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Happy New Year! Another successful Christmas Bird Count has passed, with birders participating across the state. Temperatures were warm for Alaska, leading to some unusual sightings. Common Murre was seen for the first time in Fairbanks during count week. Birders saw hundreds of these seabirds in Anchorage during count week, also another first. The last CBC Common Murre sighting for Anchorage was 1993 of just a single bird. Both cases were part of a number of inland murre sightings recently. In this issue of the eNews, find out what researchers think is causing this spate of murres, a chance to speak up for the Arctic Refuge, an upcoming Tongass presentation in Anchorage, and more.

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Northern Goshawk in Fairbanks
Northern Goshawk from the Fairbanks Christmas Bird Count by Beth Peluso
This video interviewing Aaron Bowman, an Anchorage Audubon chapter board member and former Audubon Alaska IBA Assistant, is a great statement about why the CBC is valuable and why Alaska is fabulous for birds.

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Clearcut on Prince of Wales Island.
In early January, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced it would not list Southeast Alaska's Alexander Archipelago wolf as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The agency acknowledged that logging is one of the biggest threats to the beleaguered wolves on Prince of Wales Island.

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A Common Eider flying over the Arctic Refuge. Photo by Dave Shaw.
A Common Eider flying over the Arctic Refuge. Photo by Dave Shaw.
Every year, countless numbers of birds hatched in the vibrant tundra and wetlands of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge migrate across each of the 50 states to their wintering grounds.

The astonishing habitat of the Arctic Refuge supports nesting birds such as Tundra Swans, Sandhill Cranes, Snowy Owls, Golden Eagles, a multitude of songbirds, and more. The biological heart of the Refuge-and vital nesting ground for these birds-is a 1.5-million-acre region between the Arctic Ocean and the mountains, known as the coastal plain. But the threat of oil and gas drilling has hung over the coastal plain for decades.

Sitka black-tailed deer rely on old-growth forest for winter forage. Photo by John Schoen.
Sitka black-tailed deer rely on old-growth forest for winter forage. Photo by John Schoen.
Tongass Community Presentation
Monday, January 25
6:00pm - 8:00pm
BP Energy Center, 900 E. Benson Blvd, Anchorage

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Common Murre swimming. By Milo Burcham.
Common Murre swimming. By Milo Burcham.
Alaska researchers search for the causes of the Common Murre mystery of why many dead birds are washing ashore and live birds have been discovered as far inland as Fairbanks.

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Max Goldman
Audubon Alaska welcomes Max Goldman as our new Arctic Marine Ecologist. Max will focus on the 2nd Edition of the Arctic Marine Synthesis, researching, organizing, and interpreting data on topics ranging from sea ice dynamics to Red-throated Loons to energy development.

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Rhinoceros Auklet
Photo by Dick Daniels, Creative Commons
Last Month's Quiz Bird
Last month's quiz bird was the Rhinoceros Auklet.
Photo by Milo Burcham
This Month's Quiz Bird
Nearly 4,000 of this quiz bird nest in the Northeast Arctic Coastal Plain Important Bird Area, a continentally-significant number. HINT: The females of this species are the ones with the dazzling colors.
TongassWolvesAlthough the FWS decision said the agency didn't consider the Prince of Wales Island wolves to be separate from the broader Alexander Archipelago wolf population throughout Southeast Alaska and British Columbia, the agency acknowledged "...that the taxonomic status of wolves in southeastern Alaska and coastal British Columbia is unresolved and that our knowledge of wolf taxonomy in general is evolving as more sophisticated and powerful tools become available...", leaving the door open if new research warrants reconsideration.

In a report released this past fall , Audubon Alaska identified old-growth logging as one of the root causes behind the 75% decline of the wolf population on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. "The alarming population decline is most immediately caused by the direct take of wolves from significant poaching and the unsustainable legal take authorized by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, but the underlying cause is extensive logging and roads that initiate many harmful effects, including overharvest of wolves," said Melanie Smith, Audubon Alaska's Director of Conservation Science.

In the FWS decision, the agency concluded "...that timber harvest is affecting the GMU 2 [Prince of Wales Island region] wolf population by reducing its ungulate prey [Sitka Black-tailed Deer] and likely will continue to do so in the future."

"This decision won't help the wolves on Prince of Wales Island, but having the agency name logging as the major stressor of the wolf population calls on the Forest Service and Alaska Department of Fish and Game to step up and make management decisions that will prevent the wolves' continued decline in the Tongass. Ultimately, the Forest Service needs to end old-growth clearcut logging on the Tongass," says Melanie Smith, Audubon Alaska's Director of Conservation Science.
JohnSchoenThe Tongass is back in the spotlight with the Forest Service taking public comment on old-growth logging in the Tongass National Forest. Learn about conservation opportunities and challenges in America's temperate rainforest from local expert John Schoen, PhD. John is a retired state Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologist with extensive research in relationships of old-growth forests to brown bear and Sitka black-tailed deer in coastal temperate rainforests. Join us for this free public presentation on Monday, January 25 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the BP Energy Center, 900 E. Benson Blvd in Anchorage. There will be a Q&A session with Audubon staff following the presentation. Learn how you can make your voice heard in the Tongass Land Management Planning process. This event is sponsored by Audubon Alaska, the Alaska state office of the National Audubon Society. For more information call Audubon Alaska at (907) 276-7034 or email Heidi at
Max Max grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Katy, Texas. He was an AmeriCorps volunteer in Northern California at the Audubon Canyon Ranch, working among Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets. Max earned his Bachelor's degree from Prescott College in Field Biology, emphasizing Ornithology. H is thesis project, for which he was honored as a presenter at his baccalaureate, focused on avian recolonization in wildfire areas in Southeastern Colorado. He designed and implemented a two year study evaluating the avian communities present within fire sites of different ages in Mesa Verde National Park. Max also completed Duke University's Nonprofit Management certification program in Raleigh Durham, North Carolina. After college, Max traveled extensively collecting data on (among other things) baboons in South Africa, birds in Wyoming, wildfire in Colorado, and an oil spill on the Gulf Coast.
When not at Audubon, Max can be found in the kitchen or outside with his wife, Michelle, and their son, Bennett.
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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