Wildlife and Birding

bird on branch with moss and snow

Wildlife is not limited to the bears you see from the highway, or the moose crossing the road with a new calf. It’s the amazing true-life picture of creation itself.

You aren’t alone when you view the northern lights. Where the mountain meets the sea the tall cedar, hemlock, and spruce thrive. Within their branches nest wrens, hawks, owls, and small red squirrels. The forest abounds with life. Wolves to wolverines call the Cordova area home.

The ocean-dwelling life ranges from Orcas in pods around the Hawkins islands to the full lifecycle of wild Alaska salmon. 

From the wetlands to the oceans to the forested mountains, we invite you to explore it all and see the wildlife that meets you there.


Birding and bird watching in Cordova Alaska is known worldwide as one of the foremost areas for photography and bird viewing of shorebirds.

Cordova hosts the Shore Bird festival each spring, where shorebirds by the millions visit Cordova’s Copper River Delta and tidal flats as a stopover on their migration route.

The spring and fall also bring thousands of flocks of waterfowl that descend on the delta and mudflats. Cordova has the densest population of waterfowl in Alaska.

Cordova residents offer guided tours or photography trips, birding adventures, night birding of owls, bats, swallows, and other night birds, seashore life and birds of the delta.

Many guided trips have been led by Dr. Pete Mickelson who has been driving the Copper River Delta since it first opened to the million-dollar bridge on July 3rd, 1973 following the earthquake of 1964. He has been hiking the trails around Cordova since 1973 and has worked as a bear guard, biologist, and a tour leader. He is the author of “Natural History of Alaska’s Prince William Sound” and numerous papers on birds of the sound and delta.

Birding in Cordova is a local past time and you don’t have to look very far to find some beautiful species to catch your eye. The diverse ecosystems around Cordova make it the perfect area to search for different species.

Spot these birds along the Copper River Highway near forested areas along these hiking trails: Haystack Trail, McKinley Lake Trail, Power Creek Trail, Muskeg Meander Trail, and Pipeline Lakes Trail.

Key: yr – year-roundss – spring/summerm – migrantw – wintera – abundantc – commonu – uncommon

  • Northern Harrier – u, ss
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – u, ss
  • Northern Goshawk – u, yr
  • Gray-cheeked Thrush – u, ss
  • Varied Thrush – c, ss
  • Stellar’s Jay – c, yr
  • Black-billed Magpie – c, yr
  • Pine Siskin – c, yr
  • Red Crossbill – u, yr
  • Pine Grosbeak – u, yr
  • Chestnut-backed Chickadee – c, yr
  • Brown Creeper – c, yr
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch – c, yr
  • Common Redpoll – c, yr
  • Orange-crowned Warbler – c, ss
  • Wilson’s Warbler – c, ss
  • Winter Wren – c, yr
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet c, ss
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet – c, yr
  • Downy Woodpecker – u, yr
  • Hairy Woodpecker – u, yr