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The Long-tailed Duck is one of the most common sea ducks in Arctic Alaska, and has acircumpolar distribution. They are known for their ability to dive to impressive depths (> 60 m)in search of food (Robertson and Savard 2002). In Arctic Alaska, this species typically nests inwet tundra near shallow Carex or Arctophila-dominated ponds, and braided streams (Robertsonand Savard 2002). During the breeding season, their diet consists primarily of aquaticinvertebrates although they will also take vegetative matter (Robertson and Savard 2002). Duringpost-breeding molt, this species uses coastal lagoons and deep, open lakes (Robertson andSavard 2002). Long-tailed Ducks winter on both coasts of North America and on the Great...
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The American Golden-plover is a conspicuous breeding bird in Arctic Alaska with slightlyhigher density in the Brooks Range foothills compared to the coastal plain (Johnson et al. 2007).In general, this species tends to nest in upland dry habitats, quite often near wetland areas(Johnson and Connors 1996). Like other plovers, American Golden-plovers search forinvertebrate prey visually and forage in a mix of wet to dry tundra during the breeding season.This species winters primarily in the southern portion of South America (Johnson and Connors1996). Current North American population estimate is 200,000 with a declining trend (Morrisonet al. 2006).
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The Glaucous Gull is a large gull with a circumpolar distribution. In Alaska, it is the mostcommon gull along Arctic Ocean coastal areas. Like other gulls, this generalist species hasbenefited from the presence of humans in the arctic and readily utilizes human-subsidized foodresources (e.g. edible garbage, roadkills; Day 1998). Glaucous Gulls take advantage of a widevariety of natural prey as well and are a noted nest predator. Alaskan populations of this specieswinter in the Pribilof and Aleutian islands of Alaska and in decreasing numbers down to coastalOregon and California (Denlinger 2006). The global population is estimated at 340,000-2,400,000 (Wetlands International 2006).
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he Smith’s Longspur is a relatively understudied passerine breeder on the North Slope ofAlaska. In this region, they are most commonly associated with the Brooks Range foothillswhere they are found in broad valleys and low passes (S. Kendall, pers. comm.). Smith’sLongspurs are known for their polygynandrous mating system which is unusual in passerines. Inarctic Alaska, this species nests on open tundra, from upland hummocky terrain (Briskie 2009) towet meadow habitats (Johnson and Herter 1989). During the breeding season they forage on avariety of invertebrates but also consume seeds and other vegetation (Briskie 2009). Smith’sLongspurs are short-distance migrants and winter in the U.S. Midwest. Current populationestimate...
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The Greater White-fronted Goose, with a nearly circumpolar distribution, has the most expansiverange of any species in its genus. In Alaska, this species breeds in large numbers in both theYukon-Kuskokwim Delta and also on the Arctic Coastal Plain, but they will also nest in theinterior. On the coastal plain breeding habitat ranges from lowland wet to upland dry tundraoften near ponds or lakes (Ely and Dzubin 1994). The Greater White-fronted Goose diet isdominated by vegetative matter, primarily grass and sedge rhizomes, tubers, and berries (Ely andDzubin 1994). Arctic Alaskan populations winter on the Gulf Coastal plain in Louisiana andTexas as well as northern Mexico (Ely and Dzubin 1994). The Alaskan Arctic Coastal...
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The Pomarine Jaeger, the largest of the three jaegers, prowls the arctic tundra subsisting on a dietcomposed almost entirely of brown lemmings (Lemmus trimucronatus). This species presumablynests only in years when lemmings are abundant (Wiley and Lee 2000). Their breeding range inAlaska is relatively close to the coast, typically nesting in wet tundra habitats, the same habitatsas those utilized by their favorite prey. Pomarine Jaegers may forgo breeding in low lemmingyears and prematurely return to their tropical and sub-tropical pelagic wintering grounds (Wileyand Lee 2000). Current global population estimate is 250,000 – 3 million individuals (BirdLifeInternational 2012).
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The Parasitic Jaeger, unlike the two other jaegers (the Long-tailed and Pomarine Jaegers), has avaried diet and is not closely tied to lemmings as a food source (Wiley and Lee 1999). Thisspecies utilizes both low-lying marshy tundra and drier tussock-heath tundra for nesting sites(Wiley and Lee 1999). Parastic Jaegers often hunt for fledgling and adult birds and are believedto be an important nest predator (Wiley and Lee 1999). Like the other jaeger species, ParasiticJaegers winter in offshore tropical and sub-tropical oceans. The current global populationestimate is 500,000 - 10,000,000 (BirdLife International 2012). There is no Alaska populationestimate available.
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The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is known for its dramatic lekking displays and breeds near arcticcoastlines from central Alaska into Canada (Lanctot and Laredo 1994). This species nests in avariety of habitats ranging from dry sedge tussock tundra to wet sedge-graminoid meadows andstrangmoor (Lanctot and Laredo 1994). Buff-breasted Sandpipers typically forage in areas ofdry, elevated tundra with sparse vegetation primarily consuming terrestrial arthropods (Lanctotand Laredo 1994). This species is one of the few shorebirds that do not show a seasonal shifttoward lowland, wet sites during brood-rearing (Jones 1980, R. Lanctot, unpublished data). BuffbreastedSandpipers spend winters on the pampas of South America. Current...
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The Short-eared Owl occurs widely throughout North America. An owl of open country, theynest on the ground inhabiting marshes, grasslands, and tundra throughout their range. LikeSnowy Owls, Short-eared owl population dynamics are linked to cycles in their primary prey -small mammals (Holt and Leasure 1993). In the Alaskan Arctic, they typically nest on driertundra sites, usually with enough vegetation to conceal incubating females. They often forage inwet tundra habitats, though not exclusively (Holt and Leasure 1993). Short-eared Owls migrateto wintering grounds in the lower 48 and northern Mexico (Holt and Leasure 1993). The currentglobal population is estimated at 2 million (Rich et al. 2004).
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The Rough-legged Hawk is truly a hawk of the far north, with its breeding range largelyrestricted to arctic tundra and taiga habitats. In open tundra, this species typically places nests onsteep outcroppings and cliff faces. Rough-legged Hawks rely on a diet of small mammals(mostly lemmings, voles) although a variety of birds are also eaten (Bechard and Swem 2002).On the coastal plain of Alaska they typically forage in open tundra and low-brush habitats (e.g.river floodplains) (Bechard and Swem 2002). Rough-legged Hawks spend their winters insouthern Canada and throughout the lower 48 (Bechard and Swem 2002). The current globalpopulation is estimated at > 4 million (Rich et al. 2004).
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The Northern Pintail is the most common breeding dabbling duck in Arctic Alaska, with its corebreeding area centered on the coastal plain. In Alaska this species nests on wet sedge (Carex) orgrass meadows, sloughs, river banks, pond shores and in tidal habitats (Austin and Miller 1995).During the breeding season pintails consume mostly animal foods (aquatic invertebrates)although they switch to a largely vegetarian diet later in summer and fall (Austin and Miller1995). Northern Pintails spend their winters primarily in the southern US and Mexico (Austinand Miller 1995). The North American pintail population is down from 6 million in the early1970s to 2.6 million in 2005 (http://ak.audubon.org/species/norpin). However,...
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The Baird’s Sandpiper is an uncommon breeding bird in Arctic Alaska using both coastal andmontane regions. This species typically nests in upland, well-drained, exposed tundra, generallyavoiding wet tundra although will sometimes nest in wet prairie meadows near lakes (Marconi &Salvadori 2008). Like other sandpipers, Baird’s Sandpipers feed almost entirely on insects duringthe breeding season adjusting to seasonal shifts in primary prey items (Moskoff andMontgomerie 2002). This species is a long-distance migrant and winters throughout the southerncone of South America. Current population estimate is 300,000 (Morrison et al. 2006).
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Cackling and Canada Geese were recently split into two species. The Cackling Goose tavernerisubspecies is thought to be the dominant breeder on Alaska’s Arctic Coastal Plain although someevidence suggests they may interbreed with Canada Goose parvipes subspecies (Mowbray et al.2002). Coastal plain Cackling/Canada geese nest in moist sedge shrub tundra with brood rearingin wet sedge meadows, often near the coast (Mowbray et al. 2002). On the coastal plain their dietis dominated by Carex spp. (J. Hupp, pers. comm.). Arctic Alaskan populations winter primarilyin w. Washington and Oregon as well as n. California (Mowbray et al. 2002). The AlaskanArctic Coastal Plain population is estimated at ~8,000 with a stable population...
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The Tundra Swan is the more widespread and northerly ranging of the two native swan speciesin North America. In Arctic Alaska, they nest in wet to dry tundra habitat types preferring islandsin lakes or ponds, or naturally occurring frost heaves at the intersection of polygon pond rims.Nesting territories almost always include a large lake that the family will use as a safe havenfrom terrestrial predators (Limpert and Earnst 1994). During the breeding season, their diet isprimarily vegetarian, eating emergent and submerged vegetation in lakes and ponds. They alsograze on terrestrial vegetation near the water (Limpert and Earnst 1994). Most North Slopebreeders winter on the east coast Mid-Atlantic States (Limpert...
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A gull of the Subarctic and Arctic, the Sabine’s Gull, with its distinctive plumage, commonlynests in the Alaskan Arctic, often in association with Arctic Terns (Sterna paradisaea). Thisspecies typically nests near fresh water in swampy low-lying tundra, in tidal marshes, and onsmall coastal islands (Day et al. 2001). During the breeding season, aquatic insects and otherinvertebrates are their most important food items (Day et al. 2001). Sabine’s Gulls spend theirwinters offshore primarily in subtropical and tropical coastal upwelling zones (Day et al. 2001).The northern Alaska population estimate is rarely surveyed extensively. Two surveys in 1996indicate a population somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 (Day et...
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The Snow Goose is a common breeder in Arctic Alaska, typically nesting in small, densecolonies scattered near the coast. This species nests on flat tundra, near ponds, shallow lakes,streams, and islands in river deltas (Mowbray et al. 2000). During the breeding season, their dietis primarily vegetarian, eating both aquatic and drier tundra vegetation (Mowbray et al. 2000).For brood rearing, one of the more important habitats is salt affected tundra on islands in riverdeltas (J. Shook, pers. comm.). Most North Slope breeders winter in western North Americafrom British Columbia into California (Mowbray et al. 2000). Current Arctic Coastal Plainpopulation is estimated at approximately 9,000 with an increasing trend...
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The Willow Ptarmigan is an abundant and conspicuous breeding bird in Arctic Alaska and is oneof the few birds that remain in the Arctic year-round. During the breeding season this speciesnests in tall shrub habitats as well as in well-drained tundra sites (Hannon et al. 1998). In earlyspring Willow Ptarmigan are willow bud specialists (constituting up to 80% of their diet); insummer the dietary breadth widens substantially to include insects, berries, equisetum, andleaves (Hannon et al. 1998). In Alaska, female Willow Ptarmigan may move as far south as thesouthern side of the Brooks Range in winter while males stay closer to the tundra breedinggrounds (Irving et al. 1966). Global population estimate is 40 million...
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The Lapland Longspur is the most abundant passerine breeder on the North Slope of Alaska.This species is most commonly associated with the Arctic Coastal Plain, but also nests in alpinehabitats in the interior Brooks Range. High nesting densities have been found throughout theAlaskan coastal plain (Custer and Pitelka 1977, Liebezeit et al. 2011) with nesting sites often indry/moist tundra near tussocks and less frequently in wetter tundra habitats (Hussell andMontgomerie 2002). During the breeding season they typically forage in a wide range of habitatson a variety of invertebrates but also consume seeds and other vegetative matter (Hussell andMontgomerie 2002). Alaskan Lapland Longspurs are short-distance migrants...
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The Hoary Redpoll, closely related and often difficult to distinguish from the Common Redpoll,is a common finch of the circumpolar arctic. In Alaska their range is largely sympatric with theCommon Redpoll although they tend to be more common further north. Like the CommonRedpoll, they utilize both forested and tundra habitats although they tend to utilize tundrahabitats more extensively (Knox and Lowther 2000). In Arctic Alaska tundra, this species nestsin willows (primarily along riparian areas) or on the ground in shrubby areas (Knox and Lowther2000, J. Liebezeit, unpublished data). While primarily a seed eater, in summer this speciesconsumes arthropods to feed young (Knox and Lowther 2000). Hoary Redpolls often...
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The Semipalmated Sandpiper is likely the most abundant breeding shorebird on the ArcticCoastal Plain of Alaska, with the highest densities occurring in the western portion of the coastalplain (Johnson et al. 2007). In Arctic Alaska, this species nests in a range of upland dry to moistand wet tundra habitats near water and typically focus their foraging along marsh and pond edges(Gratto-Trevor 1992). The current North American population estimate is 2 million (Morrison etal. 2006). While the Alaska breeding population appears to be stable, there is evidence thateastern Semipalmated Sandpiper populations are declining (Andres et al. 2012).


map background search result map search result map American Golden-plover Short-eared Owl Semipalmated Sandpiper Smith's Longspur Buff-breasted Sandpiper Baird's Sandpiper Willow Ptarmigan Lapland Longspur Rough-legged Hawk Pomarine Jaeger Glaucous Gull Long-tailed Duck Parasitic Jaeger Sabine's Gull Canada/Cackling Goose Tundra Swan Snow Goose Northern Pintail Hoary Redpoll Greater White-fronted Goose American Golden-plover Short-eared Owl Semipalmated Sandpiper Smith's Longspur Buff-breasted Sandpiper Baird's Sandpiper Willow Ptarmigan Lapland Longspur Rough-legged Hawk Pomarine Jaeger Glaucous Gull Long-tailed Duck Parasitic Jaeger Sabine's Gull Canada/Cackling Goose Tundra Swan Snow Goose Northern Pintail Hoary Redpoll Greater White-fronted Goose