Bird Photography in Barrow, Alaska—Prepare for an Epic Experience

Today’s travel photography post was written by Brian Zwiebel, an award-winning photographer and bird guide with Sabrewing Nature Tours. Brian is regularly sighted in the western Ohio Lake Marsh region.

Red-throated Loon BE1U3503 Barrow Alaska J© Brian Zwiebel

Alaska. The name stirs emotion in the hearts and souls of all who have visited. Destinations within Alaska are virtually endless. Photography meccas such as Denali, Katmai and Nome come instantly to mind.

But what about Barrow, Alaska as a premier bird photography destination? If you have never heard of Barrow, you are not alone. I was barely aware of it when I started looking for undiscovered photo destinations in the great state. The plan was simple enough. I wanted to photograph High Arctic nesting birds and I wanted to do so in a town with an infrastructure to make the logistics at least manageable.

While reviewing range maps of my most desired species I soon discovered that Barrow is smack in the middle of one of the main breeding areas of King, Spectacled and Steller’s Eiders. Score! I also found daily flights, several lodging options, rental cars, and a small road system. Thus my plan was hatched.

Countless hours of research and planning went into that first trip, so I thought I knew what to expect when I got there. Not even close! Sure I had mapped out the area roads, knew of the midnight sun and had even found a restaurant or two I wanted to try (Kuboka for Japanese is my favorite). I did have an idea of the species I would see but I was not prepared for the amazing breeding behaviors and displays I would witness.

In this article, I will let you know what to expect at Barrow so you can decide if an adventure to Barrow’s High Arctic is right for you!

And it has tons of photographs to whet your appetite!

Read on:

  • The Birds
  • Temperatures, Light and Wind
  • Fog
  • Slippery Terrain
  • Bears
  • Permit
  • Proper Gear
  • Bug Alert
  • Cost & Value
  • Photo Gallery Two

(see “Continue to next page,” numbers in green, below)

Brian Zwiebel

Brian Zwiebel is an award-winning photographer and bird guide with Sabrewing Nature Tours. Brian is regularly sighted in the western Ohio Lake Marsh region. Read More

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  • Jeremy Bantz January 3, 2017, 21:44

    Thanks for the great photos and information as to what to expect during a visit!

    I am planning a trip to Barrow for my mom and I (as part of our first visit to Alaska) and would love to pick your brain. May I have your e-mail address to contact you directly?

    Thanks again!

    • Rob Ripma January 4, 2017, 13:36

      We’ve send this to the author of the article, Brian Zwiebel. He should be contacting you soon!

  • richard greenspun January 15, 2018, 19:52

    Do you still do photo tours to Barrow? I am looking for a small private tour(3 people+ guide) for June 2019.
    I like to plan ahead. Major targets are the eiders,ruff and loons
    Sarasota Florida

  • city beach along October 17, 2018, 07:53

    I have recently started a site, the info you offer on this site
    has helped me greatly. Thank you for all of your time & work.

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