Top 15 Backyard Birds in Alaska

Boreal Chickadee

Do you need help with bird identification in Alaska for birds that visit your backyard? Get ID information, pictures, and printable worksheets to help with these birds of Alaska identification.

There is a great joy in putting up bird feeders and watching what comes to visit, but it gets better if you know who they are and learn to identify birds in your backyard. Well, now you can find out the most common birds in Alaska that visit feeders or hop across your lawn.

So if you’re ready to do some backyard birding, then read on to find out how to identify birds in Alaska and how to attract more birds to your yard.

Top 15 backyard birds in Alaska

  1. Black-capped Chickadee
  2. Black-billed Magpie
  3. Dark-eyed Junco
  4. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  5. American Robin
  6. Steller’s Jay
  7. Boreal Chickadee
  8. Song Sparrow
  9. Chestnut-backed Chickadee
  10. Downy Woodpecker
  11. Pine Siskin
  12. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  13. Orange-crowned Warbler
  14. White-crowned Sparrow
  15. Ruby-crowned Kinglet

These are the backyard birds most often seen in Alaska that may visit your lawn or feeders.  They are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists on ebird, and the data is a combination of birds most commonly spotted in Alaska in summer (June and July) and winter (December and January). 

Birds that are not often seen at feeders or in backyards were removed to give you the birds in Alaska you are most likely to see from home.

This data mix ensures that whatever time of year you are bird-watching in Alaska, these are the birds you will most likely spot at feeders or on your lawn.

If you do venture beyond your backyard then you may see some hawks in Alaska.

Top 15 backyard birds in Alaska

1. Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

The Black-capped Chickadee is a cute bird with a big round head and tiny body. These birds will happily feed at backyard feeders and will investigate everything, including you! 

They have black-caps and beaks, white cheeks, and are gray on the back, wings, and tail.

They can be found in forests, open woods, parks. Black-capped Chickadees eat seeds, berries and insects, spiders, and suet.

To attract more Black-capped Chickadees to your backyard, try suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts or peanut butter. They will even feed from your hand and are often one of the first birds to discover new feeders. They will also use nest boxes, especially if you fill them with wood shavings.

2. Black-billed Magpie

black-billed-magpie

Black-billed Magpies are black and white birds noisy birds that are larger than Jays, with long tails and blue-green iridescent flashes in the wing and tail.

They do not tend to migrate and can be found in meadow and grasslands or other open areas feeding on fruit and grain, beetles, and grasshoppers.  They have also been known to kill small mammals such as squirrels and voles and raid bird nests for eggs or nestlings and even carrion.

Black-billed Magpies will visit backyards for platform and suet feeders with black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, fruit, suet, millet, and milo

3. Dark-eyed Junco

Dark eyed junco for identification

Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrows that are different colors depending on the state.  They are generally slate-colored in the east and black, white, and brown in the west.

They can be found in open and partially wooded areas, often on the ground, and are common across the continent. Some remain resident all year in the west and in the Appalachian Mountains.  Those that breed in Canada and Alaska migrate south in winter to much of the United States.

You can attract more Dark-eyed Juncos to backyard feeders with a variety of seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, millet, and peanuts.  Platform feeders or scattered on the ground are best.

4. Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatches remain all year in northeastern and western states, Alaska and Canada but may move south across all of North America in winter if cone crops are poor.

They are blue-gray birds with black and white stripes on the head and a rusty underside.

Red-breasted Nuthatches can be found in coniferous woods foraging for cones, and they do visit backyard feeders.

You can attract more Red-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with black oil sunflower seeds, suet feeders, peanuts, and mealworms.

Red-breasted Nuthatches are not the only red birds in Alaska.

5. American Robin

American Robin for identification

American Robins are a common sight on lawns eating earthworms.  They have black heads and back with red or orange breasts.  They tend to roost in trees in winter so you are more likely to see them in your backyard from spring.

American Robins can be found in many habitats, from woodlands, forests, and mountains to fields, parks, and lawns. They eat earthworms, insects, snails, and fruit.

You can attract more American Robins to your yard with sunflower seeds, suet and peanut hearts, fruit, and mealworms.  Platform feeders are best or food scattered on the ground. Also, try planting some native plants that produce berries, such as juniper, sumac, hawthorn, and dogwood.

6. Steller’s Jay

stellars jay

Steller’s Jays are large songbirds with black triangular crests that stick up from their heads.  The rest of their heads and onto their chests and back are black, with the rest of their bodies being blue.

They can be found in evergreen forests in the mountains, and they will also be found around picnic tables, campgrounds, and backyard feeders. They make nests out of the mud.

Stellar’s Jays eat most things they can forage for, including insects, seeds, nuts, berries, eggs, and nestlings, but also making a nuisance of themselves around garbage and your unguarded picnic!

Stellar’s Jays can be attracted to your backyard with peanuts and suet.

7. Boreal Chickadee

Boreal Chickadee

Boreal Chickadees are tiny grayish-brown songbirds with a darker brown cap, small black bib, cinnamon sides, and white underneath and on the cheeks. They are resident across Canada and Alaska and may appear in the northern US states.

Boreal Chickadees can be found mostly in coniferous forests, often near water, but also can be found in deciduous or mixed forests. They feed on seeds and insects from the upper areas of the canopy and will readily visit feeders.

To attract more boreal Chickadees to your backyard, try Black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer seeds, suet, peanuts, and mealworms on most types of feeders.  Also, put up a nesting box to attract a mating pair.

8. Song Sparrow

Song sparrow for identification

Song sparrows are not as remarkable as other backyard birds, but these predominantly brown-streaked birds use their almost constant song to attract mates in spring and summer.

They can be found in open, shrubby, and wet areas, often perched on a low shrub singing. They are often found at backyard feeders. Song Sparrows eat a wide variety of insects and plants, including beetles, caterpillars, midges, spiders, and earthworms. They will also eat buckwheat, sunflower, raspberries, wild cherries, blackberries, wheat and, rice.

You can attract more song sparrows to your backyard feeders by putting black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders.

9. Chestnut-backed Chickadee

chestnut-backed-chickadee

Chestnut-backed Chickadees are tiny birds with black and white on their heads, rich chestnut on the back, and gray wings and belly.

They live flocks in wet evergreen forests along the Pacific Coast and are regular visitors to backyard feeders. Insects including caterpillars, spiders, wasps, and aphids make up most of their diet, with seeds, berries, and fruit making up the rest.

You can attract Chestnut-backed Chickadees to your yard with black-oil sunflower seeds, suet, nyjer, peanuts, or mealworms in tube feeders, platform feeders, or suet cages. They will also use nest boxes.

10. Downy Woodpecker

Downy woodpecker for identification

Downy Woodpeckers are small birds that are common at backyard feeders.  They are often mixed in with other birds such as chickadees and nuthatches.  They have black and white coloring with a red patch at the back of their heads.  They look similar to the Hairy Woodpecker.

Downy woodpeckers can be found in woodlots, along streams, city parks, and backyards, and eat mainly insects, beetle larvae, berries, acorns, and grains.

To attract more Downy Woodpeckers to your backyard try suet feeders but they will also eat black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts on platform feeders.

11. Pine Siskin

pine siskin

Pine Siskins are small finches that are streaked brown with yellow streaks in the wing and tail. They have a forked tail and pointed wings, with a short pointed bill.

Pine Siskins breed in Canada and can overwinter in most of the US, but their migration depends on pine cone crops, so some years they may not migrate. However, some birds remain all year in the pine forests of the west.

As their name suggests, Pine Siskins predominantly eat seeds from conifers, but they also eat young buds and seeds from grasses and weeds.

Pine Siskins can be attracted to backyards with thistle and nyjer feeders but also black oil sunflower seeds and suet.

12. Yellow-rumped Warbler

yellow rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped Warblers are gray with flashes of yellow on the face, sides, and rump and white in the wings. Females may be slightly brown and winter birds are paler brown with bright yellow rumps and sides turning bright yellow and gray again in spring.

After breeding predominantly in Canada they migrate in large numbers south across most of southern and central North America and the Pacific Coast and throughout Mexico and Central America. 

You can attract Yellow-rumped Warblers to your backyard with sunflower seeds, suet, raisins, and peanut butter.

13. Orange-crowned Warbler

orange-crowned-warbler

Orange-crowned Warblers are not as brightly colored as other warblers with their yellow-olive coloring, which is more yellow on the Pacific Coast. The orange crown is rarely seen.

Breeding in Canada and western states before migrating to the Southern US and Mexico. Orange-crowned Warblers can also be seen during migration across all states but are more common in the west.

Orange-crowned Warblers can be found in shrubs and low vegetation and breed in open woodland. Their diet consists mainly of insects and spiders such as spiders, caterpillars, and flies.  They will also eat fruit, berries, and seeds and regularly visit backyard feeders.

To attract more Orange-crowned Warblers to your yard, try suet and peanut butter or hummingbird feeders with sugar water nectar.

14. White-crowned Sparrow

white-crowned sparrow

White-crowned Sparrows are large grayish sparrows with long tails and small bills and bold black and white stripes on their heads.

They breed in Alaska and arctic Canada before heading south other much of the lower 48 and Mexico for winter. Some may remain all year over a small area along the Pacific Coast and west.

White-crowned Sparrows can be found in weedy fields, along roadsides, forest edges,  and in yards foraging for seeds of weeds and grasses or fruit such as elderberries and blackberries.

You can attract more White-crowned Sparrows to your backyard with sunflower seeds and many types of seeds that are dropped by other birds at the feeders.

15. Ruby-crowned Kinglet

ruby crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglets are small songbirds that are olive-green, and the males have a brilliant red crown that is usually flat so hard to see, but really great if you do.

They breed across Canada and the western mountains before migrating to southern and southwestern states and Mexico for the winter.  They can also be seen during migration when they are widespread.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets can be hard to spot, and they are fast-moving quiet birds that flit around in the foliage of lower branches of shrubs and trees looking for spiders and insects.

They come to suet feeders or platform feeders for hulled sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, and mealworms.

Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds

variety of bird feeders will attract the most species of birds in Alaska to your backyard.

  1.  Tube Feeders can be filled with different types of birdseed and depending on the seed different birds will be attracted. Black oil sunflower seeds attract Goldfinches, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and Pine Siskins.
  2. Ground Feeders or a tray below a Tube Feeder with Black oil sunflowers tube feeders attract Cardinals, Jays, Finches, and Sparrows.
  3. Platform feeders with Millet or Corn attract small and medium-sized birds such as sparrows, Blackbirds, Towhees, Juncos, Doves, Grackles, and Starlings.
  4. Peanut feeders attract Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Jays, Juncos, Finches, and Sparrows.
  5. Suet Feeders are great, especially in winter, for Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Nuthatches, Kinglets, Wrens, and Chickadees.
  6. Hummingbird feeders attract these tiny fascinating birds but they also attract other birds too.

How to Attract Birds to Your Backyard in Alaska

If you would like to attract more birds to your yard in Alaska, here are some tips:

  1. Provide bird feeders for different types of birds to get the most species to visit your yard.
  2. Provide a water feature such as a birdbath fountain or stream.  Ensure that the water is clean and not stagnant
  3.  Grow native plants that will provide food and shelter. Plants, trees, and shrubs that provide fruit, berries, and nuts. Blackberries, wild grasses, elderberries, serviceberries, Oaks, Beeches, Cherries, sumacs, hemlocks, Purple Coneflowers, Sunflowers, Milkweed, Cardinal Flowers, Trumpet Honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper, Buttonbush, and Dogwoods.
  4. Let your grass grow long to provide cover and seeds.
  5. Leave a brush pile to provide food, protection, and nesting opportunities for birds.
  6. Don’t use pesticides and herbicides as these may be toxic to birds and prevent the natural foraging opportunities for insects and seeds that birds will seek in your yard.
  7. Set up nest boxes to attract breeding birds and ensure they are cleaned every year.

How to Identify Birds in Alaska

Here are some more tips to help you identify birds in Alaska, whether you choose to go out birding or stay home bird watching in Alaska :

  1. Size – Size is the easiest thing to notice about a bird.  Birds are often measured in inches or centimeters in guide books.  It’s best to take a note of the bird in terms of small, medium, or large to be able to look for it later. A small bird is about the size of a sparrow, a medium bird is about the size of a pigeon and a large bird is the size of a goose.
  2. Shape – Take note of the silhouette of the bird and jot it down or draw the outline.  Look at tail length, bill shape, wing shape, and overall body shape.
  3. Color pattern – Take a note of the main color of the head, back, belly, and wings, and tail for the main color and then any secondary colors or patterns. Also take note of any patterns such as banding, spots, or highlights.
  4. Behavior – Are they on the ground or high up in the trees. Are they in flocks or on their own?  Can you spot what they are eating?
  5. Habitat – Woodlands, parks, shrubs, grasslands or meadows, shore or marsh.
  6. Use a bird identification app such as those created by ebird or Audubon