Alaska has more than 174 million acres of wetlands providing breeding habitat for 36 waterfowl species (geese, ducks, swans), including several species and subspecies found nowhere else in the United States or North America. For example:
- Geese: More than one and half a million individuals of 6 species and 9 subspecies nest in the state annually. More than 60% of the world's breeding population of Pacific Black Brant and 90% of the world's Emperor Geese nest in Alaska. Alaska supports 100% of the world's Tule and Pacific White-Fronted Geese, Aleutian Cackling Geese Pacific Cackling geese and Dusky Canada Gees.
- Dabbling ducks: One third of North America's Northern Pintails nest in Alaska.
- Sea Ducks: Alaska supports 100% of the U.S. breeding populations of several northerly species of seaducks including Spectacled Eiders, King Eiders,Steller's Eiders, Long-tailed Ducks, and Black, White-Winged, and Surf Scoters.
- Swans: More than 150,000 Tundra Swans and 20,000 Trumpeter Swans nest in Alaska each year.
A few of the many locations important to nesting waterfowl in Alaska include:
- The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta: This expansive wetland complex supports one of the largest aggregations of water birds in the world. Roughly one million ducks and one million geese breed here annually.
- Arctic Coastal Plain: Located between the Brooks Range and the Beaufort Sea, this extensive wetland supports one mission breeding ducks, geese and swans each summer.
- Bristol Bay Lowlands: 10% of statewide duck production occurs in these expansive lowlands adjacent to this world-famous commercial salmon fishing bay.
- Yukon Flats: 10% of statewide duck production takes place in the lake complex within the floodplain of the Yukon River near Alaska's eastern border with Canada.
- Tanana/Kuskokwim Valley: about 10% of Alaska's ducks are produced in these rolling black-spruce-carpeted hills outlined by white spruce and pond-filled valleys
Waterfowl that breed in Alaska migrate south through all four Northern American Flyways (Pacific, Central, Mississippi, and Atlantic), with approximately 50% staying west of the Rocky Mountains.
Species in Alaska
- Greater White-fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
- Emperor Goose, Chen canagica
- Snow Goose
- Canada Goose, Branta
- Cackling Goose, Branta huchinsii
- Brant, Branta bernicla
- Trumpeter Swan, Cygnus buccinator
- Tundra Swan, Cygnus columbianus
- Gadwall, Anas strepera
- Eurasian Wigeon, Anas penelope
- American Wigeon, americana
- Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
- Blue-winged Teal,Spatula discors
- Northern Shoveler, Spatula clypeata
- Northern Pintail ,Anas acuta
- Green-winged Teal, Anas crecca
- Canvasback, Aythya valisineria
- Redhead, Aythya americana
- Ring-necked Duck, Aythya collaris
- Greater Scaup, Aythya marila
- Lesser Scaup, Aythya affinis
- Steller's Eider, Polysticta stelleri
- Spectacled Eider, Somateria fischeri
- King Eider, Somateria spectabilis
- Common Eider, Somateria mollissima
- Harlequin Duck, Histrionicus histrionicus
- Surf Scoter, Melanitta perspicillata
- White-winged Scoter, Melanitta fusca
- Black Scoter, Melanitta nigra
- Long-tailed Duck, Clangula hyemalis
- Bufflehead, Bucephala albeola
- Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
- Barrow's Goldeneye, Bucephala islandica
- Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus
- Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
- Red-breasted Merganser, Mergus serrator
North American Waterfowl Management Plan
The North American Waterfowl Management Plan is a strategy developed by the Canadian, Mexican, and United States governments to restore North America’s waterfowl populations through habitat protection, restoration, and enhancement. The success of the plan is largely dependent upon the strength of partnerships, called Joint Ventures, involving federal, state, provincial, tribal, and local governments, businesses, conservation organizations, and individual citizens. The model established by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan has been used by wildlife conservation plans that have followed.
Pacific Flyway Goose Management Plans
Management Plans are developed by state agencies within the Pacific Flyway with support from the Migratory Bird Management and other partners. These plans outline cooperative strategies to manage for sustainable harvest and conservation objectives.
As of 2016, Habitat Joint Venture partners helped protect, restore, and/or enhance more than 26.5 million acres of habitat, whereas Species Joint Ventures provide information to improve management and conservation of select groups of species that pose special challenges. Two Joint Ventures are particularly relevant to Alaska.
Sea Duck Joint Venture
The Sea Duck Joint Venture promotes the conservation of North American sea ducks through partnerships by providing greater knowledge and understanding for effective management. The SDJV accomplishes this by
- Facilitating and supporting the development of knowledge and understanding critical to sea duck conservation in North America.
- Increases the profile of sea ducks within the conservation, industrial, and scientific communities.
- Promoting research to identify what limiting factors (e.g., habitat, harvest ( are most important in regulating sea duck populations.
- Making information available to stakeholders that can be applied to improve the conservation and management of sea ducks.
Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture
The Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture convenes and supports the people working to conserve birds and their habitats and is uniquely qualified to make bird conservation happen at the regional and flyway scale. We value healthy environments that support birds, other fish and wildlife, and people.
To receive a copy of a publication or report listed here, please contact:
Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
1011 E. Tudor Road, Anchorage, Alaska 99503
or call 907-786-3443
The Waterfowl Management Branch conducts many projects each year to keep track of waterfowl in Alaska. Many of our projects are listed below with links to related reports. We use innovative aerial survey techniques and geographic information system analysis for many of our projects. Some of our techniques are reported in papers published by The Wildlife Society (Locating waterfowl observations on aerial surveys, GIS for mapping waterfowl density and distribution from aerial surveys).
All over Alaska
- North American Breeding Waterfowl Survey in Alaska
- North American Breeding Waterfowl Survey Tundra Analysis
- Expanded Aerial Surveys of Waterfowl in Alaska
- Alaska Productivity Surveys of Geese, Swans and Brant, 2011
- Alaska greater white-fronted goose banding
- Alaska greater white-fronted goose project update 2014
Beaufort Sea/Chukchi Sea
- Near shore surveys of Alaska's arctic coast, 1999-2003
- North Slope Common Eider Survey Reports for the year:
- Eagle River Flats Aerial Waterbird Surveys 2013
- Waterfowl Banding in Alaska
- Lower Cook Inlet Aerial Waterbird Survey, 2005
- Winter distribution and abundance of Steller's eiders in Cook Inlet, Alaska 2004-2005
Copper River Delta/Chugach National Forest
- Copper River Delta Dusky Canada Goose Survey
- Trumpeter Swan Surveys on the Chugach National Forest
- Copper River Delta Dusky Canada Goose Survey 2015
- Trumpeter Swan Surveys on the Chugach National Forest, 2007
- Trumpeter Swan Nest Survey
- Trumpeter Swan Production Survey
- Innoko Molting Goose Survey 10-year Report
- Innoko Expanded Waterbird Aerial Surveys 2008 to 2011
- Innoko Molting Goose Survey 2010-2014
- Innoko Molting Goose Survey
Northern Alaska/Northern Canada
- Arctic Coastal Plain Eider Survey
- Arctic Coastal Plain Aerial Breeding Waterfowl Survey
- Beaufort Sea Aerial Water Bird Survey
- Waterbird/Oil Spill Impact Modeling Project
- Teshekpuk Lake Area Molting Goose Survey
- Molting and Wintering Spectacled Eider Surveys. Exciting Discovery
- Victoria Island, Canada Aerial Survey, 2005
- Aerial Survey in Nunavut, Canada, 2006
- Migratory Bird Surveys in the Canadian Arctic 2007
- Migratory Bird Surveys in the Canadian Arctic 2008
- Migratory Bird Surveys in the Canadian Arctic 2009
- Migratory Bird Surveys in the Canadian Arctic 2010
- Migratory Bird Surveys in the Canadian Arctic 2011
- Near shore surveys of Alaska's arctic coast, 1999-2003
- North Slope Common Eider Survey Reports
- Aerial population surveys of common eiders and other waterbirds during the breeding season, northwestern Alaska 2006-2009
- Mid-continent Greater White-fronted Goose Breeding Pair Survey in Northwest Alaska, 2007
- Surveillance for highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) in live captured tundra swans in Northwest Alaska
- Relation of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) prevalence to migration patterns of Pacific common eiders nesting in Northwest Alaska
- Western Alaska Yellow-billed Loon Survey - 2005
- Western Alaska Yellow-billed Loon Survey - 2007
Southeast Alaska/British Columbia
- Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada Aerial Survey, 2005
- SE Alaska Waterbird Survey
Southwestern Alaska/Alaska Peninsula/Kodiak Island
- Emperor Geese Age Ratio and Survey Counts, 1985-2013-Summary Report
- Emperor Goose Photographic Age-Ratio Survey
- Steller's Eider Spring Migration Surveys Southwest Alaska 2012
- Molting Pacific Steller’s Eider Survey in Southwest Alaska
- Kodiak Island Steller's Eider Survey 2001
- Aerial survey monitoring of Black Scoters in western Alaska
- Emperor Goose and Other Waterbirds Survey-Fall (*this report includes the Izembek fall Brant aerial survey through 2015)
- Aerial survey of emperor geese and other waterbirds in southwestern Alaska Spring
- Izembek Winter Brant Aerial Survey
- Yukon Flats Scoter Timing Survey
- Aerial scoter and scaup monitoring survey of the Yukon Flats Alaska - 2005
- Coordinated aerial and ground surveys of geese and eiders on the YK Delta
- Monitoring the nesting population of Pacific black brant
- Yukon Delta Aerial Breeding Waterfowl Survey
- Yukon Delta Nesting Waterfowl Survey
- Southwest Alaska Steller's Eider Survey
- Aerial Surveys of Geese, Swans, and Cranes, Yukon Delta
- Aerial survey monitoring of Black Scoters in western Alaska
- Aerial Photographic Survey of YKD Brant Colonies
Bowman,T.D. 2014. Aerial Observer's Guide to North American Waterfowl. Identifying and Counting Birds from the Air. BLM/PMDS, OC-652. Denver, CO
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Meixell, B.W., M.S. Lindberg, P.B. Conn, C.P. Dau, J.E. Sarvis, and K.M. Sowl. 2013. Age-specific Survival of Tundra Swans on the Lower Alaska Peninsula. Condor 115(2):280-289.
Wilson H. M., J. S. Hall, P. L.Flint, J. C. Franson, C. R. Ely, J. A. Schmutz, M. D. Samuel. 2013. High seroprevalenceof antibodies to avian influenza viruses among wild waterfowl in Alaska: Implications forsurveillance. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58308. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058308. (pdf)
Bart, J., S. Brown, B. A. Andres, R. Platte, and A. Manning. 2012. North Slope of Alaska. Pp. 37-96 in J. Bart and V. Johnston (editors). Arctic shorebirds in North America: a decade of monitoring. Studies in Avian Biology (no. 44), University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
Milani, J.F., H. Wilson, M. Ziccardi, R. LeFebvre, and C. Scott. 2012. Hematology, Plasma Chemistry, and Bacteriology of Wild Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) in Alaska. J. of Wildl. Dis., 48(1), pp. 212-215 (pdf)
Wilson, H.M., P. L. Flint, A.N. Powell, J.B. Grand, C. L. Moran. 2012. Population Ecology of Breeding Pacific Common Eider on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Wildlife Monographs 182:1-28. (pdf)
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Schmidt, J.H., M.S. Lindberg, D.S. Johnson, B. Conant, and J. King. 2009. Evidence of Alaskan Trumpeter Swan Population Growth Using Bayesian Hierarchical Models. Journal of Wildlife Management 73(5): 720-727.
Ward, D.H., C.P. Dau, T.L. Tibbitts, J.S. Sedinger, B.A. Anderson, and J.E. Hines. 2009. Change in Abundance of Pacific Brant Wintering in Alaska: Evidence of a Climate Warming Effect? Arctic 62(3): 301-311.
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Wilson, H. M. 2007. Population ecology of Pacific common eiders on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Dissertation, University of Alaska, Fairbanks: 204 pp.
Wilson, H. M., P. L. Flint, and A. N. Powell. 2007. Coupling contaminants with demography: Effects of lead and selenium in Pacific common eiders. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 26(7):1410-1417.
Wilson, H. M., P. L. Flint, T. L. Moran, and A. N. Powell. 2007. Survival of breeding Pacific common eiders on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management 71(2):403-410.
Sedinger, J. S., C. A. Nicolai, C.J. Lensink, C. Wentworth, and B. Conant. 2007. Black brant harvest, density dependence, and survival: A record of population dynamics. Journal of Wildlife Management 71:496–506.
Earnst, S.L.,R. Platte, and L. Bond. 2006. A landscape-scale model of yellow-billed loon (Gavia adamsii) habitat preferences in northern Alaska.
Earnst, S. L., R. A. Stehn, R. M. Platte, W. W. Larned, and E. J. Mallek. 2005. Population size and trend of yellow-billed loons in northern Alaska. Condor 107:289-304. (pdf)
Bowman, T.D. 2004. Field guide to bird nests and eggs of Alaska's coastal tundra. Alaska Sea Grant College Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks, AK. (To order go to: http://www.uaf.edu/seagrant/bookstore/pubs/SG-ED-44.html)
Bowman, T.D., R.A. Stehn, and K.T. Scribner. 2004. Glacuous gull predation of goslings on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. 2004. Condor 106:288-298.
Fischer, J.B. and W.W. Larned. 2004. Summer distribution of marine birds in the western Beaufort Sea. Arctic 57:143-159. (pdf)
Hollmen, T.E., J.C.Franson, P.L Flint, J.B.Grand, R.B. Lanctot, D.C. Docherty, and H.M. Wilson. 2004. An adenovirus linked to mortality and disease in long-tailed ducks (Clangula hyemalis) in Alaska. Avian Diseases 47:1434-1440.
Wilson, H.M., M.R.Petersen, and D. Troy. 2004. Concentrations of Heavy Metals and Trace Elements in King and Spectacled Eiders in Northern Alaska. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 23(2) 408–414.
Wilson, H. M., J. L. Oyen, and L. Sileo. 2004. Lead shot poisoning of a Pacific loon in Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 40:600-602.
Esler, D., T.D. Bowman, K.A. Trust, B.E. Ballachey, T.A. Dean, S.C. Jewett, C. Stephen, and C.E. O'Claire. 2002. Harlequin duck population recovery following the Exxon Valdez oil spill: progress, process and constraints. Marine Ecology Progress Series 241:271-286.
Schmutz, J.A., B.F. Manly, and C.P. Dau. 2001. Effects of gull predation and weather on survival of emperor goose goslings. Journal of Wildlife Management 65:248-257.
Dau, C.P., P.L. Flint, and M.R. Petersen. 2000. Distribution of recoveries of Steller's eiders banded on the lower Alaska Peninsula, Alaska. Journal of Field Ornithology 71:541-548.
Esler, D., T.D. Bowman, T.A. Dean, C.E. O'Clair, S.C. Jewett, and L.L. McDonald. 2000. Correlates of harlequin duck densities during winter in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Condor 102:920-926.
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Flint, P.L., M.R. Petersen, C.P. Dau, J.E. Hines, and J.D. Nichols. 2000. Annual survival and site fidelity of Steller's eiders molting along the Alaska Peninsula. Journal of Wildlife Management 64: 261-268.
Fischer J.B. and C.R. Griffin. 2000. Feeding behavior and food habits of wintering harlequin ducks at Shemya Island, Alaska. Wilson Bulletin 112:318-325.
Petersen, M.R., J.B. Grand, and C.P. Dau. 2000. Spectacled eider (Somateria fischeri) In The Birds of North America, No. 547 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.
Conant, B., J.I. Hodges, D.J. Groves, and J.G. King. 1999. 1995 census of trumpeter swans on Alaskan nesting habitats. Proc. Pap. Trumpeter Swan Soc. Conf. No. 16: 75-97.
Groves, D.J., B. Conant, W.W. Larned, and D. Logan. 1999. Trumpeter swan surveys on the Chugach National Forest 1998-an update. North American Swans 28:16-21.
Petersen M.R., W.W. Larned, and D.C. Douglas. 1999. At-sea distribution of spectacled eiders: a 120-year-old mystery resolved. Auk: a journal of ornithology 116:1009-1020.
Groves, D.J., B. Conant, R.J. King, and D. Logan. 1998. Trumpeter swan surveys on the Chugach National Forest 1997. North American Swans 27:36-45.
Scribner, K.T. and T.D. Bowman. 1998. Microsatellites identify depredated waterfowl remains from glaucous gull stomachs. Molecular Ecology 7:1401-1405.
Groves, D.J., B. Conant, and J.I. Hodges. 1997. A summary of Alaska trumpeter swan surveys 1996. North American Swans 26:45-49. 1997.
Groves, D.J., B. Conant, R.J. King, and D. Logan. 1997. Trumpeter swan surveys on the Chugach National Forest 1996. North American Swans 26:38-46.
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Groves, D.J., B. Conant, R.J. King, and D. Logan. 1996. Trumpeter swan surveys on the Chugach National Forest-1995. Trumpeter Swan Society Newsletter 25:18-21.
Taylor, B.L., P.R. Wade, R.A. Stehn, and J.F. Cochrane. 1996. A Bayesian approach to classification criteria for Spectacled Eiders. Ecological Applications 6(4):1077-1089.
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Goudie R.I., S. Brault, B. Conant, A.V. Kondratyev, M.R. Petersen, and K. Vermeer. 1994. The status of sea ducks in the North Pacific Rim: Toward their conservation and management. Trans. North Am. Wildl. Nat. Resources Conf. 59:27-49.
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Hodges, John I. 1993. Count – a simulation for learning to estimate wildlife numbers. Wildlife Society Bulletin 21:96-97.
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Bowman, T.D., and P.W Brown. 1992. Site fidelity of male black ducks to a molting area in Labrador. Journal of Field Ornithology 63:32-34.
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