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Bird-lovers flock to the Celebration of Swans in Canada’s Yukon

March 25, 2015 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

Canada’s premier bird festival will swoop into the Yukon Territory in April, as thousands of Trumpeter and Tundra Swans complete their migration north to their natural habitat, ready to rest, feed and breed.

The Celebration of Swans is a spectacular display of nature at its finest, highly anticipated by locals and visitors alike, who will flock to various viewing areas in southern Yukon to observe this stunning phenomenon and enjoy the festivities.

“Each year, bird-lovers eagerly await the arrival of spring in the Yukon, marked by the arrival of these magnificent giant birds,” says Jessica Ruffen, Marketing Manager Asia Pacific, Tourism Yukon.   “Up to 13,000 swans fly over Whitehorse and nearby regions during the month of April. It’s a remarkable phenomenon and really a treat to see.” unnamed (15)

“The Celebration of Swans festival began in 1994. The first flocks signify the end of winter, as the Trumpeter swans return to western and central Yukon to raise their young after spending the winter in the Canadian Pacific Coast region.”

Forty kilometres south of Yukon’s capital city of Whitehorse, the Swan Haven Interpretive Centre in Marsh Lake is festival hub. The centre hosts interpretive events, viewing platforms, games and crafts that educate visitors on the swan habitat and migration patterns as well as offering great photo opportunities.

Yukon is a bird-lover’s paradise, home to more than 200 species of birds throughout the territory, including the Bald Eagle, Great Gray Owl, Yellow Rumped Warbler, Bufflehead, Northern Hawk Owl,  Great Horned Owl, Boreal Owl, and Horned Lark.

In addition to swan haven, key places to observe birds in the Yukon include the Albert Creek Bird Observatory near Watson Lake, Teslin Lake Bird Observatory, and McIntyre Marsh Bird Observatory.

Click HERE to see the migrating swans on YouTube.

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Additional bird festivals take place later in the year in other areas of the Yukon:

Faro’s Crane and Sheep Viewing festival is held in early May and celebrates the migration of 250,000 sandhill cranes from Mexico to Alaska, as well as the Fannin’s Sheep lambing season that allows visitors close-up views of these mountain mammals. 

Weekend on the Wing Birding Festival takes place in June, in Tombstone Territorial Park just north of historic Dawson City. Bird lovers congregate for free walks and talks as they catch the return of migrating birds to this sub-arctic tundra environment just south of the Arctic Circle. The Dempster Highway, which traverses the Arctic Circle, is a great route for sighting predator birds like the golden eagle and peregrine falcon.

The Hidden Lakes region south of Whitehorse is surrounded by marsh-like shores and boreal forest. It’s a haven for nesting gulls, warblers, loons and the colourful harlequin duck throughout the summer months.

In the Yukon’s southwestern corner, Kluane National Park is home to more than 180 different types of birds, with lakes, rivers and hiking trails throughout the wilderness park. Kluane is part of a UNESCO site and is the largest protected wilderness area in the world.

Getting there
Yukon’s capital city of Whitehorse is approximately 2.5 hours by air from Vancouver, accessible with year-round daily commercial service. All other communities mentioned are reachable by car, with year-round car hire services available in Whitehorse.

For more information about the Yukon, see  For more information on birds in the Yukon, see

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