Alaska, a land of breathtaking landscapes and untamed wilderness, is home to a myriad of fascinating creatures. In this article, we embark on a journey to discover the 14 most common animals found in this magical state. From the rocky terrains where the Mule Deer gracefully roams, to the wetland habitats that welcome the familiar presence of the Mallard and the American Black Bear’s uncanny ability to seek out human food sources, each animal brings its own unique charm to the vast expanse of Alaska. So, grab your virtual hiking boots and join us as we explore the remarkable world of Alaskan wildlife.
Mule Deer are commonly found in rocky, arid environments such as deserts, foothills, and mountainous regions. They have adapted to live in these harsh habitats, where they can find shelter and camouflage among the rugged terrain. They are capable of navigating steep slopes and can leap over obstacles with ease.
Mule Deer are herbivores and primarily feed on trees, shrubs, and other plant materials. They have a selective diet and are known to browse on a variety of plants depending on the season and availability. During the summer months, they feed on grasses, forbs, and broadleaf plants, while in the winter, they rely on woody browse, such as twigs, buds, and bark.
Mule Deer are known for their cautious and elusive behavior. They are most active during the early morning and late evening, resting during the day in shady areas. They are skilled jumpers and runners, capable of reaching speeds up to 45 miles per hour. Mule Deer also have an excellent sense of smell, hearing, and eyesight, which helps them detect potential predators.
Coyotes are highly adaptable animals found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, deserts, and urban areas. They are known to thrive in different environments and have successfully expanded their range across North America. Coyotes are opportunistic and can adjust their behavior and diet based on the resources available in their surroundings.
Coyotes have a diverse diet, which contributes to their adaptability. They are considered opportunistic feeders and will consume a wide range of food sources. Their diet includes small mammals, such as rabbits, mice, and voles, as well as birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, fruits, and carrion. Additionally, they can scavenge from human garbage and consume domestic livestock if the opportunity arises.
Coyotes are highly vocal animals and use a variety of vocalizations to communicate with each other. They produce howls, barks, yips, and yelps, which serve as a means of social interaction and territory marking. These vocalizations can often be heard during dusk or dawn when coyotes are most active. Additionally, they communicate through body postures, facial expressions, and scent marking.
American Black Bear
American Black Bears typically inhabit forested areas with dense vegetation, as well as mountainous regions. They can be found in various ecosystems, including temperate rainforests, coniferous forests, deciduous forests, and open woodlands. They prefer areas with ample cover for denning and foraging, and they are known to avoid heavily developed or urbanized landscapes.
American Black Bears are omnivorous, and their diet is highly diverse. They consume a wide range of foods, including berries, nuts, grasses, roots, insects, and small mammals. They are also opportunistic scavengers and will take advantage of any available food sources, including garbage and human food. However, their primary food sources are vegetation and invertebrates.
Attraction to Garbage and Human Food Sources
American Black Bears have become accustomed to human presence and have learned to associate people with food. This can lead to conflicts when bears are attracted to garbage and human food sources. It is crucial for humans to secure their garbage, store food properly, and avoid leaving out accessible food that could entice bears. Encounters between bears and humans can be dangerous and detrimental to both parties involved.
Mallards are widespread ducks found in a variety of wetland habitats, including ponds, marshes, lakes, rivers, and estuaries. They prefer areas with dense vegetation for nesting and cover, as well as access to open water for feeding and swimming. Mallards are highly adaptable and can be found in both urban and rural environments, often coexisting with humans.
Mallards are sociable ducks and are often observed in small flocks or pairs. They interact with each other through vocalizations, head movements, and body postures. Mallards are dabbling ducks, which means they typically feed by tipping their heads underwater while keeping their bodies near the surface. They are capable of taking flight quickly and have strong wings to enable them to migrate over long distances.
Comfort around People
Mallards have become comfortable around humans and can be observed in urban parks, ponds, and residential areas. They have adapted to human-altered environments and are not easily disturbed by human presence. This tolerance to human activity has contributed to their successful population growth and widespread distribution.
American Robins can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, open fields, parks, and suburban areas. They are adaptable birds and are known to nest and forage in different types of environments. American Robins often prefer areas with open spaces where they can find food, such as lawns, gardens, and meadows.
American Robins build cup-shaped nests made of twigs, mud, and grass, usually placed in trees, on building ledges, or in shrubs. They are known to commonly nest near human structures, such as houses or other buildings. This behavior may be influenced by the availability of food sources, protection from predators, and the presence of suitable nesting locations.
Comfort around People
American Robins have become comfortable around people and are often seen foraging on lawns or nesting near human dwellings. They are not easily startled by human activity and are known to tolerate close proximity. This comfort around people may be due to the availability of food sources provided by human-managed landscapes and the relative safety from natural predators.
Red-tailed Hawks are found in diverse habitats across North America, including forests, grasslands, deserts, and mountains. They prefer areas with open spaces for hunting and a mix of perching sites, such as trees, cliffs, and utility poles. Red-tailed Hawks also require suitable nesting locations, often choosing large trees or rock ledges in secluded areas.
Red-tailed Hawks are large birds of prey with a wingspan of up to 4 feet and a length of approximately 18-26 inches. They have broad, rounded wings and a distinct reddish-brown tail that gives them their name. Their plumage varies depending on their age and geographic location, but they commonly have a whitish belly with a dark, mottled back and wings.
Red-tailed Hawks are skilled hunters and primarily feed on small mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, mice, and voles. They hunt by soaring high in the sky, searching for prey with their keen eyesight. Once they spot their prey, they dive down and strike with their sharp talons, often killing their target instantly. Red-tailed Hawks are powerful and agile in flight, making them formidable predators.
Canada Geese are highly adaptable birds that inhabit a variety of habitats, including wetlands, lakes, rivers, grasslands, and urban parks. They are commonly found in both rural and urban environments, often forming large flocks near bodies of water. Canada Geese require open spaces for feeding and loafing, as well as suitable nesting sites near water.
Canada Geese have experienced significant population growth over the past century, thanks to conservation efforts and adaptability to human-altered landscapes. Their populations have increased to the point where they are now considered abundant in many areas of North America. The success of the Canada Goose population has led to concerns about their impact on the environment and human activities.
Considered a Pest
Due to their high numbers and the waste they produce, Canada Geese are often considered pests in urban areas and agricultural lands. Their droppings can create sanitation and health concerns, while their grazing habits can damage crops, lawns, and water bodies. Managing Canada Goose populations and minimizing conflicts with humans require a balanced approach that considers both ecological and social factors.
Red-winged Blackbirds are typically found in wetland habitats, including marshes, swamps, and along the edges of lakes, ponds, and rivers. They prefer areas with tall vegetation, such as cattails and reeds, which provide nesting sites and cover. Red-winged Blackbirds can also be observed in agricultural fields and grasslands during the breeding season.
During the breeding season, male Red-winged Blackbirds establish and defend territories through vocal displays and aggressive behavior. They use their distinctive red shoulder patches to signal their presence and attract mates. Female Red-winged Blackbirds build cup-shaped nests among dense vegetation, where they lay and incubate their eggs. Males continue to defend their territories and assist in feeding the hatchlings.
Red-winged Blackbirds are found across North America and have a widespread distribution. They are migratory birds, with populations breeding in the northern regions of the continent and wintering in the southern regions. During migration, flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds can be observed moving together, creating impressive displays in the sky.
Yellow-Rumped Warblers are small songbirds with a length of approximately 5-6 inches and a wingspan of around 8-9 inches. They have a yellow throat, a yellow patch on their rump, and distinctive yellow patches on the sides of their breast and under their wings. Their back, wings, and crown are gray, while their belly is white. They also have a black mask and streaks on their sides.
Yellow-Rumped Warblers are versatile birds that can be found in a range of habitats throughout North America. They prefer coniferous forests, mixed woodlands, and shrubby areas. During migration, they may also be observed in open fields, gardens, and coastal areas. They require a combination of trees for cover and open spaces for foraging.
Yellow-Rumped Warblers are active and agile birds, often seen flitting among branches and foliage in search of insects. They are known to perform acrobatic maneuvers as they glean insects from leaves and catch them mid-air. During the winter months, when their food sources may be limited, Yellow-Rumped Warblers are known to switch their diet to include berries and fruits.
Orcas, also known as killer whales, are highly adaptable marine mammals found in both cold and warm waters around the world. They can be observed in various habitats, including oceans, seas, fjords, and coastal areas. In Alaska, Orcas are commonly seen in the coastal waters, including the Inside Passage, and can often be found near islands and inlets.
Orcas are apex predators and have a diverse diet that includes fish, marine mammals, and even other cetaceans. Their diet can vary depending on their geographic location and the availability of prey. In Alaska, Orcas are known to prey on salmon, particularly during the salmon spawning season, when they gather in large numbers near river mouths.
Orcas are highly social animals that live in matrilineal groups known as pods. These pods consist of several generations of related individuals, led by a matriarch. Orcas within a pod exhibit complex social behaviors, such as cooperative hunting, vocalizations, and group cohesion. They communicate through a variety of clicks, whistles, and calls, which are essential for social cohesion and hunting strategies.
In conclusion, Alaska is home to a diverse range of animals, each uniquely adapted to their specific habitats and exhibiting distinct behaviors. From the Mule Deer navigating rocky terrain to the Orca swimming gracefully in coastal waters, these animals provide a glimpse into the rich biodiversity of the region. Understanding their habitat, food preferences, and behaviors can not only enhance our appreciation for these remarkable creatures but also aid in their conservation and coexistence with humans. As we continue to share the landscape with these animals, it is important to respect their natural behaviors and take steps to mitigate potential conflicts, ensuring a harmonious relationship between humans and wildlife in Alaska.