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: Spring Migration

By Michael Guttery and Tasha DiMarzio, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Waterfowl Program Over the last few months, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) Statewide Waterfowl Program staff have been developing a research project focusing on white-cheeked geese. According to the National Audubon Society, the white-cheeked geese of North America were long considered a variable species of Canada Geese. It was not until 2004 that four of the smallest forms (Richardson’s, Aleutian, Taverner’s, and Minima) were recognized as their own distinct species known as Cackling Geese. The seven species of Canada Geese are the Atlantic, Interior, Giant, Moffitt’s, Dusky, Vancouver, and Lesser. In this research project, ADF&G is focusing on Lesser Canada Geese (Branta canadensis parvipes) and Taverner’s Cackling Geese (B. hutchinsii taverneri). These two species of geese are common in Alaska, though relatively little is known about them. In the late 1990’s, a University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student, Dr. Michael Eichholz, conducted research aimed at mapping …

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 asked: 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 into three duty periods. Throughout their duty period, volunteering Refuge Hosts stay on site at the RV hook-up area. They provide essential services at and around the 12-acre historic buildings area. Refuge hosts staff the visitor’s center on the …