Refuge Hosts at Creamer’s Field

Throughout the year, Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge hosts many resident and migratory birds, mammals, insects, students, scientists, and visitors. On a visit to the refuge, you might have passed the “Refuge Host” sign by the large dairy barn and probably ask: why would this refuge need a host? The farmhouse was renovated in the 1990s to serve as a visitor’s center for the refuge. To ensure that the Farmhouse Visitor’s Center was fully staffed to accommodate visitors, the Refuge Hosting program was set up in 1998. Refuge Hosts serve as volunteers for the Division of Wildlife Conservation of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The summer season lasts from May 15 – September 15 and that period is split to three duty periods throughout the summer. Throughout their duty period, volunteering Refuge Hosts stay on site at the RV hook-up area. They provide essential services at and around the 7-acre historic buildings area. Refuge hosts staff the visitor’s …

European Bird Cherry (Prunus padus) and Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) tree distribution and abundance at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge

By Hazel K. Berrios, Natural Resource Technician, and Limor Dubrovsky, Natural Resource Intern, Fairbanks Soil & Water Conservation District Prunus padus and Prunus virginiana (hereafter referred to as Prunus spp.), commonly known as European Bird Cherry and Chokecherry, are native to Northern Europe and across Asia; so how did they get all the way over to Alaska? Both Prunus spp were introduced around 1959 in Alaska by the Alaska agricultural experiment station in Palmer, as an effort to increase tree fruit culture in Alaska. Since then, both Prunus spp. have become common ornamental trees that are planted in residential areas and in public parks. The first collection and record of chokecherry spreading into natural areas was documented by Welsh in 1968 in Palmer. A year later it was documented in the surroundings areas of UAF. Since escaping cultivation, it has spread into native riparian habitats as well as intact forests in the Anchorage, Mat-Su, Kenai, Southeast and Fairbanks areas. Currently, …

Falconry: A Living Human Heritage found at Creamer’s Field

Nobody can truly say when the first ‘falconer’ came to be; developing the idea of harnessing a bird of prey’s natural beauty and power for their own purpose.  From what history has unfolded, falconry may have manifested itself sometime during 1300 BC in the plains of Central Asia. For much of human history, this ‘sport of kings’ was a symbol and key emblem of social standing, wealth, and power. Although, falconry is practiced on a much smaller scale today, it still holds reverence to some of its major premises – the training a birds of prey to hunt for quarry within their natural habitat.  A major component of falconry is its involvement with wildlife and environmental conservation.  One great story involves our beloved, Peregrine Falcons.  The Peregrine crisis began in the 1940s, when DDT, a modern synthetic insecticide was used liberally to combat malaria, typhus, and other insect-borne diseases.  Almost 10 years later the population of Peregrines started to decline …