Reserves in Alaska page 1

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Birding Locations around Anchorage

Birding Locations around Anchorage

The following list of birding locations are the most popular and easily accessible birding locations around the Anchorage area. Over 229 species of birds have been recorded in the Anchorage area. Anchorage is strategically situated at the edge of several different Alaska regional flora systems, and is at the intersection of several different natural migratory pathways. Many bird species that have been recorded in the Anchorage area are casual or accidental visitors that are either passing through or got blown off course but at least 150 species occur annually as either regular passage migrants or breeders.Click here for birding locations

Cape Newenham State Game Refuge

Cape Newenham State Game Refuge

Each spring and fall, hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese, and shorebirds stop at Chagvan Bay to rest and feed on their way to and from nesting grounds located further north. The bay is especially critical to black brant that stop in the spring to feed on eelgrass. Large numbers of emperor geese, Taverner's Canada geese, and pintails also stop over during migration. Brant and emperor geese feed upon the bay's large extensive eelgrass beds, refueling for their major migrations. Other waterfowl species that depend upon the area include greater white-fronted geese, northern shoveler, scaup, mallard, American green-winged teal, red-breasted merganser, black and white-winged scoters, harlequin, oldsquaw, and all three species of eider. The most numerous shorebirds are dunlin, western sandpipers (right), rock sandpipers, and bartailed godwit.

Izembek State Game Refuge

Izembek State Game Refuge

As a major migratory staging area for most of the world's population of black brant, emperor geese and Steller's eiders, and host to thousands of northern pintails, mallards, oldsquaws and scoters, the area has received worldwide recognition as a "Wetland of International Importance." In the fall, black brant arrive to feast on the abundant eelgrass within the lagoon while Taverner's and cackling Canada geese feed on both eelgrass and crowberries. The Taverner's geese also stop by the tens of thousands at Izembek Lagoon in the fall. Emperor geese feed on eelgrass and crowberries and also graze on invertebrates and mussels from the shoreline at low tide. After the geese and dabbling ducks depart for wintering grounds, Steller's, king, and common eiders, black and white-winged scoters, and red-breasted mergansers remain to winter in the ice-free waters of the lagoon. Shorebirds are most numerous in the fall when they probe vast intertidal expanses of mud and sand for food at low tide. Rock sandpipers* pictured are among the most common and can be seen year-round. Bald eagles are regularly viewed along the shore.

* Note difference between Rock Sandpiper and Dunlin .
Dunlin calidris alpina has a black belly patch.Rock sandpiper has black chest patch clearly visible in this photograph.

Trading Bay State Game Refuge

Trading Bay wetlands provide critical spring feeding, summer nesting, and fall staging habitat for thousands of ducks, geese, swans, and cranes. The first habitat to be used in spring is a narrow band of ice-free coast where large concentrations of waterfowl rest and feed. Canada geese (including the lesser, cackling, and Taverner's sub-species), lesser snow geese, Pacific white-fronted geese, Tule white-fronted geese, and trumpeter and tundra swans use the area in large numbers. Small numbers of Pacific brant are also found. As spring break-up moves inland, waterfowl disperse throughout Trading Bay to nest. Particularly high concentrations of nesting trumpeter swans are found along the Kustatan River. Nesting ducks include mallard, pintail, green-winged teal, wigeon, shoveler, common eider, mergansers, scoters, scaup, and goldeneye. Loons, shorebirds, and bald eagles also nest on the refuge. Tule geese are known to nest in the McArthur River drainages and molt in the Middle River area. In the fall, waterfowl populations once again concentrate in flocks on the refuge in preparation for their southward migration.

Bird Songs of Alaska

Bird Songs of Alaska

Leonard Peyton
A set of two CDs with the most complete compilation of Alaskan bird sound recordings ever assembled, Bird Songs of Alaska features breeding vocalizations of shorebirds, Alaska-specific dialects, and songs and calls of spectacular Asian rarities. Many vocalizations on this compilation are not available on any other audio field guide, making it an invaluable tool for field research or as a way to enhance the personal pleasure and challenge of birding in a new place. Bird Songs of Alaska includes recordings from Denali National Park, Tongass National Forest, and the Aleutian Islands.

Click here for further information and species list

Susitna Flats State Game Refuge

Perhaps the most spectacular feature of the Susitna Flats State Game Refuge — and certainly the prime reason for its refuge status — is the spring and fall concentration of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Usually by mid-April, mallards, pintails, and Canada geese are present in large numbers. Peak densities are reached in early May when as many as 100,000 waterfowl are using the refuge to feed, rest, and conduct their final courtship prior to nesting. The refuge also hosts several thousand lesser sandhill cranes and upwards of 8,000 swans. Northern phalaropes, dowitchers, godwits, whimbrels, snipe, yellowlegs, sandpipers, plovers, and dunlin are among the most abundant of shorebirds. Most of the ducks, geese, and shorebirds move north or west to nest in other areas of the state. About 10,000 ducks — mostly mallards, pintails, and green-winged teal, remain to nest in the coastal fringe of marsh ponds and sedge meadows found in the refuge. Recently, Tule geese, a subspecies of the greater white-fronted goose, have been discovered to nest and stage on Susitna Flats. In the fall, migrant waterfowl and shorebirds once again arrive in growing numbers to rest and feed on sedge meadows, marshes, and intertidal mud flats.

Copper River Critical Habitat Area

Copper River Critical Habitat Area

Each spring, an estimated 12 million shorebirds, the largest gathering of shorebirds in the western hemisphere, stop along the shores of the Copper River Delta on their way to more northern nesting grounds. Among these migrants are nearly the entire Pacific coast population of dunlins and western sandpipers, and large numbers of least sandpipers, knots, and short and long-billed dowitchers. During peak migration periods from late April through May, concentrations of up to 250,000 shorebirds per square mile have been observed feeding on the Copper River Delta tideflats. Millions of ducks, geese, and swans, including white-fronted and Canada geese, pintails, green-winged teal, American wigeon, shoveler, greater scaup, common and Barrow's goldeneye, oldsquaw, bufflehead, and trumpeter and tundra swans, rest and feed on the delta during spring migration. Despite the six-foot uplift of the delta's wetlands during the 1964 earthquake and the resulting drying of some lands, the delta remains a productive summer nesting habitat for thousands of waterbirds, including a major portion of the world's population of dusky Canada geese; over ten percent of the world's trumpeter swans; dabbling ducks; mergansers; and red-throated loons.

Arctic terns (right), mew gulls, dowitchers, and northern phalaropes are common nesters. Aleutian terns can also be found nesting on the delta. As summer wears on, bald eagles and gulls can be found feeding on spawned-out salmon. Late summer and fall bring the mass southward migration of shorebirds, waterfowl, cranes, raptors, and passerines.

Kachemak Bay Reserve, Alaska

Kachemak Bay is the largest reserve in the system. It is also one of the most productive, diverse and intensively used estuaries in Alaska. The local community pursued the designation of Kachemak Bay as a National Estuarine Research Reserve to preserve the lifestyle and economy of the region.

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