While the Kodiak brown bear is the island’s most famous resident, there are a multitude of creatures to spot on Kodiak Island. The playful red fox is plentiful throughout the archipelago as are Sitka black-tailed deer. If you study the mountainside carefully, you might see a majestic white mountain goat.
Whale watching is equal to anywhere in the world. Many charter operators specialize in wildlife viewing where they will point out not only whales but sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, puffins, porpoises and maybe even bears! For the more adventurous traveler, guided kayaking tours offer unique and intimate experiences with Kodiak’s wildlife. There are many opportunities to view wildlife from lookout points and easy walking trails and tidepools give you glimpses of some of the island’s most unique critters. To get a close up and personal experience with aquatic life, visit the Fisheries Research Center on Near Island. They have a great touch tank and aquarium.
To find local businesses who can take you wildlife viewing, click on each of the categories such as bear viewing, whale watching, etc. and you will find complete lists.
Best time to spot wildlife
January: You can find chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches, magpies and sometimes even a woodpecker visiting birdfeeders. Look along the beaches to spy eagles, crows, ravens, magpies and gulls. Downtown and cannery row is an excellent place to find eagles in the winter.
February: Harbor seals and sea lions stay near the shore year-round. On the water you can view gulls, oldsquaw, and murrelets. Ravens are quite common this month.
March: Along the beach, Sitka blacktail deer are found. Mountain goats can be spotted at Kalsin Bay, American River, Sharatin Mountain, and Devil’s Prong. Look for snow buntings along beaches.
April: The Kodiak brown bear begins emerging from dens. Watch mountainsides with binoculars. Gray whales are en route to the Bering Sea. Late this month migratory birds begin to return.
May: In late May at remote locations, you may see a mother bear with her cubs. Songbirds arrive; water birds take over the coastal wetlands. Tundra swans or green-winged teal, loons, American wigeon, terns and gulls are also found.
June: Harbor seals have their pups. Mountain goats can be seen with their kids on rocky cliffs. Beavers and muskrats frequent the lakes and ponds. You may find rookeries where seabirds such as puffins, murres, and kittiwakes incubate eggs and raise their hicks. Ducklings follow adult mallards and harlequins. With canneries in full swing, swarms of gulls visit the docks.
July: Bears hunt salmon spawning areas frequently this month. Whales often grace the off-shore waters. At month’s end, swallows and shorebirds start to head south. Puffins are still nesting.
August: Harbor seals stick around large river mouths for the escaping fish. Beavers start preparing for winter and are easily spotted. Shorebirds continue to migrate. Flocks of songbirds such as sparrows and thrushes begin migration.
September: Find Roosevelt elk on Afognak and Raspberry Islands, sea lions and eagles are prevalent. Waterfowl migration begins. Fork-tailed storm-petrels and black oystercatchers may be observed.
October: Loons and sometimes trumpeter swans can be spotted on local lakes. Bald eagles and gulls are commonly seen eating spawned salmon.
November: Most bears hibernate. Weasels and rabbits have white fur and are easy to spot. Sitka blacktail deer are in rut. Harlequin and other ducks can be seen diving along the coast.
December: Look for fox, marten, river otter and hare tracks in the snow. You may see Sitka blacktail deer on beaches, along the edges of the forest and in neighborhoods and town. Black turnstones, surfbirds, and black oystercatchers can be spotted on the rocky coastline, while on the water you can find a variety of wintering water birds. On land it is common to see bald eagles, ravens, crows and gulls of all kinds.