Bird Watching

Bird watching

Once upon a time in the Arctic, when the world was young and light was created, Snowy Owl and Raven made white dresses for each other. But Tulugaq (raven) as usual, wanted to argue. Snowy Owl then tipped a blubber lamp over his friend and from that day Tulugaq and his descendants have all been black. Then Tulugaq, who can see better in the day, argued with Arctic Fox, whose eyesight is keen for hunting at night, over whether there should be sunshine or darkness all day. In the end, in the Inuit spirit of friendship and compromise, they agreed to split the year into the long dark days of winter and the summers of the midnight sun. 

These are some of the legends of our land – and Nunavut is a land where legends become reality. And nothing is more real than the flocks of ravens, sightings of snowy owls and the over one hundred other Arctic avian migratory species who flock to the Arctic creating some of the largest nesting colonies in the world.

Our main birdwatching season starts in May and goes through August in the midnight sun, as millions of migratory birds return to the land where they were born to give birth to a new generation. Their home terrain ranges from the peaceful, flowered fields of our parks and preserves to towering rocky cliffs and island sanctuaries surrounded by glittering Arctic waters.

Birdwatching in Nunavut 101

Our Birds and Their Sanctuaries  

Many Nunavut outfitters, lodge owners and wilderness guides can arrange trips and treks to sight and photograph the major local avian species at our many bird sanctuaries. 

  • Akimiski Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Akpait National Wildlife Area
  • Bowman Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Boatswain Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Bylot Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Dewey Soper Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Hannah Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Harry Gibbons Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • McConnell River Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Niginganiq (Isabella Bay) National Wildlife Area
  • Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area
  • Polar Bear Pass National Wildlife Area
  • Prince Leopold Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Qaqulluit National Wildlife Area
  • Seymour Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park
  • Thelon (River) Wildlife Sanctuary
Raptors Snowy Owls, Gyrfalcons, Peregrine Falcons, Rough-legged Hawks, Bald and Golden Eagles
Corvids Ravens – found everywhere in Nunavut
Grouse Ptarmigan, Rock Ptarmigan, Willow Grouse
Seabirds & Waders Auks, Cranes, Fulmars, Guillemots, Gulls, Jaegers, Kittiwakes, Murres, Phalaropes, Puffins, Sandpipers, Terns.
Songbirds Buntings, Finches, Larks, Plovers, Pipits, Sparrows, Wheatears
Waterfowl 6 species of Ducks, 5 of Loons & Geese and 2 of Swans

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World Class and World Record Sport Fishing

Before we go on, allow us to brag for moment — fishers in Nunavut hold 6 world records with the International Game Fish Association — from a saltwater all tackle record 32 pound Arctic Char to a freshwater fly rod record Lake Trout of 28 pounds. Now, for the cast: 

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Floe Edge

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Find Your True North in Nunavut

Paddle north of the Arctic Circle in the most beautiful waters of the world. On the ocean, kayak alongside beluga whales, navigate the floe edge around floating ice while spotting colonies of kittiwakes, low-flying fulmars and king eider ducks, stopping to photograph seals, walrus and the unicorn like tusks of the narwhal. 

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It’s not the traditional way to get around, but it sure gets you around

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Summer hiking and camping experiences include the migratory bird wetlands of Polar Bear Pass near Resolute; along the shores of Whale Cove for sightings of beluga whales; through wondrous Akshayuk Pass in the mountains of Auyuittuq National Park featuring magnificent Mount Thor and the world’s tallest vertical cliff face at 1,250 metres (4,101 feet) near Pangnirtung.

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Qimmiit, the plural of qimmiq, is the Inuktitut name for Canadian Inuit dogs - official animal of Nunavut and rarest and oldest dog breed in the world. Our brave, revered dogs pull strong and flexible qamutiit (sleds) and have helped us travel and hunt and provided loyal companionship for centuries in the Arctic. 

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You definitely need to discover it for yourself.

You have to see it for yourself, how the awesome vistas extend past the frame of what is represented in photos and videos. Hear authentic voices tell their stories first hand. Define your experience through direct perception, undergo a transformation through observing, encountering and participating first hand in the Spirit of the Arctic.

It’ll be good.

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What's on your travel bucket list? Experience the rare and unique arctic wildlife. Take a ride on a dog sled across ancient Inuit hunting trails. Witness centuries-old traditions in modern time. All of this is possible in Nunavut.