Birding in the Kenai Area

Sandhill Cranes2Parasitic jaegers, husdonain godwits, rock sandpipers, Aleutian and arctic terns, Pacific loons, black bellied plovers, Bonaparte gulls,  northern hawk owls, stellar jays, boreal chickadees, dowitchers, crossbills, spruce grouse, bald eagles and 30,000 breeding herring and mew gulls are just a few of the birds one can find in the Kenai area.

The city is located adjacent to the Kenai River estuarine area and each year thousands of shorebirds migrate through the area in the spring and the fall.  Stopping to feed and rest these birds are a welcome treat to any birder.  Birders have documented over 120 species of birds using this estuarine area.  In addition, one of the largest breeding colonies inAlaskaof herring and mew gulls can be found at the river mouth.  Mixed in with these gulls is a small colony of Aleutian terns.

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Kenai River Flats is a must stop for bird-watchers. Siberian snow geese and other waterfowl stop to feed on this saltwater marsh in the spring. Kenai Flats State Recreation Site on the Bridge Access Road at the west end of Warren Ames Bridge; parking, picnic tables, outhouse and interpretive signs. A boardwalk and viewing telescope for wildlife-watchers is located on the Bridge Access Road east of the Warren Ames Bridge. Caribou may also be seen here in their late fall migration.

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Kenai Birding Festival

The Kenai Birding Festival is a natural for this bird–filled area. This annual event is held in May. Visit www.kenaibirdfest.com for more information. From spring to fall Kenai is a great place to observe nesting species and the growth of their young.

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However, do not forget winter on the Kenai.  During this time period birds that nest farther north visit the Kenai area to winter. The Kenai Peninsula has over 270 bird species one can find within an easy hour drive from Kenai and birding is a year round event.

A short drive North and East – from Kenai the Kenai National Wildlife refuge offers additional birding opportunities.  Birds associated with a boreal forest can be easily found and the numerous lakes harbor a variety of nesting waterfowl.

A short drive south – Twelve miles south of Kenai is the Kasilof River estuary is a major wintering area for rock sandpipers which can number up to 6000 birds.  This birds offer great photography opportunities.

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In summary, stop, look, and listen for the Kenai area birds.  You will not be disappointed.