Seeking Songbirds: Fall Bird Banding at the Creamer’s Field Migration Station

The rapidly shifting seasons continually brings many changes to Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. As the springtime floodwaters receded, the warmer days awakened hibernating life, and the sunlight from the longer days brought forth lush green leaves and grass seemingly overnight! In the spring, sojourning songbirds arrived after their long migratory journeys to raise the next generation during the warmer months. The birds embark on various nest establishing and construction in preparation for breeding. The abundance of berries, fruit, seeds, insects, and other invertebrates during the warmer months grant adult birds the ability to feed themselves, their young, and eventually the young birds learn to forage and feed themselves throughout the season. Bird Population Data The Alaska Songbird Institute (ASI) completed their banding efforts for 2023 at the Creamer’s Field Migration Station (CFMS) for the fall season. As discussed, in a previous blog post about springtime bird banding: researchers catch, record, and keep track of individual birds by placing an …

Resident Raptors: A Chronology of the Northern Hawk Owls at Creamer’s Field

Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge became home to a nesting pair of Northern Hawk Owls for the better part of a year. These solitary and mysterious birds of prey remained a constant and extraordinary presence here on the refuge for humans and wildlife alike. Their visible hunting and nesting activities created an accessible spectacle. Many dedicated local birders and refuge staff were able to document every daily aspect of these owls’ lives from witnessing daily hunting during the late fall and winter, mating, establishing a nesting site, successfully raising young, and battling other local predators for territory throughout the many months of their residence here on the refuge. Range and Habitat The Northern Hawk Owl, Surnia ulula, remains as one of the least-studied birds in North America. The name “hawk owl” comes from its hawk-like body shape, posture, and daytime hunting habits. It is a medium-sized owl at 16″ long and has a long slender tail, black facial disk borders, …

Seeking Songbirds: Spring Bird Banding at the Creamer’s Field Migration Station

For decades, the site of the former dairy and current Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge has been distinguishable by the grand white barns, expansive open fields, white pillars of birch trees on the wetland, plentiful wildlife, and miles of trails. Amid the various habitats and wildlife, the refuge is best known by birdwatchers, photographers, and researchers for its abundance of birds. The refuge hosts resident and migratory birds of all types including waterfowl, shorebirds, Sandhill Cranes, seabirds, birds of prey, and songbirds. Songbirds at Creamer’s Field are notable for the vast amount of data they’ve provided to scientists over the decades at the research station based here. To find it, visitors must venture to the west side of the refuge. Along the Seasonal Wetland Trail, nestled back in the boreal forest at the center of numerous converging footpaths, is the northernmost continually operated songbird banding station in North America: The Creamer’s Field Migration Station (below). The Creamer’s Field Migration Station …

Waterfowl Research at the Refuge: Fall Migration

Waterfowl banding occurs all throughout North America and is a useful tool in the monitoring of waterfowl species. As fall migration was getting underway, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) conducted waterfowl banding throughout Alaska with a statewide goal of banding 6,000 Mallard ducks. Typically, the Interior banding effort is performed at a banding station on Big Minto Lake. However, due to high water levels, wildfires in the Interior, and equipment availability, the 2022 fall banding operation occurred at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. The operation at the refuge was headed by ADF&G Wildlife Technician, Nate LaShomb, along with other banders and volunteers from ADF&G, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The ducks were captured using a swim-in trap technique (right photo). This involves a baited trap that acts much like a crab pot in which the birds were allowed to enter the trap via an opening but are unable to leave …

DIY Creamer’s Field Ornament Crafts for the Holidays!

In this season of gratitude, we thank you all for supporting us through this interesting year! While we are unable to gather in person for ornament crafting with our amazing volunteers, we wanted to share some awesome ornament crafts inspired by the art and wildlife at Creamer’s Field. We have compiled three easy ornament crafts that the whole family can create together with the right materials, supervision, and creativity! The first craft is the Cork Moose Ornament! While walking along one of the nature trails, visitors may spot moose meandering through the boreal forest on the refuge. Known as moose across North America, Alces alces is the largest member of the deer family. Adult moose can range in size from 800 pounds (small adult female) to1,600 pounds (large adult male), and they can be up to almost 6 feet tall. Moose can range in color from golden brown to almost black, depending on the season and the age of the …

Meet the Programs & Events Coordinator: Melanie Graeff

Melanie joined the Friends of Creamer’s Field family back in March 2020. She has since been involved in creating outreach content for in-person and virtual programs, along with content for our website and social media accounts. Melanie was raised near Dayton, OH. She grew up playing soccer and spending time outside. She was recruited to play at the collegiate level at Capital University in Columbus. During her studies, she expanded her interests to include environmental science. After marrying husband Nate, she moved west to Olympia, WA to pursue a graduate degree. Her studies encompassed utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology for mapping the Earth, science education, program outreach, climate science, and natural resources management. Her favorite outdoor passions include kayaking, hiking, birding, trail running, fishing, and wildlife photography. After earning her Master’s, she had an opportunity to work as an AmeriCorps member alongside the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to facilitate shorebird education and outreach at several wildlife refuges in …