Northwest Territories

Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus ©Paul Gale Website
Birding Northwest Territories

Located in northern Canada, Northwest Territories borders Canada’s two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south. It has an area of 1,140,835 square kilometres (440,479 sq mi) and a population of 41,464 as of the 2006 census, an increase of 11.0% from 2001. Its capital has been Yellowknife since 1967.

Geographical features include the vast Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes, as well as the immense Mackenzie River and the canyons of the Nahanni National Park Reserve, a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Territorial islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago include Banks Island, Borden Island, Prince Patrick Island, and parts of Victoria Island and Melville Island. The highest point is Mount Nirvana near the border with Yukon at an elevation 2,773 metres (9,098 ft).

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 300

    As at June 2018

    Provincial Bird - Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus

  • CPAWS Northwest Territories Chapter

    The Northwest Territories Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS-NWT) is part of a national non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting Canada's wilderness. Our work is based on the principles of conservation science, and grounded in collaborative work with communities across the NWT.
  • Nature Conservancy in Northwest Territories

    TNC Canada is helping First Nation leaders blend cutting-edge conservation science with traditional knowledge to create one of the largest protected areas in the country.

Abbreviations Key

  • MBS Anderson River Delta

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Anderson River Delta MBS supports a wide diversity of bird species. A total of 104 species, including 76 breeding species, use the sanctuary for different seasonal activities. The delta offers extensive feeding grounds to sandpipers, plovers, phalaropes and other shorebirds during the summer months. The presence of trees attracts species--such as warblers, thrushes, swallows and sparrows--that are at the northern limit of their range in North America. During the spring and fall, the shallow waters of Wood Bay offer feeding habitat for several thousand staging scaups, Long-tailed Ducks, White-winged Scoters and Red-breasted Mergansers.
  • MBS Banks Island

    WebpageSatellite View
    Each spring, up to 500 000 Lesser Snow Geese of the Western Arctic population wintering in California, New Mexico and Mexico fly to the lowlands of the eastern Beaufort Sea region. As many as 450 000 geese return to nest in the Big and Egg river valleys of Banks Island No. 1, representing approximately 95% of the Western Arctic population and about 15% of the Canadian population of Lesser Snow Geese. In spring, 3 000 Black Brants from as far south as Mexico migrate along the west coast and Alaska to breed on Banks Island No. 1. They congregate in the sanctuary’s deltas, small lakes and ponds to nest and to feed on the abundant sedges and grasses. In addition, about 25 000 King Eiders, several thousand Long-tailed Ducks and lesser numbers of Tundra Swans, Ross’s Geese and Sandhill Cranes nest in the sanctuary. Other birds known or believed to nest in the area include Yellow-billed, Arctic and Red-throated Loons; Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers; American Golden-Plovers; Ruddy Turnstones; White-rumped, Baird’s and Semipalmated Sandpipers; Sanderlings; Red Phalaropes; Pomarine and Long-tailed Jaegers; Glaucous and Sabine’s Gulls; Arctic Terns; Peregrine Falcons; Snowy Owls; Willow and Rock Ptarmigans; and Horned Larks.
  • MBS Kendall Island

    InformationSatellite View
    The Kendall Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary (KIBS) is a migratory bird sanctuary in the Northwest Territories, Canada. It is located on Kendall Island and its surrounding area in Mackenzie Bay. KIBS is frequented from May through October by more than 90 bird species, including many migrating waterfowl. Compared to other Key Habitat Sites in Northern Canada, particularly high densities of Arctic tern, greater white-fronted goose, loon, northern pintail, and sandhill crane frequent the area. Tundra swan concentrate around the outer section of the MBS. A colony of approximately 3000 lesser snow geese have been identified at KIBS, as well as nationally significant numbers of Hudsonian godwit and whimbrel. The short-eared owl, a Species at Risk Act-listed bird, has been records at KIBS, as well as grizzly bear, polar bear and wolverine, which are listed species by Canada's Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife, and the highly endangered Eskimo curlew.
  • NP Aulavik

    InformationSatellite View
    The park has the highest concentration of muskoxen on earth, with estimates of 68,000 to 80,000 animals on the island, approximately 20% of which are thought to reside in the park. It is also home to the endangered Peary caribou as well as the more common barren-ground caribou. Ptarmigan and ravens are considered the only year-round birds in the park, although 43 different species make seasonal use of the area. The park is completely treeless, and Arctic foxes, brown and northern collared lemmings, Arctic hares and wolves roam the rugged terrain. Marine mammals along the north coast include polar bears, ringed seals, bearded seals, beluga whales and bowhead whales. Birds of prey in the park include snowy owls, rough-legged hawks, gyrfalcons, and peregrine falcons, who feed on the lemmings.
  • NP Tukut Nogait

    InformationSatellite View
    The landscape and wildlife of the 18,890 sq km national park is seen by those privileged few willing to travel 170 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. The landscape features rolling hills, three major rivers, steep canyons, waterfalls, rare Bluenose west caribou and the continent’s fiercest predators.
  • NP Wood Buffalo

    InformationSatellite View
    Wood Buffalo National Park is the largest National Park of Canada at 44,807 km2 (17,300 sq mi). It is located in northeastern Alberta and the southern Northwest Territories. Larger in area than Switzerland, it is the second-largest national park in the world. Wood Buffalo National Park contains a large variety of wildlife species, such as moose, bison, great grey owls, black bears, hawks, spotted owls, timber wolves, lynxes, beavers, snowy owls, marmots, bald eagles, martens, wolverines, peregrine falcons, whooping cranes, snowshoe hares, sandhill cranes, ruffed grouses, and the world's northernmost population of red-sided garter snakes, which form communal dens within the park. Wood Buffalo Park contains the only natural nesting habitat for the endangered whooping crane. Known as Whooping Crane Summer Range, it is classified as a Ramsar site. It was identified through the International Biological Program. The range is a complex of contiguous water bodies, primarily lakes and various wetlands, such as marshes and bogs, but also includes streams and ponds.
  • NPR Nahanni

    InformationSatellite View
    Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Dehcho Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada, approximately 500 km (311 mi) west of Yellowknife, protects a portion of the Mackenzie Mountains Natural Region. According to Parks Canada there are 42 mammal, 180 bird, 16 fish and a few amphibian species found in the park.
  • NPR Nááts'įhch'oh

    InformationSatellite View
    Nááts'įhch'oh National Park Reserve is named after Nááts'įhch'oh the mountain – a powerful place for the people of the Sahtu. Near the Yukon-Northwest Territories border, the park is in the traditional lands of the Shúhtaot'ine (Mountain Dene), and home to grizzly bear, Dall’s sheep, mountain goats, and woodland caribou.
  • WS Thelon

    InformationSatellite View
    Covering an area of approximately 26,000 sq. miles, the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary, straddling the boundary of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut in Canada's mainland Arctic, is the largest and most remote wildlife refuge on the North America continent.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Nahanni River Tours

    Tour Operator
    For nearly two decades Neil Hartling and Barry Beales of Nahanni River Adventures and Whitewolf Expeditions have fine tuned the most extensive offerings of the best of the north. In 1997 the two companies joined together to capitalise on the strengths of each outfit. The resulting selection has been referred to as the life list of northern rivers - all must do`s.
Trip Reports

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • 2001 [06 June] - Paul Jones

    The following is an account of a two week trip to the Yukon, north-eastern British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. During the first week (June 9 to June 14) I intensively birded the southern Yukon, north-eastern British Columbia and south-western Northwest Territories. At the beginning of the second week I met family members in Whitehorse. From June 15 to June 24 we traveled at a slower pace north to Inuvik and back to Whitehorse…
Other Links
  • Birding NWT

    Facebook Page
    This group is for those who enjoy birds and birding in the NWT, for the exchange of information and discussion of birds.
  • Northwest Territories Hotspots

    Northwest Territories Hotspots, photos, reports etc

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