As the ice begins to break up in June, hundreds of birds arrive. Large rafts of sea ducks can be seen feeding on the great schools of capelin while flocks of gulls, terns and jaegers wheel above. The mouth of the Churchill River is a spectacular place to visit as the winds and tides produce an ever changing display of birds (belugas, seals). Scan the fast moving river for eiders, scoters and mergansers. Many diving species like Pacific and Red Throated Loons, Common Goldeneye, and Harlequin Ducks among the rocks at the water’s edge. Birds on the river are different from the ones found on Tundra ponds.
On wet & dry Tundra you can find nesting Canada Goose, Hudsonian Godwit, Whimbrel, Lesser Yellowlegs, Short Billed Dowitcher, Stilt and Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Smith’s Longspur, Parasitic Jaeger, Gyrfalcon, and Willow Ptarmigan (year round resident). In years where the lemming population is high you can find Short-eared Owls nesting in the willows or on open tundra. On Tundra ponds find nesting Pacific Loons and Tundra Swans. Willow thickets – Redpolls and Yellow Warblers. Spruce forests – Merlin, Yellow Rumped and Blackpoll Warblers, White Crowned & American Tree Sparrows, Spruce Grouse, Boreal Owl, Boreal Chickadee, Northern Shrike, Bohemian Waxwing, Bald & Golden Eagle. Common Shore Birds- Semipalmated Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated, Least and Stilt Sandpipers. Common Ducks – Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Greater Scaup, and Oldsquaw. Dearest to a birders heart would be the Ross’s Gull. Previously only nesting in Siberia, it was a thrill when it chose Churchill as its new home in 1978 – the first known nesting of the species in mainland North America.
Check out our photo gallery under Birds.
Nature Manitoba: Checklist of the Birds of Manitoba (at Nature Manitoba website).