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Marine Birds

Local birding enthusiasts will tell you that a cruise with Kenai Fjords Tours or Mariah Custom Tours is a great way to include an incredible birding experience in Kenai Fjords National Park during your Alaska Vacation. Visit rookeries that are teaming with birds - including Horned and Tufted Puffins and Black-Legged Kittiwakes. Other species that are seen daily include the Kittilitz's Murrelet (on our Northwestern Fjord itineraries), Parakeet and Rhinoceros Auklets, Ancient Murrelets and Red Face Cormorants.

Cormorants: The pelagic cormorant, meaning "lives most of its life at sea", red-faced and double-crested cormorants are the three species that nest in the area. Cormorants have no protective oils, so their feathers soak up with water. This gives them neutral buoyancy as they dive and paddle after fish. While on shore, they often spread their wings to dry.

Bald Eagles: They are the largest of the North American raptors, weighing up to 13 pounds and have wingspans of about seven feet. Thousands of pairs nest along our coastline where they fish and hunt. The white head of the adult develops after four or five years.

Black Oystercatchers: They usually nest among pebbles in shallow, rocky depressions on the beach. Their bright red bills are strong and flat, perfect for opening shellfish, such as mussels, oysters and limpets. After breeding, they may flock together. Up to 50 birds can gather on flat roocks at the shoreline.

Black-Legged Kittiwakes: A commonly seen member of the gull family with ink-black wing tips. There are usually hundreds flying overhead, squawking and landing on their tightly-packed nests. They build their summer homes out of seaweed and mud on sheer rock cliffs.

Murres: The deepest-diving of Alaska's seabirds, up to 300 feet. Commonly seen in large rafts on the surface or standing along rocky ledges. Black and white colors and an upright stance give them the nickname "penguins of the North." Member of the alcid family.

Puffins: Dressed in their bright summer mating plumage and parrot-like beaks, tufted and horned puffins come ashore only to nest and raise their single chick. Flapping their wings, they "fly" through the water in pursuit of small fish that make up their diet. Their relatively hugh beaks allow parents to bring three or four fish at a time to their young. Members of the alcid family.

Parakeet Auklet: These small alcids, including the rhinoceros auklet, have piercing grey eyes and are excellent swimmers and divers. They nest under loose piles of boulders on the beach. They do not add any nesting materials so they often lay their eggs on bare rock.

Other birds seen on a cruise with Kenai Fjords Tours or Mariah Custom Tours


  • Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)
  • Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus)
  • Short-Tailed Shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris)


  • Leach’s Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma Leucorhoa)
  • Fork-Tailed Sorm-Petrel (Oceanodroma furcata)


  • Mallard Duck (Anas Platyrhynchos)
  • Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)
  • Black Scoter (Melanitta nigra)
  • Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)
  • White-Winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca)
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)
  • Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)


  • Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)


  • Spotted Sandpiper (Tringa macularia)
  • Wandering Tattler (Tringa incanus)
  • Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala)
  • Surfbird (Aphriza virgata)
  • Red-Necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobattus)


  • Promarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus)
  • Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius Parasitcus)
  • Long-Tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus)


  • Mew Gull (Larus canus)
  • Glaucous-Winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)
  • Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)


  • Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba)
  • Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus)
  • Kittlitz’s Murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris)
  • Ancient Murrelet (Synthliboramphus antiquus)


  • Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)


  • Northwestern Crow (Corvus caurinus)
  • Common Raven (Corvus corax)


  • Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)


  • Parakeet Auklet (Cyclorrhynchus psittacula)
  • Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata)
  • Cassin's Auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) unusual visitor

    Experience the incredible wildlife and beauty of Kenai Fjords National Park and the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge with Alaska Heritage Tours.

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