Spring birdwatching in Alaska, as increasing numbers of North American birdwatchers have discovered, is an activity you won’t see the match of anywhere on the continent. First and foremost, there is the thrill of watching many species whose range in North America is almost exclusive to Alaska.
Spring Birdwatching in Alaska means seeing them in glorious surroundings, and in especially the case of seabirds, seeing them in almost overwhelming abundance.
Witness the Spectacle of the Alaska Birding Spring Migration
I try to go every year to watch this spectacle. I don’t mind crossing continents to go and witness what I believe is Alaska’s best birdwatching. It may just be the world’s best, wild and unspoilt bird spectacle.
The rest of the year I am in Scotland delighting in all the other birdwatching possibilities such as pheasant, grouse, partridge, quail, wild turkeys, wild goose, etc., but for me, spring birdwatching in Alaska is unrivalled and un-missable.
Wilderness Birding Adventures
Alaskan wilderness birdwatching is unequalled.
There’s the uniquely arctic taste of high-latitude birdwatching during a period of long days packed with tundra birds chirping and, from mid-June on, an explosion of tundra wildflowers and polar region butterflies.
Bald eagles are among Alaska’s most common and regularly observed birds. You’ll get the chance to see eagles in their native surroundings as they dive down from the sky and hook fish from the sea.
Observe them as they glide gracefully across the wide Alaskan skies or relax on the beach.
What You Need to do Before Watching the Spring Birds Flock
Whether in Alaska or the UK, it is important to take along a good-sized bag of provisions.
It is also important to have a camera or camcorder/ mobile phone with good video capabilities and a tripod with you. If you don’t have those they can be rented for cheap from various places.
Take Your Own Footage of Awesome Alaskan Birdlife
I have collected a lot of footage of Alaskan birdlife. It provides fantastic birdwatching opportunities, and the video files I have personally collected highlight some of the species and locations that can be seen on a typical trip.
My videography includes the Kenai Peninsula’s Forests, Denali National Park, the seabird colonies which thrive on the Pribilof Islands, and Nome and Barrow with its arctic tundra.
Be Comfortable Healthy and Well Rested to Best Enjoy the Birding Hotspots of Alaska
The next thing that I would suggest is that birdwatching requires alertness.
You really do have to make sure you are comfortable, healthy and not tired. Finally, the last thing that you want to do is catch a cold so put on the warmest of clothes.
If you are on an extended journey and then have an upset stomach, that’s not good either so watch what you eat while on the move. Be cautious and take a few indigestion tables with you!
Birding Trips and Tours in the State of Alaska
There are many ways to enjoy these birds. If you’re going with a group, it might be good to figure out a way to communicate when one of you sees something special happen. The group might be more comfortable and there wouldn’t be as many curtailed birdwatching sessions if the location was warmer. But always wrap up warm once you are in the area. Then you can enjoy these birds by using the same methods that birdwatchers all over the world are familiar with.
Puffins are really an awesome species in particular, and although they are not tiny, they are more visible than you would expect. But beware that the horned Puffin is one of those animals that is difficult to find.
The Puffin’s body is mostly black and white, with yellow beaks. Another key Alaskan bird is the Marbled Murrelet. You’ll understand why that name was chosen as soon as you see that species!
Bird-Watching Festivals are Wonders to Attend
Attend a bird-watching festival is a great way to start out. Snowy owls, Spectacled Eiders, the Bristling-thighed Curlews, Asian vagrants, and several other birds are among the highlights of the birding experience of several of the birding festivals.
Anchorage, surrounded by wild open space, provides a wealth of opportunities for Alaskan birdwatching in a natural environment. Alaska’s skies are teeming with birds. Forests reverberate with their songs and calls.
The first way that I’ve found to enjoy these game birds is to find and watch a family. When you find a family with your eyes, they can zoom in with binoculars to get close to the birds without disturbing them. While doing this, make sure to watch the parents while you are within viewing distance.
Also, whether at a distance through binoculars or up close to birds like puffins, try to watch the babies and watch them closely. They may be curious and even peck at you when you get too close. But, keep quiet and move only slowly and his way you won’t disturb them while they are feeding their kids.
Witness the Spring Chorus of Birdsong Along Alaska’s Shores
Do this and your world will be filled with the joy of those birds. The many species nesting for the summer near Alaska’s rich waters makes it resound with birdsong all along Alaska’s shores. In Alaska, nearly 500 bird species have been recorded, providing plenty of activity for even the most discerning birder.
Walking the Trails and Birding
The second way is to look for them on a trail. Some people have been known to go in the woods and look for these little fellows. They might be hanging out and enjoying the fresh air. There might be a trail that runs beside a creek. Or they might be resting under a tree.
These birds like the feel of the wind on their bodies, and they are very keen to stay in the open. They will run into the woods to escape the wind during gales. Watch them and be aware of their tracks. If you see tracks close to you, go and watch them.
They are most likely feeding. If you are outside and one walks by, they may go and pick up a trail of titbits you might leave for them to get food.
Wetland Trail Day-Use Wildlife Viewing
Take a trail in the morning and discover that the Alaskan lands are home to a variety of fascinating birds. Puffins, barrow’s goldeneyes, red-necked grebes, gyrfalcons, auklets, sandpipers, and a birder’s delight of other birds can be found here.
And while you can see unusual birds all over Alaska, the Pribilof Islands are known for having the highest density of rare and exotic birds.
Camping while Spring Birdwatching in Alaska
The other way to enjoy these birds is by putting up a tent. There is nothing better than sleeping under a nice warm, soft starlight.
You will have a blanket of stars above you, and you will be quiet.
It will be heaven when you wake before dawn to the first chirpings. Make sure that the tent is big enough to keep all of your party comfortably inside.
Some people put the kids in separate tents and let them sleep-on in the mornings if they are too young to appreciate the early birdsong.
RV Parks and Campgrounds for Spring Birdwatching in Alaska
The best way to enjoy these birds is to go to a place where they are abundant and for hardy campers, there are a number of RV Parks and Campgrounds. There are many birding opportunities where this requirement is easily met in Alaska.
Don’t forget: This vast region is home to a marine sanctuary with over 40 million breeding seabirds and an arctic coastal plain that attracts migratory birds from all over the US and beyond.
If you can, go with friends and all of you keep quiet. These birds are very fearless and will eat almost anything. That means if you put out bird food for long enough and are prepared to wait, they will get close to you.
From Kittiwakes to Spruce Grouse and Puffins Galore!
We have seen Red-legged Kittiwake, Spruce Grouse, Aleutian Tern, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Horned and Tufted Puffins, Crested Parakeets, Ancient, Marbled, and Kittlitz’s Murrelets, Rhinoceros and Least Auklets, the Snowy Owl, the Northwestern Crow, Northern Hawk-owl, varied Thrush species, the Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Smith’s Longspur, American tree and many Golden-crowned Sparrows and Rusty Blackbirds.
They may fly right past your tent and land really close to you. Also, you will find them eating berries and seeds right off bushes and sometimes off the ground. Have a nice, wide-open space in front of your tent with no trees or other cover. The sky will be the limit!
Watch Alaskan Birds Flocking to Safe Nightime Roosts
The best time to see birds in flight is at dusk. One of our favourites for this are the Chickadees which come in seven different varieties in the United States.
The black-capped chickadee is one of them. These spirited little birds can be found not only from coast to coast in the northern United States but also well north into Alaska.
The black caps which top their heads identify them, as their names indicate. They are still the most common chickadee species in the North American continent by far.
If you have a camera at dusk, you can capture the best shots. That is if you have a camera. You may be able to record with a camcorder, but it might not be up to the task.
A camcorder is a small digital recorder that can also record audio. This allows you to watch a movie of the bird as it takes the shot, moves in for the catch, and then waits for your reaction. It is the best way to enjoy them.
Watch Birds in 24-hour Utqiagvik Sunshine!
Utqiagvik (previously known as Barrow) is the United States’ northernmost official settlement and wildlife refuge, situated more than 300 miles (480 kilometres) north of the arctic circle. Record awesome videos where the sun barely completely sets throughout the summer.
There is 24-hour sunshine, which is an exciting phenomenon to witness firsthand. Numerous species, including the long-tailed duck, Steller’s, Spectacled, and King Eiders, the Tundra Swan, and various shorebirds, use this high-arctic habitat for breeding.
Concluding on: Why Spring Birdwatching in Alaska is Alaska’s Best Birding Season!
Spring Birdwatching in Alaska is an incomparable treat for any bird lover. It is really amazing how many species of birds we have found in Alaska in the springtime.
To be able to see them, you just need to set aside time for you to enjoy. I know, I know. I know!
How can you not enjoy watching birds from your tent at dawn? Or, watch them from on a mountain top, or at dusk in the forest?
My point is, it is amazing what a great bird spotting location and a few good birding friends can do for you on these trips.
Good birding friends combine in their enjoyment of the experience and we all feel very bonded by the end.
The birds we watch make our lives more vital because they remind us all that life is fleeting and sometimes we all just need to have some fun. That includes the birds…
And, “Boy! Oh Boy!” do those lucky birds have some fun in Alaska!
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