Denali Area Activities, A to Z

rock ptarmigan

Rock Ptarmigan

arctic warbler

Arctic Warbler

swans

Swans

harlequin duck

Harlequin Duck

gyrfalcon

Gyrfalcon

This article discusses a popular “B” activity, Birding.  The Denali area is diverse in its habitats, each of which attracts different species of birds.  In wetland areas, swans, ducks, gulls, geese and cranes can be viewed.  Loons and grebes can be spotted in lake and pond areas, while harlequin ducks, dippers and tattlers are found in stream habitats. I saw my first harlequin duck at about midnight on the summer solstice, riding the current in a local river.  It is a beautiful bird and it was thrilling to see it for the first time.  Getting more inland, tall shrub communities attract arctic warblers and gray-cheeked thrushes.  Alpine habitat attracts lapland longspurs, long-tailed jaegers and northern wheatears.  Rocky outcrops and talus slopes communities attract golden eagles, gyrfalcons and rock ptarmigans.   Denali National Park has a number of these habitats and the shuttle bus provides opportunities for exploring these different communities and to view some of these beautiful species of birds.   Guided hikes provide another opportunity for bird watching.  One year I took a guided birding hike of a tall shrub community in Denali and learned a great deal as to the birds common to this habitat. jaeger

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