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The Gyrfalcon, the largest falcon, is an iconic bird of the circumpolar arctic and subarctic. Thisspecies nests primarily on precipitous cliff faces and typically utilizes nests built by other species(particularly Common Raven, Golden Eagle, and Rough-legged Hawk) (Booms et al. 2008).Gyrfalcon main prey includes bird species ranging in size from passerines to geese whileptarmigan are the preferred prey. Although not well documented, in winter this species movessouth throughout Canada and sometimes into the northern lower 48. Current population on theNorth Slope (tundrius subspecies) is estimated at 250 breeding pairs (USFWS 2000).
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The Red-necked Phalarope commonly breeds in both the Brooks Range foothills and ArcticCoastal Plain of Alaska. In Alaska, this species typically nests in wet tundra near water’s edge.It differs from the Red Phalarope in that it breeds further inland and at higher elevations (Rubegaet al. 2000). Like other phalaropes, this species depends on aquatic food sources for much of itsdiet (Rubega et al. 2000). Red-necked Phalaropes spend winter at sea in tropical waters in largenumbers off the west coast of South America (Rubega et al. 2000). Current North Americanpopulation estimate is 2.5 million with a declining trend (Morrison et al. 2006).
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The Arctic Tern completes annual epic migrations from pole to pole covering at least 40,000 kmon their round-trip journeys. They breed throughout Arctic Alaska from boreal to tundra habitatsand have their highest nesting densities inland (Lensink 1984). Arctic Terns typically choose nestsites on open ground near water and often on small islands in ponds and lakes (Hatch 2002).Arctic terns consume a wide variety of fish and invertebrate prey, fish are particularly importantduring the breeding season for feeding young (Hatch 2002). This species spends their winters(austral summers) in offshore waters near Antarctica (Hatch 2002). Alaskan Arctic Coastal Plainpopulation estimates from 2011 range from 7-12,000 (Larned...
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The Pectoral Sandpiper is one of the most abundant breeding birds on the Arctic Coastal Plain ofAlaska. They typically have low nest site fidelity which is likely related to their promiscuousmating strategy, thus nest densities are highly variable from year to year at a given site (Holmesand Pitelka 1998). In Arctic Alaska, primary breeding habitat includes low-lying ponds in a mixof marshy to hummocky tundra and nests are typically placed in slightly raised or better drainedsites (Holmes and Pitelka 1998). Pectoral Sandpipers spend their winters primarily in southernSouth America (Holmes and Pitelka 1998). The current North American population estimate is500,000 and they are believed to be declining (Morrison et...
The Wildlife Conservation Society will assess the climate change vulnerability of bird species that regularly breed in substantial populations in Alaska using the NatureServe Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) tool. Initial work will focus on breeding birds in Arctic Alaska including shorebirds, waterfowl and waterbird species (loons, gulls, terns, jaegers), and land bird species (passerines, raptors, ptarmigan).
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The Western Sandpiper is one of the most abundant sandpipers in the western hemisphere. InAlaska, the core of its breeding population is in the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta. It alsobreeds less commonly in the western portion of the North Slope (Johnson et al. 2007). Thisspecies nests in well-drained moist to upland tundra habitats dominated by dwarf shrubs andtussock grasses (Wilson 1994).
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The American Tree Sparrow is a common breeding bird of boreal and tundra dominated habitatsin northern Canada and Alaska. This species breeds in open scrubby areas; willow, birch, andalder thickets, stunted spruce, open tundra with scattered shrubs, often near lakes or bogs(Naugler 1993). In summer American Tree Sparrows consume a wide variety of animal prey(primarily both larval and adult insects). Alaskan birds are short-distance migrants and winter intemperate North America (Naugler 1993). This species’ population is very large (>10 million)although the overall population has undergone a small (statistically insignificant) decrease overthe last 40 years in North America (Butcher and Niven 2007).
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The Long-billed Dowitcher is a medium-sized shorebird that commonly breeds on the ArcticCoastal Plain of Alaska. This species nests in higher densities in the western portion of thecoastal plain compared to the east (Johnson et al. 2007). They prefer wet grassy meadows fornesting often showing an affinity for sedge-willow, wet meadow or sedge marsh along drainagesor near ponds (Takekawa and Warnock 2000). Long-billed Dowitchers generally migrate west ofthe Mississippi River and winter primarily along the Pacific and Gulf Coasts of North Americainto Mexico (Takekawa and Warnock 2000). Current population estimate of the North Americanpopulation is 400,000 (Morrison et al. 2006).
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The White-rumped Sandpiper is a small shorebird that is a relatively rare breeder in ArcticAlaska. They nest in coastal wetlands between Barrow and Cape Halkett on the Arctic CoastalPlain of Alaska
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The Spectacled Eider is a medium-sized sea duck with males easily recognized by their striking“clown-like” head plumage. This species was listed as threatened in 1993 under the EndangeredSpecies Act as it has suffered severe population declines in western Alaska. The Arctic CoastalPlain population may also be declining. In Arctic Alaska, breeding Spectacled Eiders use riverdeltas and wet tundra habitats, including drained-lake basins, flooded wetlands, and islets withina matrix of thaw lakes for both nesting and foraging (Petersen et al. 2000). During the breedingseason, their diet consists primarily of both adult and larval aquatic insects (Petersen et al. 2000).Alaskan breeders spend their winters offshore in...
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The Red-throated Loon is the smallest of the world’s five loon species. This species typicallybreeds in low wetlands in both tundra and forested terrain (Barr et al. 2000). They nest on pondedges, sometimes along very small ponds (<1 ha), particularly in parts of their range sympatricwith Pacific Loons (Barr et al. 2000). Red-throated Loons are unique in that they regularlyforage on fish away from their nesting ponds.In Arctic Alaska this often involves flights to theArctic Ocean (Andres 1993). Like Yellow-billed Loons, the North American breedingpopulation, north of 68° latitude, appear to winter primarily in East Asia from the western KurilIslands to the Yellow Sea (J. Schmutz et al., unpublished data). In 1993,...
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The Peregrine Falcon is one of the most ubiquitous bird species with a breeding distributionranging from tundra to the tropics. In Arctic Alaska this bird’s breeding stronghold is found inmajor river systems where cliff ledges abound and serve as preferred nesting sites. PeregrineFalcons prey on a wide variety of bird species ranging from small passerines to medium-sizedducks and will also take small mammals (White et al. 2002). This species travels widely andArctic-breeding Peregrine Falcons make some of the longest migrations of any bird species. TheNorth American subspecies (tundrius) winters in Central and South America (White et al. 2002).The global population is estimated at ~1.2 million individuals (BirdLife...
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The Brant is a small goose well known in Alaska for the tens of thousands of individuals thatmolt in the Teshekpuk Lake area of the coastal plain during the late summer. In ArcticAlaska, this species typically nests within 8 km of the coast although in the NationalPetroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A) can nest up to 30 km inland (Reed et al. 1998, D.Ward, pers. comm.). Brant often nest in colonies near the upper edge of salt marshes alongsloping seacoasts or on estuarine deltas, although in areas where salt marshes are lesscommon, they will be more dispersed, nesting near small ponds and freshwater marshes (Reedet al. 1998). Brant subsist on a vegetarian diet and during breeding primarily focus on just afew species...
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The Snow Bunting is one of the first birds to return to their Arctic breeding grounds, with malesarriving in early April. This species occurs throughout the circumpolar arctic and, as a cavitynester,will use human-made nest sites (e.g. barrels, buildings, pipelines) as readily as naturalones (rock cavities, under boulders, cliff faces; Lyon and Montgomerie 1995). Snow Buntingsconsume a wide variety of both plant (e.g. seeds, plant buds) and animal prey (invertebrates).Their wintering range is centered in the northern continental US and southern Canada although itextends north into the low arctic in some places (Lyon and Montgomerie 1995). Current globalpopulation estimate is 40 million (Rich et al. 2004).
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The Common Redpoll is an abundant finch of northern regions around the world. Redpolls occurthroughout Alaska, thriving in habitats ranging from boreal to tundra across a wide elevationgradient (Knox and Lowther 2000). This species nests in trees when available. In tundra habitats,they nest in willows (primarily along riparian areas) or on the ground (Knox and Lowther 2000,J. Liebezeit, unpublished data). While primarily a seed eater, in summer this species consumesarthropods to feed young (Knox and Lowther 2000). Common Redpolls winter as far north as theBrooks Range but will wander further south in irruptive years when seed-crop production fails(Knox and Lowther 2000). While their global population numbers in...
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The Rock Ptarmigan is a common breeding bird in Arctic Alaska and, like the WillowPtarmigan, is one of the few birds that remain in the Arctic year-round. This species typicallybreeds in habitats that include a mix of rocky outcrops, graminoid meadows, and small patchesof Salix or Betula less than 1 m in height (Montgomerie and Holder 2008). Unlike the WillowPtarmigan, this species is less dependent on shrubs associated with riparian areas. In summer,Rock Ptarmigan consume a variety of foods including Dryas, Oxytropis, and Salix leaves,insects, Betula and Salix catkins, and berries (Montgomerie and Holder 2008). This specieswinters mainly within the breeding range but withdraws from the northernmost regions(Montgomerie...
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The Greater Scaup is the only diving duck in the genus Aythya that has a circumpolardistribution. In Alaska this species has its highest nesting densities in the Yukon-KuskokwimDelta but they also breed in Arctic Alaska throughout the Brooks Range, foothills and ArcticCoastal Plain. Its breeding habitat is typically characterized by relatively shallow (1–2 m) lakesand large ponds with low surrounding vegetation in extensive, largely treeless, wetlands (Kesselet al. 2002). Greater Scaup have an omnivorous diet but tend to focus on more protein-richanimal foods (mostly aquatic invertebrates) during the summer. This species winters primarily inmarine waters of both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts (Kessel et al. 2002)....
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The King Eider, conspicuous for the male’s elegant plumage, is a common nester on the ArcticCoastal Plain of Alaska. King Eiders typically nest in wet lowland tundra with many small pondsand pools, islands, and wet marshes. Dry tundra is also used when small lakes and ponds areavailable nearby as foraging areas (Powell and Suydam 2012). Unlike other eiders, this species isnot as closely tied to coastal breeding habitats. During the breeding season, their diet is primarilyomnivorous (Powell and Suydam 2012). Alaskan breeders spend their winters in marineenvironments mostly in the Bering Sea and along the Aleutians (Powell and Suydam 2012).Eider populations have declined since the 1970s (Powell and Suydam 2012). Current...
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The White-crowned Sparrow is a common breeding bird from the Pacific Coast in the Lower 48to the northern extent of its range in Arctic Alaska (Chilton et al. 1995). The Gambel’ssubspecies, the breeder in Alaska, is most commonly associated with shrubby riparian habitatsthat run through both boreal and tundra environs. White-crowned Sparrows consume a widevariety of plant and animal prey and during the breeding season feed their young a strict diet ofinsect and other animal prey. Alaskan birds are short-distance migrants and winter in temperateNorth America (Chilton et al. 1995). Overall White-crowned Sparrow populations appear to bestable (Chilton et al. 1995).
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The Red Phalarope commonly breeds on the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska, but is moreabundant west of the Colville River primarily near the coast (Johnson et al. 2007). In Alaska, thisspecies almost exclusively nests in wet/moist polygonal or marshy tundra and are dependent onaquatic food sources for much of their diet (Tracy et al. 2002). Red Phalaropes are the mostpelagic of the three phalarope species and spend most of their winters in subtropical and tropicalseas near areas of nutrient upwelling (Tracy et al. 2002). Current population estimate of theNorth American population is 1.25 million with a suspected declining trend (Morrison et al.2006).


map background search result map search result map Pectoral Sandpiper Red-necked Phalarope White-rumped Sandpiper Western Sandpiper Peregrine Falcon Rock Ptarmigan White-crowned Sparrow Snow Bunting Red Phalarope Gyrfalcon Long-billed Dowitcher Common Redpoll Climate Change Vulnerability of Migrating Bird Species Breeding in Arctic Alaska Red-throated Loon American Tree Sparrow Greater Scaup Brant Spectacled Eider Arctic Tern King Eider Pectoral Sandpiper Red-necked Phalarope White-rumped Sandpiper Western Sandpiper Peregrine Falcon Rock Ptarmigan White-crowned Sparrow Snow Bunting Red Phalarope Gyrfalcon Long-billed Dowitcher Common Redpoll Climate Change Vulnerability of Migrating Bird Species Breeding in Arctic Alaska Red-throated Loon American Tree Sparrow Greater Scaup Brant Spectacled Eider Arctic Tern King Eider