The Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, which is regularly visited by birds from around the world, exists in part to protect important bird nesting areas. With a mix of habitats including tundra wetlands, boreal forest and alder/willow thickets, the distribution of birds varies across the 2.15-million-acre refuge.

This checklist describes the abundance and status of 180 bird species that have been documented on the Selawik Refuge and in the surrounding area. Over 80 of these species breed here, and around 20 are year-round residents. A few extremely rare sightings have been omitted from this list for spacing reasons.

Contact us for more details, to report a new bird sighting, or to request a printer-friendly pdf of this checklist.

Key to table below-
Abundance Codes (AC):

  • A - Abundant; species is abundant in all proper habitat with all available habitat heavily utilized; sighting likelihood excellent.
  • C - Common; species occurs regularly in most proper habitat with some available habitat sparsely utilized; sighting likelihood good.
  • U - Uncommon; species occurs in relatively small numbers or is unevenly distributed; sighting likelihood poor.

Status Codes (SC):

  • P - Permanent resident; species occurs year-round.
  • B - Breeder; known to breed in the region.
  • W - Wintering resident; species occurs in the region during the winter, but breeds elsewhere.
  • S - Summer resident; species occurs in the region during the summer, but may breed elsewhere.
  • M - Migrant; species occurs when in transition between winter and breeding ranges.
  • V - Vagrant; species occurs casually or accidentally.


Common NameACSC
Emperor Goose*RB
Snow GooseCM
Greater White-fronted GooseCB
Cackling GooseCB
Canada Goose+V
Trumpeter SwanRV
Tundra SwanAB
Whooper Swan+V
Blue-winged Teal+V
Northern ShovelerCB
Eurasian WigeonRM
American WigeonAB
Northern PintailAB
Green-winged TealCB
Ring-necked DuckRS
Greater ScaupAB
Lesser ScaupUV
Steller's Eider+ 
Spectacled Eider*RM
King Eider*UM
Common EiderRB
Harlequin DuckRS
Surf ScoterRB
White-winged ScoterRV
Black ScoterCB
Long-tailed DuckUB
Common GoldeneyeRB
Common MerganserRV
Red-breasted MerganserUB
Spruce GrouseRP
Willow PtarmiganCP
Rock PtarmiganUP
Horned GrebeRB
Red-necked GrebeCB
Sandhill CraneCB
Black-bellied PloverUM
American Golden PloverCB
Pacific Golden PloverUS
Lesser Sand-plover+ 
Semipalmated PloverUB
Upland SandpiperUB
Bristle-thighed CurlewUV
Bar-tailed GodwitCM
Hudsonian GodwitRS
Ruddy TurnstoneCM
Black TurnstoneCS
Red KnotCM
Sharp-tailed SandpiperUM
Stilt SandpiperRM
Curlew Sandpiper+ 
Rock Sandpiper+ 
Baird's SandpiperRB
Least SandpiperCB
White-rumped SandpiperRM
Buff-breasted SandpiperRM
Pectoral SandpiperCM
Semipalmated SandpiperUB
Western SandpiperUB
Long-billed DowitcherUB
Wilson's SnipeCB
Red-necked PhalaropeCB
Red PhalaropeCM
Spotted SandpiperRB
Solitary SandpiperRB
Wandering TattlerRS
Greater YellowlegsUS
Lesser YellowlegsUB
Pomarine JaegerUM
Parasitic JaegerUM
Long-tailed JaegerUB
Common Murre+ 
Thick-billed Murre+ 
Black GuillemotRP
Kittlitz's MurreletRB
Horned Puffin+ 
Tufted Puffin+ 
Black-legged KittiwakeRV
Ivory GullRM
Sabine's GullRB
Bonaparte's GullUB
Ross's GullRM
Mew GullCB
Herring GullUS
Iceland (Thayers) Gull+V
Slaty-backed Gull*R


Glaucous-winged Gull*RV
Glaucous GullCB
Aleutian Tern*UB
Arctic TernCB
Red-throated LoonUB
Pacific LoonCB
Arctic LoonRB
Common LoonRS
Yellow-billed LoonRS
Short-tailed Shearwater*UM
Pelagic Cormorant*UM
Golden EagleRP
Northern HarrierCB
Sharp-shinned HawkRS
Northern GoshawkRB
Bald EagleRB
Rough-legged HawkRS
Great-horned OwlUP
Snowy OwlUW
Northern Hawk OwlUP
Great Gray OwlRP
Short-eared OwlUB
Boreal OwlRP
Belted KingfisherUB
American Three-toed WoodpeckerUP
Downy WoodpeckerRV
Hairy Woodpecker+ 
Northern FlickerRP
American KestrelRV
Peregrine Falcon*RB
Olive-sided FlycatcherUB
Western Wood-Pewee+ 
Alder FlycatcherAB
Say's Phoebe+ 
Northern ShrikeUS
Canada JayCP
Common RavenCP
Horned LarkUS
Tree SwallowCB
Bank SwallowCB
Barn Swallow*CV
Cliff SwallowRV
Black-capped ChickadeeUP
Boreal ChickadeeCP
Gray-headed ChickadeeRP
American DipperRB
Ruby-crowned KingletRS
Arctic WarblerRB
Northern WheatearUB
Varied ThrushCB
Gray-cheeked ThrushAB
Swainson's ThrushUS
American RobinAB
Eastern Yellow WagtailCB
White WagtailRV
American PipitUS
Bohemian WaxwingUB
Pine GrosbeakUP
Gray-crowned Rosy Finch+ 
Common RedpollUB
Hoary RedpollCB
White-winged CrossbillUP
Lapland LongspurUB
Smith's LongspurRB
Snow BuntingCB
McKay's BuntingUW
American Tree SparrowCB
Fox SparrowCB
Dark-eyed JuncoUS
White-crowned SparrowCB
Golden-crowned SparrowUB
Savannah SparrowUB
Lincoln's SparrowUS
Rusty BlackbirdCB
Northern WaterthrushCB
Orange-crowned WarblerUS
Yellow WarblerCB