Skip to Navigation
 

Yukon Delta NWR

Site Facts

Country, State, Province/Region:

United States, Alaska

Relative Location:

On the Bering Sea, west coast of Alaska

Latitude/Longitude:

62.61 N, 164.87 W

Category:

Hemispheric

Basis for Designation:

More than 500,000 shorebirds annually.  More than 30% of the global population of Bar-tailed Godwit and Bristle-thighed Curlew.

Size:

2,300,000 hectares (5,683,424 acres)

Joined:

2000

Site Owner/Steward:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Site Partners:

 

Human Population within 100 km:

6356

Contact:

Brian McCaffery
Education Specialist
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
brian_mccaffery@fws.gov

Gene Peltola
Refuge Manager
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
yukondelta_refuge@fws.gov

 Description

The Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta includes 8,000,000 ha of low tundra communities, 310,000 ha. of unvegetated intertidal mud and sand flats, and 4,100 km of shoreline broken by 22 large river mouths and 13 bays. The extensive intertidal flats are adjacent to about 920,000 ha of wet, sedge-grass meadows that lie between the average high-tide line and the storm-tide line. Coastal meadows and heath tundra are dotted with numerous lakes and ponds that often have mid-summer water coverage exceeding 50% (Gill and Handel 1990).

The Andreafsky Wilderness is a region of rolling hills, most of which are covered by moist tundra. Ridge tops and sleeper slopes support xeric alpine tundra. Spruce forest/muskeg is widespread in the two major river valleys of the Andreafsky River. Oxbow lakes, beaver ponds, and gravel bars provide additional shorebird habitat along the rivers.

Ecology & Conservation

All nominated lands are within the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, which is managed for the benefit of fish and wildlife resources and other compatible uses in accordance with the National Refuge Administration Act (1966), the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (1980), and the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act (1997).

Current threats:
Subsistence harvest of large shorebirds has increased dramatically along at the central YKD coastline over the last several years. The reasons for and scope of the increase are unknown.

Although human induced threats are minimal, possible increase in the number of Common Ravens, due to the presence of open dumps in neighboring villages, could increase predation on shorebird nests to a point that exceeds historical levels.

 

Shorebird Species Present:

Black-bellied Plover
American Golden-Plover
Pacific Golden-Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Wandering Tattler
Whimbrel
Bar-tailed Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Black Turnstone 
Red Knot
Sanderling
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Rock Sandpiper
Dunlin
Long-billed Dowitcher
Red-necked Phalarope
Red Phalarope
Solitary Sandpiper
Bristle-thighed Curlew
Hudsonian Godwit
Surfbird
Least Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Common Snipe

Special Information

 

Contact

Brian McCaffery
Education Specialist
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Bethel, AK 99559
brian_mccaffery@fws.gov

Gene Peltola
Refuge Manager
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
807 Chief Eddie Hoffman Road
P.O. Box 346 MS 535
Bethel, AK 99559
yukondelta_refuge@fws.gov

Additional Resouces

 Ernst, R.D. 1988. Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge coastal survey. Unpubl. Rep., U.S. Fish Wildlife Service, Anchorage, AK 48pp.




Field, R. 1993. Bird-habitat associations on the coastal plain of north-central Alaska. Unpubl. Rep., U.S. Fish Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska. 300 pp.



Gill, R.E., Jr., and C.M. Handel. 1981. Shorebirds of the Eastern Bearing Sea. Pages 719-738 in E.W. Hood and J.A> Calder, eds. Eastern Bearing Sea Shelf; Oceanography and Resources. Office of Marine Pollution Assessment, Natl. Oceanic Atmos. Admin. Univ. Washington Press, Seattle.



Gill, R.E., Jr., and C.M. Handel. 1990. The importance of sub-arctic intertidal habitats to shorebirds; a study of the central Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Condor 92: 709-725.


Gill, R.E., Jr., and B.J. McCaffery. 1999. Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica in Alaska: a population estimate from the staging grounds. Wader Study Group Bulletin 88: 49-54.



Handel, C.M., and C.P. Dau. 1988. Seasonal occurrence of migrant Whimbrels and Bristle-thighed Curlews on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Condor 90: 782-790.



Handel, C.M., and R.E. Gill Jr. 1992. Breeding distribution of the Black Turnstone. Wilson Bull. 104:122-135.



Holmes, R.T. 1969. Differences in population density, territoriality, and food supply of Dunlin on arctic and sub arctic tundra. Pages 303-319 in Animal Populations in Relation to their Food Resources. Sym. British Ecol. Soc. No. 10.



Holmes, R.T. 1971. Density, habitat, and the mating systems of the Western Sandpiper. Oecologia. 7:191-208.



Johnsgaurd, P.A. 1981. The plovers, sandpipers and snipes of the world. Univ. Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 493 pp.



Jones R., Jr., and M.D. Kirchoff. 1977. Draft: Coastal habitat for migratory birds in western Alaska. Unpubl. Rep. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bethel, AK



Kessel, B. 1989. Birds of Seward Peninsula, Alaska. Univ. Alaska Press, Fairbanks. 330 pp.



McCaffery, B.J., and R.E. Gill Jr. 1999. Australasian waders in Alaska. Tattler 21:1, 4-5.



McCaffery, B.J. and D.R. Ruthrauff. 1999. Patterns of spring shorebird use in sub arctic meadows on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Unpubl. Rep., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bethel, AK



McCaffery, B.J. and C.M. Hardwood. 2000. Status of Hudsonian Godwits on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. West. Birds. In press (pending revisions).



Troy, D.M. 1996. Population dynamics of breeding shorebirds in Arctic Alaska. Int. Wader Studies 8:15-27.



Wentworth C., 1999. Subsistence waterfowl harvest survey: Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, 1987-1997. Unpubl. Rep., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, AK.



Wentworth C., and S. Seim. 1996. Subsistence waterfowl harvest survey: Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Comprehensive Report 1985-1995 and Results 1995. Unpubl. Rep., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, AK.



Wentworth C., and D. Wong. 1999. Migratory bird subsistence harvests: Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and Bristol bay, 1995-1998. Unpubl. Rep., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, AK.