Many species of birds are economically important. Domesticated and undomesticated birds (poultry and game) are important sources of eggs, meat, and feathers. Songbirds, parrots, and other species are popular as pets. Guano (bird excrement) is harvested for use as a fertiliser. Birds prominently figure throughout human culture. About 120–130 species have become extinct due to human activity since the 17th century, and hundreds more before then. Human activity threatens about 1,200 bird species with extinction, though efforts are underway to protect them. Recreational birdwatching is an important part of the ecotourism industry.
ThisList of Alaska birds lists every wild bird species seen in the U.S. state of Alaska, based on the list published by the Alaska Records Committee.
Only birds that are considered to have established, self-sustaining, wild populations in Alaska are included on this list. This means that birds that are considered probable escapees, although they may have been sighted flying free in Alaska, are not included on this list.
This list is presented in taxonomic order and follows The Check-list of North American Birds (7th ed., 1998), published by the American Ornithologists' Union. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family accounts. Note: There has been several re-classification's of birds since 1998, as well as, changes to the Endangered, Extinct and Introduced lists for Alaska.
The following codes are used to denote certain categories of species:
(A) = Accidental; only one or two records of species in Alaska.
(E) = Extinct; a recent member of the avifauna that no longer exists.
(I) = Introduced; population established solely as result of direct or indirect human intervention; synonymous with non-native and non-indigenous
Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. The most typical family members occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and tend to be weak fliers.
Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances".
The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions.
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills.
The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small to medium sized shorebirds including the Sandpipers, Curlews, Godwits, Shanks, Tattlers, Woodcocks, Snipes, Dowitchers and Phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food.
Pratincoles have short legs, very long pointed wings and long forked tails. Their most unusual feature for birds classed as waders is that they typically hunt their insect prey on the wing like swallows, although they can also feed on the ground. Their short bills are an adaptation to aerial feeding.
Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds and includes gulls, terns, kittiwakes and skimmers. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet.
Skuas are in general medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They have longish bills with a hooked tip, and webbed feet with sharp claws. They look like large dark gulls, but have a fleshy cere above the upper mandible. They are strong, acrobatic fliers.
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites.
Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk.
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically coloured to resemble bark or leaves.
The swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have very long, swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang.
This black, white and pink bird is quite unmistakable, especially in its erratic flight, which is like that of a giant butterfly. It is the only member of its family. The song is a trisyllabic "oop-oop-oop", which gives rise to its English and scientific names.
Woodpeckers are small to medium sized birds with chisel like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward, and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks.
Tyrant flycatchers are Passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust with stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, are rather plain. As the name implies, most are insectivorous.
Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey.
The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show levels of learned behavior of a high degree.
The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with a wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base.
Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails and powerful bills and feet.
Treecreepers are small woodland birds, brown above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff tail feathers, like woodpeckers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees.
The family Sylviidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. The Sylviidae mainly occur as breeding species, as the common name implies, in Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent Africa. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs.
This a large family of small passerinebirds restricted to the Old World. Species below only occur in North America as vagrants. The appearance of these birds is very varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls.
The Thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly but not exclusively in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs.
The Mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers, and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalization, especially their remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. The species tend towards dull grays and browns in their appearance.
Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are medium-sized passerines with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen.
The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterised by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter.
The silky-flycatchers are a small family of passerine birds which occur mainly in Central America, although the range of one species extends to central California. They are related to waxwings, and like that group have a soft silky plumage, usually grey or pale yellow in colour. They have small crests.
The Wood Warblers are a group of small often colourful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some like the Ovenbird and the two waterthrushes, are more terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores.
The Emberizidae are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are named as buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as Sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are 275 species world wide, 60 North American species, and 30 Alaska species.
The Icterids are a group of small to medium, often colourful passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds, and New World orioles. Most species have black as a predominant plumage colour, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red.
Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well.
Old World sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or greyish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects.