The Birds of Aulavik National Park
Park Photo
By J. David Henry and Michelle Mico
Table of Contents


        This research inventoried the bird populations of Aulavik National Park, Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada. In total, 43 bird species were observed in Aulavik during the two field seasons of this study, representing 61 percent of the total number of documented bird species observed on Banks Island. Twenty-one new breeding records were documented, and the known breeding distribution of the semipalmated plover, purple sandpiper and buff-breasted sandpiper were extended. At this point, 75 percent of the bird species (32 out of 43 species) observed in the park are now known to breed there, underscoring the importance of Aulavik as a protected area where a diversity of tundra-adapted birds breed and raise offspring.

        Point counts were carried out mostly during the morning activity peak (0500 to 1300 hr). Relative abundance values were determined for 13 bird species and showed that numerically the avian community was dominated by Lapland longspurs. Habitat association patterns indicate no one habitat dominated in terms of species richness or avian abundance. This supports the view that arctic-breeding birds tend to be habitat generalists. As a result, all eight habitat types within the park must be managed in order to maintain avifaunal integrity. On the other hand, Lapland longspurs, horned larks, glaucous gulls and black-bellied plovers were significantly associated with certain habitat types, and these patterns are analyzed.

        The decrease of wind speed in hummocky tundra and the presence of a high number of pellets, droppings and scat in deep, wind-protected coulees bring attention to the possible importance of certain microhabitats in providing shelter to small and large birds during windstorms. Park managers should maintain the access of birds and other wildlife to these potentially important microhabitats in all future operation of the park.


David Henry is Conservation Ecologist for Parks Canada in the Yukon.

Michelle Mico is an ornithologist and field biologist currently working in British Columbia.


For more information on this project, contact David Henry at (867) 634-2329 ext. 257, or by e-mail:

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