Alaska, USA

Most Common Backyard Birds in Alaska (Explained)

Alaska has a lot of birds throughout the winter or the summer. The most common backyard birds that you will see are the chickadees, warblers, sparrows, and stellar’s jays. It is important to keep in mind that while these birds are abundant in Alaska, they do tend to be overpopulated in the winter.

This is because of the breeding that they need to do to ensure that their young are born healthy and ready to leave the nest at the beginning of the year. If you want to see a variety of backyard birds, you should definitely make an effort to go to Alaska during the winter, as you will be able to capture some of these birds on camera. 

However, if you want to see more of the uncommon birds in your area, there are plenty of options available to you. For instance, if you are near Denali National Park, then you will be able to see a whole array of birds.

Most Common Backyard Birds in Alaska

Common Raven

The Common Raven, is an all black large passerine bird found across the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the fourth most widely distributed of the corvids. In the United States this beautiful bird has a range extending from Alabama to central Louisiana. The upper reaches of this bird’s distribution tend to consist of lowland through Florida and into the central mountains of Georgia and Arkansas.

In the lower reaches of this distribution it can be found all the way down south through central Louisiana and all the Southern States. In areas along the west side of the Mississippi River this bird can be found from southern Texas right east of Houston all the way to the northern reaches of Montana. This bird finds a lot of variety in its range, and is a very adaptable bird in any type of habitat.

  • Frequency: 35.84%
  • Color:  All black iridescent plumage
  • Habitat: Wooded areas, evergreen forests, tundra, roadside, grasslands, backyards, parks
  • Range:  Found throughout the Northern Hemisphere
  • Size: 21 – 26 inches long
  • Weight: 1.5 – 4.5 lbs.
  • Diet:  Mainly scavengers, feeding on carrion, beetles, and maggots.
  • Family: Corvidae
  • Genus: Corvus

American Robin

American Robin
Image by lorifbutler from Pixabay

The American Robin is common throughout much of North America, particularly the southern states along the Mississippi and Texas rivers. Populations in Florida seem to grow fastest in the south and west, while populations in Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota seem to grow slowly. American robins are rarely seen anywhere except in urban areas. In the wilderness, they live in thick forests or in dry marshlands, but wherever they are found they seem to be quite adaptable.

Robins are nocturnal, flying at night and foraging during the day for food and insects. But unlike some other birds, American robins are generally nocturnal throughout most of the year, except for a time between March and September, when they are typically seen flying back and forth across the continental shelves.

  • Frequency: 23.31%
  • Color: Mostly brown on the back with an orange colored breast
  • Habitat: Wooded areas, backyards, parks, fields
  • Range: USA, Canada, Mexico
  • Size: 12 – 16″ inches
  • Weight: 72 – 95 grams
  • Diet: Fruits, berries and insects (earthworms, beetles, caterpillars)
  • Family: Turdidae
  • Genus: Turdus

Related Post: Interesting American Robin Fun Facts

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco
Image by Natasha G from Pixabay

The dark-eyed junco,  is a small, handsome, and sometimes shy species of North American juncos. This small bird is extremely common across much of eastern North America and in spring continues into the southern arctic. It’s a relatively variable bird, often very similar to the more common Gray-headed Sparrow. Juncos are a unique breed, with some living in large numbers in Alaska and some in Montana.

As a matter of fact, this bird has very seasonal habits. During the winter they have a tendency to stop breeding, so that they can concentrate on their eggs and young birds and come back to breeding later in the spring.

  • Frequency: 23.12%
  • Color:  Gray head, neck, breast, gray/brown backs and wings, white underside
  • Habitat: Wooded areas, forest edges, roadsides, gardens, parks.
  • Range: USA and Canada
  • Size: 5.1 – 6.9″ inches
  • Weight: 18 – 30 grams
  • Diet:  Seeds, insects, and arthropods
  • Family: Passeriformes
  • Genus: Junco

Black-billed Magpie

The black-billed magpie is a common bird found in the wilds of North America, from Colorado to southern British Columbia, from eastern Oregon, all the way up to central California, northern Nevada, and central Texas. The diet varies depending on the season, day of the week, and time of day. During the nesting season (which lasts from March to July), these birds are aggressive and noisy, as they prepare for laying their eggs. They also tend to visit and feed at different sites each day to mark their territories.

During the winter, these birds generally hide in caves, but during nesting season, they are out and about, preening and showing off their wings. They like to perch on fences and rock walls, where they can look at and feed different small mammals like mice, voles, shrews, rats, and voles. They also like eating berries, although these foods do not offer much nutrition compared to the other foods that they eat.

  • Frequency: 19.21%
  • Color:  Dense plumage, shorter and rounder wings, longer tail, and has blue iridescent feathers
  • Habitat: Trees, open areas, parks and fields.
  • Range: USA and Canada
  • Size: 18″ – 24″ inches
  • Weight: 167 – 216 grams
  • Diet:  All types of insects, seeds, carrion, berries, rodents, nuts, eggs, and garbage
  • Family: Passeriformes
  • Genus: Corvidae

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

The black-capped chickadee,  is a small-sized, non-migrating, North American bird, that generally lives in mixed and deciduous forests. It’s a semi-migratory passerine bird which means it moves from one point in its range to another throughout the year. It’s known as a seasonal bird, living mostly during the wintertime in the southern United States and northern Canada.  It’s also a diving and foraging bird which rely on its eyesight to find food.

The black-capped chickadee has one of the widest ranges of any state bird with an estimated distribution in all 50 states of the North American continent. This large species ranges from Montana and Wyoming in the west through Ontario, Quebec, New York, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Maryland, southern Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Alaska, and in parts of Florida. It’s a less common occurrence in some parts of central Mexico such as Baja California and Jalisco, although you’ll find the species there too.

  • Frequency: 18.17%
  • Color: Black-cap, white on face, white/reddish-brown flanks
  • Habitat: Deciduous and mixed forests, backyards, parks
  • Range: USA and Canada
  • Size: 11.5 -16 cm length
  • Weight: 8 – 15 grams
  • Diet:  Insects, seeds, berries
  • Family: Paridae
  • Genus: Poecile

Related Post: How Do I Attract Chickadees To My Yard?

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll
Image by Jennifer Beebe from Pixabay

The Common Redpoll is a small, seed-eating species of the common finch. It breeds somewhat farther south of the Arctic, and in coastal habitats with thick shrubs or brush. This is a lovely and stunning bird that do wonderful song and dance, but it does not do well in dry, hot areas, not even when provided with plenty of water. The Common Redpoll has a squatting posture with a flapping bill and bright red breast feathers. 

Their natural habitat is the coastal lowlands of Mexico along the eastern seaboard and in the central Pacific. They are nocturnal and move through brush and tall grasses, but are often seen in dense stands of trees or hanging in midair as they feed. The dark reds and oranges that are usually seen on a redneck make it one of the most attractive and versatile birds among the common species of North America.

  • Frequency: 14.52%
  • Color: Small brownish-grey with dark streaks and a bright red patch on its forehead
  • Habitat: Deciduous and mixed forests, backyards, parks
  • Range: USA and Canada
  • Size: 4.5″ – 5.5″ length
  • Weight: 12 – 16 grams
  • Diet: birch seeds
  • Family: Fringillidae
  • Genus: Acanthis

Northwestern Crow

Northwestern Crow
Image by Nani Unmuth from Pixabay

The Northwestern Crow is an all black passerine bird that is native to the northeast part of North America. It is evolutionarily early subspecies of its American crow ancestor, but it usually averages much smaller than the nominate species with relatively smaller feet and a somewhat flatter bill. The Northwestern Crow generally feeds on a variety of foods, including stranded fish, shellfish, crabs and mussels, apples, walnuts, small nuts, berries, nectarines, and seeds.

Its natural habitat is forested hillsides where there are large trees and brush. Sometimes it can also be found in rocky areas, near creeks and rivers. It feeds on a variety of plant and tree-related foods including: berries, fruits, seeds, and insects. It also eats carrion, small rodents, and birds. Sexual maturity is reached at seven years and eggs are laid in April or May.

  • Frequency: 13.75%
  • Color: Black
  • Habitat: Bays or rivers, beaches, islands, and landfills
  • Range: coastal regions and offshore islands of southern Alaska, and from  Washington to British Columbia
  • Size: 16.5″ – 17.5″″ inches
  • Weight: 3385 – 450 grams
  • Diet: Invertebrates, small vertebrates, eggs, nestlings, carrion, fruit, seeds, and garbage 
  • Family: Corvidae
  • Genus: Corvis

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Image by edbo23 from Pixabay

The yellow-rumped warbler will visit both summer and winter grounds but typically returns to its winter area during late spring through early summer. This bird likes to build nests high up, where it can hide from predators. The twigs of choice are evergreen conifers such as maple, oak and ash. They are also attracted to spruce up their nest with coarse-textured twigs and will even use feathers, dirt and other types of objects to construct their nests. 

The yellow-rumped warbler is a cavity nester, which means they spend most of their time below the waterline, on the forest floors or even rocks or other surfaces in and around their habitat. They feed primarily on seeds but will also take an insect larva and other foods that they find nearby.

  • Frequency: 12.91%
  • Color: Yellow with reddish streaks on the underparts
  • Habitat: Pastures, thickets, brushy areas, prairies, grasslands, parks and fields, 
  • Range: USA and Canada
  • Size: 4.0″ – 7.1″ inches long
  • Weight: 7 – 25 grams
  • Diet:  Mayflies, moths, mosquitoes, beetles, damselflies, treehoppers, spiders, and berries.
  • Family: Parulidae 
  • Genus: Setophaga 

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow
Image by David Reed from Pixabay

The Savannah Sparrow is an indigenous breed to the mountains of south-eastern USA, which has a population estimated at around twelve to fifteen thousand. There are currently seven recognized breeding sites where these sparrows can be found, including two in north-central Alaska and two in south-east Alaska. At the south-west of Fairbanks, there is a small but thriving breeding ground for the common sparrow, which can often be found around the Copper River drainage basin.

Other areas where breeding programs have been implemented include Denali National Park, south-west Alaska, Icy Mountains National Park, south-west California, and central California. In these areas, natural habitats have been created to support the development of these birds, with cages and nest boxes having been provided to ensure that they breed naturally. 

  • Frequency: 12.54%
  • Color: White crown, white throat,  streaked brown back, whitish underparts with brown or blackish breast and flank streaking
  • Habitat: Grassy coastal dunes, farmland, sub-alpine meadows
  • Range:   Canada, Alaska, northern, central and Pacific coastal United States, Guatemala and Mexico
  • Size: 4.3″ – 6.7″ inches
  • Weight: 15 – 29 grams
  • Diet:  Grains, seeds, and insects
  • Family: Passerellidae​​​​​​​
  • Genus: Passerculus

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler
Image by Avia5 from Pixabay

The Orange-crowned Warbler is an uncommon, and beautiful, songbird. These songs are called warbling, which means ‘singing over the sea. THey can be seen in western United States, Canada, and Alaska. One of their most popular places to live is the coastal marshlands and bays of Florida. Here they live in large numbers, although they do make decent homes in man made barriers like man made houses and underwater barriers like ripraphers and drop-offs.

The male Orange-crowned Warbler can be seen in the winter along coastal marshes and in estuaries, but in the spring they migrate south along the coast. Their winter migration can be seen in the interiors of saltmarsh flats in New Mexico and Arizona. March through May they migrate back into the Caribbean and the western Atlantic states. A popular daytime activity for these warblers is to hang out in tree branches in search of insects, with the male eventually dancing across the branches and watching its female partner from above. 

  • Frequency: 12.46%
  • Color:  Olive-grey upperparts, yellowish underparts with light streaking and a thin pointed bill
  • Habitat: woods and thickets along edges of streams, lakes, marshes, and swamps
  • Range:  Coastal Alaska, Norhtern Rockies
  • Size: 4.3″ – 5.5″ inches
  • Weight: 7 – 11 grams
  • Diet:  invertebrate prey, including ants, beetles, spiders, flies, and caterpillars​​​​​​​
  • Family: Parulidae
  • Genus: Leiothlypis

Varied Thrush

Varied Thrush
Image by radesigns from Pixabay

If you’re interested in seeing these birds, try to find them during the early morning, because this is when they are extremely active. On a bright, sunny day, watch for the males to fly slowly across the landscape and then go into flight again. This means they are either taking a short break or are just taking off again to refuel. These small, fast-flying birds are not likely to stay long in one place, so if you see a daytime flyer, don’t assume they’re at a bird bath; chances are they’re nearby somewhere eating nectar from a flower or tree.​​​​​​​ 

These birds widely distributed throughout the world, except for Australia, where they are localized in the coastal regions. They feed on a number of foods, including grasses, seeds, fungi, and plant material. Their prevalence in nature and natural habitats has made them a popular topic of study by ornithologists and entomologists, and they are particularly abundant in areas which have had relatively low amounts of human influence over the years.​​​​​​​

  • Frequency: 11.74%
  • Color:  Orange and black feathers, has an orange,and gray pattern at the breasts and throat
  • Habitat: Orchards, conifer forests and thickets
  • Range: Western North America from Alaska to northern California
  • Size: 7.9″ -10.2″ inches
  • Weight: 65 – 100 grams
  • Diet:  Fruits and berries
  • Family: Turdidae
  • Genus: Ixoreus

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow
Image by Kara Skye from Pixabay

The white-crowned sparrow, a small member of the sparrow family. In autumn, these birds are found in abundance along many roads, in backyards, parks, and other areas with trees. These birds are excellent flyers, being capable of flying for hours without taking off and re-appearing. They are common year-round visitors to parks, backyards and wooded areas, but during nesting season (from late spring to late summer) they are especially abundant near bird feeders, and near bird baths.

With such high activity, these sparrows are susceptible to habitat destruction, particularly near housing developments. It is imperative to assist these beautiful birds by making sure they have access to safe areas and that you do not feed these birds where they may nest.

  • Frequency: 11.67%
  • Color: Gray face, and black and white streaking on the upper head
  • Habitat: Brushy areas in the tundra  and taiga
  • Range:  Pacific coast and Rocky mountains
  • Size: 5.9 – 6.3″ inches
  • Weight: 25 – 28 grams
  • Diet:  Plant parts, seeds, and insects
  • Family: Passerellidae
  • Genus:  Zonotrichia

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow
Image by u_z4q28nbq from Pixabay

The song Sparrow is probably the most common native sparrow in the United States. With the right tools and knowledge, you can help bring this friendly bird back into your backyard bird feeder. Unlike some other songbirds, the song sparrow does not require a very elaborate habitat. In fact, it makes one of the easier species to keep in captivity because its natural environment is so conducive to its continued success.

With that said, there are several areas in and around the northeastern United States that these birds have adapted to and thrive. This species is also prevalent in parts of southern Canada, especially in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. 

  • Frequency: 10.92%
  • Color: Gray head, white cheek, a black bib, rufous neck
  • Habitat: Urban centers, farms, backyards, edges, yards, and parks
  • Range:  Europe, Mediterranean, Asia, Australasia, Africa, and the Americas
  • Size: 5.5 – 7.0″ inches
  • Weight: 25 – 40 grams
  • Diet:  Grains, seeds, and insects
  • Family: Passerellidae
  • Genus: Passer

Related Post: How to Attract Sparrows to your Backyard

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

The ruby-crowned kinglet is an exceptionally small passerine from the kinglet family, and can be found throughout North America. It can be easily identified because of its distinctive call, a high-pitched, squeaky, tonally discordant chirping that resembles a robin’s croak. Its habitat consists mainly of thickets and bushes along rivers and streams in southern Pennsylvania, western Maryland, and the southern parts of Virginia and West Virginia. It also occasionally takes up residence in gardens and along roadside feeders.

Though they do not have a bright singing song, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet makes a rather cheery song when disturbed, or viewed. They are very social animals that prefer to nest in flocks. When feeding, they hover near flowers and feed by picking leaves and sucking plant juices. winter, they eat nuts, seeds, grasses, and suet.

  • Frequency: 10.70%
  • Color: Gray head, white cheek, a black bib, rufous neck
  • Habitat: Spruce-fir forests in the north, and mountainous regions
  • Range:  Northwest Canada and Alaska, and south to Mexico
  • Size: 3.5″ – 4.3″ inches
  • Weight: 5 – 10 grams
  • Diet:   Insectivorous, seeds and fruit
  • Family: Regulidae
  • Genus: Regulus

Lapland Longspur

Lapland bunting
Image by Santa3 from Pixabay

The Lapland bunting is uncommon passerine birds in the extended longshore line of Alaska,  Eastern Europe, Northern Scandinavia, and Northern England.​​​​​​​ The Lapland Bunting, is a member of sparrow family Calcariidae, distinguished from its fellow sparrows by the fact that it has a black breast and gray upperparts, marked exclusively by dark splotches on the face. It is a frequent visitor to Alaska, and is a species of particular value for ornithologists.

The beautiful black-breasted female is probably the most important of all the birds of the genus calcarius, with a colorful male counterpart seen in season. In the summer, the male plumage changes to a bright orange, with the male bird also featuring a black and white face and underparts, the brighter colors being particularly noticeable around the rim of the beak.​​​​​​​

  • Frequency: 9.97%
  • Color: Black head and throat, white eyestripe, chestnut nape, white underparts, and a black-grey back.
  • Habitat: Spruce-fir forests in the north, and mountainous regions
  • Range:  Arctic Europe, and the Palearctic, Northernmost United States, and in Canada.
  • Size: 5.9″ – 6.3″″ inches
  • Weight: 22 – 33 grams
  • Diet:  Seeds, arthropods
  • Family: Calcariidae
  • Genus: Calcarius

Pine Siskin

The pine siskin is an exceptional small to medium-sized, tree-like member of the feathery family, cicada. It is predominantly diurnal, migrating only during the summer season, and is a great bird for bird watchers who relish in the mystery, spectacular beauty, and diverse species found in its relatively vast territory. It is a common migratory bird, with an exceptionally short winter flight. It is often seen together with other pine siskins in their various migration patterns.

Pine Siskins is common to mountainous areas along the western US and they migrate southward during the cold winter months. Migrants can be seen throughout the US in parks such as Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Redwood National, juniper forests, Indian Creek State Park, Yosemite, San Miguel National Park, Glacier Park, and Bear Mountain National Park. There are also isolated islands and scattered along the Pacific Northwest coast from Washington State to California. They feed on berries, seeds, and invertebrates.

  • Frequency: 9.86%%
  • Color: Brown upperparts and pale underparts, has some streaking 
  • Habitat: Spruce-fir forests in the north, and mountainous regions
  • Range:  Arctic Europe, and the Palearctic, Northernmost United States, and in Canada.
  • Size: 4.3″ – 5.5″″ inches
  • Weight: 12 -18 grams
  • Diet:  Seeds, plants and insects
  • Family: Fringillidae
  • Genus: Spinus

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Image by JudaM from Pixabay

The red-breasted nuthatch,  is a small, masked bird typically has gray upperparts with pale blue-grey underparts, a flat light brownish black bill,and a broad black stripe across the eye. This bird is native to North America occur in abundance in temperate to cold climates of the northern hemisphere with the exception of the sea birds, which are found only in the near offshore waters. Unlike most other nuthatches, which are small to average in size and have thick beaks for gripping plant stems, and grabbing and burying its food.

This bird likes to eat worms, beetles, moths, grasshoppers, and wasps. During the winter, it returns to the nest to feed on the birds and eggs left behind by previous nesting pairs. The birds are aggressive and can be quite messy while feeding. In addition, its bold coloration and loud, angry call to make it a nuisance to neighbors and trespassers.

  • Frequency: 9.87%
  • Color:  Bluish gray upperparts with reddish brown underparts, a white face and throat with a black stripe runs through the eyes.
  • Habitat: Coniferous trees but can also be found in mixed woods, backyards, and parks.
  • Range:  Canada and USA
  • Size: 4.5″ inches long
  • Weight: 9.9 grams
  • Diet:  Berries, suet, small seeds, carrion, grasshoppers, and various insect larvae, and crustaceans.
  • Family: Sittidae
  • Genus: Sitta

Related Post: How to Attract Nuthatches to your Backyard

Fox Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

The fox sparrow is an exceptionally large New World sparrow, with a wingspan of 11″ inches. Some authors separate this species from the other genus, but in truth the bird is only part of the genus Passerella. The life cycle of the Fox Sparrow is unique among birds, even in comparison to other sparrows. Like all birds, these sparrows feed on insects. Unlike all other birds, though, they are particularly fond of moths and weevils.

A female Fox Sparrow will often kill and eat two or three weevils on a single day. When a male Fox Sparrow approaches a female, the male pulls its tail back, and the female pulls back her tail, in turn forcing the male to re-tow and drive it into the water. Because the male and female are so eager to mate, the act of wrestling can last for over thirty minutes.

  • Frequency: 9.67%
  • Color: Heavily spotted and streaked underneath
  • Habitat: Coniferous forest, dense mountain scrub, scrubby habitat and backyards.
  • Range: Most of North America
  • Size: 5.9″ – 7.5″ inches long
  • Weight: 26 – 44 grams
  • Diet:  Seeds, insects.
  • Family: Passerellidae
  • Genus: Passerella

Steller’s Jay

Steller's Jay
Image by Avia5 from Pixabay

Steller’s Jay is commonly found throughout the United States and in southwestern Canada. This is a good species for people who want to get away from the bright lights of city lights during the evening. It nests in mountainous areas where it can watch wildlife like coyotes and wolves, as it is a nocturnal bird. Steller’s Jay is a very elusive bird, which means it can often be difficult to find. It prefers to feed on eat insects, seeds, berries, nuts, small animals, eggs, and nestlings., but will drink nectar from flowers and trees. During spring and summer, this bird feeds near water but foraging in marsh and forests during winter and early spring.

It nests on islands, in puddles, in abandoned log cabins, and anywhere it can find dry ground or brush.It is also one of the best birds for bird watching because of its unusual coloration and ability to catch and mark prey. It is a very good flapper caller and is able to produce high-pitched sounds that are louder than other night-flying calls. The male Steller’s Jay can be heard throughout the North American continent from the great plains to the deep south. These jays are very social and prefer to live in pairs or groups of two to ten birds. 

  • Frequency: 9.33%
  • Color: Blue crest on the head, wings, back, and tail, and has a white face and belly
  • Habitat: Deciduous and mixed forests, mixed woodlands, backyards, parks
  • Range: Southern Canada,  Eastern and Central United States, Florida and Texas
  • Size: 8 – 12″ inches
  • Weight: 70 – 100 grams
  • Diet:  Nuts, seeds, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and beetles
  • Family: Corvidae
  • Genus: Cyanocitta

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The backyard birds listed below are all under 8% Frequency

  • Tree Swallow 8.32%
  • Northern Shoveler 8.27%
  • Hermit Thrush 8.08%
  • Chestnut-backed Chickadee 7.70%
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow 7.62%
  • Boreal Chickadee 7.58%
  • Wilson’s Warbler 7.54%
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet 7.29%
  • Pacific Wren 7.26%
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow 6.47%
  • Yellow Warbler 6.44%
  • Snow Bunting 6.39%
  • Canada Jay 5.37%
  • Downy Woodpecker 5.19%
  • Rock Pigeon 5.19%
  • Swainson’s Thrush 5.01%