About the Festival

About the Festival
Field Trips
Art Exhibits
For the Kids
Terns of Alaska
Our Presenters
Other Activities
Photo Gallery
Photo Contest
2014 Sponsors
2015 Registration

Mission Statement:

To highlight the extraordinary natural and cultural resources of Yakutat by establishing a festival celebrating Aleutian terns.  The Yakutat area boasts the southernmost known and one of the largest breeding colonies of Aleutian terns within its range.  It is the intent of this festival to support, unify, and educate the community by promoting ecotourism.

Yakutat Tern Festival, May 28-31 2015
Celebrating Birds in Culture

The First Annual Yakutat Tern Festival was held June 2-5, 2011, with great success.  The festival planning committee is currently planning for an even better festival in 2015.  One of the largest and southernmost known breeding colonies of Aleutian Terns exists here.  The Aleutian Tern has a limited range throughout Alaska and eastern Siberia and Russia, and very little is known about this species, including its migration patterns.  The Yakutat area is currently at the forefront of Aleutian Tern research, including studies on population trends, nesting ecology, and migration patterns. Participants of the festival will enjoy birding activities, natural history field trips, art exhibits, educational events for kids and adults, Native cultural presentations and speakers with professional stature representing a wealth of information about the Yakutat area.

Why Attend The Yakutat Tern Festival?

What distinguishes Yakutat as a world-class birding destination is its incredible habitat diversity which translates into opportunities for birders to view over 200 species of birds, over 100 nesting varieties, and many rarities, including of course Aleutian Terns. Spectacular mountain ranges and the Gulf of Alaska squeeze the Yakutat forelands into a narrow corridor for hundreds of thousands of resident and migratory birds. Early June is prime time to see terns up close and personal. Take advantage of an in-depth view of the greater Yakutat area by attending this festival with all of its organized events.  Arrive early or stay late to take in the additional activities such as surfing, fishing, hiking, beach-combing, and sight-seeing that Yakutat has to offer.

2015 in the news:  http://juneauempire.com/art/2015-05-06/fifth-annual-tern-festival-welcome-aleutian-terns


2012 Festival Highlights

  • Outstanding Field Trips - including viewing of Aleutian Terns
  • Numerous Activities for Kids relating to Birds and Cultural Resources
  • Native Cultural Events including the Mount Saint Elias Dancers and Native Story-telling
  • Related Speakers and Seminars on Yakutat Natural and Cultural Topics and new saltwater based trips
  • Keynote speaker Bob Armstrong
  • Wildlife Photography Workshop
  • Live Bird Programs by the Alaska Raptor Center
  • Bird banding demonstration

Festival details (click here to download the full 2012 festival brochure)

2011 Festival Highlights

  • Outstanding Field Trips - including viewing of Aleutian Terns
  • Numerous Activities for Kids relating to Birds and Cultural Resources
  • Native Cultural Events including the Mount Saint Elias Dancers and Native Story-telling
  • Exceptional Art Show featuring local native artists and well known glass artist Preston Singletary
  • Related Speakers and Seminars on Yakutat Natural and Cultural Topics
  • Salmon in the Trees Exhibit by Amy Gulick

Festival details (click here to download the full 2011 festival brochure)

Summary of 1st Annual (2011) Yakutat Tern Festival:

24 partners and 20 sponsors contributed to a successful first year of the festival.Photo by Samson Demmert

Over 200 participants attended this event, including approximately 60 people from out of town and over 50 children (18 and under).

11 people entered the photo contest, and 90 people voted.  Photos included such subjects as terns, berries, landcapes, shorebirds, eagles, fish, wildlife, and flowers.  Mike Denega (adult) and Sarah Newlun (under 18 category) won first place in the publically juried photo contest. 

Over 60 people attended the Mt. St. Elias Dancers fundraiser dinner and performance.  The King Salmon dinner was a delightful treat!

31 species of birds were observed during the field trips.

6 species of birds were captured and banded at the mist-netting station.

Seminars included topics such as Kittlitz’s murrelets, subsistence use of birds, birds in native culture, Yakutat area glaciers, and beginning birding. 

3 interpreters and 4 different species of birds from 2 raptor centers presented programs for children and adults.

Festival t-shirts sold out!

Children’s activities included native story-telling,  art activities, a puppet show, science activities, raptor center presentations, mist-netting and bird banding.

4  local non-profit groups provided delicious on-site fundraiser meals.

Forest Service biologist Nate Catterson shared his knowledge about the Yakutat area terns and the current Yakutat-based research efforts.

Key-note speaker Dr. Brad Andres, co-author of the book The birds of Yakutat, spoke to over 60 participants about the migration aspects which link Yakutat’s birds to the rest of the world.

Glass-blowing artist Preston Singletary displayed his art-work, worked with the children, and delivered a highly interesting presentation to participants.

Award-winning author and photographer Amy Gulick displayed her photos from Salmon in the Trees, and shared her experiences in Southeast Alaska with festival participants.

11 local artists and 1 an artist from Sitka displayed their art work, including a traditional life-sized canoe, bentwood boxes, jewelry, books, Chilkoot blankets, and Tlingit art-work.

Vendor booths included Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, Yakutat Salmon Board, and University of Fairbanks Cooperative Extension.

Participants and presenters traveled from :

  • Alaska (Juneau, Homer, Auk Bay, Fairbanks, Sitka, Craig, Palmer, Chugiak, Seward)
  • Colorado
  • Arizona
  • Washington
  • California
  • Oregon
  • Minnesota
  • New Mexico


For information regarding the festival, please contact Teresa Swanson or Susan Oehlers (907) 784-3359. In the lower 48 states, contact Mike Denega (530) 306-4936

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