Alaskan Birds of Prey

Alaskan Birds of Prey
The bird watcher that ventures to Alaska has as many as 450 species of birds that she may encounter. On this list are several birds of prey which reside in Alaska, many of which can be spotted by the alert individual as they seek a meal. The birds of prey of Alaska include eagles, owls, hawks and many other types of winged raptors that survive by killing and eating everything from fish to small mammals.

The Hawks

The sharp-shinned hawk and the northern goshawk are a pair of raptors that dwell in the deep woods of Alaska. These birds are members of a group called accipiters and are adept at flying in the tight spaces found in the heavily wooded regions within the state in search of small game. Other hawks in Alaska include the rough-legged hawk, Cooper's hawk, the commonly viewed red-tailed hawk and Swainson's hawk; the latter is rarely seen.


The Eagles

While the Stellar's sea eagle grows to a larger size, it is only a passerby in Alaska, making the bald eagle the state's largest full-time bird of prey. There are more of these raptors in Alaska than any other state, with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimating that there are as many as 30,000 near the waterways of the state. Bald eagles prefer to swoop down and pluck a fish out of the water for a meal, while the golden eagle are able to easily kill animals as big as a small deer or lamb. Mainly though the golden eagle, which ranges throughout most of the state, will eat smaller mammals like rabbits, squirrels and other birds.

The Owls

Owls are plentiful in Alaska, with several species of this bird of prey represented throughout the huge state. The great horned owl, the snowy owl, and the barred owl live in Alaska as do the great grey owl, the short and longed ear owl, and the northern pygmy owl. The western screech owl can be seen if conditions are just right. The boreal owl, named for the forests that it inhabits, is one of the smaller Alaskan owls. It is seldom seen as it is a loner and nocturnal, living off shrews, voles, birds and mice that it captures with its sharp talons.

The Others

The osprey is found in Alaska, invariably near water as it will plunge right into the water after a fish. The northern harrier lives here as does the common buzzard. The American kestrel, the peregrine falcon and the gyrfalcon are Alaskan citizens, as is the merlin, a smallish falcon with bluish-gray feathers that breeds in the state.


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