Birding Hot Spots
Want to do some bird watching, but you're not sure where the best spots
are? Here is a list of locations in the Fairbanks area that offer
good opportunities for viewing local and migratory birds.
South Cushman Street beyond Northland Wood offers ponds, riverside, brush
and the dump. Visit at different times of the day.
Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge at 1300 College Road has field,
deciduous woods, brush and forest habitats as well as numerous spring ponds.
Pick up a map of the entire refuge at the Alaska Department of Fish and
Game office to access good sites. The Alaska Bird Observatory offers
tours of their bird banding program.
The Chena River is accessible at several sites. All are good, especially
near University Avenue.
The University of Alaska Arboretum and surrounding undeveloped lands are
excellent for a variety of habitats. Smith Lake, accessible from
west campus or Sheep Creek Road, is a "don't miss" location.
The gravel pits surrounding the Fairbanks International Airport are excellent
for waterfowl, including newly hatched ducklings. Grassy areas around
airstrips also attract shorebirds and passerine.
Nordale Road at the ponds and marsh just west of the Little Chena River,
and at Beaver Slough near Badger Road.
The end of Murphy Dome Road offers local access to tundra vegetation and
the chance of seeing tundra birds.
Other Birding Areas
in Interior and Northern Alaska
Interior Alaska - The interior is dominated by vast dramatic cloudscapes,
rolling hills and large tracts of White Spruce/Birch forests. The
eastern interior has many large lakes. At Delta and Tok there are
large, open agricultural fields. Several species reach their western
limits in North America here (Spruce Grouse, Hammond's Flycatcher, and
Denali National Park - This is perhaps the best park in the country
for viewing wildlife and wildflowers from early June through August.
Each spring, 155 species of birds migrate to their summer grounds in Denali
National Park, and many more people flock to the park to get a glimpse
of as many species as they can.
The Savage River bridge is an excellent vantage point to view Harlequin Ducks and Mew Gulls. The spruce forest near Sanctuary River is a good location to spot the elusive Hawk Owl. Igloo Creek is the prime spot to see the Arctic Warbler, the willows along this creek are home to many other species of warblers and sparrows as well. Tattler Creek is the place to see the shorebird it was named after, the Wandering Tattler. After Tattler Creek, the park road climbs to Sable Pass where Willow and Rock Ptarmigan and Golden-crowned sparrows are often observed. Golden Eagles can be spotted soaring over the rige tops from Polychrome Pass where Northern Wheatears and Say's phoebes are also seen. Porcupine Forest is a great location to view Northern Shrikes and Merlin falcons. The Long-tailed Jaeger is often observed hovering in search of prey along Highway Pass. Thorofare Pass is ideal habitat for American Golden Plovers, Lapland Longspurs and Horned Larks. Climb up any of the ridges along the pass to see Surfbirds or American Pipits. Gyrfalcons are cliff nesters and can sometimes be seen from Eielson Visitor Center. The stretch of road from Eielson Visitor Center to Wonder Lake is dotted with ponds that are home to many species of waterfowl such as: Red-throated Loon, Long-tailed Duck, Scoters, Phalaropes, White-fronted Geese and many other water loving birds. Short-eared Owls also frequent the tiaga around these ponds. Arctic Terns and Common Loons are viewed from Wonder Lake Campground.
Denali Highway - This is an unpaved road paralleling the south side
of the Alaska Range. The first 40 miles from the west end are good
for Upland Sandpiper, Arctic Warbler, Merlin, and Smith's Longspur.
Delta Junction - Little Lost Lake in the Quartz Lake State Park is good for waterfowl and shorebirds, plus there is a nice trail system that passes through upland deciduous and coniferous forest. The Delta Agricultural Project located east of Delta Junction on Sawmill Road at Mile 1403 off the Alaska Highway has large open areas where you can see raptors, waterfowl, cranes, Sharp-tailed Grouse, and a variety of passerines including Mountain Bluebirds. Coal Mine Road located south of Delta Junction at mile 242 Richardson Highway provides access to alpine habitats with ptarmigan, jaegers, and a variety of passerines. Meadows Road located on Fort Greely Military Reservation on the Richardson Highway passes through upland deciduous and subalpine habitats, with a series of lakes (Bolio and Big Lake are best for birding) that are home to waterfowl and loons, Sharp-tailed Grouse, and a variety of other species. Clearwater Lake located off Jack Warren Road in Delta Junction provides good birding for waterfowl early and late in the season.
Northern Alaska - Characterized by short, cool, windy summers, the north coast offers some unique birding opportunities to observe shorebirds in breeding plumage. Jaegers, many shorebirds, and eiders are all locally common on the Arctic plain. There are 4-day, round trip excursions by air with ground transportation from Fairbanks and Anchorage to Prudhoe Bay and Barrow. Alaska air carriers sometimes offer one day and overnight tours of both places.
Barrow - Commonly seen from the shoreline areas are numbers of jaegers, all four species of eiders, Sabine's and Glaucous Gulls, and Yellow-billed Loons. Ross's and Ivory Gulls are only seen in the fall (September and October).
Prudhoe Bay - Breeding species often seen include Spectacled and
King Eider, Sabine's Gull & Snowy Owl.
Christmas Bird Count