Dutch Harbor is a harbor on Amaknak Island located in the Aleutian Islands, more specifically, the Fox Islands – in Unalaska, Alaska – half a mile into the middle of Unalaska Bay. It is a natural port with a mile-long spit, and protects ships from the waters of the Bering Sea. It is an important fishing port, with no ice.
This harbor is a birding hotspot with over 150 species, some of them being hard to find, rare species. It is a birder’s dream, where many types of birds can be seen, such as shorebirds, seabirds, songbirds, and nesting birds. The area has tons of migratory bird species in winter and there are 40-50 million seabirds in the Bering Sea total, making it easy for a bird photographer to get an incredible shot. Various trails lead to the Bunker Hill coastline, which is teeming with birds and other wildlife. The 1,634-foot high Mount Ballyhoo can be accessed from a side road half a mile from the harbor’s ferry dock, which is a great vantage point for seeing birds, including nests of the Bald Eagle.
Owen has photographed several sought-after birds here, such as the majestic Bald Eagle, Northern Fulmar, the unique-looking Tufted Puffin, the near-threatened Laysan Albatross, and the Whiskered Auklet – a bird endemic to the Bering Sea. Oftentimes, birds from Asia get blown off course and end up in this harbor, making it a real treat for birders to see birds they may not see otherwise. Sometimes these sightings attract birders from around the country.
Owen visited Dutch Harbor in June 2021 with Mike Parr of American Bird Conservancy.