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
RaptorsSnowy Owls, Gyrfalcons, Peregrine Falcons, Rough-legged Hawks, Bald and Golden Eagles
CorvidsRavens – found everywhere in Nunavut
GrousePtarmigan, Rock Ptarmigan, Willow Grouse
Seabirds & WadersAuks, Cranes, Fulmars, Guillemots, Gulls, Jaegers, Kittiwakes, Murres, Phalaropes, Puffins, Sandpipers, Terns.
SongbirdsBuntings, Finches, Larks, Plovers, Pipits, Sparrows, Wheatears
Waterfowl6 species of Ducks, 5 of Loons & Geese and 2 of Swans