The Great Journey North

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

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As spring arrives on the Seward Peninsula in northwest Alaska, the last remnants of another harsh winter fade away. On the coast, sea ice is pushed north into the Chukchi Sea. Springtime brings a flurry of feathered visitors from all corners of the world.

Over 160 species of shorebirds, seabirds, and songbirds travel to the Seward Peninsula each year to mate, nest and breed during the short Arctic summer. In the 53 mile expanse of the Bering Strait, an estimated 12 million seabirds congregate in spring.

Scientists are still not sure why some birds, like the Arctic Tern, migrate such extreme distances. This little bird has the longest migration of any animal on Earth. It travels over 44,000 miles each year, all the way from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle.

The journey is long and arduous for all birds. Weather, predators, and lack of food are all obstacles which must be overcome. Scientists are still not sure why some birds migrate such extreme distances.

However, once they reach their breeding grounds, they are safe from most predators. And enjoy an abundance of food. And, thanks to the midnight sun, birds are able to feed around the clock.

While a hardy few stay year-round, such as the Common Raven, August marks the beginning of another long migration for most birds, this time south to their wintering grounds.

Soon, snow will blanket the far north yet again, and the cycle will continue for years to come.

Whether you are at home, or planning a visit to Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, you can do your part to help preserve the bird migration route. Avoid nesting sites and give birds the space they need.


The Seward Peninsula, including Bering Land Bridge, experiences a great bird migration every year. Explore the journey birds take and the motivations for their travel