Birds on the wing return in the spring

Birding events around Alaska

Our eyes turn to the skies in early spring with the return of the birds that signal warm weather and another generation of their species. In Utqiagvik, it's the welcome sight of the snowbird and, in Fairbanks, the sandhill cranes, with their cries that penetrate and bring us outside to wonder at them.

And with the birds, there are the annual festivals, with opportunities to celebrate and learn. Here's a preview.

Ketchikan Hummingbird Festival, April, dates to be announced.

Celebrate the return of migratory birds from Central and South America to Southeast Alaska in this month-long annual festival. The male rufous hummingbirds begin arriving in Ketchikan around mid-March and are seen at feeders and flowers throughout the region by mid-April. Events include guided bird hikes, art shows and activities for kids. For more information, call the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center at 907-228-6220.

Fairbanks Spring Migration Celebration, April 27, noon to 4 p.m.

At the 2,200-acre Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge there will be great viewing opportunities for trumpeter swans, Canada geese, white-fronted geese, and various species of ducks. Activities include birdwatching and wildlife viewing, guided nature walks, falconry demonstrations, and kids' crafts for school-aged children. Friends of Creamer's Field works collaboratively with the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game and other community partners to offer education programs. Attendees are also encouraged to visit the Farmhouse Visitor Center, the circa-1908 Creamer family farmhouse, which features interpretive exhibits on migratory birds and the historic dairy complex. For more information, call 907-978-8457 or email

Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, Homer, May 8-12, 2024

This large Alaska wildlife-viewing festival honors the spring migration of shorebirds through Kachemak Bay. The festival is sponsored by the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges and Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

This year's featured shorebird is my favorite, the red-necked phalarope that moves in water like the duck at a carnival shooting gallery, kind of in a jerky yet gliding manner. Well, you have to see it.

Information at

Arctic Refuge Virtual Bird Fest, Dates to be announced

Don't you leave that easy chair! Here's your chance to see snowy owls, gyrfalcons, red-necked phalaropes from the comfort of your home.

More than 200 bird species have been recorded at Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Birds that breed there have ranges that reach five other continents and all 50 states.

Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival, Cordova, May 2-5

Organizers are recommending festival travelers fly in on May 2 and leave on May 6. If festival goers would like to stay an extra couple of days to view peak migration time they suggest booking an itinerary of May 2-8 to enjoy the full scope of the migration.

It is a very ambitious and exciting schedule, including the Shorebird Scavenger Hunt, Copper River Gallery Art Opening, guided Alaganik field trip bird viewing as well as high tide bird viewing sessions at the Hartney Bay mudflats. A reported 5 million shorebirds rest and feed here before they continue on their journey. The Around Town Birding Tour is May 3, from 4 to 5 p.m.

There are many other activities, from the Pioneer Pie Sale and Social to kids' activities to "Shorebird ID 101" class.

This year's keynote speaker at the Cordova Center, May 3, is Subhankar Banerjee, professor of Art and Ecology and director of the Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities at the University of New Mexico. Since 2002, he has been working closely with indigenous Gwich'in and Iñupiat Elders, scientists and conservationists in Alaska. He is the author of "Seasons of Life and Land: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge," and the editor of "Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point."

World Migratory Bird Day, May 11, 2024

The United States and Canada traditionally recognize the second Saturday in May as World Migratory Bird Day. The annual event celebrates the migration of nearly 350 species of migratory birds between nesting habitats in North America and non-breeding grounds in Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the breeding place for birds that range across five continents and all 50 states. A virtual festival in the fall celebrates that connection.

Utqiagvik Shorebird Festival, Utqiagvik, in June with dates to be announced

The festival, part of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's Directorate Fellows Program initiative, is a collaboration between Audubon Alaska, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other organizations to bring attendees a free, fun and educational shorebird-centered experience. The festival takes place in late June at the Utqiagvik Inupiat Heritage Center and offers activities like educational games and activities for kids of all ages, bird tours for birders of all levels, an artist workshop, and speakers from all over the world sharing their knowledge on shorebird and avian science and cultural importance.

Rendered 07/17/2024 04:14