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Hummingbirds in Alaska

Rufus Hummingbirds in Alaska on a bird watching tour.

We started keeping a hummingbird feeder on the David B a few summers ago. We often had hungry birds coming to the boat and checking out all the red things on deck. One time a tired one arrived that was too weak to fly up to the feeder. We set the feeder on a chair next to the bird. It regained its strength and a few minutes later it buzzed off. We love these small visitors and appreciate the way they help us connect with nature and care for the world around us.

For more information visit any of our Alaska itinerary pages like this one for our Juneau to Petersburg 8-day tour.

Glacier Bay Oystercatcher

Birdwatching in Glacier Bay National Park from small ship cruiseI had just stepped out of the skiff at Lamplough glacier in Glacier Bay National Park when this oystercatcher gave me a look that more or less seemed to suggest that the mussels hidden under the kelp were for oystercatcher only.

This photo is from our May 2019 Glacier Bay Photography Workshop. There’s still space for the upcoming 2020 season. Visit our Glacier Bay Photography Workshop page for more information and discount pricing.

Alaska Aboard the David B

If you need a short four-minute vacay, the video below contains highlights from one of our 8-day Alaska cruises where we had, beautiful weather, great hikes, saw amazing wildlife, and we got to visit Dawes glacier on a day where we were treated to some breathtaking calving.

We’re taking reservations for 2019. Take 20% off on selected trips in Alaska through Feb 15, 2019. Join us – Special Deals on Cruises.

Just Remember to Look Up

I was walking along a mud flat at low tide with a group of guests when I spotted several greater yellowlegs standing on a small rise that was surrounded by a tidepool. I stopped to point them out and talk a bit about their pretty call and how they feed on small fish and insects. As we watched the yellowlegs wade and forage in the shallow water, a bald eagle flew overhead attracting the attention of this bird. Just a small reminder from our friend the Greater Yellowlegs to remember to occasionally look up.

-Christine

Bird watching in Alaska while on a small ship cruise.
Greater yellow-legs keeps an eye on the sky as it feeds in a shallow tide pool on Admiralty Island in Alaska.

Listening to Crows

Crow in Alaska
Crow keeping a watchful eye on me

When people ask what I do for a living, I respond that Jeffrey and I run a tour boat in Alaska, and if that leads to a longer conversation, I usually continue on about how we spend lots of time watching humpback and orca whales, and how we have a couple of spotting scopes on the boat so we can watch bears forage on the beach. Rarely do I run on about how much I love watching crows and other common animals. This is partly because, like weeds, the virtues of crows remain undiscovered for most people.

I find crows fascinating. They help me fulfill my need for nature during the off-season at my urban home where there are no deep-wilderness animals to geek-out on.  Sometimes the crows tell me what’s going on in the neighborhood. Like the time when a raccoon was out wandering during the day. I heard what I like to call a “crowmotion” a few block to the east. The crows were noisily and excitedly moving through yards and alleys. I stepped out the backdoor to see what all the fuss was about. As soon as I opened the door a raccoon came into my yard seeking refuge in a tall cedar tree. Unfortunately for the raccoon, there were already two other raccoons sleeping there and the poor thing was forced to move along. I watched it leave the tree and cross the street. I lost track of the raccoon as it ambled into the neighbor’s yard, but the crows continued their parade “cawing” and flying from tree to tree for several blocks.

I’ve learned a lot from observing crows and that with their help, they often lead me to exciting discoveries. One time I was kayaking close to shore in a cove in Alaska. It was a calm overcast day. I was looking for sea stars, crabs, and small schools of fish. I kept my attention focused on the water below my boat. After a while my ears picked up the sound of several crows in the bushes to my left. The crows were going on and on about something. I half listened thinking there was probably an eagle in a tree. I decided to look up. No eagle. I went back to skimming along the surface and searching the shallow water. They crows kept talking. I looked up again and decided to see if I could find the focus of their attention. I held my boat still by gently padding the water with my paddle. I watched. The crows were clustered low on the branches of spruce, hemlock, and alders. I looked at where they were looking. A branch moved. The tide was high and I was maybe 30 feet from the edge of the forest. I held still and smiled to myself as my eyes made out a dark fuzzy round shape with two more fuzzy round shapes on top. The animal was partially blocked by shrubs and very difficult to see. The crows had discovered a brown bear and wanted everyone to know. I had listened.

Brown bear on Admiralty Island on a small ship cruise
Crows gave away this brown bear’s hidden resting place in the woods.

There have been many other times that the cues of common animals have increased my awareness. I’ve watched gulls flying in a straight line, then suddenly circle. Most of the time it’s a fish coming to the surface, but sometimes it’s a whale. One day I realized that I often say things like, “Oh, that’s just a crow”, or, “It’s just a gull,” when really, they are so much more than “just a.” They are communicators and lively participants in the ecosystems and habitats of which we are part. If we pause to listen to them, we might discover they know things that will truly enrich our lives.