Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
KODIAK: Thousands of Seabirds Call Kodiak Home
Alaska Region, July 15, 2009
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Tufted Puffins in Chiniak Bay (Photo by Meg Inokuma)
Tufted Puffins in Chiniak Bay (Photo by Meg Inokuma) - Photo Credit: n/a
Black-legged Kittiwakes at the West Boulder Bay Colony  (Photo by Meg Inokuma)
Black-legged Kittiwakes at the West Boulder Bay Colony (Photo by Meg Inokuma) - Photo Credit: n/a

In June 2009, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge staff and volunteers surveyed seabird colonies along the east coast of Kodiak Island from Kaguyak Bay to Chiniak Bay.  Seabirds at most nesting colonies were counted by staff located in a small boat in nearby waters.  The Kodiak archipelago is home to high numbers of breeding seabirds which typically nest on cliffs, offshore rocks, or steep banks. 

Kodiak and Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuges in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Migratory Bird Management office have over the past few decades periodically surveyed the east side, west side, and northern regions of the archipelago.  The Service's Office of Migratory Bird Management maintains a North Pacific Seabird Colony database (http://alaska.fws.gov/mbsp/mbm/northpacificseabirds/colonies/default.htm) with survey data from southeast Alaska to eastern Russia.  The database stores information on the location, breeding population size, and species composition of seabird colonies in the North Pacific.

The 2009 survey crew consisted of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge personnel Robin Corcoran and Jeff Lewis, and volunteer Meg Inokuma, along with retired National Marine Fisheries Service biologist Rich MacIntosh.  In June the survey team visited 80 previously documented colonies and 1 new seabird colony, and in July, 12 previously documented colonies were surveyed. The most abundant seabird species was the Black-legged Kittiwake with over 23,000 nests and 62,000 individual birds counted.  Tufted Puffins were also numerous with nearly 10,000 individuals counted, and the survey crew documented close to 600 Glaucous-winged Gulls nests and approximately 6000 individual gulls.

Arctic and Aleutian Terns returned to colony sites in low numbers at 5 sites where they were not seen when the surveys were last completed in 2001.  However, tern numbers were still low in comparison to counts from the 1970s and 1990s. Terns are challenging to monitor because of a lack of site fidelity to nesting locations.  Colony sites often shift between years and numbers of nesting pairs can be highly variable.  

Kodiak Refuge typically monitors seabird colonies once every five years to track population changes.

Contact Info: Robin Corcoran, 907-487-0229, robin_corcoran@fws.gov
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