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 Name AC SC
Emperor Goose* R B
Snow Goose C M
Greater White-fronted Goose C B
Brant U M
Cackling Goose C B
Canada Goose + V
Trumpeter Swan R V
Tundra Swan A B
Whooper Swan + V
Blue-winged Teal + V
Northern Shoveler C B
Gadwall + V
Eurasian Wigeon R M
American Wigeon A B
Mallard C B
Northern Pintail A B
Green-winged Teal C B
Canvasback R B
Ring-necked Duck R S
Redhead + V
Greater Scaup A B
Lesser Scaup U V
Steller's Eider +  
Spectacled Eider* R M
King Eider* U M
Common Eider R B
Harlequin Duck R S
Surf Scoter R B
White-winged Scoter R V
Black Scoter C B
Long-tailed Duck U B
Bufflehead R B
Common Goldeneye R B
Common Merganser R V
Red-breasted Merganser U B
Spruce Grouse R P
Willow Ptarmigan C P
Rock Ptarmigan U P
Horned Grebe R B
Red-necked Grebe C B
Sandhill Crane C B
Black-bellied Plover U M
American Golden Plover C B
Pacific Golden Plover U S
Lesser Sand-plover +  
Semipalmated Plover U B
Killdeer* +  
Upland Sandpiper U B
Bristle-thighed Curlew U V
Whimbrel A B
Bar-tailed Godwit C M
Hudsonian Godwit R S
Ruddy Turnstone C M
Black Turnstone C S
Red Knot C M
Surfbird U B
Ruff +  
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper U M
Stilt Sandpiper R M
Curlew Sandpiper +  
Sanderling U M
Dunlin R B
Rock Sandpiper +  
Baird's Sandpiper R B
Least Sandpiper C B
White-rumped Sandpiper R M
Buff-breasted Sandpiper R M
Pectoral Sandpiper C M
Semipalmated Sandpiper U B
Western Sandpiper U B
Long-billed Dowitcher U B
Wilson's Snipe C B
Red-necked Phalarope C B
Red Phalarope C M
Spotted Sandpiper R B
Solitary Sandpiper R B
Wandering Tattler R S
Greater Yellowlegs U S
Lesser Yellowlegs U B
Pomarine Jaeger U M
Parasitic Jaeger U M
Long-tailed Jaeger U B
Common Murre +  
Thick-billed Murre +  
Black Guillemot R P
Kittlitz's Murrelet R B
Horned Puffin +  
Tufted Puffin +  
Black-legged Kittiwake R V
Ivory Gull R M
Sabine's Gull R B
Bonaparte's Gull U B
Ross's Gull R M
Mew Gull C B
Herring Gull U S
Iceland (Thayers) Gull + V
Slaty-backed Gull* R


Glaucous-winged Gull* R V
Glaucous Gull C B
Aleutian Tern* U B
Arctic Tern C B
Red-throated Loon U B
Pacific Loon C B
Arctic Loon R B
Common Loon R S
Yellow-billed Loon R S
Short-tailed Shearwater* U M
Pelagic Cormorant* U M
Osprey U B
Golden Eagle R P
Northern Harrier C B
Sharp-shinned Hawk R S
Northern Goshawk R B
Bald Eagle R B
Rough-legged Hawk R S
Great-horned Owl U P
Snowy Owl U W
Northern Hawk Owl U P
Great Gray Owl R P
Short-eared Owl U B
Boreal Owl R P
Belted Kingfisher U B
American Three-toed Woodpecker U P
Downy Woodpecker R V
Hairy Woodpecker +  
Northern Flicker R P
American Kestrel R V
Merlin R S
Gyrfalcon R P
Peregrine Falcon* R B
Olive-sided Flycatcher U B
Western Wood-Pewee +  
Alder Flycatcher A B
Say's Phoebe +  
Northern Shrike U S
Canada Jay C P
Common Raven C P
Horned Lark U S
Tree Swallow C B
Bank Swallow C B
Barn Swallow* C V
Cliff Swallow R V
Black-capped Chickadee U P
Boreal Chickadee C P
Gray-headed Chickadee R P
American Dipper R B
Ruby-crowned Kinglet R S
Arctic Warbler R B
Bluethroat R V
Northern Wheatear U B
Varied Thrush C B
Gray-cheeked Thrush A B
Swainson's Thrush U S
American Robin A B
Eastern Yellow Wagtail C B
White Wagtail R V
American Pipit U S
Bohemian Waxwing U B
Pine Grosbeak U P
Gray-crowned Rosy Finch +  
Common Redpoll U B
Hoary Redpoll C B
White-winged Crossbill U P
Lapland Longspur U B
Smith's Longspur R B
Snow Bunting C B
McKay's Bunting U W
American Tree Sparrow C B
Fox Sparrow C B
Dark-eyed Junco U S
White-crowned Sparrow C B
Golden-crowned Sparrow U B
Savannah Sparrow U B
Lincoln's Sparrow U S
Rusty Blackbird C B
Northern Waterthrush C B
Orange-crowned Warbler U S
Yellow Warbler C B