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TopFledglings are hopping out of the nest all over, filling the air with their constant calls. I had the good fortune to come across a set of Great Horned Owl fledges that were still getting the hang of using their wings. (Check out the video on our Facebook page.) In this eNews, you'll find details on our Fifth Annual Anchorage Bike and Bird Day, a summary of the recent pack of harmful bills in Congress, a Tongass update, how you can share a bird's eye view of the Arctic Ocean, a profile on King Eiders, and more.

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Bikes and birds are a great mix!
Our 5th annual Bike and Bird Day is almost here! Come ride your bike along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and learn all about the birds of this Important Bird Area, right here in Anchorage! Whether you want to learn birding basics or are ready to exercise your birding skills, grab your bike and join us for this family-friendly event. All you need is your bike and yourself. Binoculars would be handy if you have them, but aren't necessary. Start at Westchester Lagoon at the registration tent and bike along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. We will have bird experts at each station along the Coastal Trail-visit all the stations to receive a prize.
The Alaska Zoo will show a live bird of prey at the start (1:00-1:30PM) and finish (4:30-5:00PM) locations! We hope to see you on the trail.
Red-necked Grebe
William Wuttke
test1 We're having so much fun on our summer bird walks we'll be extending the schedule until Tuesday, August 16 for the Potter Marsh walks and Wednesday, August 17 for the Westchester Walks! Join Audubon Alaska's Cole Talbot for these bird walks along the Coastal Trail and at Potter Marsh, which both fall within the Anchorage Coastal Important Bird Area. Walks start at 6:30PM.  
Pomarine Jaeger
by Dave Shaw
Just before Congress entered its end-of-summer recess, a series of bills that could spell trouble for Alaska conservation popped up. Audubon will watch them closely this fall.
The Interior Appropriations Bill is what funds agencies such as the US Park Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service. Several amendments to the House version of the bill would be indirectly harmful for Alaska wildlife.

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At the end of June, the US Forest Service issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Record of Decision in the Tongass Land Management Plan amendment process. Although the decision scales back the amount of old-growth trees available for timber harvest in the coming years, there is no firm deadline for finally ending this ecologically destructive practice.
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Belugas by Laura Morse
Permit No. 782-1719 Funded by BOEM
What are whales and birds up to in the Arctic Ocean? Find out from a field biologist with a bird's eye view in this blog post about Destination Beaufort Sea Shelf Break: An Aerial Perspective. Every other week through the end of August, the Vital Arctic Ocean Areas blog will feature new insights from field researchers that follow the activities of wildlife in the Arctic Ocean. Don't miss it!

King Eiders
by Milo Burcham
The King Eider is one of the furthest-north breeding birds of the Arctic. This sea duck breeds in remote areas, coming to land only to nest. Female King Eiders return as adults to where they hatched to make grass and down-lined nests on the ground. King Eiders nest in areas with high concentrations of lemmings, presumably as safeguard against predation by arctic foxes. The foxes, who would love to eat an eider egg or chick, may instead settle for preying on the numerous rodents. The flamboyantly-colored male eiders leave soon after the female lays the eggs, leaving her to raise their brood until fledging. Ducklings usually fledge within fifty days of hatching, and then they are on their own.

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Magnificent Frigatebird
by Steffi Lopez
Alaska's shorebirds have started migrating south. Join Audubon Alaska as we follow the birds to Belize February 19-28, 2017. In addition to its rich Maya history and Caribbean-influenced culture, the small country of Belize offers birders a huge diversity of migrant and resident species in lush and varied ecosystems. We'll explore habitats that include wetlands, pine forest, tropical moist forest, and a mangrove island on this unforgettable 10-day adventure.
Trip details
Photo by Milo Burcham
Previous Quiz Bird
The previous quiz bird was the Hudsonian Godwit.
This Month's Quiz Bird
The Outside Islands Marine Important Bird Area, along the coast of Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska, draws large numbers of this seabird during spring and fall migration. The smallest species of its family in the North Pacific, this month's mystery bird ranges from the Arctic Ocean to Baja California.
BadBillsBasically, these amendments would prevent funding for several important agency actions so they can't move forward:
  • Implementation of the Arctic Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan, which recommended Wilderness designation of the Arctic Coastal Plain;
  • The new Arctic Standards, which would require oil and gas drilling companies to have safety and environmental protection plans in place before drilling;
  • The removal of new Arctic Ocean leases from the federal 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Program;
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service rule that does not allow predator control on Alaska National Wildlife Refuges unless necessary to meet refuge purposes (in response to State of Alaska predator control programs).
These amendments are not in the equivalent Senate appropriations bill. We will have to wait and see how Congress will combine the two versions to present to the President to sign into law. Right now, it seems likely that Congress will wrap up appropriations in a big spending bill at the end of the year.
Another set of bills that reared up at the tail end of the Congressional session in the Senate and House (S. 3204 and H.R. 5777) would force a land swap for construction of a road through designated Wilderness in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Not only would such a road be harmful to the refuge and to globally-significant bird habitat, it would also set the bad precedent for dismantling protected Wilderness. The details of the bill weren't available before Congress left for recess, so we'll see where this goes in the fall.
We hope this harmful Alaska legislation will drop by the wayside, but stay tuned for opportunities to help fight against it.

Tongass The agency's final decision does provide protections to conservation priority watersheds and avoids roadless areas; but the final plan also allows logging in ecologically important areas such as beach fringe and riparian (stream- and river-side) areas. Most importantly, the plan will take 15 years to scale back old-growth clearcut logging, and would continue to offer some old-growth logging in perpetuity.
"A slow but steady degradation problem has plagued the Tongass and its endemic wildlife for decades," said Susan Culliney, Audubon Alaska's Policy Associate. "Over time, seemingly separate logging activities have merged into what amounts to death by a thousand cuts. It's time to conserve the remaining big trees for wildlife and sustainable practices." Fishing and tourism are local industries that offer a brighter and more balanced future for the Southeast region. Already, these industries far surpass timber's economic importance. The dwindling timber industry is heavily subsidized by taxpayers and it regularly exports unprocessed logs abroad, thus contributing little to the local economy.
Audubon Alaska will submit comments on the amendment during the objection period that extends until early September.
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KingEiderAfter breeding, King Eiders utilize the seasonally productive waters of the Beaufort Sea shelf, a shallow area just offshore. There they dive for marine invertebrates to replenish their energy reserves before migrating to Bering Sea molting areas.
For much of the year, male and female eiders live independently. Males spend nearly eleven months of the year at sea, while breeding females spend about eight months at sea. The majority of King Eiders move south into the Bering Sea in fall, pushed by the southern advance of sea ice as the ocean freezes, and are highly nomadic throughout the season. However, some eiders spend the winter in polynyas, open water areas in the sea ice, in the same areas in which they molt. Occasionally an adventurous immature bird ventures as far south as Florida or southern California.
As the winter nears spring, male and female eiders congregate and begin forming pair bonds that will carry into the breeding season. In preparation for spring migration, eiders forage in off-shore areas on marine invertebrates such as mollusks, crustaceans, echinoderms (sea stars and sea urchins), sometimes even adding algae, until their energy reserves are stocked. Adult King Eiders are among the first birds to return north to breeding areas in spring, arriving while ice and snow still linger. They travel in massive flocks of 10,000 or more. Such passages can last uninterrupted for hours around the clock, making for an impressive spectacle of the bounty of the Arctic.
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For almost 40 years Audubon Alaska has worked to conserve Alaska's natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, wildlife, and the habitat crucial to them. Audubon Alaska is financially independent, raising all our own funding. This means your support is critical to protecting the birds and wildlife you care about.Thank you for supporting Audubon Alaska!

Happy Birding!

Beth Peluso, Communications Manager
Audubon Alaska

Audubon Alaska
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