Northern Canada & Greenland: Summer 2017

1 Jun–31 Jul

Cameron Eckert

Recommended citation:

Eckert, C. 2020. Summer 2017: Northern Canada & Greenland. <> North American Birds.

The new Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway in northern Northwest Territories is scheduled to open in November 2017, but already, birders conducting assessments along the route are reporting interesting species. The road, which links the Dempster Highway to the Arctic Ocean, will undoubtedly become a very popular Northern Canada birding destination in the coming years. This season produced one new Yukon species, a surprise Calliope Hummingbird at Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk off the Arctic coast.

Contributors: David Alexander, Tracy Allard, Richard Arcand, Kayla Arey, Janice Arndt, Yousif Attia,

David Blackburn, Emile Brisson-Curadeau, Alvan Buckley, Sarah Davidson, Justine Drolet,

Cameron Eckert, Charles Francis, Scott Freeman, Cam Gilles (CGi), Christophe Gouraud (CGo), Gabor Graehn, Jay Frandsen, Kristian Hick, Reid Hildebrandt, Alan Hingston, Kyle Horner, Jukka Jantunen, Richard Johnston, Peter Kaestner, Clare Kines, Rudolf Koes, Katelyn Luff, Jason Straka, Rolland Leader, Don-Jean Léandri-Breton, Jimmy Neeposh, Kennett Offill, Mark Peck, Emily Rondel, Pam Sinclair, Graham Sorenson, Robert Stitt, Pierre Tardifcan, Gary Vizniowski, Percy Zalasky, Brian Zawadski.

Species Accounts

The season’s high count of Snow Geese, 3000, was at Bylot Island, NU 25 Jun (DJLB). A notable count of 700 Lesser Scaup, along with 120 Ring-necked and 165 Ruddy ducks was recorded at Whitehorse sewage ponds, Yukon 23 Jul (CE). Confirmed breeding records for King Eider are few; a female with 3 chicks was at Aulavik NP, NT 29 Jul (ph. JF). A flock of 200 King Eiders was off northern Baffin Island, NU 6 Jun (DA), and 300 Common Eiders were recorded along the floe edge between Bylot and Baffin Islands, NU 20 Jun (CGi). A Mourning Dove, rare in NT, was at Ft. Liard 2 Jun (KH, GS). A flight of 25 Common Nighthawks was seen at Yellowknife, NT 26 Jul (GS). The Yukon’s first Calliope Hummingbird was a startling find at Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk 19 Jun (ph. CE). A Rufous Hummingbird appeared briefly in a Whitehorse yard, southern Yukon 8 Jul (ph. CE, PS). A migrant flock of 38 American Golden-Plovers was noted at western Baffin Island., NU 4 Jun (CK). The season’s high count of Common Ringed Plover, 30, was at Bylot Island, NU 2 Jul (DJLB).  28 Baird’s Sandpipers were recorded around Water Lake at Cambridge Bay, NU 1 Jul (MP, ER). Shorebirds seen at Alert, NU North America’s northernmost settlement were 48 Red Knots and 26 Ruddy Turnstones on 5 Jun (JD). Fall shorebird migration was underway at Hay River, NT with 8 Semipalmated Sandpipers 21 Jul, and 3 Baird’s Sandpipers 22 Jul (GV); 6 Stilt Sandpipers there 30 Jun (GV) were ambiguously early. Wilson’s Phalaropes wandered north of their regular range this season, with 4 at Coot Lake Yukon 4 Jun (ph. CE, CF) and 8 at Gravel Lake, central Yukon 10 June (JJ).

125 Long-tailed Jaegers, a notable count, were recorded at Bylot Island, NU 2627 Jun; a high count of 20 Parasitic Jaegers was there 26 Jun (DJLB). In NT, a count of 17 Long-tailed Jaegers was recorded 19 Jul along the Tuk Hwy (KA). A daily estimated 30,000 Thick-billed Murres were recorded at Coats Island, NU through the season (EBC). Counts of 500 Thick-billed Murres and 500 Razorbills and were recorded at Sermilinnguaq /Fuglefjord, GR 3 Jun (GGi). A scan at the edge of floe ice at Igloolik, NU 25 Jun yielded 1300 Thick-billed Murres and 150 Black Guillemots (CGi). A tally of 625 Black-legged Kittiwakes at Pond Inlet, NU 18 Jul was precipitated by strong NE winds pushing birds close to the beach (DJLB). A tour of Cambridge Bay, NU tallied 256 Sabine’s Gulls on 1 Jul (MP, ER), and a single Sabine’s was seen at Teslin Lake, southern Yukon, 29 July (JJ). A total of 300 Glaucous Gulls were recorded at Cambridge Bay, NU 20 Jun (AH, PZ). Caspian Terns were regularly seen on Kluane Lake, southwestern Yukon this season; the high count of 7 occurred on 7 Jul (TA). High counts of Arctic Tern from Nunavut were 250 at Sand Island 24 Jun (CGi) and 200 at Depot Island 21 Jun (BZ). In Northwest Territories, 50 Arctic Terns were at a lake along the Tuk Hwy 8 Jun (KA), and 28 were seen along Thelon River 4 Jul (JA). 10 Black Terns were reported from Caen Lake, NT 5 Jun (KO). An estimated 1000 Northern Fulmars were off northern Baffin Island, NU 56 Jun (DA). The season’s high count of American White Pelican, 308, was recorded 17 Jun at Fort Smith, NT (JS). The 15 American White Pelicans on Stag Rock in southern James Bay 13 Jun (JN, PT) can seemingly be assigned to NU in that region, jurisdiction is not always overt.

Turkey Vulture is a rare but regular wanderer to the region; singles were seen at the Morley River, southern Yukon 9 Jul (ph. RS) and at km63 along Hwy 3, NT 16 Jul (ph. RH). Broad-winged Hawk is rare and localized in southwest NT; one was seen at Fort Liard 7 & 21 Jun (KH, GS). Reports of White-tailed Eagle, all from Greenland, included 3 at Qassiarsuk 25 Jun (CGo), 1 at Sermilinnguaq/Fuglefjord 3 Jun (GGo), and 1 at Ivittuut 24 Jun (CGo). An Alder Flycatcher at Klugluktuk, NU, 9 Jun (AB, RJ) was well north of its expected range. A fly-by Western Kingbird, casual in the Yukon, was seen at Teslin Lake 29 Jul (JJ). An Eastern Phoebe spent much of the season singing on territory near Dawson, Yukon (GB, CH). A northerly Say’s Phoebe was at Kugluktuk, NU 12 & 18 Jun (AB, RJ). Declining Bank Swallow populations have prompted new monitoring of Yukon River colonies; 200 were tallied in Whitehorse 2 Jun (PS),  and 710 were at large a colony along the river south of Carmacks 20 Jun (CE, PS). A tally of Barn Swallow nests at Onion Lake, Yukon recorded 23 birds 12 July (SD). Single Barn Swallows, extralimital, were at Kugluktuk, NU 9 Jun (AB, RJ) and Cambridge Bay 22 Jun (AH, PZ). Brown Creeper is thought to be increasing in the Fort Liard area, NT, and one was seen there 16 Jun (KH, GS). An unusually high count of 36 European Starlings was recorded at Fort Smith, NT 18 Jun (JS). A recently-fledged juvenile Redwing provided a confirmed breeding record for Tasiilaq, GR 10 Jul (ph. PK).

Greenland’s season high counts of Northern Wheaters were 30 at Qassiarsuk 16 Jun, 22 at Kangerlussuaq 22 Jun, and 20 at Ilulissat 20 Jun (PK). A male Northern Wheatear was a nice find during the Kluane NP bioblitz in southern Yukon 24 Jun (DB, CE). Single Meadow Pipits were seen at Tasiilaq and Kulusuk, GR 12 13 July (ph. PK). 5 Smith’s Longspurs were seen along the Thelon River on 5 Jul and 2 were there on 28 Jun (JA). 3 Clay-colored Sparrows were at Fort Liard, NT 4 Jun (KH, GS), and another was seen along the Top-of-the-World Hwy., Yukon on 13 & 16 June (JJ). A Golden-crowned Sparrow, perhaps Nunavut’s first, was at Cambridge Bay 5 Jul (YA, RK). Harris’s Sparrow is an oddly regular wanderer to Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk off the Yukon’s Arctic coast; one sang there daily 8 16 Jun (ph. CE). A high count of 8 Harris’s Sparrows was at Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary, NT 26 Jun (JA), and 1-2 were at Kugluktuk, NU to 9 Jun 8 Jul (AB, RJ; RL, KH). A wayward Western Meadowlark, casual in NT, was seen at Paulatuk, NT 8 Jun (AB). A vagrant male Common Grackle was a surprise at Karrak Lake, NU 18 Jun (ph. SF, KL). A female Cape May Warbler at Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk, northern Yukon 19 Jun (ph. CE) provided a rare record for the Beaufort Sea Region. A bright yellow Lutescens ssp. Orange-crowned Warbler was singing on territory at Dalton Post, southwestern Yukon 25 Jun (ph. CE, PS). A Western Tanager was seen at Arviat, NU 9 & 11 Jun (ph. RA).

Report processed by Alison Világ, 11 Dec 2020.

This adult female Calliope Hummingbird on Qikiqtaruk (Herschel I.) 19 Jun 2017 provided a first record for the Yukon Territory and the Beaufort Sea area. Photo © Cameron Eckert.