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Bird Checklists of the United States

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Kaktovik, Alaska


Updated Provisional Checklist

A total of 180 bird species have been recorded on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This list provides a brief description of the status and abundance of these species. Most information for the south slope and Brooks Range were taken from Spindler (1984), while information for the north slope was derived from Garner and Reynolds (1986). Updates for the coastal region were taken from Willms (1992). Nomenclature follows American Ornithogist's Union (1983) and the more recent supplements. Status and abundance categories are based on Kessel and Gibson (1978).

Physiographic Regions of the Refuge

General Habitats

The arctic coastline and offshore waters of the Beaufort Sea contain ice leads, open ocean, coastal lagoons, barrier island/spits, and broad mudflat river deltas. During the summer, this region is generally cooler than the inland coastal plain due to the cold waters of the Beaufort Sea. As a result, riparian shrub thickets are uncommon and rarely over reach 1 m high. Otherwise, vegetation communities are similar to those on the inland coastal plain. The majority of the thaw lake basins located on the refuge are in this region.

The inland coastal plain contains a diverse mixture of low-tundra vegetation with varying amounts of moisture, sedges, and shrub cover. Interpersed among these moist tundra plant communities are riparian willow thickets (1-3 m), riverine gravel bars, river bluffs, and numerous wetlands, lakes, and small beaded streams. The southern and western portions of this region contain low rolling hills and bluffs which gradually blend into drier foothills of the Brooks Range which are characteristically dominated by alpine tundra.

The Brooks Range and adjacent foothills offer warmer conditions and more protected microsites which allow for a greater development of shrub species and for the development of the northern-most stands of trees on the refuge. The terrain is quite diverse including cliffs and tors, canyons, alpine tundra, riverine gravel bars, medium-to-tall shrub thickets (up to 4 m), coniferous forest, and scattered wetlands and marshes.

Much of the south slope is forested, with stands ranging from dwarf shrub woodlands near treeline to tall well developed deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forest along the southern boundary. Tall shrub thickets may be found along many of the rivers and streams. The region, is dotted with numerous wetlands and lakes, particularly in the Porcupine River plateau. Topography generally consists of rolling foothills and valleys with isolated higher mountain peaks.


Status

Abundance

Knowledge of refuge avifauna is best known for the north slope region due to the intensive research program which has been ongoing for the past 15 years. However, gaps in our knowledge exist even for this region. Additional bird observations made by refuge visitors are sought to update and improve this list. Please send information on species, number, date, and location to the address at the bottom of this resource.


LOONS

___ Red-throated Loon - Fairly common coastal breeder, common coastal migrant. Rare visitor to the Brooks Range and across the inland coastal plain.

___ Pacific Loon - Common breeder on both the north and south slopes. Common coastal migrant. Uncommon breeder in Brooks range.

___ Common Loon - Uncommon breeder on the slope slope. Rare migrant or visitor along the coast.

___ Yellow-billed Loon - Uncommon migrant along the coast, rare migrant across the inland coastal plain.


GREBES

___ Horned Grebe - Common breeder on the south slope. Casual summer visitor to the north slope.

___ Red-necked Grebe - Uncommon breeder on the south slope. Casual summer visitor to the north slope.


SHEARWATER

___ Short-tailed Shearwater - Casual summer visitor along the coast. Uncommon fall migrant, mostly offshore.


WATERFOWL

___ Tundra Swan - Common breeder on the north slope, especially along the coast.

___ Trumpeter Swan - Rare breeder along the coast.

___ Greater White-fronted Goose - Possible rare breeder on north slope. Uncommon to fairly common spring migrant and common to abundant fall migrant on the north slope.

___ Snow Goose - Rare breeder on the north slope. Uncommon spring migrant throughout. Abundant fall migrant on the north slope.

___ Ross' Goose - Casual spring visitor to the north slope.

___ Brant - Uncommon breeder near the coast. Abundant coastal migrant.

___ Canada Goose - Uncommon breeder on both the north and south slopes. Uncommon to fairly common migrant on the north slope.

___ Green-winged Teal - Common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, uncommon breeder on the inland coastal plain, rare breeder and migrant along the coast.

___ Mallard - Uncommon breeder, but common summer resident, on the south slope and in the Brooks Range. Rare breeder and uncommon migrant on the north slope.

___ Northern Pintail - Common breeder on the south slope. Fairly common breeder and common summer resident and migrant on the north slope.

___ Northern Shoveler - Uncommon breeder on the south slope. Rare to uncommon summer visitor and migrant on the north slope.

___ Eurasian Wigeon - Casual visitor to the north slope.

___ American Wigeon - Common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range. Uncommon to fairly common migrant and visitor on the north slope.

___ Canvasback - Rare visitor south slope, casual migrant on the north slope.

___ Greater Scaup - Uncommon to fairly common migrant along the coast, locally rare to uncommon summer visitor on the north slope. Uncommon visitor to the Brooks Range.

___ Lesser Scaup - Abundant breeder on the south slope, common breeder in the Brooks Range, rare breeder and summer visitor on the inland coastal plain.

___ Common Eider - Uncommon breeder along the coast. Fairly common summer resident and migrant along the coast, especially offshore.

___ King Eider - Uncommon breeder along the coast. Uncommon to fairly common migrant along the coast, especially offshore.

___ Spectacled Eider - Uncommon breeder along the coast.

___ Steller's Eider - Casual to rare vistor along the coast. Formerly a rare breeder along the coast.

___ Harlequin Duck - Uncommon breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, rare breeder on the inland coastal plain. Uncommon summer visitor on the north slope.

___ Oldsquaw - Common breeder on the north slope. Uncommon migrant on the south slope, abundant summer resident and migrant along the coast.

___ Black Scoter - Uncommon migrant along the coast.

___ Surf Scoter - Uncommon breeder on the south slope. Fairly common summer resident and migrant along the coast.

___ White-winged Scoter - Common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, possible breeder on the inland coastal plain. Uncommon summer resident and migrant along the coast.

___ Common Goldeneye - Probable uncommon breeder on the south slope. Rare spring migrant and summer visitor to the coast.

___ Barrow's Goldeneye - Probable uncommon visitor or rare breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range.

___ Bufflehead - Common breeder on the south slope.

___ Common Merganser - Casual summmer visitor to the north slope.

___ Red-breasted Merganser - Common breeder in the Brooks Range, uncommon breeder on the inland coastal plain, rare breeder on the coast. Fairly common coastal migrant.


HAWKS, EAGLES AND FALCONS

___ Bald Eagle - Rare breeder and uncommon summer resident on the south slope. Rare summer visitor in the Brooks Range.

___ Northern Harrier - Probable uncommon breeder, but common summer resident, in the Brooks Range, rare to uncommon summer visitor to the north slope.

___ Northern Goshawk - Uncommon breeder on the south slope. Rare visitor to the Brooks Range and foothills of the inland coastal plain.

___ Sharp-shinned Hawk - Uncommon summer resident on the south slope.

___ Swainson's Hawk - Rare breeder and summer visitor on the south slope.

___ Rough-legged Hawk - Common breeder in the Brooks Range, uncommon breeder on the south slope and the inland coastal plain, rare breeder on the coast.

___ Golden Eagle - Common breeder in the Brooks Range, probable rare breeder in the inland coastal plain. Fairly common, but variable, summer resident on the north slope.

___ American Kestrel - Uncommon breeder on the south slope, rare breeder in the Brooks Range. Casual summer visitor to the nonh slope.

___ Merlin - Uncommon breeder in the Brooks Range, possible rare breeder in the foothills of the inland coastal plain. Rare visitor elsewhere.

___ Peregrine Falcon - Common breeder on the south slope, uncommon summer resident and breede, in the foothills of the inland coastal plain. Rare breeder on the coast. Uncommon summer visitor and/or migrant throughout.

___ Gyrfalcon - Uncommon permanent resident and breeder in the Brooks Range and foothills of the inland coastal plain. Rare to uncommon visitor elsewhere.


GROUSE AND PTARMIGAN

___ Spruce Grouse - Uncommon resident and probable breeder on the south slope.

___ Willow Ptarmigan - Fairly common to locally abundant resident breeder on the south slope, in the Brooks Range, and on the inland coastal plain. Uncommon breeding resident along the coast.

___ Rock Ptarmigan - Common breeder throughout. Rare winter resident along the coast, but common year-round resident elsewhere.


COOTS AND CRANES

___ American Coot - Casual or rare visitor to the south slope.

___ Sandhill Crane - Rare breeder on the north slope, probable rare breeder on the south slope. Uncommon summer resident along the coast. Rare spring migrant across the inland coastal plain.


SHOREBIRDS

___ Black-bellied Plover - Rare breeder on the north slope. Uncommon spring, and fairly common fall migrant along the coast. Rare migrant on the inland coastal plain.

___ American Golden Plover - Fairly common breeder on the north slope and into the Brooks Range. Common to abundant fall migrant along the coast.

___ Semipalmated Plover - Common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, rare breeder on the north slope. Rare coastal vistor and/or migrant.

___ Killdeer - Casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Eurasian Dotterel - Casual summer visitor to the north slope.

___ Lesser Yellowlegs - Abundant breeder on the south slope. Casual migrant along the coast.

___ Solitary Sandpiper - Abundant breeder on the south slope.

___ Wandering Tattler - Common breeder in the Brooks Range, uncommon breeder on the inland coastal plain.

___ Spotted Sandpiper - Common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, uncommon breeder on the inland coastal plain. Rare coastal visitor.

___ Upland Sandpiper - Common breeder in the Brooks Range and adjacent foothills on both the north and south slopes.

___ Whimbrel - Uncommon breeder in the Brooks Range and adjacent foothill areas on both the south slope and inland coastal plain. Uncommon visitor over the entire north slope.

___ Hudsonian Godwit - Casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Bar-tailed Godwit - Rare migrant along the coast.

___ Ruddy Turnstone - Fairly common breeder and fall migrant on the north slope.

___ Surfbird - Rare breeder in the Brooks Range.

___ Red Knot - Rare migrant along the coast.

___ Sanderling - Casual breeder on the inland coastal plain. Rare spring and uncommon fall migrant along the coast.

___ Semipalmated Sandpiper - Common to locally abundant breeder on the north slope. Common fall migrant along the coast.

___ Western Sandpiper - Casual spring and fairly common fall migrant along the coast.

___ Least Sandpiper - Common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range. Rare migrant on the north slope.

___ White-rumped Sandpiper - Possible rare breeder along the coast. Rare spring migrant and uncommon fall migrant along western coastal sections.

___ Baird's Sandpiper - Fairly common breeder on the north slope, uncommon breeder in the Brooks Range. Uncommon migrant on the north slope.

___ Pectoral Sandpiper - Common breeder on the north slope. Abundant fall migrant, especially along the coast.

___ Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - Casual migrant on the north slope.

___ Dunlin - Uncommon coastal breeder. Fairly common fall migrant along the coast.

___ Stilt Sandpiper - Uncommon to fairly common breeder on the north slope. Fairly common fall migrant on the north slope.

___ Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Locally rare to fairly common breeder on the nonh slope.

___ Ruff - Casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Long-billed Dowitcher - Uncommon breeder, but fairly common summer resident, on the north slope. Common fall migrant on the north slope.

___ Common Snipe - Common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, rare summer resident and possible breeder on the north slope.

___ Red-necked Phalarope - Common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, fairly common breeder on the north slope. Common to locally abundant fall migrant along the coast.

___ Red Phalarope - Fairly common breeder along the coast, uncommon breeder over the inland coastal plain. Uncommon fall migrant along the coast.


JAEGERS, GULLS AND TERNS

___ Pomarine Jaeger - Locally rare to common breeder and summer resident on the north slope. Common spring migrant and uncommon fall migrant on the north slope.

___ Parasitic Jaeger - Rare breeder in the northern part of the Brooks Range, rare to uncommon breeder, but fairly common summer resident, on the north slope.

___ Long-tailed Jaeger - Common breeder in the Brooks Range, uncommon to fairly common breeder on the north slope. Fairly common spring migrant and common summer resident on the north slope.

___ Bonaparte's Gull - Uncommon breeder on the south slope, casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Mew Gull - Common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, probable rare breeder in the foothills of the inland coastal plain. Rare spring migrant and summer visitor to the north slope.

___ Herring Gull - Uncommon breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range. Rare migrant and summer visitor to the north slope.

___ Thayer's Gull - Rare migrant and summer visitor to the north slope.

___ Slaty-backed Gull - Casual or rare visitor to the north slope.

___ Glaucous Gull - Common coastal breeder, uncommon summer resident and probable breeder on the inland coastal plain. Common to abundant migrant along the coast.

___ Black-legged Kittiwake - Rare to uncommon coastal migrant, mostly offshore.

___ Ross' Gull - Rare migrant along the coast in late fall.

___ Sabine's Gull - Uncommon coastal breeder. Uncommon to fairly common fall migrant along the coast, mostly offshore.

___ Ivory Gull - Rare migrant along the coast.

___ Arctic Tern - Uncommon breeder, and common summer resident, on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, fairly common breeder and migrant along the coast. Rare breeder on the inland coastal plain.


ALCIDS

___ * Thick-billed Murre - Rare coastal migrant. All sightings have been recorded as Murre spp. Identification is surmised based on proximity to known murre nesting colonies.

___ Black Guillemot - Rare coastal breeder. Uncommon migrant and summer visitor.

___ Horned Puffin - Casual visitor along the coast.


OWLS

___ Great Horned Owl - Rare to uncommon resident breeder on the south slope.

___ Snowy Owl - Variable, from rare coastal visitor in low lemming years to uncommon coastal breeder and common summer resident in high lemming years.

___ Northern Hawk-Owl - Uncommon resident breeder on the south slope.

___ Great Gray Owl - Probable rare resident breeder on the south slope.

___ Short-eared Owl - Variable, from rare spring visitor and/or migrant in low microtine areas to fairly common to common breeder in high microtine areas, throughout.

___ Boreal Owl - Probable resident breeder on the south slope.


NIGHTHAWKS

___ Common Nighthawk - Casual visitor to the north slope.


HUMMINGBIRDS

___ Rufous Hummingbird - Casual or rare visitor to the south slope and Brooks Range.


KINGFISHERS

___ Belted Kingfisher - Uncommon summer resident and possible breeder on the south slope.


WOODPECKERS

___ Downy Woodpecker - Uncommon resident breeder on the south slope.

___ Hairy Woodpecker - Probable uncommon resident breeder on the south slope.

___ Three-toed Woodpecker - Uncommon breeder, and probable resident, on the south slope.

___ Northern Flicker - Uncommon breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range.


FLYCATCHERS

___ Olive-sided Flycatcher - Uncommon breeder on the south slope.

___ Alder Flycatcher - Common breeder on the south slope.

___ Hammond's Flycatcher - Accidental on the north slope.

___ Eastern Phoebe - Accidental on the north slope.

___ Say's Phoebe - Common breeder in the Brooks Range, casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Eastern Kingbird - Accidental on the north slope.


LARKS

___ Horned Lark - Common breeder in the Brooks Range, rare breeder and visitor to the inland coastal plain. Uncommon visitor to the coast.


SWALLOWS

___ Tree Swallow - Uncommon breeder on the south slope, casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Violet-green Swallow - uncommon breeder on the south slope and on the south-side of the Brooks Range, casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Bank Swallow - Uncommon summer visitor and probable uncommon breeder on the south slope. Casual migrant and summer visitor to the north slope.

___ Cliff Swallow - Locally common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range. Casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Barn Swallow - Rare visitor to the north slope.


JAYS AND RAVENS

___ Gray Jay - Common breeder, and uncommon resident, on the south slope. Rare breeder in the Brooks Range. Casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Common Raven - Uncommon resident throughout, but probably breeds only on the south slope and in the Brooks Range.


CHICKADEES

___ Black-capped Chickadee - Probable uncommon breeding resident in the extreme southern portions of refuge.

___ Siberian Tit - Rare and local breeder in the Brooks Range.

___ Boreal Chickadee - Uncommon resident breeder on the south slope.


DIPPERS

___ American Dipper - Locally uncommon resident on the south slope, in the Brooks Range, and on the inland coastal plain.


THRUSHES

___ Arctic Warbler - Uncommon breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range. Casual or rare visitor on the north slope.

___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range.

___ Bluethroat - Locally rare migrant and breeder on the inland coastal plain.

___ Northern Wheatear - Common breeder in the Brooks Range, rare visitor to the north slope.

___ Townsend's Solitaire - Uncommon summer resident and probable breeder on the south slope and on the south side of the Brooks Range.

___ Gray-cheeked Thrush - Common to abundant breeder on the south slope and on the south-side of the Brooks Range. Casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Swainson's Thrush - Uncommon summer resident and probable breeder on the south slope.

___ Hermit Thrush - Possible rare breeder on the south slope. Casual migrant or visitor to the north slope.

___ American Robin - Abundant breeder on the south slope, uncommon breeder in the Brooks Range, casual summer visitor on the north slope.

___ Varied Thrush - Common breeder on the south slope. Casual or rare visitor to the north slope.


WAGTAILS AND PIPITS

___ Yellow Wagtail - Locally rare to fairly common breeder on the inland coastal plain and in the northern foothills of the Brooks Range. Probable breeder on the coast. Rare visitor to the south slope.

___ American Pipit - Common breeder in the Brooks Range, rare breeder across the inland coastal plain. Fairly common fall migrant across the inland coastal plain.


WAXWINGS

___ Bohemian Waxwing - Common summer resident and probable breeder on the south slope.

___ Cedar Waxwing - Accidental on the north slope.


SHRIKES

___ Northern Shrike - Fairly common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, rare visitor and possible breeder on the inland coastal plain.


WARBLERS

___ Orange-crowned Warbler - Uncommon breeder on the south slope. Casual migrant on the north slope.

___ Yellow Warbler - Uncommon breeder on the south slope, rare breeder in the Brooks Range, and probable rare breeder on the inland coastal plain. Casual visitor along the coast.

___ Magnolia Warbler - Accidental on the north slope.

___ Yellow-rumped Warbler - Common breeder on the south slope, rare breeder in the Brooks Range. Casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Palm Warbler - Accidental or casual on the south slope.

___ Blackpoll Warbler - Uncommon summer resident and probable uncommon breeder on the south slope. Casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Northern Waterthrush - Uncommon summer resident and probable uncommon breeder on the south slope.

___ Kentucky Warbler - Accidental on the north slope.

___ Wilson's Warbler - Uncommon breeder on the south slope. Casual fall migrant on the north slope.

___ Canada Warbler - Accidental on the north slope.


SPARROWS

___ American Tree Sparrow - Abundant breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, locally rare to fairly common breeder across the inland coastal plain. Casual vistor to the coast.

___ Chipping Sparrow - Casual summer visitor to the north slope.

___ Clay-colored Sparrow - Accidental on the north slope.

___ Savannah Sparrow - Locally uncommon to common breeder throughout, numbers are more variable on the north slope.

___ Fox Sparrow - Common breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, rare summer resident and possible breeder on the inland coastal plain. Casual summer visitor along the coast.

___ Song Sparrow - Accidental on the north slope.

___ White-throated Sparrow - Accidental on the north slope.

___ Golden-crowned Sparrow - Rare visitor to the Brooks Range.

___ White-crowned Sparrow - Abundant breeder on the south slope, common breeder in the Brooks Range, locally rare to fairly common breeder on the inland coastal plain. Casual coastal visitor.

___ Dark-eyed Junco - Abundant breeder on the south slope, rare migrant to the north slope.

___ Lapland Longspur - Abundant breeder in the Brooks Range and on the north slope. Common migrant on the south slope.

___ Smith's Longspur - Locally common breeder in the Brooks Range, rare visitor to the north slope.

___ Snow Bunting - Locally common breeder on the north slope.


BLACKBIRDS

___ Red-winged Blackbird - Accidental or casual visitor to the north slope.

___ Rusty Blackbird - Common breeder on the south slope, uncommon breeder in the Brooks Range. Casual migrant to the north slope.

___ Brown-headed Cowbird - Accidental on the north slope.


FINCHES

___ Rosy Finch - Uncommon breeder in the Brooks Range.

___ Pine Grosbeak - Uncommon resident and probable breeder on the south slope.

___ White-winged Crossbill - Uncommon to locally abundant breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range.

___ Common Redpoll/Hoary Redpoll - Because of identification difficulties and broadly overlapping ranges, these 2 species have been recorded as redpoll spp. by most observers. In general, common redpolls probably dominant during the breeding season on the south slope, hoary redpolls on the north slope. Uncommon breeder on the south slope and in the Brooks Range, locally rare to abundant breeder on the inland coastal plain, uncommon breeder along the coast. Winter resident on south slope.

___ Pine Siskin - Uncommon summer resident on the south slope and in the Brooks Range. Rare visitor to the north slope.


Literature Cited
American Ornithologists Union. 1983. Check-list of North American birds.
     6th ed. American Ornithologists Union, New York.

Garner, G.W. and P.E. Reynolds (eds.). 1986. Final report, baseline study
     of the fish, wildlife, and their habitats: U.S. Fish & Wildlife
     Service, Anchorage. 695pp.

Kessel, B. and D.D. Gibson. 1978. Status and distribution of Alaska birds.
     Stud. in Avian Biol. 1. lOOpp.

Spindler, M.A. 1984. Provisional checklist to the birds of the Arctic
     National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska On file, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
     Service, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Fairbanks, Alaska. 10pp.

Willms, M A. 1992. Final Report: migratory bird use of potential port sites
     on the Beaufort Sea coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
     U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 
     Fairbanks, Alaska. 128pp.

Revision by: Mark A. Willms, Wildlife Biologist, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Fairbanks, Alaska. May 1992.

For more information, please contact:

                        Refuge Manager
                        Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
                        101 12th Avenue, Box 20
                        Fairbanks, Alaska 99701
                        Phone: 907/456-0250
This resource is based on the following source:
Willms, M.A.  1992.  Checklist to the birds of the Arctic National Wildlife 
     Refuge, Alaska.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  13 pages.
This resource should be cited as:
Willms, M.A.  1992.  Checklist to the birds of the Arctic National Wildlife 
     Refuge, Alaska.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  13 pages.  
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govarcticwr.htm 
     (Version 22MAY98).

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