Meet The Birds Of Alaska

Meet The Birds Of Alaska

THE BLUETHROAT is one few birds that breed in North America and winter in Asia. This male, with its striking red and blue throat, was photographed on the tundra of Nome, Alaska. (photo courtesy of Len Smock)

Retired VCU Professor

To Give Talk

Len Smock, former biology professor, director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Rice Rivers Center and long-time birder, will give a presentation on his birding adventures in far west Alaska Monday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m.

The program, sponsored by the Rockbridge Bird Club, will be held in the basement of the parish hall at Grace Episcopal.

More than 450 species of birds live in or migrate through Alaska, and the majority of them can be found in Western Alaska. Smock’s travelogue will take birders from Nome to St. Lawrence Island, located in the Bering Sea. The island is so close to Siberia that not only can birders see Russia, but they may also sight Asian bird species that forage at sea with their North American counterparts – seabirds including auk-lets, murres, puffins, guillemots, and eiders.

Smock will also describe the lifeways of the Yup’ik Native Alaskans on St. Lawrence, and the experience of birding in a centuries-old boneyard of whale, seal and walrus skeletal remains.

Smock is a retired biology professor at VCU, where he was director of VCU’s environmental field station, the Rice Rivers Center, located on the James River.

While water was the focus of his professional life, birds and their conservation have long been his passion. Smock is currently a board member of the Virginia Society of Ornithology and President of the Richmond Audubon Society.

The Rockbridge Bird Club meets quarterly and organizes programs and seasonal field trips for members and other birding enthusiasts. All meetings, presentations, and field trips are free of charge. For more information about club-sponsored activities, visit its website at

The News-Gazette

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