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21 Common Northwest Territories Birds

Birds are an essential component of the ecosystem and play a vital role in maintaining the balance of nature. Among the different regions across the world, the Northwest Territories (NWT) in Canada is home to a diverse range of bird species.

The NWT is a vast expanse of land that harbors various ecosystems that support a large number of bird species.

Whether it is the boreal forest, tundra, or wetlands, each habitat has a unique set of bird species adapted to the particular environment.

With over 300 species of birds recorded, the NWT is a popular destination for bird lovers and birdwatchers who come to explore the stunning natural scenery and observe the amazing birdlife.

In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the birds found in the NWT birds list.

1. Plovers


Plovers are a family of around 64-68 species of ground-dwelling birds, commonly found in open country such as fields, meadows and tundras.

They have short bills with webbed feet to help them forage through mud or shallow water.

Plover plumage is usually mottled brown though some species may have brighter colors on the head and wings.

These birds feed mainly on insects but can also eat small crustaceans and worms.

Plovers breed during springtime when they dig holes in sandy or pebbled beaches to lay their eggs which hatch after about 3 weeks incubation period.

They use distraction display behaviour by pretending an injury to the predators away from their nests if needed for protecting their young ones.Scientific classification:

FamilyCharadriidae Leach, 1820

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2. Procellariidae


Procellariidae is a diverse family of seabirds belonging to the bird order Procellariiformes.

These birds are commonly referred to as tubenoses and include fulmarine petrels, gadfly petrels, diving petrels, prions, and shearwaters.

They range in size from the small storm-petrel which measures around 18cm long to the giant albatross which can reach up to 3 meters in length.

Generally found near oceans or coasts where they feed on fish as well as squid and other marine life depending on species.

Many procellariids will also nest inland during breeding season before returning back out at sea for most of their lives.

Their wings have specially adapted feathers that give them incredible gliding abilities allowing them literally fly with minimal effort over vast distances across oceanic regionsScientific classification:

FamilyProcellariidae Leach, 1820

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3. Tyrant Flycatchers

Tyrant flycatchers

Tyrant flycatchers are a family of birds found in North and South America, containing over 400 species. These birds come in an array of shapes and sizes, with vibrant plumage to match.

They�re the most diverse avian family across all countries they inhabit except for the United States and Canada.

Their diet consists mainly of insects but also includes small reptiles or amphibians where available.

The behavior varies between each bird; some prefer open areas while others like dense forests as their habitat � many even migrate regularly.

Tyrant Flycatchers have adapted well to human presence thanks to the abundance of food sources that often accompany it � such as backyards, parks etc..

All things considered these incredible creatures are truly amazing.Scientific classification:

FamilyTyrannidae Vigors, 1825

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4. Canada Warbler

Canada warbler

The Canada warbler is a small songbird of the Parulidae family, native to North America. It has olive-green upper parts with yellow underparts and white wing bars, making it easily identifiable.

During summer months they are found in Canada and northeastern United States while during winter their range extends to northern South America.

Mathurin Jacques Brisson was the first to describe this species in 1760 after he collected a specimen from Canada; which resulted in its French name Le gobe-mouche du Canada (Canada’s flycatcher).

Its diet consists mainly of insects such as beetles and mosquitoes, but also includes berries occassionally.

With an estimated population of 5 million individuals they remain common across much of their range although numbers have been declining due to habitat loss caused by human development activities like logging or agricultural expansion.Scientific classification:

SpeciesC. canadensis

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5. Treecreepers


Treecreepers are small passerine birds found in wooded areas of the Northern Hemisphere and sub-Saharan Africa.

They have dull colored plumage, long curved bills, stiff tails and strong feet that help them to climb up tree trunks while searching for food such as insects and spiders.

The two genera Certhia and Salpornis include eleven species which can be identified by their distinct call – a high pitched ‘tsee-tsit’.

Treecreepers build cup shaped nests on trees usually near the base or middle trunk using mosses, lichens, grasses with leaves inside them to provide insulation from cold temperatures.

These birds also use bark crevices during winter months when they shelter in groups together against extreme weather conditions.Scientific classification:

FamilyCerthiidae Leach, 1820

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6. Hudsonian Godwit

Hudsonian godwit

The Hudsonian godwit is a beautiful shorebird belonging to the sandpiper family. Its scientific name, Limosa haemastica, gives insight into its appearance; limus meaning muddy and haemastica translating to bloody in Ancient Greek – referring to its reddish-brown breast.

It was commonly referred to as red-breasted godwit in 18th century England. Godwit being an onomatopoeic term used for this bird since at least 1416–17.

The Hudsonian godwits migrate across many continents during breeding season – travelling over 16000 km between their Arctic breeding grounds and winter homes in South America or Africa.

They are incredibly resilient birds that have adapted well with changing environments throughout centuries while managing long migratory flights each year.Scientific classification:

SpeciesL. haemastica

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7. Mimid


Mimid birds are a diverse family of passerines found in the New World. They have an impressive vocal range and many species excel at mimicking other bird songs, as well as noises from their environment.

Mimids can be identified by their flat heads with short crest feathers, long tails, large eyes and strong legs for hopping between branches.

These birds typically inhabit open woodlands or scrubland areas where they feed on insects such as beetles, caterpillars and grasshoppers.

Some species also supplement their diet with fruits or grains when available. While most do not migrate far during winter months some may undertake longer migrations to warmer climates if necessary to survive cold weather spells.

The wide variety of sounds these talented singers produce make them one of nature’s great musical performers.Scientific classification:

FamilyMimidae Bonaparte, 1853

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8. Motacillidae


Motacillidae is a family of small passerine birds consisting of around 70 species. They are found across Europe, Africa, Asia and even Alaska with two migratory breeding species.

The three genera they belong to include wagtails which typically have medium to long tails; longclaws that can only be spotted in the Afrotropics; and pipits which possess the most cosmopolitan distribution worldwide.

These birds feed on insects as well as seeds for their diets and are usually seen in open habitats such grasslands or wetlands where food sources like invertebrates can easily be accessed.

Most Motacillidae species also use mud nests during breeding season making them easy targets for predators so it’s important we protect these beautiful creatures.Scientific classification:

FamilyMotacillidae Horsfield, 1821

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9. Thayer’s Gull

Thayer s gull

Thayer’s gull is a large, majestic bird native to North America. It breeds in the Arctic islands of Canada, and winters primarily on the Pacific coast from southern Alaska to Gulf of California.

There are also wintering populations found on Great Lakes and upper Mississippi River as well as Japan, where it has been recorded as a vagrant species.

This subspecies of Iceland Gull stands out with its slate gray mantle, white head and neck with black spots near bill base along pale yellow eyes surrounded by dark red eye-ring; while wings show alternating light grey inner webs and darker outer ones tipped in blackish coloration.

Thayer’s gulls feed mostly on fish but they can also be seen scavenging for food around dumpsters or catching insects midair when migrating during summer months.Scientific classification:

SpeciesL. glaucoides
SubspeciesL. g. thayeri

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10. Stilt Sandpiper

Stilt sandpiper

The Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus) is a small shorebird with ancient Greek origins. It has grey-coloured feathers, and its scientific name is derived from the terms “strap foot” or “thong foot”.

This bird bears some resemblance to smaller calidrid sandpipers, also known as ‘stints’. Through recent DNA sequence information, it was found that this species of birds are closely related to other wading shorebirds such as curlews and godwits.

They can usually be seen along the edges of rivers and creeks in shallow waters where they feed on aquatic insects like beetles, flies, mayflies etc., which makes them an important part of their ecosystem’s food chain.

The stilt sandpiper population appears to have been stable over time but further research needs to be done in order for us to understand more about this unique species.Scientific classification:

SpeciesC. himantopus

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11. Gray-Cheeked Thrush

Gray-cheeked thrush

The Gray-cheeked Thrush is a medium sized bird found in North and South America. It has the distinctive white-dark-white underwing pattern of Catharus thrushes.

This species measures 15 to 17 cm (5.9 – 6.7 inches) long and can be identified by its grey cheeks, which are darker than those of other thrushes in this group.

The Grey-Cheeked Thrush forms a cryptic species pair with Bicknell’s Thrush, forming part of close knit group including Veery birds as well .

They live in woodlands or thickets at higher elevations during summer months but migrate further south for winter season where they inhabit tropical forests and scrubland areas near rivers or streams.Scientific classification:

SpeciesC. minimus

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12. Olive-Sided Flycatcher

Olive-sided flycatcher

The Olive-sided Flycatcher is a small to medium size passerine bird in the family Tyrannidae.

It migrates from South America to North America for breeding every summer and preys on flying insects while agilely gliding through the air.

This species has been considered near threatened globally by IUCN since 2016 due to population declines caused by habitat loss, deforestation, and fragmentation of their nesting grounds.

Conservation efforts are underway with research being done on this species’ behaviour and habits so that suitable habitats can be created or maintained for them to survive long term.Scientific classification:

SpeciesC. cooperi

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13. Harris’s Sparrow

Harris s sparrow

Harris’s sparrow is a large, distinctive bird that is endemic to Canada. It breeds in the north part of central Canada, mainly in Northwest Territories and Nunavut with its range extending into Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

During winter it migrates southward to states such as South Dakota, Texas or Nebraska where they can be found foraging on grasslands or prairies.

Its plumage includes white underparts with brown streaking on the sides accompanied by a grey-brown crown and black bill which makes it easy to identify.

Although not endangered yet due efforts should still be taken for conservation since their habitat loss has been affecting them adversely over time.Scientific classification:

SpeciesZ. querula

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14. Lapland Longspur

Lapland longspur

The Lapland longspur is a passerine bird of the Calcariidae family, which has been differentiated from Old World finches.

It gets its name from its hindfoot claws that are considerably longer than usual for most birds.

The genus Calcarius in Latin translates to “spurs”, while lapponicus refers to Lapland where it can be commonly found.

This small sparrow-like bird with black and brown plumage measures around 15 cm in length and weighs just 20 gm on an average.

They feed mainly on seeds and insects during summer months but consume mostly leftover grain by humans when cold winter sets in.

These nomadic species migrate southwards every year before temperatures start dropping too low, making them truly fascinating creatures.Scientific classification:

SpeciesC. lapponicus

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15. Rusty Blackbird

Rusty blackbird

The Rusty Blackbird is a medium-sized member of the New World blackbird family. It breeds in wet forested areas and boreal forests across northern Canada, then migrates southeast to winter in the United States.

Sadly, this species has suffered one of the most dramatic population declines ever recorded amongst North American bird species – their numbers have been reduced by 90% since 1970.

Fortunately conservation efforts are underway to help reverse this trend and protect these birds for future generations.

They are now largely found around wetlands with thick vegetation cover that provide food sources such as berries, seeds or insects during migration periods.Scientific classification:

SpeciesE. carolinus

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16. Buff-Breasted Sandpiper

Buff-breasted sandpiper

The Buff-breasted sandpiper is a tiny shorebird with a brown upper body and a buff-colored face and underparts. Its Latin name, Calidris subruficollis, means “reddish-necked” due to its somewhat rufous neck.

The bird boasts a short bill and striking yellow legs. Both males and females possess the same plumage.

It is considered a calidrid sandpiper and is a migratory bird that travels across the Americas from the Arctic tundra to South America during the breeding season.

This bird is found in open habitats, such as prairies, wet meadows, and shores. The Buff-breasted sandpiper is currently facing threats due to loss of habitat, hunting, and human disturbance.

Conservation efforts are being put in place to save this bird from extinction.Scientific classification:

SpeciesC. subruficollis

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17. Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary sandpiper

The Solitary sandpiper is a small shorebird that belongs to the Tringa genus. Its scientific name is Tringa solitaria, which means “solitary” in Latin. It measures 18-23 cm in length and has a distinct white-rumped tail.

The name Tringa comes from Ancient Greek trungas, which refers to a thrush-sized wading bird.

The Solitary sandpiper is named so because it is often found alone. It is a migratory bird that breeds in North America and winters in South America.

Its diet consists of insects, crustaceans, and small fish, which it picks up using its long, thin bill. Despite its name, this bird is not entirely solitary and has been known to feed and roost with other shorebirds.

The Solitary sandpiper is a unique and fascinating species that can be found in wetland habitats across North and South America.Scientific classification:

SpeciesT. solitaria

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18. Long-Tailed Jaeger

Long-tailed jaeger

The long-tailed jaeger is a predatory seabird known for its slender, pointed wings and long, forked tail. It belongs to the skua family and is often referred to as a “hunter” due to its hunting prowess.

The bird’s name derives from the Faroese name for the great skua, which is also called the “skúgvur”.

The long-tailed jaeger is usually found in Arctic regions and is known to migrate long distances. This bird is particularly skilled at robbing other birds of their catches and is often seen chasing gulls and terns.

The long-tailed jaeger has a brownish-grey plumage with a black cap and collar. It is a beautiful and impressive bird, known for its incredible flying skills and its tenacity when it comes to hunting.Scientific classification:

SpeciesS. longicaudus

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19. Waxwing Birds

Waxwing birds

Waxwings birds are one of the most beautiful birds in the world, renowned for their unique appearance and impressive behavior.

They are known for their distinctive red tips on their wings, which look like the wax drippings of a candle.

These birds are found in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in North America, Asia, and Europe.

They have a diet that consists mainly of fruit, and they are great seed dispersers. Waxwings are social birds and form large flocks that can number in the hundreds.

They also have a unique habit of passing fruit around within their flock.

They are fascinating to watch, and their unique appearance and behavior make them a favorite among birdwatchers.

These birds are also known for their high-pitched, trilling song, which adds to their charm.

20. Yellow Rail

Yellow rail

The yellow rail is a small bird that lives in North America’s marshy areas. It belongs to the Rallidae family and is known for being very secretive.

German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin formally described the yellow rail in 1789 and initially placed it in the Fulica genus.

Its scientific name is Coturnicops noveboracensis. As a marsh inhabitant, the yellow rail is well adapted to living in wetland ecosystems. It is a small bird that can easily hide from predators thanks to its secretive nature.

Despite being small and difficult to spot, bird enthusiasts and ornithologists alike enjoy documenting sightings of the yellow rail.

Overall, the yellow rail is an interesting avian species with unique habits and a rich history of scientific exploration.Scientific classification:

SpeciesC. noveboracensis

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21. White-Rumped Sandpiper

White-rumped sandpiper

The White-rumped sandpiper is a small shorebird that breeds in northern Canada and Alaska. This bird is often referred to as a “peep” or “stint” due to its similarity to other tiny shorebirds.

Despite its obscurity, it is a fascinating bird that is rarely seen during the summer breeding season.

White-rumped sandpipers are known for their distinctive white rump, which sets them apart from other similar-looking birds.

These birds are excellent fliers and are able to travel great distances during migration. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including mudflats, salt pans, marshes, and wet meadows.

Overall, the White-rumped sandpiper is a remarkable bird that is worth learning more about if you are interested in the natural world.Scientific classification:

SpeciesC. fuscicollis

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