Northern Canada & Greenland: Winter 2016–2017

Winter 2016/17: 1 Dec–28 Feb

Cameron D. Eckert

Recommended citation:

Eckert, C. D. 2021. Winter 2016/17: Northern Canada & Greenland. <> North American Birds.

Reports of marginal winter species, many of which didn’t quite last the winter, showed what a tough season winter is in the far North. While Christmas Bird Counts continue to be a primary source of information, observations at other times of the season really help create a full picture of the region’s winter bird populations.

Contributors (sub-regional compilers in boldface)

Julie Bauer, Mike Beauregard, Stephanie Behrens, Robert Bromley, Jim Clark, Minnie Clark, Jim Dilabo, Marianne Douglas, Susan Drury, Cameron Eckert (Yukon), Gerry Fox, James Fox, Emily Gorda, Gabor Graehn, Chad Gubala, Samuel Hache, Jim Hawkings, Kristina Hicks, Reid Hildebrandt, Sharon Irwin, Sebastian Jones, Dan Kemble, Clare Kines (Nunavut), Jae Lee, Logan McLeod, Jesse Pakkala, Jean-Francois Rousseau, Pam Sinclair, Jason Straka, Doug Tate, Lucas Tate, Patrick Tate, Jenny Trapnell, Emily Upham-Mills, Shyloh van Delft, Gary Vizniowski, Brian Zawadski.

Swans through Gulls
A flock of 42 Trumpeter Swans along with a Ring-necked Duck, casual in winter in south Yukon, were at Johnson’s Crossing 27 Dec (CE, JC, MC). A high count of 111 Mallards was recorded on the Whitehorse, south YT CBC 26 Dec (fide JH). Five Common Eiders were at Sublu, NU 11 Dec (BZ); while the region’s high count of 200 Common and seven King eiders along with 15 Glaucous Gulls were reported from Nuuk, GL 12 Feb (GG). Bufflehead are rare in south Yukon in winter; one was at Carcross 18 Dec (DK), while another, along with two Barrow’s Goldeneye, were noted on the Whitehorse CBC 26 Dec (fide JH). Six Sharp-tailed Grouse were tallied on the Norman Wells, NT CBC 28 Dec (SB), while another six were seen at Sambaa Deh Falls Territorial Park 27 Feb (SA, KH, LM, JP, EUM). Yellowknife, NT reported the highest numbers of Willow Ptarmigan with 255 on the 2 Jan CBC (fide RB), while 36 were recorded on the Normal Wells, NT CBC 28 Dec (SB), and three were noted on the Arviat, NU CBC 28 Dec (MB).

Two White-tailed Eagles were seen at Nuuk, GL on three occasions 7 Jan to 12 Feb (GG). A total of 500 Northern Fulmars was recorded on the Hudson Strait, NU 2–3 Dec (JFR). Bald Eagle is now a common winter bird in Whitehorse with 29 tallied on the CBC 26 Dec (fide JH). Black-legged Kittiwake is rarely reported in winter – one was seen on the Hudson Strait 2 Dec (JFR). The season’s high count of 320 Glaucous Gulls along with two Great Black-backed, eight Herring, and 88 Iceland gulls were recorded on the Hudson Strait, NU 3 Dec (JFR); while 16 Great Black-backed, four Glaucous, and 65 Iceland gulls were reported from Nuuk, GL 7 Jan (GG). A roving adult Glaucous Gull was doing the rounds with sightings at Whitehorse 26 Dec (fide JH), Johnson’s Crossing 27 Dec (CE, JC, MC); the north Klondike Hwy, north of Whitehorse 28 Dec (JD, ph. CE); and Whitehorse 1–2 Jan (ph. CE, PS) and 13 Feb (JH).

Owls through Chickadees

A Short-eared Owl was seen at the south end of Dezadeash Lake, southwest YT 20 Jan (JB). A roosting Boreal Owl was a star of the Tagish, south YT CBC 18 Dec (SVD, CE, m. ob.); as was one seen on the Dawson, central YT CBC 18 Dec (SJ). Ft. Simpson, NT had a good showing of woodpeckers 18 Dec with five Black-backed, two American Three-toed, and one Pileated (DT)—a scarce winter resident in NT (DT). Elsewhere, single Pileated Woodpeckers were seen at Hay River 17 Dec (GV); along Hwy 1 on 21 Feb (SH, LM, JP); and in the Fox Holes Rd area 2 Dec (JS) and 24 Jan (JS).

A notable count of 70 Black-billed Magpies was recorded at the Whitehorse, south YT dump 19 Feb (CE). American Crow numbers have been steadily increasing in the Yukon over the past 20 years; this season, two spent much of the winter in Watson Lake (fide SD). Whitehorse, south YT turned up a record high 3,007 Common Ravens on the Dec 26 CBC (fide JH); while Yellowknife recorded a respectable 2,112 on 2 Jan CBC (fide RB). Tagish, south YT continues its reign as the region’s Mountain Chickadee hotspot with 21 recorded on the 18 Dec CBC (fide SVD).

Robins through Evening Grosbeak

An American Robin, set to tough out the winter, was noted on the Carcross, south YT CBC 18 Dec (fide DK). A sizeable flock of 800 Bohemian Waxwings was tallied in Whitehorse, south YT 2 Dec (CE). Bohemian Waxwings were fairly widespread in south NT this season with counts of 63 at Hay River 10 Dec (GV), and 52 at Yellowknife 28 Dec (RH). Two Fox Sparrows, casual in winter, were reported on the Haines Junction, south YT CBC 17 Dec (fide JAB). A Song Sparrow, casual in winter, appeared briefly at a Whitehorse, south YT feeder 6–7 Jan (JT, ph. CE). A hardy White-throated Sparrow survived at a Ft. Simpson, NT feeder from late fall at least through 12 Feb (ph. DT); while an equally hardy White-throated Sparrow lingered at a Rankin Inlet, NU feeder from late fall through 17 Dec (BZ). Single White-crowned Sparrows were at Haines Junction, south YT 17 Dec (fide JB), and Shallow Bay, south YT at least through 20 Dec (MD, CG, ph. CE). A lingering Dark-eyed Junco at Ft. Simpson, NT lasted until 15 Dec and was not seen again (DT), while one was reported from Rankin Inlet, NU 16 Dec (BZ), three were at Haines Junction 18 Dec (fide JB), five were at Tagish 18 Dec (SVD), and two were at Whitehorse 26 Dec (fide JH).

A Gray-crowned Rosy-finch, casual in the Yukon in winter, was at Tagish 18 Feb (ph. CE). A flock of 200 Common Redpolls was at Ft. Smith NT 18 Feb (GF, JF, EG, JL). Hoary Redpoll is typically reported in high numbers in southwest NT with notable counts this season of 135 at the Nahanni Butte Liard Crossing 1 Jan (DT, LT, PT), and 112 at Ft. Simpson on the 18 Dec CBC (DT). Yellowknife, NT recorded a relatively even 46 Commons and 58 Hoaries on the 2 Jan CBC (fide RB). Arctic Bay, NU sees few birds in winter and so three Hoary Redpolls 5 Jan (CK) were notable. Evening Grosbeak was only seen at Ft. Smith NT, this season with a high count of seven on 2 Dec (JS), and three on 27 Dec (fide SI).

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 28 March 2021.