV). A White-tailed Eagle, regular in Greenland, was at Arsuk 17 May (GG). A single early Black-bellied Plover was noted at Ft. Smith, NT 30 Apr (JS). Black-bellied Plover can be a scarce late-spring migrant in south NT, and so 10 seen along the East Arm of Great Slave Lake 24 May (SNC), and 13 at Negus Point 30 May (RH) were notable. The region’s show-stopper rarity was the Yukon’s first and Canada’s second Far Eastern Curlew, a sensational find at Lake Laberge 31 May–2 Jun (ph. CE, BD, PS; JB). Other shorebird highlights from the Yukon’s Southern Lakes included 70 Semipalmated Plovers at Tagish 10 May (JJ); 480 Long-billed Dowitchers at Lewes Marsh 12 May (JH, YBC); at Lake Laberge there were notable counts of 280 Lesser Yellowlegs 7 May (CE); and 70 Semipalmated Plovers along with 27 Baird’s, 250 Least, and 500 Pectoral sandpipers 11 May (CE). A female Wilson’s Phalarope, rare in the Yellowknife, NT area, was at Niven Lake 21 May (RH). Two Parasitic Jaegers were noted along the Stagg River, NT 22 May (SS). Notable staging concentrations of gulls included 700 Bonaparte’s Gulls at Lake Laberge 7 May (CE), and 510 in Whitehorse 9 May (CE); and an impressive 4,500 Mew Gulls were at Lake Laberge, south Yukon 7 May (CE). The region’s only Great Black-backed Gulls (14) along with two Lesser Black-backed and 40 Glaucous gulls were reported from Nuuk, GL 5 May (GG). At Arctic Bay, NU a count of 326 Glaucous Gulls 31 May was considered about normal (CK). Herring Gull migration peaked in the Yukon’s Southern Lakes with 850 at M’Clintock 18 Apr (JJ) and 800 at Lake Laberge 29 Apr (CE). Rankin Inlet, NU produced a count of 400 Herring Gulls 9 May (BZ). The season’s high count of 60 Arctic Terns was at Dezadeash Lake, southwest Yukon 31 May (BD, CE); while low numbers were reported in NT with a high count of 12 at Lady Evelyn Falls 21 May (KH, GS). Common Tern is fairly common in south-central NT; the season’s high count was 23 at Hay River 21 May (GV).

A White-winged Dove, now casual in NT, was at Ft. Smith 19 May (ph. SI). A Mourning Dove, casual in NT, was at Hay River 13–14 May (ph. GV). A Snowy Owl was seen during aerial surveys near Inuvik, NT 8 Apr (MS). Barred Owl continues to return annually to Albert Creek southeast Yukon with reports this season 17–28 May (JJ, PS, BDL). An evening outing on the Gray Mountain Rd. in Whitehorse, south Yukon produced 7 Boreal Owls 29 Apr (CE). Pileated Woodpecker has a slim but enduring toe-hold at Albert Creek, southwest Yukon with one or two there 17–21 May (JJ, PS). An impressive 3,000 Bank Swallows along with 400 Cliff, 600 Tree, and 200 Violet-green swallows were at Jackfish Bay, Lake Laberge, YT 21 May (CE). Two Barn Swallows, north of their range, were at Repulse Bay, NU 30 May (SB). A Brown Creeper, casual in south Yukon, was at Tagish Narrows 19 Apr (JJ, SVD). Marsh Wren is localized in south NT; singles were seen in the Hay River area 30 Apr (JS), and 14 May (GV).

Vireos through Evening Grosbeak

Notable passerines from southwest NT included two Blue-headed Vireos and a Cape May Warbler at Lady Evelyn Falls 22 May (GS); and two Red-eyed Vireos, five Ovenbirds, four Bay-breasted, two Magnolia, 15 Tennessee, and two Canada warblers at Ft. Liard 31 May (GS). Two Northern Wheatears were at Quqortoq, GL 24 May (GG); while a pair was displaying at Iqaluit, NU 28 May (WE, LW). An unexpected Hermit Thrush was at North Adventure Lake, NU 20 May (SF). An American Robin, north of its range, was at Rankin Inlet, NU 30 May (BZ). A Gray Catbird, casual in NT, was singing at Ft. Smith 28 May (ph. GV). A high count of 430 American Pipits was recorded at M’Clintock Bay, YT 11 May (JJ). A lone White Wagtail was at Qassiarsuk, GL 21 May (GG). Migration was still underway at Karrak Lake, NU 28–29 May with daily counts of 300 Lapland Longspurs (SF), and 80 Snow Buntings 27 May (SF). A total of 533 Snow Buntings were recorded between Rae and Yellowknife, NT 15 Apr (KH, GS). Smith’s Longspur is a scarce migrant with a growing number of observations from Watson Lake, southeast Yukon; 2–4 were there 16–17 and 26 May (JJ, PS); one was also observed flying over Willow Flats near Yellowknife, NT 28 May (RH). A Black-and-white Warbler just beyond its range was at Albert Creek, southeast Yukon 21 May (JJ). A wave of 92 Yellow-rumped Warblers was observed at the Ibex Valley, south Yukon 5 May (SVD). A sizeable flock of about 100 American Tree Sparrows along with an equal number of Dark-eyed Juncos were at Haines Junction, YT 14 Apr (LA); another flock of 100 Dark-eyed Juncos was seen there 18 Apr (JB, TS). LeConte’s Sparrow is rarely reported in spring; singles were noted at Kakisa 18 May (GS), along Hwy 3 west of Great Slave Lake 25 May (GS), and at Yellowknife 28 May (RH). A male Western Tanager, casual in southwest Yukon, was at Dalton Post 31 May (BD, CE). A male Indigo Bunting, the second for NT, frequented a Norman Wells feeder 31 May to 5 Jun (ph RP). The Rusty Blackbird Blitz continues in the Yukon with 102 at McIntyre Creek, 5 May (BS); 75 at Watson Lake Airport 5 May (SS); and 100 in two flocks near Tagish the same day (JJ). A male Common Grackle, casual in south Yukon, was at Watson Lake 23 May (JW, SW). Evening Grosbeak numbers have declined in the region in recent decades and so 40 at Ft. Liard, NT 9 May (RH) was noteworthy.

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 28 Mar 2021.