Bird watching in the Nome region is wonderful. With three distinct habitats (Ocean, wetlands, and high alpine tundra) the region is a haven for more than 150 migratory species. The three roads out of Nome allow the viewer to do much observation from a vehicle.
Resident birds year round include Willow Ptarmigan, Ravens, and Snow Buntings in recent years. It is the advent of spring as the ice and snow begin to melt that the migration begins. Mid May to mid June is the prime time to observe the many species that will nest in the region or beyond. Then in mid-August the fall the migration south begins. This is a great time to see very large groups of Sand hill Cranes, Canada Geese, and Tundra Swans.
Nome area: tundra, small ponds and the Bering Sea surround Nome. Pacific and American Golden-plovers, Parasitic Jaegers, Pacific and Red Throat Loons are not uncommon. On the power lines next to the road along the beach you’ll see Arctic Turns and occasionally the Aleutian Tern. Whimbrels, Ruby Crested Kinglets Arctic Warblers, and Common Redpoles may also be seen.
Safety Sound & Council Road: Much of this road follows the Bering Sea Coast at Safety Sound the road is on an isthmus with the ocean to the south and the spectacular wetlands/estuary to the north. Emperor Geese, and Stellar's Eiders, Harlequin Ducks, Old Squaws, Arctic and Pacific Loons. Many other shorebirds, waterfowl use the area for nesting. Gulls abound Glaucous Winged, Herring Gulls, Mew Gulls and sometimes Slaty-backs. . The road ends in the Niukluk River at the small “town” of Council. Council and its environs are the only boreal forest on the Seward Peninsula Boreal Chickadees, Northern Goshawks and Northern Owls have been viewed.
Kougarak or Taylor Road: As you leave Nome you head north. About 85 miles of good road awaits you as you gain elevation and drive through the Kigluaik Mountains. Look hard for the Bluethroat near Salmon Lake and Gyrfalcons, among others. Willow Ptarmigans, Northern Wheatear, both Pacific and American Golden-Plovers occur along this road. The elusive Bristled-thighed Curlew can be often found towards the end of this road.
Teller Road: Teller is the only village in the area connected by road. The drive is beautiful and birds abound: You can see Northern Wheatears, American Pipits, Horned Larks, and Snow Buntings, American Golden-Plovers and Baird’s Sandpipers. With some luck you might view the Bluethroat and in Teller itself the Yellow Wagtail. Rock out-croppings are common, look for Golden Eagles, Rough Legged Hawks and sometimes Gyrfalcon.
Remember Nome is located just below the Arctic Circle. The temperature can vary greatly (see Nome weather) as can weather conditions. Layering your clothing is the best. A pair of long johns, comfortable walking shoes, light gloves and a stocking cap are a good idea. A T-shirt and sweater or good heavy shirt and a water/wind proof outer jacket will keep the occasional rain wind off of you.