Winter is a quiet season for birds in Alaska. Most migrate south to wintering areas in the Lower 48, Mexico, South America, and Polynesia. But, some species remain in Alaska through the winter. Even in the northernmost regions of Alaska, some ravens, snowy owls, and gyrfalcons remain, and offshore, murres and a few gulls linger near openings in the pack ice. Over 25 species endure the harsh winters of interior and western Alaska, and over 100 stay through the milder coastal winters of southcoastal and southeastern Alaska.
Dead trees, or snags, are valuable to a wide variety of wildlife. Unfortunately, many people assume snags are of no value and routinely cut them down. In some places, this practice has caused cavity_nesting bird and mammal populations to decline. Though nest boxes may provide alternate nesting sites for some cavity_nesting birds, they are not suitable replacements for dead trees. Here's why: Snags provide homes for woodpeckers. Woodpeckers use snags for drumming, nesting, roosting, and feeding. Woodpeckers hammer their bills against the resonating surface of dead tree trunks to make a loud drumming sound; this is their courtship and territorial "song."