Do you want to learn about the LARGEST birds found in Yukon?
Well, you have come to the right place. 🙂
Below is a list of birds that are large, either in weight, height, length, or wingspan. I’ve included a variety of species, such as hawks, herons, corvids, owls, and geese.
16 LARGE Birds That Live in Yukon:
#1. Red-tailed Hawk
- Buteo jamaicensis
- Length: 18-26 in / 45-65 cm
- Weight: 1.5-3.5 lbs. / 700-1600 g
- Wingspan: 43-55 in / 110-140 cm
Red-tailed Hawks are probably the type of hawk that people are most familiar with.
These large birds are often seen in Yukon on drives in the countryside, either soaring in the sky or perched on a fence post. The plumage color of Red-tailed Hawks can be anything from nearly white to virtually black, so coloration is not a reliable indicator. The best way to identify them is by looking for their characteristic red tail. 🙂
Red-tailed Hawk Range Map
These hawks are highly adaptable, and there is no real description of their preferred habitats because they seem to be comfortable everywhere. I have seen Red-tailed Hawks backpacking in the deep wilderness to urban cities to my own suburban backyard! Pick a habitat, such as pastures, parks, deserts, roadsides, rainforests, woodlands, fields, or scrublands, and you’ll find them thriving.
Red-tailed Hawks have impressive calls that are easily identified.
In fact, people are so enamored with their screams it’s common for directors to use the sounds of a Red-tailed Hawk to replace Bald Eagles that appear in movies. In case you have never heard one, Bald Eagles don’t make sounds that live up to their appearance (putting it nicely!).
- RELATED: 7 Types of Hawks Found in Yukon!
#2. Great Horned Owl
- Bubo virginianus
- Length: 17-25 in (43 – 64 cm)
- Weight: 2.5 to 4 lbs (1134 – 1814 g)
- Wingspan: 3 – 5 feet (91-153 cm)
Great Horned Owls are common large birds in Yukon.
In fact, these raptors can actually be found almost anywhere in North America, from the Arctic to the tropics. Its habitat is practically unlimited as long as there are trees and rocky nesting sites available. It is hard to find a bird that can adapt better than a Great Horned Owl.
Great Horned Owl Range Map
These owls are large and look fierce! To identify them, look for their long tufts of feathers that resemble ears on their head. Also, check out their intimidating eyes. I know I would not want to have a staring contest with one!
Both sexes hoot, but males are lower-pitched than females. Males give territorial calls that can be heard a few miles away at night. I don’t think there’s another owl species that does hooting better than a Great Horned Owl!
Generally speaking, these owls tend to eat larger animals to sustain their bigger bodies. They seek rabbits, geese, groundhogs, many species of birds, rats, and even other raptors!
But these owls also have no problem eating small prey, such as frogs, insects, invertebrates, reptiles, mice, and scorpions. Interestingly, a Great Horned Owl’s sense of smell is so weak that they even attack and eat skunks!
- RELATED: 9 Owl Species That Live in Yukon!
#3. Peregrine Falcon
- Falco peregrinus
- Length: 13-23 in / 34-58 cm
- Weight: 12-53 oz. / 330-1500 g
- Wingspan: 29-47 in / 74-120 cm
These large birds of prey are commonly found in Yukon in urban areas. Because of their fondness for nesting on the sides of tall buildings, these falcons are common in cities where they often become local celebrities!
- RELATED: 4 Types of Falcons Found in Yukon!
Peregrine Falcon Range Map
Peregrine Falcons have the honor of being the FASTEST animal on the planet!
Don’t be fooled by stories that the cheetah is the fastest creature. Oh sure, they can crank it up to 75 mph (120 kph), and that is amazing for being on the ground.
But when a Peregrine Falcon dives, it can reach speeds of up to 200 mph (320 kph)! And it starts its journey from as high as 3,000 feet, so it cruises at these high speeds for a considerable distance.
CHECK OUT THE VIDEO BELOW TO SEE THE INCREDIBLE DIVING ABILITIES OF THE PEREGRINE FALCON.
At the high speeds that these falcons can travel, their lungs should inflate and burst. But because they have a bony bump in their nose, it disrupts the airflow just like the dome shape on the front of a jet engine. Nature never ceases to amaze!
#4. Bald Eagle
- Haliaeetus leucocephalus
- Length: 28-40 in / 70-102 cm
- Weight: 6.5-15 lbs / 3-7 kg
- Wingspan: 71-91 in / 1.8-2.3 m
The Bald Eagle has been the national symbol of the United States since 1782 and is one of the most recognizable birds in the world!
These large raptors are now quite prevalent in Yukon, but that wasn’t always the case.
Bald Eagles almost went extinct in the mid-20th century due to DDT poisoning. After years of dedicated conservation work, they have recovered and are a true success story. They are most commonly seen around bodies of water.
Bald Eagle Range Map
The reason that Bald Eagles are found around water is that they mostly eat fish! Look for them around marshes, lakes, coasts, and rivers. The BEST areas are forests near large bodies of water that provide good fishing AND tall trees for nesting sites.
Below, you can hear what a Bald Eagle sounds like. If you imagine an intimidating eagle call, then you would be wrong. I think they sound more like a gull, with trills and little whistles.
Press PLAY above to hear a Bald Eagle!
#5. Canada Goose
- Branta canadensis
- Length: 30 – 43 in / 75 to 110 cm
- Weight: 5.75 – 14.25 lb / 2.6–6.5 kg
- Wingspan: 50–73 in / 127–185 cm
Canada Geese are extremely common.
I’m sure you probably recognize these large birds, as they are very comfortable living around people. Look for them wherever there are grasses or grains to eat, such as lawns, parks, farm fields, and golf courses. I know I have been guilty of stepping in their “droppings” at least a few times in my backyard as they come to eat corn from my feeding station. 🙂
Canada Goose Range Map
In fact, these geese are now so abundant that many people consider them pests for the amount of waste they produce! If you have a manicured lawn that is maintained all the way to the water’s edge, you have an open invitation for these birds to visit.
The Canada Goose is also easy to identify while flying overhead. If you see a flock of large birds in a V-formation, then it’s most likely them. Flying this way helps conserve energy, and different birds take turns leading the way.
- RELATED: 10 types of Geese in Yukon!
These large birds are easy to hear in Yukon.
Listen for a wide variety of loud honks and cackles. Listen above!
- Pandion haliaetus
- Length: 20-25.5 in / 50-65 cm
- Weight: 3-4.4 lb. / 1.4-2 kg
- Wingspan: 59-71 in / 150-180 cm
Despite their appearance, the first thing you should know about Ospreys is they are NOT hawks! They are not eagles either and, scientifically speaking, have been given their own Family (Pandionidae) and Genus (Pandion), separate from all other birds of prey.
Osprey Range Map
When you think of an Osprey, you should think of fish because that is what these birds eat 99% of the time. Even an Osprey’s talons are perfectly adapted for catching fish. If you take a close look, you will see they are extremely curved and even intersect when fully closed, which makes them perfectly designed for holding onto slippery fish!
Even more interesting, their outer toe is reversible, which lets them rotate the toe so they can have two in front and two in back. Only Ospreys and owls have this unique ability, which allows them to be more efficient hunters.
And these guys don’t just skim the surface and grab their prey near the top like an eagle. Ospreys hit the water HARD and plunge right in to assure themselves of a catch. Amazingly, they can then take off while submerged and with a fish in their talons!
#7. Barred Owl
- Strix varia
- Length: 16–25 in (40–63 cm)
- Weight: 1–2.75 lbs (500–1250 g)
- Wingspan: 38–49 in (96–125 cm)
Barred Owls are a common and large owl found in Yukon. The name “barred” derives from the horizontal stripes of alternating light brown and dark brown on the wings, back, and tail.
Barred Owls are the type of owl that I have observed the most in the wild. They are inquisitive and will often stay and watch as you walk past them. Even if they get nervous as you approach, they typically fly off to another nearby tree to continue observing.
Barred Owl Range Map
Barred Owls rely on mice and other small rodents but eat just about anything made of meat! They will readily grab rats, rabbits, bats, squirrels, moles, minks, weasels, opossums, a variety of birds, frogs, snakes, fish, and turtles, and will even hunt around your nightly campfire to catch some sweet, juicy insects.
And speaking of classical noises, their hoots are the classic sounds featured in movies and scary Halloween tales. It is easy to recognize their call as it sounds like they are asking, “Who cooks for you.” Barred Owls will sound off during daylight hours, too, and they mate for life.
#8. Common Raven
- Corvus corax
- Length: 25 in / 63 cm
- Weight: 3.2 lbs / 1.47 kg
- Wingspan: 46-60 in / 116-153 cm
These large birds are one of the SMARTEST in Yukon!
For example, one study has shown that Ravens are drawn to gunshots during hunting season to investigate the carcass but ignore other loud noises that don’t lead to food, such as air horns or car alarms.
Their intelligence makes them efficient predators, and it’s common for ravens to team up to get food, such as stealing eggs from nests or attacking larger prey like newly born lambs.
Common Raven Range Map
Since they are so smart and adaptable, Common Ravens are found in many habitats. Look for them living near the edges of towns, especially in landfills that supply an endless amount of food. But ravens also have no problem living far away from civilization.
Common Ravens are impressive vocalists who make many different types of calls, from harsh grating calls to shrill alarm sounds. But the most common sound you will hear in the wild is a gurgling croak that rises in pitch.
Interestingly, they can mimic the sounds of many other bird species and even humans if raised in captivity.
#9. Northern Goshawk
- Accipiter gentilis
- Length: 16-27 in / 41-69 cm
- Weight: 22-50 oz / 630-1400 g
- Wingspan: 35-50 in / 89-127 cm
Northern Goshawks are secretive birds that are hard to see, as these birds of prey prefer living in large forests away from civilization. Many people mistakenly think they have seen one in their backyard when it was just a Cooper’s Hawk, which looks similar.
But look closely, and you will see a dark-colored head that is usually paired with deep red eyes, which makes the Northern Goshawk hard to mistake. The underbody is often a bluish-white to light gray with barring. The upper body is blue-gray or even brown with certain morphs.
Northern Goshawk Range Map
These large birds are widespread in Yukon but are hard to see, especially in the suburbs and cities. Some individual birds are short-term migrants during colder months, heading south until adequate food can be found. Other birds stay in the same place all year.
Opportunistic and fierce hunters, Northern Goshawks eat a wide variety of foods. The list includes insects, mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Listen for a harsh “ca-ca-ca” sound. As it calls, they turn their head from side to side slowly, which gives the vocal effect of a ventriloquist.
#10. Sandhill Crane
- Antigone canadensis
- Height: 2.6 to 4.5 ft / 80 to 136 cm
- Weight: 6.0 to 14.8 lb / 2.7 to 6.7 kg
- Wingspan: 6.5 ft / 2 m
If you go to the right habitat, Sandhill Cranes are easy to spot in Yukon. These water birds are large, elegant, and put on some fancy dancing while trying to attract a mate! It’s common to see a breeding male pump their wings, bow, stretch their wings, and jump into the air, all in the name of love. 🙂
Sandhill Crane Range Map
Sandhill Cranes are well known for their LOUD bugling calls.
In fact, these sounds can be heard over 2 miles away and are given both on the ground or while flying. They have adapted extremely long windpipes that actually coil into the sternum, which helps produce the low, loud pitch.
One thing that amazes me about Sandhill Cranes is how long they live. The oldest one on record was at least 36 years old, as it was banded originally in 1973 and then found again in 2010!
#11. Trumpeter Swan
- Cygnus buccinator
Trumpeter Swans are the largest bird by weight in Yukon!
They have a wingspan of almost 6 feet (1.8 m) and weigh around 25 pounds (11.3 kg), which is about twice the amount of a Tundra Swan. In fact, they are so big that about 100 yards of open water is needed for them to get enough speed to take off!
Trumpeter Swans were once endangered due to overhunting, but luckily, their population has recovered, and they are increasing their numbers. Unlike Tundra Swans, this species doesn’t travel to the Arctic in summer to nest and breed. Look for them near ponds, lakes, rivers, and marshes, and the farther from people, the better!
These large birds typically nest on an existing structure that is surrounded by water, such as beaver dams, muskrat dens, small islands, floating masses of vegetation, and artificial platforms. Trumpeter Swans are very sensitive when breeding and will commonly abandon their nest sites and babies due to human disturbance.
Deep, loud trumpets can be heard when they are alarmed or defending their territory, which is two syllables with the second one emphasized (“oh-O”).
#12. Double-crested Cormorant
- Nannopt#22. Great Gray Owl
- Strix nebulosa
- Length: 24 – 33 in (61–84 cm)
- Weight: 1.5 – 4 lb (580–1,900 g)
- Wingspan: 5 feet (1.5 m)
Great Gray Owls are the largest owl in Yukon!
If you’re lucky enough to see one, they are stunning raptors. Many people think they look like they are wearing a grey suit with a bowtie around its neck!
These owls cover a lot of territory in their range, but they prefer to live in a forest near a clearing. It’s instrumental in the wintertime, as they need a lot of area for listening to rodents running beneath the snow so they can crash through and catch lunch! Because they are so big, they require a lot of food, eating up to 7 rodents every day.
Great Gray Owl Range Map
Grey Gray Owls NEVER build nests. They just use the ones that other big birds made. Talk about being efficient! However, once they claim a used nest, these owls will defend it courageously, even against black bears!
Their call is reasonably distinctive, bold, and deep, sounding like “whooooo, woo, woo, woo.“ They also have a soft double hoot that is used when providing food to their babies or defending a territory.
#13. Golden Eagle
- Aquila chrysaetos
- Length: 26-40 in / 66-100 cm
- Weight: 6.5-16 lbs / 3-7 kg
- Wingspan: 71-91 in / 1.8-2.3 m
Golden Eagles are incredibly fast and agile, which makes them expert hunters. Where Bald Eagles mostly eat fish, these eagles almost always eat mammals. Their favorite prey include rabbits, hares, ground squirrels, marmots, and prairie dogs. But these raptors have been known to hunt and kill animals as large as small deer, seals, mountain goats, coyotes, and badgers!
Golden Eagles are dark brown with gold feathers on the backs of their necks, which is how they got their name. Juvenile birds have white patches on their wings and tails. Immature Bald Eagles and adult Golden Eagles look similar and can be easily confused.
The distinguishing feature between these two birds is that the Bald Eagle doesn’t mind showing a little leg, whereas the Golden Eagle has feathers down to the top of its feet.
These large birds prefer vast open areas in Yukon, such as landscapes that include cliffs, mountains, or hills. You can also spot these birds in grasslands, farmlands, shrublands, arctic tundra, and coniferous woodlands.
Golden Eagle Range Map
These eagles are not extremely noisy, and their calls sound like whistles that are weak and high. Just like Bald Eagles, for such a powerful raptor, you would think Golden Eagles would have a much more intimidating sound!
#14. Snow Goose
- Anser caerulescens
- Height: 25 – 31 in / 64 – 79 cm
- Weight: 4.5 – 6.0 lb / 2.05 – 2.7 kg
- Wingspan: 53 – 65 in / 135 – 165 cm
During the breeding season, Snow Geese spend their time in the continent’s northernmost areas, away from human civilization. Most people only get the pleasure of seeing this large goose in Yukon when they migrate south in the fall and winter.
Snow Goose Range Map
Look for Snow Geese in large fields and bodies of water. If they are around, it is usually not hard to find them, as they are almost always seen in huge flocks accompanied by a lot of honking!
One of the most impressive things you will watch today is the video below, which shows an ENORMOUS flock of Snow Geese. It’s hard to fathom how many birds are traveling together!
As you can probably hear from the video above, Snow Geese are one of the noisiest waterfowl you will encounter. Their nasally, one-syllable honk can be heard at any time of day or night, at any time of the year!
- Falco rusticolus
- Length: 19 – 26 in / 48 – 65 cm
- Weight: 1.75 – 5 lbs. / 794 – 2268 g
- Wingspan: 43 – 63 in / 110 -160 cm
The first thing we need to discuss when it comes to Gyrfalcons is how to pronounce its name! As much as I want to say “Gear-falcon” every time, that is incorrect.
The correct way to pronounce the name is “JER•falcon.” The beginning sounds like the letter “J” and not the letter “G” (Click this link to hear someone saying “Gyrfalcon.”)
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk more about this magnificent raptor! The Gyrfalcon, sometimes known as the Gyr, is the largest species of falcon in Yukon (and the world). They are birds of the Arctic, and they breed on the sides of cliffs in remote areas of Alaska and Canada. Because they live in secluded areas, Gyrfalcons are typically safe from human disturbances, but they do face challenges from climate change.
During winter months, Gyrs have to come south from the high Arctic to find food. Depending on the specific year, you never know how far south they may come!
As far as sounds go, Gyrfalcons make a few. When they are alarmed, listen for a “kak kak kak” noise, which you can hear below.
#16. Greater White-fronted Goose
- Anser albifrons
- Length: 25–32 in / 64–81 cm
- Weight: 4.4 – 7.4 lb / 1.93–3.31 kg
- Wingspan: 51–65 in / 130–165 cm
These birds breed in the arctic tundra but then migrate south for winter. Look for these large geese in Yukon in large flocks in wetlands, lakes, and farm fields.
Greater White-fronted Goose Range Map
Greater White-fronted Geese have INCREDIBLY strong family bonds. Mated pairs migrate with each other and stay together for many years. Their offspring even stick around for longer than most other species, and it’s not unusual to see the young with their parents through the next breeding season.
Their flight call is relatively easy to identify. Listen for a two to three-syllable sound that resembles laughing.
Learn more about other birds in Yukon!
Which of these large birds have you seen in Yukon?
Let us know in the comments!