Spotlight: Alaska Hummingbird Festival in Ketchikan, Alaska
If the sun shimmering red! to green! to gold!
on the glistening gorget of the male rufous hummingbird
makes MY heart gush warm,
how much more thrilled is the fluttering female
when he winks his plummy array at her?
--Cat Freshwater, Manzanita singer/songwriter
What You’ll Find
A celebration, Alaska-style, welcoming the Rufous hummingbirds back from the southern United States and Central America. Every April, the town of Ketchikan hosts the annual Alaska Hummingbird Festival, a month-long celebration with scheduled activities that include guided bird hikes, a juried art contest, film presentations, arts and crafts workshops, kids’ activities and much more!
Participation and enthusiasm grows throughout the month, as festival goers learn about these small, yet mighty birds and their impressive migration. Visitors and residents can observe the Rufous hummingbirds up close as feeders are placed at several locations in the area. All programs and activities are free to the public and are hosted by the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center.
Ketchikan, Alaska, is the southernmost and fifth most populated city in the state and is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World.” Visitors can fly into the Ketchikan International Airport on Gravina Island and take a ferry across the Tongass Narrows to Ketchikan city.
The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center is located on Main Street in downtown Ketchikan and is open Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Ketchikan Visitors Bureau provides links to lodging sites, as well as a host of information about local Ketchikan attractions.
For an authentic Alaska experience, check out our Spotlight article on Alaska Cabins and learn more about these rustic get-aways on the nearby Tongass National Forest.
Make Sure You
Experience the heritage of this area by visiting the totem poles at the Totem Bight State Historical Park, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
Enjoy wildlife viewing at the Margaret Creek Wildlife Viewing Site on the Tongass National Forest located about 26 miles north of Ketchikan.
Explore the Tongass National Forest! You can camp in a campground - or in a cabin. You can hike through dense forest, alpine meadow, or on a wooden “boardwalk” trail through peat bogs called muskegs. You can explore world-class caves. You can enjoy salt water fjords and unending waterways by canoe or kayak, your own motor or sail boat, charter boat, ferry, or cruise ship. You can watch bears, eagles, whales and countless other wild animals in their natural settings. You can visit glaciers by land or sea. And of course, you can fish, in fresh or salt water environments, everything from herring to trout, salmon to halibut. For a truly Alaskan experience, visit the Tongass National Forest.
The Rufous hummingbirds that make their way to Alaska have traveled as far as 12,000 miles during this round-trip migration. They will make their nests here for many weeks and months to feed on nectar from flowers and artificial feeders, and to breed. These feisty little birds with wingspans of about 11cm weighing in at two to five grams will aggressively defend their feeding locations and nests.
Plan ahead and learn more about your Alaskan adventure. Visit the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center for trip planning ideas, as well as the Tongass National Forest for a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. The Ketchikan Visitors Bureau also provides a wealth of helpful information for those planning a trip to this area.