Join us for the 11th Annual Yakutat Tern Festival

May 28, 2020 – May 31, 2020

What is the Yakutat Tern Festival?

The Yakutat Tern Festival is a celebration of the natural and cultural resources of Yakutat, Alaska. The festival is family friendly and offers activities for birders as well as non-birders, including field trips, seminars, keynote speaker, kid’s activities, a race, cultural rich art, evening banquets and other programs. Register early to get a discount!


  • Registration in advance is $40.
  • Registration during the festival is $50.

Known as a world-class birding destination with access to an incredible diversity of pristine habitats, Yakutat hosts one of the largest and southernmost known nesting colonies of Aleutian terns, as well as up to 200 other bird species that nest in, or migrate through the area. Yakutat and its vast surroundings offers birders the chance to hike coastal rainforest trails, float rivers teeming with wild salmon, sea kayak or boat Yakutat Bay or the nearby fjords, walk miles of sandy beaches, or gain access to prime birding areas via car.
For more information about the festival, visit

What is a Tern?

Terns are small seabirds related to gulls, and are capable of hovering in the air like a hummingbird, flipping over backwards, and then slicing down into the water like a pelican. Terns hunt small fish which they spot from the air and plunge into the water to catch. Terns come to Alaska to lay their eggs and raise their chicks. They nest on the ground on beaches, gravel bars, and lake shores, laying their eggs in shallow depressions called scrapes. The eggs are camouflaged to look like little rocks and are hard to see.

​Terns breed in several areas around Yakutat, including the largest known colonies on Black Sand Spit. The Aleutian tern colony on Black Sand Spit on the Yakutat Forelands is one of the largest in the world, historically supporting up to 3,000 Aleutian terns. In part because of the large population of Aleutian terns found there, Black Sand Spit is identified as an Audubon Important Bird Area.

Aleutian terns are of special interest because there is very little information about them and their breeding range is limited to Alaska and Eastern Siberia. Aleutian terns have a distinct white triangular patch on their forehead just above the bill. They also have black feet, legs, and bill. Aleutian terns are similar in size to Arctic terns, but stouter with a more deeply forked tail.

Check out our Yakutat Tern Festival Special – 5 night 4 day stay for only $1800 per person includes all lodging, food and rental vehicle as well as your choice of either a one day of guided sightseeing/birdwatching on the Situk River OR a Hubbard Glacier Tour/ SeaBird Watching.