Summer Voices

Text by Liz McKenzie      Photos and Sounds by Richard Nelson


Here's a selection of photos and recordings of some of the migratory birds that nest and spend the summer months in Alaska.

Yellow Warbler

A tiny, bright, sweet-voiced warbler that nests in most of Alaska outside the arctic, then makes a huge migration to wintering gr ounds in Central and South America.

Hear a Yellow Warbler

Sandhill Crane

A lanky, charismatic bird with a unique clattering voice, now common after it was badly overhunted in the last century. Nests in central and western Alaska, and spends the winter months in the southern U.S.

Hear Sandhill Cranes

Hermit Thrush

A shy, subtle brown bird with one of North America's most beautiful voices. Nests in central and southern Alaska, across Canada, and in the western mountains, then winters along the Pacific Coast, across the southern U.S. and down through Mexico

Hear a Hermit Thrush

Arctic Tern

This brilliant, dancing flier makes the longest migration of any bird in the world. It also experiences two summers every year—one on nesting grounds throughout the arctic, and another in Antarctic waters of the far southern hemisphere.

Hear an Arctic Tern

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Known for the beauty of its clear, high song, this bird nests in Alaska and western Canada, then makes a short migration to wintering grounds along the U.S. Pacific Coast.

Hear a Golden-crowned Sparrow

Greater Yellowlegs

A large, common shorebird that makes ceaseless ringing complaints when disturbed on its nesting grounds from coastal Alaska across to Atlantic Canada. Winters in the southern U.S., Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean

Hear a Greater Yellowlegs

Rough-legged Hawk

This big, graceful raptor hunts on the open tundra of Alaska and arctic Canada, then winters from southernmost Canada down across much of the U.S.

Hear a Rough-legged Hawk

Northern Wheatear

A lovely songbird that nests on arctic and mountain tundra in Alaska and high arctic Canada, then makes one of the longest migrations of any small bird—across Asia to wintering grounds on the savannas of Africa.

Hear a Northern Wheatear

Rufous Hummingbird

This bundle of color and energy nests from the Pacific Northwest up to southern Alaska, then follows the mountains south each fall to wintering areas in the Southern U.S. and Mexico.

Hear a Rufous Hummingbird

Wilson's Warbler

A little golden jewel that nests from Alaska across most of Canada and into the Rocky Mountain states, this warbler winters along the Gulf Coast down through all of Mexico and Central America.

Hear a Wilson's Warbler

Western Sandpiper

Huge flocks of these miniature shorebirds mass at spring stopovers along the Pacific Coast, while headed for their nesting grounds on the Alaskan tundra. They winter along the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf Coasts.

Hear a Flock of Western Sandpipers

Trumpeter Swan

Huge swans, well named for their trumpeting calls, nest in central Alaska and northwest Canada, and winter mainly in the Pacific Northwest and Central U.S.

Hear Trumpeter Swans

Yellow-rumped Warbler

These bright little singers nest in the forests of Alaska, Canada, and the western U.S., then winter in the coastal and southern U.S., Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean

Hear a Yellow-rumped Warbler

Common Loon

A magnificent bird and one of the world's greatest wild voices. Nests in most of Alaska and across Canada, then winters along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America.

Hear a Common Loon


For Further Reading:

Living on the Wind by Scott Weidensaul
The Migration of Birds: Seasons on the Wing by Janice M. Hughes
Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of the Forest by Richard Nelson

For Listening:

Bird Migration
Boreal Forest
Gray Jay
Hummingbird
Sandhill Crane
Shearwater
Shorebirds
Thrush

Important Links:

Alaska Department of Fish and Game
American Bird Conservancy
Audubon
Audubon Water bird Conservation: Issues and Answers
ebird
H.R. 1643 Federal Bird Safe Building Act of 2011
Migratory songbirds and cats
Nature Conservancy
Nature Conservancy's Migratory Bird Program
Shade Grown Coffee and Migratory Birds
The State of the Birds 2011
US Fish and Wildlife Service
USFWS Migratory Bird Program

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