Alaska Birding

Alaska is known for it’s paramount wildlife sightings. Specifically, it’s superb bird watching opportunities and for a variety of reasons. We are going to explore just why Alaska offers such an exciting stage for viewing hundreds of species of birds. And, how to get to the best Alaskan bird watching sites in the ‘Last Frontier’.

Migratory and Residential Birds

So what is it that draws in millions of birds each summer and many other wild animals? Well it’s got a bit to do with location and a whole lot to do with an expansive and diverse range of ecosystems. Alaska’s waters and coastlines are one of the central pillars to the stability of the entire worlds food web. Since Alaska is located on the Northern Pacific, a wide range of plants and animals depend and thrive off the abundant ecosystems.

Birds in particular thrive flourish off the traveling currents and warm seasons that provide an excellent food source during the warmer months when the coastal ice melts. So much so that Alaska has become home to more that 500 species of migratory and residential birds (Alaska Gov). Alaska is a main stop on many migratory routes that take them right to the bounty of biodiversity that Alaska has to offer.

Why Alaska?

Birds enjoy the land for breeding, refueling, resting, and even overwintering. Alaska has an extensive amount of protected shorelines, wetland areas, rivers, and watersheds for them to prosper in. So, there are many chances to spot a wide array of birds from the rare to the iconic. You might even catch sight of some birds who flew off course from Asia and are in Alaska for the season.

With so many opportunities it may help to dial in on some of the best bird watching places around. Coastal areas like the Pribilof Islands, Kenai Fjords, and Glacier Bay National Park offer a great spotting during the spring, summer, and fall months. Birds you are likely to spot are puffins, coastal gulls, and Bald Eagles! Taking a sea kayaking tour is a great way to get close to wild bird habitats and spot a rookery.

Sometimes hoping on a day trip boat tour is the best way to get up close to rookeries and cliff dwelling birds sites. Heading to the shorelines is another option too. Simultaneously, you might even see whales migrating!

Staying in a city like Nome, Utqiaġvik (Barrow), or Kodiak gives you a look into fishing communities and let’s you learn about how it’s connected to bird migrations. Birds bob through the water, waddle the coast, and might even be spotted diving at fisherman’s nets. Many of these areas are great photographic opportunities as well.

wetland ducks

A Merganser swimming with her flock of fledglings

Bird Sightings

And then there is the wetlands areas like the Copper River Delta where glacially fed rivers deposit. This is where a rich intermingling of life confluences together. Native plants decorate the delta to provide excellent habitat for both fish and birds. You can spot birds like teals, mallards, and pintails here.

From the coasts, to quaint fishing towns, to expansive wetlands, Alaska checks off on the scenery and sightings. Thousands of protected and preserved acres are waiting to showcase the intricate world of wild birds. This might be bird watching at it’s best, so go on, grab you binoculars and identifying books. Alaska has got quite the show for you.