Alaska 2024: Adak: Aleutian Specialties & Eurasian Vagrants

May 18 – 22, 2024

Tour Length: 5 days
Est. Spaces Left: Spaces available!

Birding in the far-flung Aleutian Islands amidst stunning volcanoes where we might find Eurasian vagrants along with Whiskered Auklets, Kittlitz’s Murrelets, and Laysan Albatross. Adak is also an excellent place to find several other Alaska specialties, including Arctic and Yellow-billed Loons, Gyrfalcon, Rock Ptarmigan, Aleutian Tern, and more. Adak Island remains one of the less-visited birding hotspots in Alaska and any venture to this remote outpost will certainly produce interesting sightings.

Tour Leaders

Kip Miller
2nd leader TBD


Birds, Pelagic, Marine Mammals, Landscapes


Double Accommodation: $4,500/person
Single Supplement: + $450
Deposit: $1,250

Max Group Size

10 (2 leaders)


Easy to Moderate; some hiking through marshes every day

Future Departures

May 2025

Tour Description

Adak Island is a remote outpost in the central Aleutian Islands, but readily accessible from Anchorage which lies nearly 1,200 miles northeast of Adak. This relatively large Aleutian island, roughly 274 square miles in size, has been accessible to birders since the early 2000s after the closure of a sizeable naval base. Taking advantage of the extensive remaining infrastructure, which includes miles of good roads and comfortable accommodations, we can now explore this rugged and wild island easily. The island sits amidst the productive confluence of the Bering Sea to the north and the Pacific to the south and this rich pelagic environment supports millions of seabirds most notably the range-restricted Whiskered Auklet which we will seek via a short pelagic boat trip. Other marine birds easily seen on Adak include Ancient, Marbled and Kittlitz’s Murrelets, Laysan Albatross, Short-tailed Shearwater, and a smattering of other alcids. During the spring, Adak Island is also a fantastic place to find migrating Arctic and Yellow-billed Loons, Gyrfalcon, Aleutian Tern, and Common Eiders. The island also hosts an endemic subspecies of Rock Ptarmigan, Rock Sandpiper, Black Oystercatcher, Pacific Wren, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Snow Bunting, and Lapland Longspur. Due to its far-flung westerly location (roughly 445 miles east of Attu Island), Adak Island receives a healthy dose of Eurasian migrants and vagrants with early spring being an ideal time to find scarce shorebirds and waterfowl. In recent years, we have seen a variety of rare visitors to the ABA area during our tours, including Whooper Swan, Taiga and Tundra Bean-Geese, Smew, Tufted Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Long-billed Murrelet, Lesser Sand-Plover, Ruff, Terek Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Common Snipe (likely breeds), Eyebrowed Thrush, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Hawfinch, Rustic Bunting, Brambling and many other Asiatic vagrants are possible. Of course, the number and variety of rare and vagrant species are highly weather dependent, and even a handful of these species would be an exceptional trip, but the potential and unpredictability make for adventurous and exciting daily outings.


More Details

Trip Highlights

Top Birds

Taiga and Tundra Bean-Geese (very rare); Smew (nearly annual); Laysan Albatross; Northern Fulmar; Short-tailed Shearwater; Whiskered Auklet; Kittlitz’s, Ancient and Marbled Murrelets; Pigeon Guillemot; Rock Sandpiper; Gyrfalcon; Arctic, Pacific and Yellow-billed Loons; Red-faced and Pelagic Cormorants; Black Oystercatcher; Aleutian Tern; Parasitic Jaeger; Rock Ptarmigan; Gray-crowned Rosy-finch; Hawfinch (nearly annual); Brambling; White Wagtail, and many other possible Eurasian vagrants

Top Mammals

Sea Otters, Harbor Seals, Steller’s Sea Lions


maritime tundra, lakes, wetlands, coastline, pelagic

Other Attractions

Excellent photographic opportunities, remote volcanic landscapes of the Aleutian Islands, Cold War history

Planning for the Trip

Meeting Location

Anchorage Airport Alaska Air Gate, Alaska


Comfortable and fully equipped townhouses


On Adak Island, 4 nights lodging, all meals from first lunch through final day’s lunch transport, guides, taxes, and permits. Round trip flight Anchorage-Adak-Anchorage included.


alcohol, personal calls, laundry, pelagic boat trip, if available; other personal expenses

Habitats Covered

maritime tundra, lagoons, wetlands, rocky shoreline, and possible pelagic

Expected Climate

Cool, sometimes wet and windy, temps 35 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit

Suggested Clothing and Gear

Credit cards/cash
Scope and tripod (optional)
Sunglasses and sunscreen
Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
Water bottle
Small umbrella
Small day pack/fanny pack
Small flashlight
Mosquito/insect repellant (DEET 25% or greater)
Itch relief cream
Lip screen/balm
Prescription drugs – carry in original packaging to avoid customs problems
OTC medicines (antibiotics, cold/sinus, cough drops, eye drops, analgesic (Motrin, aspirin), anti-diarrheal)
Hair Dryer
Small alarm clock
Cleaning fluids/cloths/drying cloths
Field guides
Note pads/pens (we provide trip checklists)
Hiking Boots/Shoes
Warm hat with visor
Rain hat
Waterproof winter jacket (Gore-tex or equivalent)
Warm winter jacket
Balaclava or full facial ski mask
Warm, waterproof gloves (and backup pair)
Glove liners
Long sleeve shirts (various weights)
T-shirts or undershirts (Capilene or polypropylene)
Pants (fleece or wool; jeans NOT recommended)
Long Underwear (Capilene or polypropylene)
PJs or shorts for lounging/sleeping
Wool socks (various weights) and liners.
GORE-TEX socks/liners for water protection and warmth
Sturdy, waterproof boots; NEOS are lightweight waterproof overboots
Moleskin for blisters
Foot powder for drying

Recommended Reading

  • A Field Guide to the Birds of Japan (1982), Wild Bird Society of Japan
  • A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia Bharat Bhushan, et al. (1993), Wild Bird Society of Japan
  • A Field Guide to the Birds of China John MacKinnon & Karen Phillipps (2000), Oxford University Press
  • A Field Guide to the Rare Birds of Britain & Europe Ian Lewington, et al. (1991), Domino Books, Ltd.
  • Birds of Europe with North Africa & the Middle East Lars Jonsson (1992), Princeton University Press
  • Birds of Russia & Adjacent Territories V. E. Flint, et al. (1984), Princeton University Press
  • Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 6th Edition Jon Dunn, et al. (2011), National Geographic Society
  • Seabirds of the World Peter Harrison (1997), Princeton University Press
  • Shorebirds of North America, Europe, & Asia: A Guide to Field Identification Don Taylor; illustrated by Stephen Message, (2006), Princeton University Press
  • Shorebirds of North America: The Photographic Guide Dennis Paulson (2005), Princeton University Press
  • New Generation to the Guide Birds of Britain & Europe Christopher Perrins (1987), University of Texas Press
  • Birds of Europe Killian Mullarney, et al. (1999), Princeton University Press
  • The Sibley Guide to Birds David A. Sibley (2000), Knopf
  • The Shorebird Guide (North America) Miichael O’Brien, et. al. 2006, Houghton & Mifflin Books
  • The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe & the Western Palearctic Mark Beaman and Steve Madge (1998), Princeton University Press