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Report: Whitehorse Christmas Bird Count 2023

(For more information about Yukon Christmas Bird Counts see this page on our website:

The 2023 Whitehorse Christmas Bird Count was both remarkable and rather ordinary. The weather was remarkably warm, as it has been all fall and for most of the past year – a sign of things to come no doubt. December 2023 was a full 10 degrees C warmer than December 2022. There was very little snow on the ground and plenty of open water. Together, these conditions should make life relatively easy for our resident birds – no pressing need to mob feeders during the day in order to survive the long cold nights.

Marina McCready scans the wetlands adjacent to Copper Ridge subdivision. There was very little snow on the ground this year. (Elise Maltinsky)
This immature Golden Eagle was seen by Cameron Eckert and Lena Ware in amongst the normal throng of Bald Eagles at the Whitehorse Landfill (Cameron Eckert)

It’s been easy for people too – 46 observers ventured out all over Whitehorse on Boxing Day to count in the balmy weather (temperatures right around freezing) and 12 watched their feeders.

When reports trickled in from all the observers, 3,047 birds of 25 species had been recorded.  Over the years the number of species has ranged from 18 to 33, but the average is 25.  Common Raven was the most numerous bird (no surprise…), followed by Common Redpoll, Pine Grosbeak, and House Sparrow in a very tight race for 2nd place. Strangely, there were no unusual birds found this year, save for a young Golden Eagle found at the landfill by Cameron Eckert and Lena Ware. We had expected all kinds of migrants to hang around to enjoy this weather and easy access to food. But there were no lingering juncos, sparrows, or American Robins to be found. One lonely merganser was the only duck on the Yukon River.

Bohemian Waxwings were in short supply due to a very poor crop of berries this year. (John Meikle)

There were also remarkably few Bohemian Waxwings (21 – compare this to 4,023 last year!), likely a result of our warm, dry summer which led to a miserable crop of their favorite winter food – berries.

Bald Eagles were everywhere around Whitehorse this year, not just at their normal hangouts, the Whitehorse Landfill and adjacent McIntyre Creek (Cameron Eckert)

Bald Eagles, on the other hand, were flying around everywhere this year, including a pair checking out their(?) nest on the bluff along Robert Service Way.  We had 89 in total, our second highest count ever.

This pair of Bald Eagles was looking very interested in a nest on the bluff overlooking Robert Service Way. Could they be thinking of refurbishing their nest already for the upcoming spring?? (Jim Hawkings)

Some of our regular winter residents were found in close to record numbers: Red Crossbills were found in many parts of town, enjoying the offerings at feeders, as were Canada Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, and House Sparrows.

This Hoary Redpoll was found by John Meikle and Syd Cannings at a Riverdale feeder. (John Meikle)
It’s always nice to see new faces on the Christmas Bird Count. Mac and Bec borrowed some binocs from the Yukon Bird Club and joined us to help count birds along the Yukon River below the Fish Ladder. (Jenny Trapnell)

Here’s the final bird list:

  1. Mallard 70
  2. Common Merganser 1
  3. Ruffed Grouse 1
  4. Spruce Grouse 1
  5. Golden Eagle 1
  6. Bald Eagle 89
  7. Downy Woodpecker 2
  8. Hairy Woodpecker 2
  9. American Three-toed Woodpecker 2
  10. Canada Jay 27
  11. Black-billed Magpie 109
  12. American Crow 3
  13. Common Raven 1693
  14. Black-capped Chickadee 147
  15. Mountain Chickadee 1
  16. Boreal Chickadee 47
  17. Red-breasted Nuthatch 7
  18. American Dipper 9
  19. Bohemian Waxwing 21
  20. Pine Grosbeak 206
  21. Red Crossbill 147
  22. White-winged Crossbill 33
  23. crossbill sp. 7
  24. Common Redpoll 213
  25. Hoary Redpoll 1
  26. House Sparrow 205

Total Individuals 3047

Total Species Reported 25

My sincere thanks to everone who took part in this year’s Whitehorse count. Looking forward to next year….


Mackenzie Alain, Edward Allen, Tracy Allard, Aaron Baker, Bruce Bennett, Selena Boothroyd, Diane Brent, Laurie Brochu, Syd Cannings, Paul Davis, Loreena Dobson, Gabrielle Dupont, Cameron Eckert, Rob Florkiewicz, Trish Fontaine, Sam Gallagher, Jim Hawkings, Jane Haydock, Melody Hazel, Ed Jenni, Matt Kitchen, Cathy Koot, Greg Kubica, Lee Kubica, Pia Kukka, Maria Leung, Mary Ann Lewis, Rob Lewis, Bonnie Love, Elise Maltinsky, Meghan Marjanovic, Marina McCready, Karen McKenna, John Meikle, Valery Monahan, Dave Mossop, Marty Mossop, Randi Mulder, Wendy Nixon, Alex Oberg, Adam Perrier, Bec Reh, Don Reid, Gemma Richardson, Bob Sagar, Barbara Scheck, Becky Striegler, Jenny Trapnell, Lena Ware, Keith Williams, Scott Williams, Tegryn Williams, Mabel Wong

Here’s a complete report with more details:

Report: Whitehorse Christmas Bird Count 2022

Bohemian Waxwings were everywhere this year! (photo Syd Cannings)

The 2022 Whitehorse Christmas Bird Count was very successful in spite of the weather being a tad windy and cold. There were 44 participants, including 28 different parties and 11 feeder-watchers. All told, participants counted 6,822 birds of 28 species — compared with 4,162 birds of 24 species last year (the long-term average is 25 species). After a very warm fall season, the Boxing Day count was preceded by a week of brutal cold, including 20 December when the mercury dropped to -42.1 C and topped out at -36.1. Quite a few oddball birds that normally winter south of here were hanging around prior to that and there was considerable speculation about their ability to survive that kind of deep freeze. However, on count day we discovered a lot of them had done pretty well: We had all-time high counts for 9 species (American Wigeon, Common Goldeneye, American Crow, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Bohemian Waxwing, American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-Crowned Sparrow, and Purple Finch). People were delighted to have thousands of Bohemian Waxwings around through the Christmas holidays — quite a contrast to last year’s count when we were totally stumped! Not only were we awash in Bohemian Waxwings (almost double the previous record of 2,033 set in 2016), but for the first time ever they outnumbered our perennial winter resident Common Ravens! Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s count!

Satellite image of the Whitehorse area showing the Whitehorse Christmas Bird Count circle. Birds are counted within this red circle each year.
These five Common Goldeneyes were lounging on the Yukon River just below the Rotary Centennial Bridge (photo Jim Hawkings)
The lonely female American Wigeon at MacIntyre Marsh (photo Syd Cannings)
Ogling the American Wigeon at MacIntyre Marsh (photo Syd Cannings)
Elated finders of the American Wigeon! (photo Lena Ware)
Elise Maltin and Marina McCready enjoying the wilds near Copper Ridge (photo Elise Maltin)

Here’s the list:

  1. American Wigeon 1
  2. Mallard 63
  3. Common Goldeneye 5
  4. Common Merganser 1
  5. Spruce Grouse 3
  6. Northern Goshawk 1
  7. Bald Eagle 51
  8. Downy Woodpecker 6
  9. Hairy Woodpecker 6
  10. Canada Jay 11
  11. Black-billed Magpie 56
  12. American Crow 6
  13. Common Raven 1757
  14. Black-capped Chickadee 101
  15. Boreal Chickadee 16
  16. Red-breasted Nuthatch 9
  17. American Dipper 5
  18. American Robin 7
  19. Bohemian Waxwing 4032
  20. Dark-eyed Junco 40 (Slate coloured 39, Oregon 1)
  21. American Tree Sparrow 1
  22. White-crowned Sparrow 4
  23. Pine Grosbeak 88
  24. Purple Finch 10
  25. Red Crossbill 21
  26. White-winged Crossbill 186
  27. crossbill sp. 49
  28. Common Redpoll 74
  29. finch sp. 60
  30. House Sparrow 152

Total Individuals 6822

Total Species Reported 28


Tracy Allard, Jeremy Baumbach, Carrie Boles, Selena Boothroyd, Diane Brent, Cindy Breitkreutz, Laurie Brochu, Linda Cameron, Syd Cannings, Paul Davis, Marianne Douglas, Gabrielle Dupont, Cameron Eckert, Alison Eremenko, Timothy Giilck, Jim Hawkings, Melody Hazel, Christine Hedgecock, Ed Jenni, Carole Kroening, Yvette LePage, Maria Leung, Elise Maltinsky, Meghan Marjanovic, Logan McLeod, Karen McKenna, Dave Mossop, Marty Mossop, Wendy Nixon, Adam Perrier, Don Reid, Claudia Riveros, Bob Sagar, Mike Setterington, Pam Sinclair, Becky Striegler, Jenny Trapnell, Jim Tredger, Lena Ware, Ryleigh Whitfield, Keith Williams, Scott Williams, Caitlin Willier

Here’s a more complete report for those who like details….