Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
he most popular of all Canadian summer birding destinations Churchill area offers birders a diversity of species where the tundra and boreal forest merge near the Churchill River and Hudson Bay. In the open tundra, watch for nesting Lapland and Smith's Longspurs, American Golden Plovers, Stilt Sandpipers, Whimbrels, Hudsonian Godwits, plus Parasitic Jaegers in wet tundra areas. Tundra ponds attract Common Eiders, all three scoters, Oldsquaws and a variety of other ducks, while Pacific Loons, Tundra Swans and Arctic Terns are often seen in deeper lakes. Ross' Gulls are a particularly sought-after species that have been recorded nesting in the area in recent years.
Where the tundra blends to willows and spruce forest, you can find Willow Ptarmigan, Bonaparte's Gulls, Wilson's Warblers, Harris' Sparrows, Common Redpolls and maybe a Merlin. When you explore the spruce forest, Gray Jays and American Ravens will be common, but Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadees, Gray-cheeked Thrushes, Bohemian Waxwings and Northern Shrikes are harder to find.
June is the best time to visit Churchill, but if you want to see rarer early migrants, consider the last week in May. July is almost as good as June. Churchill is also known for its Beluga whale watching from mid-June through August, and polar bears are the attraction during late fall. Most birders fly to Churchill and rent autos, but the Canadian Railroad offers an interesting option-a 1,000-mile, 38-hour train ride from Winnipeg. Contact the Churchill Chamber of Commerce (204) 675-2022.
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