Migratory Bird Management
Alaska Region

Landbirds/ Raptors


Alaska supports a great diversity of landbird species, or birds that rely principally on terrestrial habitats.  The Alaska landbird avifauna is composed of 260 species, 135 breeding species, and a wide variety of bird groups such as raptors, ptarmigan, woodpeckers, swallows, chickadees, thrushes, warblers, and sparrows.  Landbirds are found in all terrestrial habitats that occur in Alaska.  Because of the unique geographic position of Alaska, many of the state's landbirds are found nowhere else in the United States or North America.  For example:

  • The entire world's population of McKay's Buntings resides in Alaska.
  • North American breeding populations of Gray-headed Chickadee, Arctic Warbler, Bluethroat, Yellow and White wagtail, and Red-throated Pipit nest entirely or almost entirely within Alaska.
  • Bald Eagle. USFWS. Click to enlargeAlaska supports the the entire U.S. breeding population of Gyrfalcon, Willow and Rock ptarmigan, Snowy and Northern Hawk owl, Northern Shrike, Northern Wheatear, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Bohemian Waxwing, American Tree and Golden-crowned sparrows, Smith's and Lapland longspur, Snow Bunting, and Common and Horry redpoll.
  • Within the U.S, more than 75% of the breeding populations of Bald Eagle, Alder Flycatcher, Northwestern Crow, Boreal Chickadee, Blackpoll Warbler, and Rusty Blackbird occur in Alaska.

Approximately 50% of the landbirds breeding in Alaska migrate outside of Alaska to spend the winter.  Many of these migrant landbirds travel great distances to and from their wintering grounds in either the Old World (e.g., southeast Asia, Africa) or New World (Mexico and Central and South America) tropics.  For example, the tiny Blackpoll Warbler (which weighs as much as a pair of 25 ¢ coins) travels up to 5,000 miles from Alaska to the Amazonian basin of Brazil to send the winter!  Because Alaska's assemblage of landbird species collectively occupy a vast portion of the globe over the annual cycle, their conservation requires considerable cooperation and planning among biologists both within Alaska and among states, countries, and continents.

Last Updated: September 15, 2008