Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
August 2004

Harlequin Romance
Sea Ducks Breed on Inland Streams

By Riley Woodford

On a warm summer day, a pair of ducks bobs on the current of a clear mountain stream. The striking plumage of the male identifies the pair as harlequin ducks – sea birds that spend most of the year foraging for mussels and crabs in the intertidal zone. But these sea birds are far from the ocean. Harlequins come inland to breed on freshwater streams.

Streamside hikers encounter pairs of harlequins in early summer, when the birds are breeding and nesting. Most nests are built very close ...   Harlequin Romance ArticleContinued

Flightless Ducks

By Riley Woodford

Every summer, the tall grass and reeds of Alaska's marshes and shorelines hide million of flightless ducks and geese. For just a few weeks each year ducks and geese completely lose their ability to fly.

All birds molt at least once a year, shedding old feathers and growing new ones. Feathers are made of keratin, the same protein that makes up our fingernails and hair. A feather isn’t living tissue, and if it wears or breaks it isn’t repaired, it’s replaced.

Most ...   Flightless Ducks Article Continued

Alaska's Dragons

By Riley Woodford

On a warm summer day in Alaska, a fat black and blue-green dragonfly cruises the horsetails at the edge of a shallow pond. It's a delicate emerald, one of about 30 species of dragonflies found in Alaska. This male is patrolling his territory, but he's not looking for food. He's hunting for a mate.

Biologists John Hudson and Bob Armstrong of Juneau discovered the delicate emerald last summer along Peterson Creek near Amalga Harbor. It was the first time the dragonfly had been documented ...   Alaska's Dragons ArticleContinued

Never Underestimate The Little Guy:
Spruce-Bark Beetles Impact Alaskan wildlife

By Lilly Goodman

What do red squirrels, moose, soil bacteria and ruby-crowned kinglets all have in common? All are affected by an outbreak of spruce bark beetle.

Spruce bark beetles have killed spruce trees in vast areas of forest on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, Copper River Basin and Anchorage Hillside. During the 1990s, almost three million acres of white and Lutz spruce forests were impacted by the beetle. Today, the intense rate of beetle kill seems to have subsided on the Kenai Peninsula and along the ...   Bark Beetles ArticleContinued