Birds of the North Slope

Toolik Field Station, North Slope, AK
June 28, 2019


Photo of the Day:

Birding on the North Slope
Birding with Seth Beaudreault of the Toolik Field Station Environmental Data Center. North Slope, AK.


I have been doing a great deal of birding in my free time up here in the Arctic. One of my favorite things about birding is how it varies so much based on where you are in the world. Over the past month, I’ve seen many birds that never show up in Texas. Some of the birds I’ve seen (a prime example being the long-tailed jaeger) are almost strictly pelagic, showing up on land only in the Arctic and only to breed. In addition, many of the birds I see in Texas during the winter months are up here now establishing breeding territory, in entirely different plumages and making different vocalizations.

Last week, I got the chance to go birding with Toolik naturalist Seth Beaudreault, who is a true master. Seth has worked at the Toolik Field Station Environmental Data Center since 2011, and he conducts regular bird surveys on the North Slope. He took me to many of his favorite birding locations near Toolik Field Station, and we got to see many of the specialty species of the area, including Arctic warbler, eastern yellow wagtail, and gyrfalcon.


What I've Seen This Month


Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)
Green-winged teal (Anas carolinensis). Toolik Field Station, North Slope, AK.
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)

Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)
Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)
Long-tailed duck. Galbraith Lake, North Slope, AK.
Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii)
Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii)
Yellow-billed loon. Toolik Lake, North Slope, AK.
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)

Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica)
Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica)
Pacific loon (Gavia pacifica). Lake Colleen, Deadhorse, AK.
White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi)

Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
Greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons). Lake Colleen, Deadhorse, AK.
Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)
Cackling Geese (Branta hutchinsii)
Cackling geese (Branta hutchinsii). Pump Station 3, North Slope, AK.
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)
Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)
Tundra swan (Cygnus columbianus). Galbraith Lake, North Slope, AK.
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)

Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla)

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
Lesser yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes). Roche Moutonnee Creek, North Slope, AK.
Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
Red-necked phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus). Lake Colleen, Deadhorse, AK.
American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica)

Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)

Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus)
Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus)
Long-tailed jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus). Imnavait Creek, North Slope, AK.
Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus)

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)

Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus)

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)
Gyrfalcon Nestlings (Falco rusticolus)
Gyrfalcon nestlings (Falco rusticolus). North Slope, AK.
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

Common Raven (Corvus corax)

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)

Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia)

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
White-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys). Toolik Field Station, North Slope, AK.
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)

Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)
Savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis). Imnavait Creek, North Slope, AK.
American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea)
American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea)
American tree sparrow (Spizella arborea). Toolik Field Station, North Slope, AK.
Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)

Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus)
Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus)
Lapland longspur (Calcarius lapponicus). Imnavait Creek, North Slope, AK.
Smith’s Longspur (Calcarius pictus)
Smith's Longspur (Calcarius pictus)
Smith's longspur. Roche Moutonnee Creek, North Slope, AK.
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica). Toolik Field Station, North Slope, AK.
Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla tschutschensis)

American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)

Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)

Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata)
Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata)
Orange-crowned warbler (Vermivora celata). Galbraith Lake, North Slope, AK.
Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis)
Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis)
Arctic warbler (Phylloscopus borealis). Ice Cut, North Slope, AK.


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Anonymous (not verified)

Wow! Wonderful photos and what a list!

Tim (not verified)

I'm still looking for a Yellow-billed Loon! And that is a nice Smith's Longspur in its splendid alternate plumage.

David Walker

Thanks, Tim! There was a nesting pair of YBLO on Toolik Lake, right next to the field station. Regular heard them, but the photo represents the only time I saw one.

Ellen (not verified)

That photo of a nesting Gyrfalcon is amazing! What a list - can't wait to hear more.

David Walker

Thanks, El! Wouldn't have seen gyrfalcon without the help of Seth Beaudreault, naturalist with the Toolik Environmental Data Center. He really knows the birds here well!