On my way to Anchorage to catch a flight to Sedona Arizona in late February, Jack and I made a stop off in Seward to visit with my brother and his lovely wife, to bird, and to visit the Alaska SeaLife Center (free on Wednesdays to Alaska residents in the winter). The day was sunny, but breezy.

No trip to Anchorage or Seward is complete, at least for me, without a stop off at Tern Lake. You can usually find an American Dipper hanging out in the stream near the rest area.  And find one we did. This bird was singing its heart out as it searched for food along the frozen lake shore where it empties into the stream. The bird would be on the ice bobbing and then it would dive into the water, splash around, and then jump out and fly back to the ice. Fun to watch and I was able to capture it on video as well.


American Dipper on ice edge



American Dipper “Dipping”



American Dipper

We arrived in Seward about noon – under beautiful sunny skies.  The next day proved to be just as beautiful as the day before.  You just can’t beat Alaska sunshine during the winter – it warms the soul.


Seward from Lowell Point



Mountains across Resurrection Bay from Seward. As you can see the snow is only half way down the mountains – an anomaly for February.



Resurrection Bay

Seward we visited the Alaska SeaLife Center. One of the main purposes of the visit was to check out the octopus that had recently laid eggs. I was surprised at how small the mother octopus was. After laying her eggs, the female octopus stops eating and dies of starvation after her eggs have hatched.  The males die several months after mating.



Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward Alaska



Beautiful mural across the street from the Alaska SeaLife Center

The center does research on Stellar and Spectacled Eiders. There were a fair number in the open air pens. Jack and I are hoping to see all four of the eiders, in the wild, this spring in Barrow. Beautiful birds.

Our next stop at the center was the area where all the birds held in captivity hang out. Lots of Tufted Puffins and Common Murres, along with a pair of SMEW (might be the only ones I ever see) and a Red-legged Kittiwake (same thing – only one I may ever see, unless I visit the Pribilof Islands). Fun to go downstairs and watch the birds diving for food, bathing, or play.  And what a great place to get “up-close” views and photos of these birds.


Rhinoceros Auklet



Non-breeding Pigeon Guillemot



Molting Pigeon Guillemot



Red-legged Kittiwake






Ma and Pa Harlequin Ducks



Long-tailed Duck



Male King Eider



Black Oystercatcher



Common Murre



Rhinoceros Auklets



Tufted Puffin



Male Smew. These are “Asian” birds

Of course that isn’t all we saw at the Alaska SeaLife Center.  There are lots of marine mammals and marine life for viewing, including a female octopus that had recently laid rice-shaped white eggs.


Momma Octopus and babies (the white stuff)



Basket Sea Star





Harbor Seal




And one cannot forget about the marine debris artwork.  Marine debris is an issue near and dear to my heart.  Whenever I am out on the beach I dutifully pickup whatever debris I can find and carry back to my vehicle, provided I have a bag in which to carry the debris.  The students who created this work of art are so creative.  I would love to have something like this in my yard.  Call me crazy.


Marine Debris Masterpiece

At my brother’s house I found a Varied Thrush hiding on the ground. The bird was a little shy and flushed whenever I opened the window to try to get a better photograph. They also had Dark-eyed Juncos and a Downy Woodpecker coming to their feeders.


Female Downy Woodpecker working both the suet feeder and the tree



Varied Thrush

The next morning before we left town for our drive to Anchorage we stopped off at a few birding hotspots: Lowell Point, Ava’s Feeders, Nash Road, and the lagoon along the road into town. I suspect it has a name for locals and other birders. At the lagoon we saw several pairs of Common Goldeneye. The males were doing their display calls and behaviors – throwing their heads back. Fun to watch their efforts to woo the females.


Female White-winged Crossbill



Common Merganser



Song Sparrow – all puffed up



Common Mergansers in the bay



Barrow’s Goldeneye Male – in the bay



Male and Female Barrow’s Goldeneyes – is courtship beginning?



Male Belted Kingfisher

There have been several Purple Finches in town, but we missed them. Maybe next time.  Here is a list of the species we (Jack and I) observed while we did a quick visit of Seward:

Common Merganser

Common Goldeneye

Barrow’s Goldeneye


Varied Thrush

Song Sparrow

White-winged Crossbill

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Rock Pigeon

Belted Kingfisher (always a favorite)

Bald Eagle

Common Raven

Dark-eyed Junco

Common Murre

Marbled Murrelet

Harlequin Duck

Pine Siskin

Pine Grosbeak

Surf Scoter

Pelagic Cormorant

Mew Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull


It was definitely “A Great Day to Bird” in Seward.