Most people romanticize the Yukon Territories a lot, and are always looking for ways to get their Yukon Experience in when they’re able to. It’s not cheap getting to that side of Canada, flying out from Toronto you’re looking at at least a $1000 round-trip. As expensive as it is to get out there, it really is worth it, because the landscapes of the Yukon are absolutely stunning and remind you of what it means to be alive. No matter what time of year you make it out to the Yukon, you’ll enjoy yourself, though you’ll probably be cold more often than not. The Yukon Bird Observatories are the only official bird observatories in the entire province, and they’re always on the look out for volunteers who are passionate about birds and nature– so don’t look into them if you’re only about the Yukon Experience, because while that’s well and good, it takes a special kind of person to do field work.
The Society of Yukon Bird Observatories, or SOYBO, is a registered non-profit organization that has been operating in various forms since 2000. Ted Murphy-Kelly, a lovely man who I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with, created the Yukon’s first bird observatory, the Albert Creek Bird Observatory, located next to the stunning Watson Lake. In 2002, Ted and Ben Schonewille worked to improve the Albert Creek observatory, and by 2005 they also created the Teslin Lake observatory! Through successful funding, hard work, and incredibly talented volunteers, the pair were able to build a banding station in Whitehorse at the McIntyre Marsh in 2009.
Because volunteers are the backbone to SOYBO, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that Ted and Ben are always happy to have an extra pair of hands during the field seasons. Volunteers get to scribe data if they’re interested in learning how to record scientific information for grants and research, but they can also learn how to handle birds and band them with the Bander in Charge guiding them every step of the way. Banding birds is very important for conservation and diversity efforts, because knowing what birds are in an area and where they go gives us incredible insights about migration patterns, population shifts, and so much more! If you’re interested in helping the Yukon Bird Observatories this year, visit their website here to find out how to volunteer!