Located on the southern Seward Peninsula of Alaska and a mere 100 miles from the arctic circle, Nome is a cold town potentially not in the forefront of your mind for birding. Known for when the 1925 diphtheria epidemic ravaged through the town. With a serum needed to help the sick and a snowstorm that wouldn’t allow for delivery from Anchorage via airplane, a relay of dog sled teams was sent to deliver the serum. The dog with the most notoriety on these teams was Balto, an Alaskan husky, who led the final leg of the race. In honor of this great feat, the Iditarod Dog Sled Race is held annually and follows the same route taken back then. Today, Nome is known as a special spot for birders.
When the ice starts to melt in Spring and migration begins, the Seward Peninsula provides important nesting space for over 200 different species of birds including most North American Waterfowl. Since this area is virtually inaccessible to tourists during the winter, the spring brings a sense of renewal to the area with the arrival of people and birds alike.
The birds are most active mid-May to mid-June and then again during Fall migration. Popular species such as Arctic Terns, Green-winged Teal and Long-tailed Jaeger can be found in the wetlands and beaches of Nome during the summer. Hot spots in Nome that birders must visit are Safety Sound, Kougarok Road and Wooley Lagoon.
A few things that make bird photography in Nome special are trees are shorter so it’s easier to spot and shoot the birds. Since Nome is located close to Siberia, you have the opportunity to see birds not only rare to the US, but to a lot of the world as well. Owen traveled to Nome in June 2021 with Mike Parr of American Bird Conservancy