Birding in Southeast Alaska
Birding here in SE Alaska is comfortingly predictable, yet full of surprises. On a birding walk in Thomas Bay the familiar calls of Varied Thrush, Winter Wren and Common Loon greet us as our small boat lands on the mist-laden shoreline; the birds seem to be waking up to say hello. For me, hearing these voices is like hearing the greeting of old friends, easy to recognize and reassuring in a habitual and somehow familial way. These calls, predictable and easy to remember, are the perfect starter-course for anyone interested in learning how to identify birds. I cannot help but smile as I point out how the Hermit Thrush sings in two-tones, harmonizing with himself.
I’ve been extremely lucky as a guide here on the Safari Endeavour, in that I’ve been able to visit some of the same places and been able to begin to recognize the birds’ cycles. I now make a point to check on the mated pair of Black Oystercatchers when we visit Reid Glacier, hoping to catch a glimpse of some fledglings. It’s fledgling season! The babies are out! A walk nearby the Ranger Station in Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay revealed several fledgling Ruby-Crowned Kinglets learning how to hunt insects with their parents. Mostly though, it seems as though they are whining to have food delivered to them, unsure how to handle their newfound ability to fly with enough precision to capture anything mid-flight.
A small boat tour into Ford’s Terror in Endicott Arm reveals the song of American Dippers, a stalking Northern Goshawk and Arctic Terns nesting high up on the Fjord Walls after their journey of tens of thousands of miles. They traveled far to be here and so did we--both of us hoping to enjoy the solitude, vastness, beauty and abundance available here. If you’re into birds, SE Alaska is the place to be.