• Breeding only on St. Matthey and Hall Island in the Bering Sea, McKay's Buntings breed truly an Alaskan specialty. They winter on the west coast of Alaska, including in the Nome area. The most reliable and straightforward way to see them is to head to Nome to find them on their wintering grounds.
  • Eight of the 15 McKay's Buntings that were feeding on this seed pile near the edge of town. Thirteen of the 15 were males. There was also a single Snow Bunting in the flock.
  • A male McKay's Bunting stretches his wings just to prove how little black his plumage contains!
  • The wintering habitat of McKay's Buntings is primarily grassy beaches along the western Alaskan coast where they form large flocks. However, a few smaller groups check out feeders on the edge of town in the Nome area. Here a male McKay's Bunting stakes his claim.
  • A flock of Rock Ptarmigan enjoys a beautiful winter day near Cape Nome. There were 37 ptarmigan in this flock, calling, feeding, and preening in the sun.
  • Hoping to spy a ptarmigan of his own, this young Gyrfalcon patrols the tundra outside of Nome.
  • The moon rising over the Nome harbor after a great day of birding. Can you find the King Eider in the photo?
  • Our flight was delayed leaving Anchorage, so we were able to see this Northern Hawk Owl near the Anchorage Airport. A nice alternative to sitting in the airport waiting!

Few birds call Nome home in November, but list of 15 species that we found on this year’s trip included: Gyrfalcon, King, Common and Spectacled Eider, Rock Ptarmigan and of course, McKay’s Bunting! All photos by Aaron Lang. Click on any photo for captions.