Sunday, May 11, 2014

Spring Migration: Birders Take Note of Alaska's View!

During the late spring months of April and May, Alaska is such an exciting place to visit, especially if wildlife viewing is at the top of your list!  There are countless opportunities for viewing from air to sea and even land! Wildlife from as far as the south Pacific migrate up to the arctic region to take advantage of the abundance of available resources.   Migration is the seasonal movement of animals from one region to another.

If you are an avid birder there are several must see hot spots in Alaska. One of the most spectacular locations for birding is the Island of St. George in the Pribilofs, where over 3 million sea birds come to nest forming one of the largest colonies of sea birds in the  northern hemisphere! Species you will see include common murres, thick billed murres, tufted and horned puffins, black legged kittywakes, and most of the world’s population of red-legged kittywakes. 

Other notable birding locations include Denali National Park, where you could spot pine grosbeaks, ptarmigan, and northern goshawk; Kenai Fjords, Copper River Delta, and Glacier Bay National Park.  See the National Park Service for more view information. 

Birding locations closer to Anchorage include, points along Turnagain Arm, to Girdwood and Portage Valley, as well as north to Palmer Hay Flats Reservation Area. 

There are also many opportunities to view marine species migrations including grey whales, humpback whales, orcas, and you can even see the federally endangered Cook Inlet population of the beluga whale at points various within Cook Inlet.  Some migrants you can even take home with you if you’re so lucky.  Five species of salmon head up the streams and tributaries to return to the same breeding grounds they were hatched to lay eggs. 

Quite impressively one of the US’s longest terrestrial migrations occurs right here in Alaska without ever leaving the state.  Caribou can travel over 400 miles each year and never make it out of Alaska.  Other Alaskan mammals migrate much shorter distances including the black bear, brown bear, moose, and various small mammals travel back and forth each year between there wintering and summer grounds.  All of these species can be viewed almost anywhere in Alaska, and most of them right in Anchorage, with just a little luck and watchful eye. 

If you’re visiting Alaska during April and May, and beating the great crowds of tourist migration, visit the links below to find out more about where you can be sure to witness some of the world’s most spectacular species in action. 

Alaska Wildlife Migration Links

Krista & Zack are Innkeepers at Alaska House of Jade and are members  Anchorage Alaska Bed & Breakfast Association


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