Fall Wildlife Viewing

a lone coyote sits at the edge of the water in front of tall grasses, staring at the camera
Coastal areas are great locations to spot wildlife, like this coyote. NPS Photo/ S. Behrns
Fall is a busy season for the wildlife of Glacier Bay. Many birds are migrating to their southern havens. Animals are building winter food catches. Moose and mountain goats are in rut. Read on to find out what you might witness in the park from September through November.


Steller sea lions haul out on Benjamin Island near Juneau and other sites throughout the region. They can be observed during fall and winter.

Raptor migration is underway in early September. Watch for sharp-shinned hawks, merlins, and golden eagles flying along ridge tops in alpine areas. Gull migration occurs. Glaucous-winged, herring, mew, and Bonaparte's gulls are numerous. Many sandhill cranes stop on the Stikine River flats to rest as they travel south. Shorebird migration continues. Watch for small flocks along the coast, in coastal wetlands, and freshwater areas. Large numbers of passerines including thrushes, crossbills, pine grosbeaks, and warblers migrate south through this region. Flocks of birds often feed on blueberries and mountain ash berries.

Coho (silver) salmon being spawning and may be seen in rivers along the coast.


Beavers are particularly active as they contruct winter food caches and renovate their lodges and dams. Moose are in rut. Bulls with large racks can be seen in river bottoms and tall-shrub thickets. Sitka black-tailed deer rut from mid-October through November. Bucks with full racks may be seen.

Migrating snow geese, en route to California, rest and feed on the Stikine River Flats along with tundra swans and Canada geese. Tundra swans often stop over on coastal wetlands around Gustavus and Juneau. Long-tailed ducks, goldeneyes, surf, black, and white-winged scoters, harlequin ducks and other diving sea ducks use the protected bays around most coastal towns during late fall and winter.

Late runs of silver and chum salmon occur in some rivers, notably the Chilkat River. These attract bald eagles, gulls, and other predators.


Mountain goats are in rut. Billies wander considerable distances in search of females. The largest bald eagle concentration in the world occurs along the Chilkat River near Haines. Peak numbers (thousands) occur in November. Smaller concentrations occur along other spring-fed streams.

Last updated: February 8, 2018

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Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
PO Box 140

Gustavus, AK 99826


907 697-2230

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