Birding in the Mat-Su Valley

Interested in birding? You can see many migratory and resident Alaska birds in the Matanuska Susitna Valley. During the spring and summer, many songbirds can be seen around the grounds of Alaska Garden Gate B&B and Cottages. In addition, when exploring the Mat-Su area on hikes and sightseeing trips, keep a sharp eye out for Bald Eagles, Ravens, waterfowl and other birds. Here are few suggestions on where to go and resources for birding during your visit.

Palmer Hay Flats Wildlife Refuge

One of the prime birding options in the Mat-Su Valley is the Palmer Hay Flats State Wildlife Refuge, only 15 miles from Alaska Garden Gate B&B and Cottages. This is one of the most popular birding spots in southcentral Alaska. Waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds and raptors can be spotted at this designated Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society and International Birdlife. Check out a collection of trail maps from the Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats website to plan your visit.

Nancy Lake State Recreation Area

Located near Willow, Alaska, Nancy Lake State Recreation Area offers wooded, rolling terrain, lakes, ponds and wetland habitats. You can go birding on trails or the 6.5 parkway or by canoe through the canoe system. Search for waterfowl, songbirds and raptors.

Hatcher Pass

If you visit Hatcher Pass to hike or sightsee, watch along the Hatcher Pass Road for songbirds along the roadside. In the spring, you might be able to spot Harlequin Ducks, Common Mergansers or the American Dipper in the Little Susitna river or creeks. While Ptarmigan are common, it’s difficult to predict where you might see one. Driving the Hatcher Pass Road allows one to cover a lot of territory and often provides the best way to spot Ptarmigan in the alpine environment. Finally, watch the ridge lines for Golden Eagles and other raptors, actively hunting or soaring.

Local Birding Groups and Resources

Black-billed Magpie
Black-billed Magpie

Whether you are a novice or experienced birder, the Mat-Su Birders Club provides great information and events. Use their extensive overview of birding locations, links to recent ebird sightings and checklists for the Mat-Su Valley to make the most of your birding experience. Audubon Alaska provides statewide and regional checklists and many other resources as well. No matter where you go in the Mat-Su Valley, you can spot iconic Alaska birds to add to your birding checklist.

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