U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Waterfowl

Overview

 

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.

Emperor Goose and Chicks

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
  • (Pacific)
  • (Midcontinent)
  • (Tule)
  • Emperor Goose, Chen canagica
  • Snow Goose
  • Canada Goose, Branta
  • (Dusky)
  • (Lesser)
  • (Vancouver)
  • Cackling Goose, Branta huchinsii
  • (Pacific)
  • (Taverner)
  • (Aleutian)
  • 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

Conservation

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.

Joint Ventures

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.

 

Projects & Related Reports

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 surveysGIS for mapping waterfowl density and distribution from aerial surveys).

Aerial Survey Observer Manual

Geographic Groups

All over Alaska

Beaufort Sea/Chukchi Sea

Bering Sea

Cook Inlet

Copper River Delta/Chugach National Forest

  • Copper River Delta Dusky Canada Goose Survey 2015
  • Trumpeter Swan Surveys on the Chugach National Forest, 2007

Interior Alaska

Mexico

Northern Alaska/Northern Canada

Northwest Alaska

Southeast Alaska/British Columbia

Southwestern Alaska/Alaska Peninsula/Kodiak Island

Yukon Flats

Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta

Publications

2014

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

2013

BART, J., PLATTE, R. M., ANDRES, B., BROWN, S., JOHNSON, J. A. and LARNED, W. (2013), Importance of the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska for Aquatic Birds. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12133

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)

2012

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)

2011

Lewis, T.L., P.L. Flint, D.V. Derksen, J.A. Schmutz, E.J. Taylor, and K.S. Bollinger. 2011. Using body mass dynamics to examine long-term habitat shifts of arctic-molting geese: evidence for ecological change. Polar Biology DOI 10.1007/s00300-011-1025-y

2010

Hupp, J. W., Hodges, J. I., Conant, B. P., Meixell, B. W. And Groves, D. J. 2010. Winter Distribution, Movements, and Annual Survival of Radiomarked Vancouver Canada Geese in Southeast Alaska. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 74: 274–284. doi: 10.2193/2009-057

2009

Schamber, J. L., P. L. Flint., J. B. Grand, H. M. Wilson, and J. A. Morse. 2009. Population dynamics of Long-tailed Ducks breeding on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Arctic 62 (2): 190-200.

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.

2008

Hodges, J.I., D.J. Groves, and B.P.Conant. 2008. Distribution and Abundance of Waterbirds Near Shore in Southeast Alaska, 1997–2002. Northwestern Naturalist: Vol. 89, No. 2 pp. 85–96 (pdf - 3.3mb)

2007

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.

2006

Earnst, S.L.,R. Platte, and L. Bond. 2006. A landscape-scale model of yellow-billed loon (Gavia adamsii) habitat preferences in northern Alaska.
Hydrobiologia 567:227-236.

2005

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)

2004

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.

2002

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.

2001

Hodges, J. I. and W.D. Eldridge. Aerial surveys of eiders and other waterbirds on the eastern Arctic coast of Russia. 2001. Wildfowl 52:127-142. (pdf)

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.

2000

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.

Esler D, T.D. Bowman, C.E. O’Clair C, T.A. Dean, and L.L. McDonald. 2000. Densities of Barrow's goldeneyes during winter in Prince William Sound, Alaska in relation to habitat, food and history of oil contamination. Waterbirds 23:423-429.

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.

1999

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.

1998

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.

1997

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.

1996

Hodges, J.I., J.G. King, B. Conant, and H.A. Hanson. 1996. Aerial surveys of waterbirds in Alaska 1957-94: Population Trends and Observer Variability. National Biological Service Information and Technology Report 4.

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.

1995

Butler, W. I., Jr., J. I. Hodges, R.A. Stehn. 1995. Locating waterfowl observations on aerial surveys. Wildlife Society Bulletin 23: 148-154.

Butler, W.I., Jr., R.A. Stehn, and G.R. Balogh. 1995. GIS for mapping waterfowl density and distribution from aerial surveys. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 23:140-147.

1994

Anthony, R.M. and R.A. Stehn. 1994. Navigating aerial transects with a laptop computer. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 22:125-129.

Bowman, T.D., S.P. Thompson, C.A. Janik, L.J. Dubuc, and S.P. Thompson. 1994. Nightlighting minimizes investigator disturbance in bird colonies. Colonial Waterbirds 17:78-82.

Ely, C.R., C.P. Dau, and C.A. Babcock. 1994. Decline in a population of spectacled eiders on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Northwestern Naturalist 75:81-87.

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.

Groves, D.J., B. Conant, and J.I. Hodges. 1994. A summary of Alaska trumpeter swan surveys, 1992. Trumpeter Swan Society Newsletter 23:5-7.

Ward, D.H., R.A. Stehn and D.V. Derksen. 1994. Response of staging brant to disturbance at Izembek Lagoon, Alaska. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 22:220-228.

1993

Hodges, John I. 1993. Count – a simulation for learning to estimate wildlife numbers. Wildlife Society Bulletin 21:96-97.

Stehn, R.A., C.P. Dau, B. Conant, and W. I. Butler, Jr. 1993. Decline of spectacled eiders nesting in western Alaska. Arctic 46:264-277.

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.

1992

Dau, C. P. 1992. The fall migration of Pacific flyway brent Branta bernicula in relation to climatic conditions. Wildfowl 43:80-95.

1991

Conant B., J. I. Hodges, and J.G. King. 1991. Continuity and advancement of Trumpeter swan Cygnus buccinator and Tundra swan Cygnus columbianus population monitoring in Alaska. Wildfowl Supplement 1:125-136.

1990

Bailey, T. N., M.F. Porter, E.E. Bangs, W.W. Larned, R.A. Richey, and R.L Delaney. 1990. Summer and migratory movements of trumpeter swans using the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Pgs 72-91 in D. Compton, ed., Proceedings and papers of the 11th Trumpeter Swan Society conference. The Trumpeter Swan Society, Maple Plain, Minnesota.

1989

Bowman, T.D. and J.R. Longcore. 1989. Survival and movements of molting male black ducks in Labrador. Journal of Wildlife Management 53:1057-1061.

1988

Conant B., J.G. King, J.L. Trapp, and J.I. Hodges. 1988. Estimating populations of ducks wintering in Southeast Alaska. Pg. 541-551 in M.W. Weller, ed. Waterfowl in winter. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Stewart R.E., Jr., G.L. Krapu, B. Conant, H.F. Percival, and D.H. Hall. 1988. Pgs. 613-617 in M.W. Weller, ed. Waterfowl in winter. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

1987

Dau, C.P. 1987. Birds in nearshore waters of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Murrelet 68: 12-23.

1985

Conant, B, J.G. King, and H.A. Hansen. 1985. Sandhill cranes in Alaska. American Birds 39:855-858.

Dau, C.P. 1985. Bird resources of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. XVIII International Ornithological Congress, 16-25 August 1982, Moscow, Vol.II, pp.1092-1093 (abstract).

1985

Derksen, D.V., W.D. Eldridge, M.W. Weller. 1982. Habitat ecology of Pacific black brant and other geese moulting near Teshekpuk Lake, Alaska. Wildfowl 33:39-57.

1981

Dau, C. P. 1981. Population structure and productivity of Cygnus columbianus columbianus on the Yukon Delta, Alaska. Pgs. 161-169 in G. V. T. Matthews and M. Smart, editors, Proceedings second international swan symposium. International Waterfowl Research Bureau, Slimbridge (Glos.), U.K. 396 pp

Derksen, D.V., T.C. Rothe, and W.D. Eldridge. Use of wetland habitats by birds in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. 1981. Resource Publication (United States. Fish and Wildlife Service) 141: 1-27.

King, J.G., and B. Conant. 1981. The 1980 census of trumpeter swans on Alaskan nesting habitats. American Birds 35:789-793.

King, J.G. and J.I. Hodges. 1981. A correlation between Cygnus columbianus columbianus territories and water bodies in western Alaska. Pgs. 26-33 in G. V. T. Matthews and M. Smart, eds. Proceedings second international swan symposium. International Waterfowl Research Bureau, Slimbridge (Glos.), U.K.

King, J.G., and C.P. Dau. 1981. Waterfowl and their habitats in the eastern Bering Sea. Pgs. 739-754 in D.W. Hood and J.A. Calder, editors, The eastern Bering Sea shelf: Oceanography and Resources. Vol. 2.. Office of Marine Pollution Assessment, NOAA. Distributed by Univ. Wash. Press, Seattle.

1980

Derksen, D.V. and W.D. Eldridge. 1980. Drought displacement of pintails to the arctic coastal plain, Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management 44:224-229.

1979

Dau, C.P., and P.G. Mickelson. 1979. Relation of weather to spring migration and nesting of cackling geese on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Pg. 94-104 in R.L. Jarvis and J.C. Bartonek, eds., Management and biology of Pacific flyway geese.

King, J.G. and J.I. Hodges. 1979. A preliminary analysis of goose banding on Alaska’s arctic slope. Pgs. 176-188 in R.L Jarvis and J.C. Baronek eds, Management and biology of Pacific flyway geese.

Timm, D.E, and C.P. Dau. 1979. Productivity, mortality, distribution and population status of Pacific flyway white-fronted geese. Pgs 280-298 in R.L. Jarvis and J.C. Bartonek, eds., Management and biology of Pacific flyway geese. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

1978

Dau, C. P. 1978. Observations on helminth parasites of the spectacled eider, Somateria fischeri (Brant), in Alaska. Canadian Journal of Zoology 56:1882-1885.

1977

Dau, C. P., S.A. Kistchinski, and A.A. Kistchinski. 1977. Seasonal movements and distribution of the spectacled eider. Wildfowl 28:65-75.

1976

Dau, C. P. 1976. Capturing and marking spectacled eiders in Alaska. Bird Banding 47:273.

Dau, C.P. 1976. Clutch sizes of the spectacled eider on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Wildfowl 27:111-113.

Milne, H. and C. P. Dau. 1976. A bibliography of eiders. FAUNE No. 20, Quebec Wildlife Service. 248p.

1975

Dau, C.P. 1975. Occurrence and possible significance of an abnormal plumage in spectacled eider. Murrelet 56:17.