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Full text of "Fauna of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska Peninsula"

FAUNA OF 
THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS 
AND ALASKA PENINSULA 



WITH NOTES ON 

INVERTEBRATES AND FISHES 

COLLECTED IN THE ALEUTIANS, 

1936-38 




NUMBER 61 



UNITED STATES 

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 



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FAUNA OF 
THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS 
AND ALASKA PENINSULA 

By Olaus J. Murie, Biologist 



1 



INVERTEBRATES AND FISHES 
COLLECTED IN THE ALEUTIANS, 

1936-38 




in 

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nj 
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□ 

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m 

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By Victor B. Sclieffer, Biologist 




NUMBER 61 






MA- 

BIOLOGICAL 

LA? or. 



I : P V 



WOODS HOLE, MASS 
W. H. 0. !. 



UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 

Fred A. Seaton, Secretary 

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Arnie J. Suomela, Commissioner 




PUBLISHED BY U. S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE • WASHINGTON • 1959 
PRINTED AT II. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON 



For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office, 
Washington 23, D. C. Price .$1.23 cents. 



CONTENTS 

FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA 
PENINSULA, by Olaus J. Murie 

Page 

Foreword xiii 

Introduction l 

Geography and geology 3 

Climate 10 

Environment and biotic distribution 11 

Geographic and geologic influences 12 

Asiatic immigrants 12 

Bering Sea avifauna 14 

Fauna of wider northern distribution 15 

Southern and southeastern birds 16 

Environmental influence 17 

Ecological classification 18 

Vegetation 22 

Birds 27 

Family Gaviidae 28 

Gavia immer, Common loon 28 

Gavia adamsii, Yellow-billed loon 29 

Gavia arctica, Arctic loon 29 

Gavia stellata, Red-throated loon 31 

Family Podicipedidae 32 

Podiceps griscgeiia, Red-necked grebe 32 

Podiceps auritiis, Horned grebe 33 

Family Diomedeidae 34 

Diumedea nigripes, Black-footed albatross 34 

Diomedea albatrus, Short-tailed albatross 36 

Diomedea immutabilis, Laysan albatross 39 

Family Procellariidae 41 

Puffinus tenuirostris, Slender-billed shearwater 41 

Puffinus griseus, Sooty shearwater 44 

Pterodroma inexpectata, Scaled petrel 44 

Pterodroma cookii, Cook's petrel 45 

Fulmarus glacialis, Fulmar 45 

Family Hydrobatidae 48 

Oceanodroma furcata, Fork-tailed petrel 48 

Oceanodroma leucorhoa, Leach's petrel 51 

Family Phalacrocoracidae 52 

Phalacrocorax auritiis, Double-crested cormorant 52 

Phalacrocorax pelagicus, Pelagic cormorant 55 

Phalacrocorax mile, Red-faced cormorant 57 

Family Ardeidae 59 

Ardea hcrodias, Great blue heron 59 

iii 



Page 

Family Anatidae 59 

Olor columbianus, Whistling swan 59 

Olor buccinator, Trumpeter swan 61 

Branta canadensis, Canada goose 61 

Brant a nigricans, Black brant 67 

Philacte canagica, Emperor goose 69 

Anser albifrons, White-fronted goose 73 

Chen hyperborea, Snow goose 74 

Anas platyrhynchos, Mallard 74 

Anas strepera, Gadwall '6 

Anas acuta, Pintail 77 

Anas falcata, Falcated teal 78 

Anas crecca, Common teal 79 

Anas carolinensis, Green-winged teal 80 

Mareca penelope, European widgeon 82 

Mareca americana, American widgeon 82 

Spatula clypeata, Shoveler 83 

Aythya americana, Redhead 83 

Ay thy a valisineria, Canvasback 84 

Aythya marila, Greater scaup 84 

Aythya affinis, Lesser scaup 86 

Aythya fuligula, Tufted duck 86 

Bucephala clangula, Common goldeneye 86 

Bucephala islandica, Barrow's goldeneye 87 

Bucephala albeola, Bufflehead 88 

Clangula hyemalis, Oldsquaw 89 

Histrionicus histrionicus, Harlequin duck 90 

Polysticta stelleri, Steller's eider 92 

Somateria mollissima, Common eider 94 

Somateria spectabilis, King eider 97 

Lampronetta fischeri, Spectacled eider 98 

Melanitta deglandi, White-winged scoter 99 

Melanitta perspicillata, Surf scoter 101 

Oidemia nigra, Common scoter 102 

Mergus merganser, Common merganser 104 

Mergus serrator, Red-breasted merganser 105 

Family Accipitridae 106 

Accipiter gentilis, Goshawk 106 

Accipiter striatus, Sharp-shinned hawk 107 

Buteo lagopus, Rough-legged hawk 107 

Aquila chrysaetos, Golden eagle 109 

Haliaeetus albicilla, Gray sea eagle 110 

Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Bald eagle Ill 

Haliaeetus pelagicus, Steller's sea eagle 117 

Circus cyanetis, Marsh hawk 117 

Pandion haliaetus, Osprey 118 

Family Falconidae 118 

Falco rusticolus, Gyrfalcon 118 

Falco peregrinus, Peregrine falcon 119 

Falco columbarius, Pigeon hawk 120 

Falco sparverius, Sparrow hawk 121 

Family Tetraonidae 121 

Canachites canadensis, Spruce grouse 121 



IV 



Page 

Lagopus lag opus, Willow ptarmigan 122 

Lagopus mutus, Rock ptarmigan 123 

Family Gruidae 129 

Grus canadensis, Sandhill crane 129 

Family Rallidae 130 

Fulica americana, American coot 130 

Family Haematopodidae 130 

Haematopus bachmani, Black oystercatcher 130 

Family Charadriidae 132 

Charadrius dubius, Little ringed plover 132 

Charadrius semipalmatus, Semipalmated plover 132 

Pluvialis dominica, American golden plover 133 

Squatarola squatarola, Black-bellied plover 134 

Aphriza virgata, Surfbird t 135 

Arenaria interpres, Ruddy turnstone 135 

Arenaria melanocephala, Black turnstone 136 

Family Scolopacidae 137 

Capella gallinago, Common snipe 137 

Numenius phaeopus, Whimbrel 138 

Numenius tahitiensis, Bristle-thighed curlew 138 

Actitis macularia, Spotted sandpiper 138 

Tringa glareola, Wood sandpiper 139 

Heteroscelus incanum, Wandering tattler 139 

Totanus melanoleucus, Greater yellowlegs 140 

Totanus flavipes, Lesser yellowlegs 141 

Calidris canutus, Knot 141 

Erolia ptilocnemis, Rock sandpiper 141 

Erolia acuminata, Sharp-tailed sandpiper 146 

Erolia melanotos, Pectoral sandpiper 146 

Erolia bairdii, Baird's sandpiper 147 

Erolia minutilla, Least sandpiper 147 

Erolia alpina, Dunlin 150 

Limnodromus griseus, Short-billed dowitcher 150 

Ereunetes pusillus, Semipalmated sandpiper 152 

Ereunetes mauri, Western sandpiper 152 

Limosa fedoa, Marbled godwit 153 

Limosa lapponica, Bar-tailed godwit 153 

Limosa haemastica, Hudsonian godwit 154 

Crocethia alba, Sanderling 154 

Family Phalaropodidae 155 

Phalaropus fulicarius, Red phalarope 155 

Lobipes lobatus, Northern phalarope 156 

Family Stercorariidae 1°7 

Stercorarius pomarinus, Pomarine jaeger 157 

Stercorarius parasiticus, Parasitic jaeger 159 

Stercorarius longicaudus, Long-tailed jaeger 161 

Family Laridae 162 

Larus hyperboreus, Glaucous gull • • • ■ • I 62 

Lay-us glaucescens, Glaucous-winged gull ■ 165 

Larus schistisagus, Slaty-backed gull ,. 171 

Larus argentatus, Herring gull I 71 

Larus delawarensis, Ring-billed gull 172 

Larus canus, Mew gull 

v 



Page 

Lotus Philadelphia, Bonaparte's gull 174 

Larus ridibundus, Black-headed gull 175 

Rissa tridactyla, Black-legged kittiwake 175 

Rissa brevirostris, Red-legged kittiwake 176 

Xema sabini, Sabine's gull 178 

Sterna hirundo, Common tern 178 

Sterna paradisaea, Arctic tern 179 

Sterna aletitica, Aleutian tern 180 

Family Alcidae 182 

Uria aalge, Common murre 182 

Uria lomvia, Thick-billed murre 182 

Cepphus columba, Pigeon guillemot 186 

Brachyramphus marmoratum, Marbled murrelet 187 

Brachyramphus brevirostre, Kittlitz's murrelet 188 

Synthliboramphus antiquum, Ancient murrelet 189 

Ptychoramphus aleutica, Cassin's auklet 191 

Cyclorrhynchus psittacula, Parakeet auklet 193 

Aethia cristatella, Crested auklet 194 

Aethia pusilla, Least auklet 197 

Aethia pygmaea, Whiskered auklet 200 

Cerorhdnca monocerata, Rhinoceros auklet 202 

Fratercula corniculata, Horned puffin 202 

Lunda cirrhata, Tufted puffin 204 

Family Cuculidae 205 

Cuculus saturatus, Oriental cuckoo 205 

Family Strigidae 205 

Bubo virginianus, Horned owl 205 

Nyceta scandiaca, Snowy owl 206 

Surnia ulula, Hawk owl 207 

Asio flammeus, Short-eared owl 207 

Aegolius funereus, Boreal owl 209 

Family Trochilidae 210 

Selasphorus rufus, Rufous hummingbird 210 

Family Alcedinidae 210 

Megaceryle alcyon, Belted kingfisher 210 

Family Picidae 211 

Dendrocopos pubescens, Downy woodpecker 211 

Picoides arcticus, Black-backed three- toed woodpecker .... 211 

Picoides tridactylus, Northern three-toed woodpecker .... 212 

Family Tyrannidae 212 

Sayornis saya, Say's phoebe 212 

Family Alaudidae 212 

Eremophila alpestris, Horned lark 212 

Family Hirundinidae 212 

Tachycineta thalassina, Violet-green swallow 212 

Iridoprocne bicolor, Tree swallow 213 

Riparia riparia, Bank swallow 213 

Hirundo rustica, Barn swallow 214 

Family Corvidae 214 

Perisoreus canadensis, Gray jay 214 

Pica pica, Black-billed magpie 215 



VI 



Page 

Corvus corax, Common raven 216 

Corvus caurinus, Northwestern crow 217 

Nucifraga columbiana, Clark's nutcracker 217 

Family Paridae 217 

Parus atricapillus, Black-capped chickadee 217 

Pm~us hudsonic^is, Boreal chickadee 218 

Family Certhiidae 219 

Certhia familiaris, Brown creeper 219 

Family Cinclidae 220 

Cinclus mexicanus, Dipper 220 

Family Troglodytidae 221 

Troglodytes troglodytes, Winter wren 221 

Family Turdidae 225 

Turdus migratorius, Robin 225 

Ixoreus naevius, Varied thrush 225 

Hylocichla guttata, Hermit thrush 226 

Hylocichla ustulata, Swainson's thrush 228 

Hylocichla minima, Gray-cheeked thrush 228 

Luscinia calliope, Siberian ruby throat 228 

Family Sylviidae 229 

Phylloscopus borealis, Arctic warbler 229 

Regulus satrapa, Golden-crowned kinglet 229 

Regulus calendula, Ruby-crowned kinglet 229 

Family Motacillidae 230 

Motacilla alba, White wagtail 230 

Motacilla flava, Yellow wagtail 230 

Anthus spinoletta, Water pipit 231 

Anthus cervinus, Red-throated pipit 233 

Family Laniidae 233 

Lanius excubitor, Northern shrike 233 

Family Parulidae 234 

Vermivora celata, Orange-crowned warbler 234 

Dendroica petechia, Yellow warbler 234 

Dendroica coronata, Myrtle warbler 235 

Dendroica striata, Blackpoll warbler 235 

Seiurus noveboracensis, Northern water thrush 236 

Wilsonia pussila, Wilson's warbler 236 

Family Icteridae 236 

Euphagus carolinus, Rusty blackbird 236 

Family Fringillidae 237 

Pinicola enucleator, Pine grosbeak 237 

Leucosticte tephrocotis, Gray-crowned rosy finch 237 

Acanthis hornemanni, Hoary redpoll 240 

Acanthis flammea, Common redpoll 240 

Spinus pinus, Pine siskin 242 

Loxia curvirostra, Red crossbill 242 

Loxia leucoptera, White-winged crossbill 242 

Passerculus sandwichensis, Savannah sparrow 243 

J unco hyemalis, Slate-colored junco 246 

Junco oreganus, Oregon junco 246 

Spizella arborea, Tree sparrow 247 

Zonotrichia leucophrys, White-crowned sparrow 247 

Zonotrichia atricapilla, Golden-crowned sparrow 248 

vii 



Page 

Passerella iliacn, Fox sparrow 249 

Melospiza lincolnii, Lincoln's sparrow 254 

Melospiza melodia, Song sparrow 254 

Calcarius lappomcus, Lapland long-spur 257 

Plectrophenax nivalis, Snow bunting- 258 

Plectrophenax hyperboreus, McKay's bunting 260 

Emberiza rustica, Rustic bunting 260 

Mammals 262 

Family Soricidae 262 

Sorex cinereus, Cinereous shrew 262 

Sorex Uindrensis, Tundra saddle-backed shrew 263 

Sorex hydrodromus, Unalaska saddle-backed shrew 263 

Sorex obscurus, Dusky shrew 265 

Microsorex hoyi, Pigmy shrew 266 

Family Vespertilionidae 266 

Myotis lucifugus, Little brown bat 266 

Family Ursidae 266 

Euarctos americanus, Black bear 266 

Ursus arctos, Brown bear 267 

Thalarctos maritimus, Polar bear 274 

Family Procyonidae 274 

Procyon lotor, Raccoon 274 

Family Mustelidae 275 

Martes americana, Marten 275 

Mustela erminea, Weasel 275 

Mustela rixosa, Least weasel 276 

Mustela vision, Mink 276 

Gulo luscus, Wolverine 277 

Lutra canadensis, Otter 278 

Enhydra lutris, Sea otter 278 

Family Canidae 287 

Vulpes fulva, Red fox 287 

Alopex lagopus, Blue fox 292 

Canis lupus, Wolf 304 

Family Felidae 305 

Lynx cana,densis, Canada lynx 305 

Family Otariidae 305 

Eumetopias jubata, Steller sea lion 305 

Callorhinus u.rsinus, Northern fur seal 306 

Family Phocidae 307 

Phoca vitulina, Harbor seal 307 

Pusa hispida, Ringed seal 309 

Pagophilus groenlandicus, Harp seal 309 

Histriophoca fasciata, Ribbon seal 310 

Erignathus barbatus, Bearded seal 310 

Family Odobenidae 311 

Odobenus rosma>-us, Walrus 311 

Family Sciuridae 314 

Marmota caligata, Hoary marmot 314 

Citellus parryii, Ground squirrel 314 

Citellus kodiacensis, Ground squirrel 316 

Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, Red squirred 316 

viii 



Paw 

Family Castoridae 317 

Castor canadensis, Beaver 317 

Family Cricetidae 317 

Synaptomys borealis, Lemming mouse 317 

Lemmus trimucronatus , Lemming 318 

Dicrostonyx groenlandicus, Collared lemming 318 

Clethrionomys rutilus, Red-backed mouse 320 

Microtus oeconomus, Meadow mouse 320 

Microtus pennsylvanicus, Meadow mouse 324 

Ondatra zibethicus, Muskrat 324 

Family Muridae 324 

Mas musculus, House mouse 324 

Rattus norvegicus, House rat 325 

Family Zapodidae 326 

Zapus hudsonius, Jumping mouse 326 

Family Erethizontidae 327 

Erethizon dorsatum, American porcupine 327 

Family Ochotonidae • • ■ 327 

Ochotona collaris, Collared pika 327 

Family Leporidae 327 

Lepus americanus, Varying hare 327 

Lepras othus, Arctic hare 328 

Family Cervidae 328 

Cervus canadensis, Elk (Wapiti) 328 

Odocoileus hemionus, Black-tailed deer 328 

Alces alces, Moose 329 

Rnngifer arcticus, Barren ground caribou 329 

Rangifer sp., Reindeer 331 

Family Bovidae 332 

Ovis dalli, Dall sheep (White sheep) 332 

Family Hydrodamalidae 332 

Hydrodamalis gigas, Steller sea cow 332 

Family Balaenidae 333 

Eubalaena sieboldi, Pacific right whale 333 

Balaena mysticetus, Bowhead whale 333 

Family Eschrichtidae 334 

Eschriclitius glaucus, Gray whale 334 

Family Balaenopteridae 334 

Balaenoptera physalus, Finback whale 334 

Balaenoptera borealis, Sei whale 334 

Sibbaldus musculus, Blue whale 335 

Megaptera novaeangliae, Humpback whale . . 335 

Family Physeteridae : • • 335 

Physeter catodon, Sperm whale 335 

Family Delphinidae 335 

Grampus rectipinna, Pacific killer whale 335 

Globicephala scammonii, Pacific blackfish 337 

Lissodelphis borealis, Right- whale porpoise 337 

Lagenorhynchus obliquidens, Pacific striped porpoise 337 

Phocoena vomerina, Pacific harbor porpoise 337 

Phocoenoides dalli, Dall porpoise 338 

Family Monodontidae °°° 

Delphinapterus leucas, White whale (Beluga) 338 

ix 



Page 

FamiW ^iphiidae 339 

1 vradius bairdii, Baird beaked whale 339 

Mesoplodon stejnegeri, Stejneger beaked whale 339 

Zipliiax cavirostris, Cuvier beaked whale 339 

References 340 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

Figure Pa se 

Frontispiece: The Brown Bear in the Aleutians xiv 

1. Aleutian Islands 4 

2. Semichi Islands 6 

3. Sketch elevation of Agattu Island 6 

4. Sketch elevation of Buldir Island 6 

5. Sketch elevation of several Aleutian Islands 6 

6. Sketch elevation of three Aleutian Islands 7 

7. Little Sitkin Island 7 

8. Sketch elevation of Rat Island 7 

9. West end of Rat Island 7 

10. West end of Rat Island 8 

11. Southeast end of Rat Island 8 

12. Sketch elevation of Semisopochnoi Island 8 

13. Sketch elevation of West Unalaga Island 8 

14. Sketch elevation of Ilak Island 9 

15. Sketch elevation of Kavalga Island 9 

16. Sadatanak Inland 9 

17. Sagchudak Island 9 

18. Sketch elevation of Bobrof Island 9 

19. Anagaksik Island 9 

20. Sketch elevations of Kasatochi Island and Koniuji Island 9 

21. Seguam Island 10 

22. Sketch elevation of Ananiuliak Island 10 

23. Mounds on Kavalga Island 26 

24. Red-faced cormorant 57 

25. Rough-legged hawk 108 

26. Black oystercatcher 131 

27. Aleutian rock sandpiper 143 

28. Least sandpiper 148 

29. Least sandpipers 149 

30. Glaucous-winged gulls 166 

31. Black-legged kittiwakes 176 

32. Colony of Pallas's thick-billed murres on Bogoslof Island 184 

33. Pallas's thick-billed murres 185 

34. Kittlitz's murrelet 189 

35. Ancient murrelet 190 

36. Crested auklets 196 

37. Least auklets 197 

38. Least auklet 199 

39. Horned puffins 203 

40. Tufted puffins 204 

41. Aleutian song sparrow 255 

42. Sea otter 279 

43. Blue fox 294 



INVERTEBRATES AND FISHES COLLECTED IN THE 
ALEUTIANS, 1936-38, by Victor B. Scheffer 

Page 

Introduction 365 

Marine algae 367 

Marine invertebrates 370 

Sponges 370 

Coelenterates 370 

Hydroids 370 

Jellyfishes 370 

Flatwoi-ms 371 

Roundworms 371 

Nemertean worms 371 

Brachiopods 371 

Annelid worms 371 

Echinoderms 372 

Brittle stars 372 

Starfishes 372 

Sea urchins • 373 

Sea cucumbers 375 

Crustaceans 375 

Copepods 375 

Barnacles 376 

Amphipods 377 

Isopods 379 

Shrimps 379 

Hermit crabs 379 

Anomuran crabs 381 

Other crabs 381 

Mollusks 381 

Bivalves 381 

Snails and sea slugs 383 

Chitons 385 

Devilfishes 386 

Fresh-water invertebrates 387 

Ci'ustaceans 391 

Cladocerans 391 

Copepods 391 

Ostracods 391 

Mollusks 391 

Land invertebrates 392 

Mollusks 392 

Beetles 392 

Bird lice 393 

Diptera 393 

^ ers ::::::::::: 395 

Fishes 

Literature cited 406 

xi 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

Figure Papce 

1. Fucus, a brown seaweed 368 

2. Calcareous algae of the Lithothamnion group 368 

3. The 5-rayed starfish Asterias amurensis 373 

4. Twenty-rayed starfish, Pycnopodia helianthoides 374 

5. Green sea urchin Strongylocentrotus drobachiensis 375 

6. Rock barnacles, Balanus sp 376 

7. Two species of barnacles 377 

8. Parasitic amphipod P a/racy amus boopis 378 

9. Common crab, Cancer magister 380 

10. King crab, Paralithodes sp 380 

11. Mussels, Mytilus edulis 382 

12. Limpets, Acmaea sp 384 

13. Periwinkles, Littorina sp 385 

14. Fresh-water pool, type 1 (small and clear) 387 

15. Fresh-water pool, type 2 (small and weedy) 388 

16. Fresh-water pool, type 3 (large and barren) 389 

17. Alaska cod, Gadus macrocephalus 396 

18. Red sculpin, Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus 397 

19. Irish lord, Hemilepidotus jordani 398 

20. Halibut, Hippoglossus stenolepis 399 

21. Pogie, Lebius superciliosus 400 

22. Pink salmon, Oncorhynchus gorbuscha 401 

23. Native boy netting sockeye salmon 402 

24. Red or sockeye salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka 402 

25. Atka mackerel, Pleurogrammus monopterygius 403 

26. Silver hake, Tneragra chalcogramma 404 



XII 



Foreword 



This report is based on a biological survey of most of the 
Aleutian Islands and the Alaska Peninsula in 1936 and 1937. 
The report was largely prepared soon after the survey, but 
for various reasons it has not been practical to publish it until 
now. Even in manuscript form, this material has been con- 
sulted frequently, and it is issued now in the North American 
Fauna series so as to make more accessible information on one 
of North America's most significant biogeographic regions. 

While the report was being readied for publication, the 
fifth edition of the Check-List of North American Birds ap- 
peared (American Ornithologists' Union 1957). Throughout 
the report, scientific and common names of birds have been 
made to conform to the new Check-List, but generally refer- 
ences to "the A. 0. U. Check-List," without specification, are 
to the fourth (1931) edition. Scientific names of mammals 
have been made to conform in general to the List of North 
American Recent Mammals (Miller and Kellogg 1955) ; com- 
mon names of mammals for the most part follow Hall (1957) . 
The Pinnipeds conform to the nomenclature of Scheffer 
(1958). 

No attempt has been made to include references to all 
recent publications on the Aleutian and Alaskan fauna; 
references included are those from which data were obtained 
for this report. 

0. J. MURIE 
May 1959 



XIII 




The Brown Bear in the Aleutians. Carlisle Island rising above the fog. 



XIV 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS 
AND ALASKA PENINSULA 

By Olaus J. Murie, Biologist 



Introduction 



The Aleutian Islands, treeless, fog-bound, and volcanic, extend 
westward from the tip of the Alaska Peninsula for about 1,100 
miles to Attu, which is less than 600 miles from the Kamchatka 
Peninsula of Asia. The Aleutian Islands Wildlife Reserva- 
tion, now a National Wildlife Refuge, was established on this 
chain in 1913. This reservation embraces the islands of the Aleu- 
tian chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea. 
These islands were set apart as a preserve and breeding ground 
for native birds, for the propagation of reindeer and fur-bearing 
animals, and for the encouragement and development of fisheries. 

In 1920, the United States Bureau of Biological Survey l was 
given the responsibility of enforcement of the Alaska fur laws 
and administration of the blue-fox industry in the Aleutians. As 
time went on, it became apparent that proper supervision of this 
important wildlife refuge would necessitate an extensive inven- 
tory of the resources of these islands. 

In 1936, assisted by Cecil S. Williams of the Bureau of Biologi- 
cal Survey, I was assigned to make the necessary investiga- 
tions. The motorship Brown Bear was placed at our disposal, 
and H. Douglas Gray and Homer Jewell, both of the Alaska Game 
Commission, joined us at Juneau. A second season was required 
for the work, and, in 1937, Victor B. Scheffer, John H. Steenis, 
H. Douglas Gray, and I made up the scientific party. During 
these two seasons we visited every Aleutian island of any size, as 
well as many islands south of the Alaska Peninsula and several 
points on the Peninsula, including Bristol Bay and the Nelson 
Island region of the Bering Sea coast. In 1938, Scheffer returned 

i Now a part of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 



2 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

with the Brown Bear for another season's work. He made limited 
studies of the lesser forms of animal life that inhabit the sub- 
arctic waters of the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea and 
those that occupy the shores and slopes of the islands. 

Our work, and the work of Scheffer, expanded upon informa- 
tion obtained by biologists who visited the area late in the 19th 
century and early in the 20th century. In 1902, W. H. Osgood, 
for the Bureau of Biological Survey, conducted an expedition 
to the base of the Alaska Peninsula. Results of his field work 
were published as "A Biological Reconnaissance of the Base of 
the Alaska Peninsula" (North American Fauna Series No. 24: 
1904). In 1911, Alexander Wetmore and A. C. Bent investigated 
the western end of the Alaska Peninsula and some of the Aleutian 
Islands (Wetmore's field report was never published). In the 
summer of 1925, assisted by Fur Warden Donald H. Stevenson, 
I was assigned to field work at the western end of the Alaska 
Peninsula. Additional investigators who visited the Aleutians 
include Lucien M. Turner and William H. Dall (in the 19th cen- 
tury), and Ira N. Gabrielson (in the 20th century). 

In the present report, references are made to all individuals 
who are known to have contributed to the knowledge of the fauna 
of the Aleutian Islands. These individual contributions total into 
a considerable volume of data that have been of inestimable help 
in evaluating the Aleutian fauna. In view of this assemblage of 
data, and for a better understanding of the fauna of this part 
of Alaska, the present report embraces all of the Alaska Peninsula 
and the Aleutian Islands. 

In compiling the material presented here, and in gathering the 
field data, I am indebted to my colleagues in the field on all three 
expeditions — 1925, 1936, and 1937. These colleagues, already 
mentioned — Stevenson, Williams, Scheffer, Steenis, Gray, and 
Jewell — are men whose zeal for research and loyalty to the joint 
undertaking must ensure success of an expedition. John Selle- 
vold, veteran seaman and captain of the Brown Bear, went beyond 
the requirements of his duty to help us in many ways. 

John W. Aldrich and Allen J. Duvall, both of the U. S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, have been especially helpful with advice 
and assistance in working with specimens. Herbert Friedmann, 
of the National Museum, has also helped considerably, and Ira N. 
Gabrielson, who has made many trips to the Aleutian district, 
has been especially generous with his field notes. Many others, 
both in Washington and in the field, assisted in many ways. 

Also, I must pay tribute to those original inhabitants of tne 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 3 

Aleutians, the Aleuts, who as a race have suffered many vicissi- 
tudes through earlier contacts with white men. Those with whom 
we associated were eager to help with information. It is with 
special affection that I recall the friendly cooperation of Mike 
Hodikoff, Chief of Attu village, who was ready to do anything 
to further the work of our expeditions and to add to our knowl- 
edge. He, with his village, was captured by Japanese invasion 
forces during World War II ; there is no knowledge of his fate. 

GEOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY 

The Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands (see fig. 1) form 
a great arc that swings across the northern seas for about 1,500 
miles, almost to Siberia. The Aleutian chain alone is about 1,100 
miles long. This arc, together with the Commander Islands, forms 
a barrier that separates the Bering Sea from the North Pacific 
Ocean. The Alaska Peninsula extends southwestward from 
about latitude 59° N., and Amatignak Island, the southernmost 
of the Aleutians, lies nearly as far south as latitude 51° N.— the 
same latitude as the north end of Vancouver Island. 

The north shore of the Alaska Peninsula shelves off gradually 
into the shallow waters of Bering Sea, forming a low coastal 
plain with a comparatively even coastline. However, farther in- 
land the land rises to the rugged volcanic Aleutian Range, which 
runs the length of the Peninsula, and, on the south side, breaks 
off into the deeper water of the North Pacific. Accordingly, the 
south shore is irregular and rugged with bays and headlands and 
offshore rocks and is fringed by offshore islands — notably the 
Kodiak-Afognak, Semidi, Shumagin, and Sanak Island groups, 
as well as a number of smaller ones. 

The eastern Aleutians retain some of the characteristics of the 
Alaska Peninsula. This is most pronounced on Unimak Island, 
which has a low coastal plain, lagoons, and rugged interior moun- 
tains that extend southward to the Pacific Ocean. In fact, Unimak 
Island is separated from the Peninsula by only a narrow strait. 

Numerous eruptions have been recorded since the discovery 
of these islands, and the Aleutian chain proper consists of over 
70 named islands, some small, others large; Unimak is about 70 
miles long. The chain is irregular and is bordered on the north 
and south sides by deep oceanic troughs. In other words, the 
south border of the shallow Bering Sea bottom, which is virtually 
a continental shelf, veers off northwestward so as to leave deep 
waters north of the Aleutian chain. As Stephen R. Capps (1934, 
p. 143) has stated, 



4 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 




FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 5 

A line of soundings taken by the fathometer on the Gannet in 1932, ex- 
tending along an irregular course from a point north of Amukta Pass to 
Attu Island, at varying distances from the intervening islands, shows 
that north of the islands the 1,000 fathom line lies close to the island 
festoon and that at a distance of 50 miles or more from them there is a 
remarkably smooth-floored depression at a depth of 2,000 to 2,200 fathoms. 
The shape of this depression between the islands and the continental mass, 
which includes much of Bering Sea, is not known, but it is significant 
that the island arc rises as a sharp ridge separating deeps of 2,000 fathoms 
or more both to the north and south. 

The volcanic nature of this region is well known. Capps (1934, 
p. 142) says, 

Throughout the Alaska Peninsula the volcanoes have broken out through 
older sedimentary or igneous rocks, by which they are now flanked. In 
the Aleutian Islands there are few if any exposures of the basement 
rocks, and the islands are largely constructional, having been built up 
to and above sea level by the accumulation of lavas and volcanic fragmental 
material ejected from below. 

Many volcanoes along this remarkable arc are still in an active 
state. The eruption of Katmai Volcano, on the Alaska Peninsula, 
in 1912 was one of the great volcanic spectacles of modem times 
(see Griggs 1922). The activities of Bogoslof Island and Mount 
Shishaldin on Unimak Island are well known, and in 1930 there 
was an eruption on Gareloi Island. On our visit there in 1937 
we examined some of the small craters, from which were issuing 
steam and other gases, and. we noted many lava bombs on the 
lower slopes. We found several typical hot thermal springs that 
were rimmed with algae. On Kagamil Island, noisy steam jets 
issued from a rocky bluff, and rumblings could be heard under 
the boulder beach. After our return from the expedition of 
1937, we learned that there had been an eruption on Yunaska 
Island while we had been exploring other areas. Many of the 
mountains have plumes of steam issuing from the top. Mount 
Cleveland, on Chuginadak Island, erupted in 1944, and Okmok 
and Umnak Islands erupted in 1945. 

As would be expected, most of the islands are mountainous. 
There are a few relatively flat islands, such as Amchitka, Agattu, 
and Semichi. However, there is a low mountain range along 
one side of Agattu, and there is a small mountain at one end of 
Alaid Island, in the Semichis. Most of the larger islands have 
lakes and streams, and several, such as Amchitka, Agattu, and 
the Semichis, are dotted with lakes. In keeping with their 
volcanic origin, some of these islands have notable lava beds that 
furnish nesting crevices for petrels and auklets, as on Amukta 
and Gareloi. Other islands, notably Ogliuga and part of Kavalga, 



6 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

have been covered with volcanic ash in recent times. 'The shore- 
lines are irregular, with offshore islets, rocks, and undersurface 
reefs, and there are boulder beaches, sandy beaches, and abrupt 
cliffs in great variety. 

The accompanying field sketches, (see figs. 2-22) showing a few 
of the islands in profile, suggest the variety of configuration. 




Figure 2. — Semichi Islands from mountain on Alaid Island (June 1937). 
Note that a narrow spit connects Alaid, in foreground, with the middle 
island ; Shemya, the easternmost, is in the distance. 



Figure 3. — Sketch elevation of Agattu Island, seen from west end of Alaid 

Island, looking southwesterly. 




Figure 4. — Sketch elevation of Buldir Island, looking southeast. 



AMCHITKA 
(WEST END) 



.RAT 



KISKA 
(N. END) 



CHUGUL DAVIDOF 



LITTLE 
SITKIN 



Figure 5. — Sketch elevation of several Aleutian Islands, looking west. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 7 




PYRAMID 



DAVIDOF 



Figure 6. — Sketch elevation of three Aleutian Islands from Gunner Cove on 

Rat Island, looking northerly. 




Figure 7. — Little Sitkin Island from Gunner Cove on Rat Island, looking 

northeasterly. 




Figure 8. — Sketch elevation of Rat Island from southeast end of Khvostof 

Island, looking southerly. 






Vsv . . . . 






(( ( i f ( i ( / ,( 

Mlf<]?hN-^mTT7T Tn >^T7nTTrnTTTfT7^^ I llKi I 




Figure 9.— West end of Rat Island (July 1937). Kiska Island in distance. 



8 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 




Figure 10. — West end of Rat Island (July 1937) from beach on south shore. 




Figure 11. — Southeast end of Rat Island (June 1937). 












Figure 12. — Sketch elevation of Semisopochnoi Island seen from west end of 
Amchitka, looking 1 northeasterly. Low fog bank on horizon. 




Figure 13. — Sketch elevation of West Unalaga Island, looking westward. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 9 



Figure 14.— Sketch elevation of Ilak Island, looking southerly. 



Figure 15.— Sketch elevation of Kavalga Island from West Unalga Island, 

looking easterly. 




Figure 16. — Sadatanak Island looking easterly. 



$!£z^ 



iiiiimiii^ 



r 



Figure 17. — Sagchudak Island looking easterly. 







Figure 18. — Sketch elevation of Bobrof Island, looking southwesterly. 




Figure 19. — Anagaksik Island, looking southeasterly. 




Figure 20. — Sketch elevations of Kasatochi Island and Koniuji Island, 

looking west. 



10 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 



^ta^SPwB^ 






iO'itihAiJi—- it* 'iti>'. li:.". ."■■■■ n m «;i ■.■>.,■»■■_ 



"ii'Huiiiim , 




'W'l'i'uii '."!'.'.JHmv" a> ...mi "■■.•.. ..itfiifi 



Figure 21. — Seguam Island, looking south-southwest. 



fiSiMM 



Figure 22. — Sketch elevation of Ananiuliak Island, looking southerly. Umnak 

Island in background. 



CLIMATE 

The Aleutian Islands and Alaska Peninsula are south of the 
severe low winter temperatures of interior and northern Alaska, 
and the surrounding waters are generally free of sea ice. To 
characterize winter conditions briefly : temperatures go well be- 
low freezing, fresh-water ponds freeze over at times, and snow 
sometimes piles knee deep. But the snow is likely to be wet 
and slushy, and there will be some bare ground. At higher 
elevations, however, snow is heavier, and the higher mountains 
are snowcapped in winter. 

A few temperature records from Turner (1886), with notes on 
clear days, are of interest: 





Temperature (°F.) 


Number of— 


Month 










Mean 


Maximum 


Minimum 


Clear days 


Fair days 


UN ALASKA, 1878-79 


September ... 


48.02 


55 


36 








October 


40.77 


49 


26 








November 


33.50 


48 


21 


1 




December _ . . 


35.12 


45 


19 


2 





January 


33 . 97 


48 


20 


1 


2 


February 


29.25 


44 


t 


1 


1 


March... 


32.16 


49 


15 


8 





April. . 


33.07 


52 


21 





i 


ATKA, 1879 


May. .... 


39.90 


65 


30 








June. .... 


42.08 


64 


30 





2 


July 


48.96 


65 


38 


2 


4 


August . . .... 


50.31 


69 


45 













FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA. PENINSULA 11 

ATTLl, 1 880-81 



July 

August 

September 
October __ 
November 
December. 
January. . 
February _ 
March... . 

April 

Mav 



52.35 


66 


51.56 


66 


47 . 75 


58 


41.12 


49 


35.45 


46 


33 91 


44 


31.17 


42 


31.95 


41 


29 02 


41 


36.70 


52 


39.55 


49 



42 
38 
36 
30 
25 
22 
17 
17 
11 
26 
31 



5 
3 
6 





1 



1 






3 
5 
6 
4 
4 
1 
6 
8 
7 
3 
1 



Sutton and Wilson (1946) observed birds on Attu Island from 
February 20 to March 18, 1945. They report, 

The air temperatures at sea level did not vary much from freezing as 
a rule. During the daylight hours it sank somewhat below 32° F. on 20 
of the 27 days, climbed as high as 38° during the day on March 4, sank 
as low as 15° during the night on March 15, and averaged 31°. On March 
18 the greatest temperature variation (15° to 31°), as well as the lowest 
temperature, was recorded. The general aspect was wintry: the sky over- 
cast, the wind raw, the sea turbulent. Highlands and lowlands alike were 
covered with snow. Along the shore, tufts of rank grass and coarse stalks 
of wild parsnip protruded from the drifts, and boulders, turfy mounds and 
narrow gray beaches were always bare. Elsewhere, save for an occasional 
cliff or exposed slope, everything was white. 

A striking feature of the Aleutian climate is the prevalence 
of foggy or cloudy weather, the abundance of rain in summer, 
and the frequent violent winds that arise suddenly and un- 
expectedly. On western Alaska Peninsula, in 1925, we built a 
windbreak of alder brush to protect our tent, and, on the beach, 
light gravel occasionally would be blown into our faces. Briefly, 
then, one might say that although the temperature is mild— 
neither very low in winter nor very high in summer— there 
is a minimum of sunshine and a maximum of fog, rain, and 
storm. 

ENVIRONMENT AND BIOTIC DISTRIBUTION 

The Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands, stretching as a 
land bridge between two continents, present a most interesting 
distribution of plant and animal life. There are, of course, a 
number of physical facts that bear on the distribution of animals 
and plants— including the location of the area with relation to 
that of other significant areas, the geologic history, the physio- 
graphic conformation of the land, the ocean currents, and the 
temperature, humidity, and other climatic influences. 



12 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

GEOGRAPHIC AND GEOLOGIC INFLUENCES 

The Aleutian district lies within the Boreal region, and it may 
be identified as the southern fringe of this great circumpolar 
area throughout which life has so much in common. It is 
significant that the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands lie, 
in a sense, almost isolated from the mainland of Alaska and 
extend westward a tremendous distance toward Kamchatka, 
thus, in some respects, serving as a "bridge" between Asia and 
North America. It is also significant that they are near the 
other intercontinental bridge at Bering Strait, which is recognized 
as having an important influence on our biota. 

The Aleutian Islands and Alaska Peninsula are of comparatively 
recent geologic origin. Volcanic activity is still prevalent, and 
changes in the surface of the land are still taking place. For 
this reason, and for reasons mentioned later, the area has a 
new and changing environment that has not yet been fully 
occupied by flora or fauna to the extent of its potential capacity. 
Thus, the area presents an opportunity to see immigration still 
taking place and to note the changes imposed on the newcomers 
by an unusual environment. 

As the following sections show, the Aleutian biota is drawing 
its members from several directions. As would be expected, some 
have come directly from Asia ; some have come from the north 
on the Alaskan side; others have come from the southeast along 
the Pacific coast; and still others are part of the fauna that 
appears to have developed in the Bering Sea region — an area 
roughly bounded by Siberia, mainland Alaska, and the Aleutian 
Islands. Many others are drawn from biotic populations that 
at present are so widely distributed in the Palaearctic region 
that it is impossible to judge the direction from which they 
entered the Aleutian area. Following, are some of these groups 
that have contributed to the Aleutian biota : 

ASIATIC IMMIGRANTS 

BIRDS 

SCIENTIFIC NAME COMMON NAME 

Branta nigricans Black brant 

Mareca penelope European widgeon 

Anas crecca ssp Common teal 

Haliaetus albiciUa White-tailed sea eagle 

Haliaetus pelagicus Steller's sea eagle 

Falco rusticolus uralensis Asiatic gyrfalcon 

Charadrius dubius curonicus Little ringed plover 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 13 

Charadrius semipahnatus Semipalmated plover 

Pluvialis dominica fulva American golden plover 

Arenaria interpres interpres Ruddy turnstone 

Tringa glareola Wood sandpiper 

Erolia acuminata Sharp-tailed sandpiper 

Larus hyperboreus hyperboreus Glaucous gull 

Lams schistisagus Slaty-backed gull 

Lanes argentatus vegae Herring gull 

Larus ridibundus sibiricus Black-headed gull 

Sterna aleutica Aleutian tern 

Aethia pygmaea Whiskered auklet 

Cuculus saturatus horsfieldi Oriental cuckoo 

Luscinia calliope camtschatkensis Siberian rubythroat 

Troglodytes troglodytes ssp. (in part) Winter wrens 

Motacilla alba lugens White wagtail 

Emberiza rustica latifascia Rustic bunting 

MAMMALS 

SCIENTIFIC NAME COMMON NAME 

A lopex lagopus Blue fox 

Ursus arctos gyas Brown bear 

Ursus arctos middendorffi Brown bear 

Some of these are only occasional visitors, such as the two 
eagles mentioned, and Larus schistisagus (slaty-backed gull), 
Larus ridibundus sibiricus (black-headed gull), Cuculus saturatus 
horsfieldi (oriental cockoo), and some others. Some have become 
established in the Aleutians, such as Anas crecca (common teal), 
Aethia pygmaea (whiskered auklet), and Sterna aleutica (Aleu- 
tian tern), and Alopex lagopus (blue fox). Others have reached 
the Alaskan coast in general, including the Aleutian district, but 
not necessarily by the Aleutian route, such as Falco rusticolus 
uralensis (Asiatic gyrfalcon), Pluvialis dominica fulva (Ameri- 
can golden plover), and the big brown bears. Some, such as 
Charadrius semipalmatus (semipalmated plover) and Branta 
nigricans (black brant), have extended eastward considerably 
beyond the Alaskan Peninsula but show greater affinity with 
Asiatic populations than with those farther east in North Ameri- 
ca. In the case of the winter wrens, Troglodytes troglodytes, the 
origin appears to have been from Asia and from the southeast. 
Of course, the bears came by the more remote northern route. 

Plants, too, have begun the long traverse over from Asia. 
In the case of plants which occur widely on both sides of Bering 
Strait, and which have become established all the way through 
the Aleutian chain, it is difficult to know the direction from 
which their immigration took place. There are some plants that, 
according to Hulten's distribution maps (1937a), have obtained 



14 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

a foothold in the western Aleutians but have not been observed to 
the east, even though some of them also occur on the Alaskan 
mainland. Concerning the plant distribution, Hulten (1937a, p. 
44) stated, 

If Commander Islands and westernmost Alaska Penin. are included, as in 
this flora, 92 America species reach that area, but 47 of them do not go 
further westward than to Umnak. 49 species reach the Aleutians from 
the west but not other parts of southern Alaska. 40 of them do not reach 
further eastwards than to the westernmost group of the Aleutians. 

Some of the prominent Asiatic forms that we observed in the 
westernmost Aleutians are Cirsium kamtschaticum, Veratrum 
album oxysepalum, Cacalia ariculata, and Sorbus sambucifolia. 
These are confined to the Near Islands, though some are thought 
to have reached as far east as Buldir. 

Hulten says further, "The flora of the middle Aleutians is 
very depauperated, probably due to the relatively short time 
elapsed since the glacial period, when most of their plants were 
exterminated." 

Only the more obvious Asiatic elements are mentioned here. 
Other animal and plant forms probably originated in Siberia 
at a more remote time. 

BERING SEA AVIFAUNA 

The following birds represent a group largely confined to the 
coastal parts of Bering Sea, although some of them range farther 
north or south. They appear to be characteristic of all shores 
of the Bering Sea, instead of the Siberian side exclusively. 

SCIENTIFIC NAME COMMON NAME 

Phalacrocorax pelagieus pelagicus Pelagic cormorant 

Phalacrocorax urile Red-faced cormorant 

Branta canadensis minima Canada goose 

Philacte canagica Emperor goose 

Anas crecca nimia Common teal 

Polysticta stelleri Steller's eider 

Arenaria melanocephala Black turnstone 

Numenius tahitiensis Bristle-thighed curlew 

Erolia ptilocnemis ssp Rock sandpiper 

Limosa lapponica baueri Bar-tailed godwit 

Rissa tridactyla pollicaris Black-legged kittiwake 

Rissa brevirostris Red-legged kittiwake 

Xema sabini woznesenskii Sabine's gull 

Uria lomvia arra Thick-billed murre 

Brachyramphus brevirostre Kittlitz's murrelet 

Cyclorrhynchus psittacula Parakeet auklet 

Aethia cristatella Crested auklet 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 15 

Aethia pusilla . Least auklet 

Fratercula corniculata Horned puffin 

Phylloscopus borealis kennicotti Arctic warbler 

Motacilla flava tschutschensis Yellow wagtail 

Plectrophenax hyperboreus McKay's bunting 

FAUNA OF WIDER NORTHERN DISTRIBUTION 

BIRDS 

SCIENTIFIC NAME COMMON NAME 

Gavia arctica jxtcifica Arctic loon 

Gavia stellata Red-throated loon 

Olor columbianus ... . Whistling swan 

Branta canadensis leucopareia Canada goose 

Anser albifrons frontalis White-fronted goose 

Clangula hyemalis Oldsquaw 

Somateria mollis sima v. nigra Common eider 

Bnteo lagopus s.johannis Rough-legged hawk 

Falco rusticolns obsoleteus Gyrf alcon 

Lagopus lagopus ssp Willow ptarmigan 

Lagopus mutus ssp Rock ptarmigan 

Erolia alpina pacifica Dunlin 

Ereunetus sp Sandpipers 

Phalaropus fulicarius Red phalarope 

Lobipes lobatus Northern phalarope 

Stercorarius sp Jaegers 

Larus hyperboreus barrovianus Glaucous gull 

Stoma paradisaea Arctic tern 

Parus atricapillus turneri Black-capped chickadee 

Pants hudsonicus hudsonicus Boreal chickadee 

Turdus migratoi'ius migratorius American robin 

Hylocichla minima minima Gray-cheeked thrush 

Acanthis sp Redpolls 

Junco hyemalis hyemalis Slate-colored junco 

Passerella iliaca zaboria Fox sparrow 

Calcarius lapponicus alascensis Lapland longspur 

Plectrophenax yiivalis ssp Snow bunting 

MAMMALS 

SCIENTIFIC NAME COMMON NAME 

Sorex tundrensis Tundra saddle-backed shrew 

Citellus sp Ground squirrels 

Dicrostonyx sp. . . Collared lemmings 

Microtus oeconomus ssp Meadow mice 

Lepus othus poadromus Arctic hare 

Rangifer arcticus granti Barren ground caribou 

Delphinapterus leucas Beluga 

These are some of the more northern birds and mammals whose 
distribution with relation to the Alaska Peninsula is such that 



16 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

they probably immigrated southward or southwestward to the 
Aleutian district. There are, of course, a great many others 
of northerly distribution whose general range is such that the 
route of the population movement is uncertain. In the group 
here listed it will be seen that the Aleutian district has drawn 
heavily from the fauna that characterizes the northern portion 
of the continent from northern Alaska across to Hudson Bay. 
Lemmings, Arctic hares, the jaegers, Sabine's gull, and others, 
came straight down the Bering Sea coastal strip. 

It will be noted that not all of the birds just listed actually 
nest in the Aleutian district. 



SOUTHERN AND SOUTHEASTERN AVIFAUNA 

SCIENTIFIC NAME COMMON NAME 

Phalacrocorax auritus cincinatus Double-crested cormorant 

Olor buccinator Trumpeter swan 

Anas strepera Gadwall 

Lams glaucescens Glaucous-winged gull 

Brachyramphus marmoratum marmoratum Marbled murrelet 

Synthliboramphus antiquum, Ancient murrelet 

Ptychoramphus aleutica Cassin's auklet 

Cerorhinca monocerata Rhinoceros auklet 

Megaceryle alcyon caurina Belted kingfisher 

Troglodytes troglodytes ssp. (in part) Winter wren 

Ixoreus naevius Varied thrush 

Vermivora celata lutescens Orange-crowned warbler 

Pinicola enucleator flammula Pine grosbeak 

Leucosticte tephrocotis ssp Gray-crowned rosy finch 

Loxia curvirostris sitkensis . . Red crossbill 

Passerculus sandwizhensis ssp Savannah sparrow 

Passerella iliaca ssp Fox sparrow 

Melospiza melodia ssp Song sparrow 

Some of these listings give us a clear demonstration of the 
route of influx into the Aleutian district, by way of closely related 
subspecies in a series extending along the coastal strip of southern 
and southeastern Alaska. Such examples are the song sparrows, 
fox sparrows, and winter wrens in particular. The fox sparrows 
present an interesting distributional picture. It is the dark coastal 
unalaschcensis group that has worked along the coast and fully 
occupied the suitable habitats as far as the eastern Aleutians. 
But the bright-colored eastern type has come down from the 
northeast and, at the base of Alaska Peninsula, this type has made 
contact with the coastal forms. 

Naturally, there could be error in the interpretation of faunal 
immigration just cited, because complexities may have intervened 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 17 

since the territory in question was "opened for settlement" ; how- 
ever, the conclusions submitted are based on strong probability at 
least. 

It will be seen that the coastal mountain masses of southern 
Alaska and the Alaska Range form a barrier. Although this is 
not an absolute barrier, presumably it is enough of an obstacle 
that the way of least resistance would be north and west along 
the coast for some species. Similarly, there is an easy avenue 
southward along the open Bering Sea coast for tundra-loving 
forms. And the Aleutian chain, reaching out close to Siberia, 
is an inviting route. 

ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCE 

There are some striking environmental influences operative in 
the Aleutian district. We know, of course, that humid regions 
tend to produce dark pigmentation, and this fact holds true for 
this area. The rosy finches reach their darker hues in the Aleu- 
tian area, with the darkest in the Pribilofs. The fox sparrows 
show the same tendency, exceeded in dark tones only by the 
populations of the excessively humid Pacific rain-forest zone that 
extends from the coast and islands of southeastern Alaska, south- 
ward to the northwest coast of the United States. Except for 
the aberrant yellow types in the middle Aleutians, the darkest 
rock ptarmigans are found in the Aleutian area, especially on 
Attu and the Commanders. Here, parasitic jaegers are, and the 
Arctic foxes are, almost entirely in the dark-color phase. In 
primitive times, silver foxes were unusually plentiful somewhere 
in this district, judging by the cargoes of the first Russian traders. 
The lemmings, Dicrostonyx, of Unalaska and Umnak do not ac- 
quire a white pelage in winter. 

This is also a region of giantism. Note the huge size of the 
song sparrows, Savannah sparrows, and rosy finches, which, as 
genera, reach their greatest size in the Aleutians and Commander 
Islands. Here, the Aleutian winter wrens, as a group, have de- 
veloped unusually long bills. Here, too, we may include the Alaska 
brown bear, which achieves its greatest size on the Alaska Penin- 
sula, Unimak Island, and Kodiak Island. 

Marine biologists have found that in many instances the in- 
vertebrate subspecies in the northern Pacific waters, and even 
farther north, are strikingly larger than forms of the same 
species farther to the south. This invites interesting speculation. 
As pointed out later, the Aleutian waters are unusually rich in 
plankton, and there is an abundant and varied marine inverte- 



18 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

brate fauna. An exceptionally nutritious marine food source 
should influence the vigor and size of the terrestrial vertebrates 
of that region. 

The song sparrow's habitat in the Aleutians is the beach, and 
it is probable that its food is largely of marine origin — the small 
beach crustaceans, for example. Some other land birds, such as 
winter wrens and pipits, feed to some extent on the beach. The 
blue foxes feed chiefly on marine life. 

The case of the Alaska brown bears is not so clear, though for 
a part of the summer they comb the beaches and live extensively 
on salmon, which are nourished in the sea. One wonders, also, 
if a certain type of food may, with other factors, help to encourage 
melanism (as in the jaeger), or darker shades of color, as in some 
of the other birds. It is generally accepted that a humid habitat 
produces dark coloration. It is not certain that this tendency, 
as well as melanism, is encouraged by rich food. 

This is, of course, pure speculation, yet the significance of a 
food chain from the sea to the higher vertebrates on the adjacent 
land may be worthy of earnest study. There are many birds that 
have not responded to environmental influence. The Aleutian song 
sparrow has not developed dark pigmentation to an unusual de- 
gree. The northern form of the fork-tailed petrel, though averag- 
ing larger in the Aleutians, apparently is paler than those in 
southeastern Alaska. Also, it must be considered that the in- 
terior Alaska and Yukon caribou, as well as the Alaskan moose, 
which have no direct connection with the sea, are the largest on 
this continent. But these examples suggest that there is some- 
thing in the environment — favorable food, humidity, or other 
stimuli — that tends to produce dark pigmentation and large size. 
This is an important challenge to future investigation and 
understanding. 

ECOLOGICAL CLASSIFICATION 

By the usual standards of life-zone allocation, the Alaska Pen- 
insula and Aleutian Islands would fall chiefly in the Arctic Zone. 
A part of the Kodiak-Afognak Island group supports tree growth, 
and forests encroach on the base of Alaska Peninsula to the 
vicinity of Mount Katmai. Therefore, these locations would mark 
the limit of the Hudsonian Zone. However, we find the life-zone 
classification here to be far from simple. There are probably a 
number of physiographic and oceanic reasons for this situation. 

There are serious difficulties in the interpretation of life zones 
in the Aleutians that should be considered. The lack of trees 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 19 

presumably would indicate some form of Arctic or Alpine Life 
Zone. So far as latitude is concerned, the southernmost island of 
the Aleutian chain, Amatignak, lies not far north of 51° N., 
which is the latitude of heavily timbered, coastal British Columbia 
in the vicinity of Vancouver Island ; however, the treeless Aleu- 
tians lie hundreds of miles south of the tree limit in the Brooks 
Range of interior Alaska. Some of the lowest temperatures in 
Alaska are recorded from the timbered interior, while the 
temperatures in the Aleutians are uniformly higher in winter, 
and the adjacent seas are not frozen over. From the standpoint 
of vegetation growth, summer temperatures are probably of 
greater significance than winter temperatures, and probably do 
not show so great a variation. Certainly the temperatures aver- 
age much lower and have a lower maximum in summer than 
temperatures found in the forested continental areas. 

Wind is another factor that generally accompanies treelessness 
at high altitudes and latitudes. There is a treeless coastal strip 
bordering the Bering Sea, with few interruptions, from Alaska 
Peninsula to Bering Strait, continuing around to the treeless 
Arctic coast. This coastal area is characterized by strong winds, 
as contrasted with the comparative stillness of the interior. We 
know the effect of wind on tree growth at timberline in moun- 
tains. In the Aleutians, I found many instances where the wind 
had scoured out the soil, exposing the roots of such ground- 
hugging plants as crowberry and dwarf willow. If wind is one 
of the factors that establish the edge of forests, it is operative to 
an unusual degree in the Aleutians. 

Forest growth is another important factor to be considered in 
the Aleutian district. Attention is invited to the series of pub- 
lications on Alaskan flora by Robert F. Griggs (see bibliog- 
raphy) — particularly his 1934 report on the edge of the forest, 
in which he has assembled numerous data to show that the edge 
of the forest has been advancing in Alaska. This was particu- 
larly evident on Kodiak Island and in the Katmai region, where 
Dr. Griggs worked intensively. According to Griggs' studies, we 
may reason that, since the last glaciation, climate or a combina- 
tion of other factors has been gradually improving the area 
toward suitability for forest growth. The forest, however, has 
not been able to migrate fast enough to keep pace with favorable 
climatic conditions and has not reached its potential limit. 

Where, then, is the limit of the potential climax forest growth? 
At the end of the Alaska Peninsula? Farther west? On Mer- 
riam's life zone map, the Hudsonian Zone is shown extending the 



20 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

length of Alaska Peninsula. Spruce trees that were planted on 
Unalaska Island grew, but did not spread. It may be significant 
that tall willows, alders, and tall salmonberry have extended 
westward as far as Unimak Island in heavy thicket form. Here, 
salmonberry thickets are similar to those seen in southeastern 
Alaska. These facts may be indicative of a territory ripe for a 
forest. And such an advance line, based on climatic limitations 
rather than on the present position of the forest edge, may be 
considered to be the boundary of the Hudsonian Life Zone. The 
biome concept, to rely strictly on the climax end product, would 
have the same difficulty here, and published maps of the Tundra 
Biome and the Tundra-Coniferous Forest Ecotone for this area 
would simply substitute these terms for Arctic and Hudsonian 
Zones. There is the same potential boundary difficulty. 

Granted that in the Boreal Zone, at least, tree growth is di- 
rectly affected by the climatic factors usually associated with the 
life-zone concept, to what extent is the rest of the biota affected 
by the same influences? To what extent is it influenced by the 
mere presence of trees? It is reasonable to believe that the woody 
plants that comprise the understory of the Alaskan forest are, 
to a large extent, dependent on association with trees. Some 
forms, such as blueberries, often extend from open country into 
scattered forest. But there is a plant association that coincides 
with forest growth. 

Similarly, there is a fauna that has become specialized for 
forest habitat — woodpeckers, certain grouse, certain warblers, 
jays, squirrels, black bear, and many others. These appear to be 
limited by the mere presence of trees. There is good reason to 
believe that wapiti and other deer would have a much more 
northern distribution if it were not for the physical barrier of 
deep snow in winter. On the other hand, the red-backed mouse, 
the hermit thrush, and the chickadee have inhabited the length 
of Alaska Peninsula. It is possible to assume that these mobile 
woodland forms simply would not wait for the slow-moving for- 
est and thus have adapted themselves to more-open habitats 
than is normal for the species. Also, this would imply a less- 
specialized response to habitat than some of the other forest 
species, as well as a greater sensitivity to direct climatic stimuli. 
Birds and mammals are more or less adaptive and vary between 
wide extremes in tolerance of adverse elements in their environ- 
ment. However, there is a strong tendency for the majority of 
any population to be associated with the distribution of certain 
major vegetation types. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 21 

One cannot escape the conviction that if we grant a certain 
degree of climatic influence on distribution of vegetation to cause 
it to fall into broad life zones, many of the birds and mammals 
that have become adapted to vegetation types will also tend to 
fall into these same life zones. These birds and mammals may be 
affected to a lesser extent by the life-zone climatic influences than 
by the indirect effects of these influences — the vegetation type of 
the habitat. 

It should be kept in mind that, in boreal regions, biotic units 
are not so clearly defined as in desert or semidesert areas. Griggs 
(1934c), writing on Arctic vegetation, says, 

In short every feature of Arctic vegetation, the anomalies in the geographi- 
cal distribution of arctic species, the occurrence of many species in all 
sorts of habitats, and their apparent indifference to the diverse conditions 
thereof, the lack of defmiteness to the composition of the plant cover 
in any particular habitat, the physical instability of the ground itself, the 
general ruderal character of arctic vegetation, the large number of our 
weeds which are native to the arctic — all these testify to an instability 
in arctic vegetation very different from the relatively stable plant forma- 
tions of the temperate zone. 

He states further that — 

First, combined with the demonstrated active migration of the Alaskan 
forest into the arctic, it gives definite support to the supposition that vegeta- 
tion there has not yet recovered from the glacial period but is still in process 
of active readjustment. 

This statement is applicable to the fauna as well, especially 
in the Aleutian district. Native rodents have only begun to en- 
croach on the Aleutian Islands. Savannah sparrows have gone 
only part way. Song sparrows have reached Attu, but fox spar- 
rows have gone only as far as Unimak. Foxes had started to 
enter the Aleutian chain from Alaska, as well as from Siberia, 
before man intentionally affected their distribution. 

Minute organisms that thrive unusually well in the cold waters 
of the northern seas have set up a food chain that developed a 
rich marine biota. This accounts for the presence of the fish, 
pinnipeds, whales, and sea otters that once inhabited these wa- 
ters so abundantly. Given such a good supply of food, with an 
abundance of ideal cliffs and lava beds and boulder beaches for 
nesting sites, it is logical that the present swarming seabird 
colonies have assembled in the Aleutians. 

There is much of the Arctic element in the Aleutians. In- 
deed, the Arctic and Alpine merge on these islands. The moun- 
tain-loving rosy finches and the Arctic snow bunting nest 
practically side by side, close to sea level. Alpine vegetation types 



22 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

are not far above the level of the sea. But if we apply the term 
"Arctic" here, it must denote the "Low Arctic." 

The Aleutian district is unique. For animal life, it combines 
favorable climatic factors and unusual food resources. It is a 
focal point to which animal life has been coming from north 
and south, and east and west, and it is a melting pot for faunal 
elements from two continents that have not yet reached equilib- 
rium. It is necessary to keep in mind the fluid nature of the 
Aleutian biota in arriving at any system of zonal delineation. 

From a purely descriptive standpoint, the fauna of the Aleu- 
tian district stands apart, and it may well merit distinction as 
the "Aleutian Fauna." There may be good reason to consider it 
as a unit of a more comprehensive Bering Sea fauna. 

VEGETATION 

In 1937, Eric Hulten published (in Stockholm, Sweden) "Flora 
of the Aleutian Islands and Westernmost Alaska Peninsula with 
notes on the flora of Commander Islands." The same author has 
also published "Flora of Alaska and Yukon," in 10 parts, issued 
from 1941 to 1950. This work covers the botany of the Aleutian 
district so thoroughly that no detailed account of the vegetation 
need be attempted here, except for mention of some prominent 
plant associations and their distribution. 

The first consideration is the distribution of forests. The 
spruce-forest edge is found midway on Kodiak Island and in 
the general vicinity of Becharof Lake on Alaska Peninsula. We 
find elements of the flora, as well as some of the birds, converg- 
ing on the base of Alaska Peninsula from two directions. From 
the east, the Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) of southern Alaska 
has made its way to Kodiak Island at the base of Alaska Penin- 
sula, out to the region about Becharof Lake, and now it consti- 
tutes the principal forest growth in this area. The status of the 
white spruce (Picea glauca) is less certain, but this interior- 
Alaska tree has come down from the north to at least as far as 
Bristol Bay, near Nushagak, and it may be considered to have 
barely reached the border of Alaska Peninsula, inland from the 
coast. The birch (Betula kenaica) is associated with the conif- 
erous growth in all this forested area. 

With the exception of this meager forest, in all lowland por- 
tions of Alaska Peninsula and Unimak Island, and to some extent 
as far west as Unalaska, tall vegetation is in the form of shrub 
thickets — dwarf birch (Betula nana exilis), willow, and alder. 
Alder (Alnus crispa sinuata) is particularly prevalent and forms 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 23 

heavy thickets. Hulten described a new form (Alnus cHspa 
laciniata) from Kodiak Island, and mentions Alnus incana as 
occurring in the Katmai district. Shrubby salmonberry (Rubus 
spectabilis) is found in suitable places along the Alaska Penin- 
sula, and in the eastern Aleutians it is found as far as Unalaska 
Island. 

Beyond Unalaska, the vegetation is of the low type ; the willows 
are of the dwarf species, close to the ground, and we find no 
appreciable high-shrub growth until at the very end, on Attu 
Island. Attu Island possesses moderate shrubby and tall plants — 
largely those with Siberian affinities. Hulten (1937a) states: 

In the westernmost Aleutians, on Attu I., are found fragments of a 
high-grown vegetation similar to that growing in the upper subalpine 
belt on the open spots between the Alnus shrubs in Kamtchatka and 
along the Kamtchatka west coast. It is largely built up of Asiatic elements, 
which occur only on the westernmost islands, such as Cirsium kamtschaticum, 
Veratrum oxysepalum, Cacalia anriculata, Senecio palustris, and Sorbus 
sambucifolia, but it also includes elements occurring all over our area, such 
as Geranium erianthum, Streptopus amplexifolius, Calamagrostis Langsdorflii 
and others. 

Some plant communities may be distinguished readily. Through- 
out all the coastal areas of southwestern Alaska the sandy beaches 
are bordered with a rank growth of wild rye. In the Aleutian 
district, other members of the Elymus arenarius, or wild rye, 
association are Senecio pseudoarnican, (a groundsel), Lathyrus 
maritimus (beach pea), Honckenya peploides, and Mertensia 
maritima (sea bluebell). Within this association we found the 
low-to-ground Honckenya peploides generally pushing out near- 
est the water. In many places the leafy, bulky Senecio pseu- 
doamica formed vigorous patches that virtually left no room 
for other plants. The Aleuts used the tall, coarse beach rye, 
Elymus arenarius, for weaving the exquisite "Attu" baskets. 

Near the beach, but clinging to rocky sites, is Potentilla villosa, 
a herbaceous cinquefoil, which is associated with other plants. It 
is separate from the wild rye, or Elymus, association, though it 
is close to the tide, because its habitat is rock, not sand. 

Behind this beach-line association, on a somewhat drier area 
farther from the tide, was another zone of miscellaneous grasses, 
with some other plants. Here, we noted a dense stand of Poa, 
(blue grass), Calamagrostis (brown top), Bromus (brome), and 
other grasses that we did not observe closely ; however, we noted 
the demarcation between outer beach Elymus association and the 
adjacent inner zone of other grasses. 

The dividing line was not always located by a given distance 



24 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

from the beach. I recall a striking instance where a sloping bank 
arose from the beach to a height of about 30 feet. Elymus, ex- 
posed to the sands of the sea, clung to the open face of this 
slope to the crest. At the exact point where the ground levelled 
off toward the interior, the other, more inland, grass formation 
began with a dense growth. The plants of this inner group bor- 
dering the Elymus association are by no means confined to the 
vicinity of the beach ; instead, they become diffused among other 
plants farther inland. 

Farther in the interior, and at higher elevations, we find what 
Hulten refers to as a "mosaic" of Alpine heath and meadow. 
Meadow formations have an abundance of Carex (sedge), to- 
gether with many other species, though sedges occur elsewhere 
as well. In these meadows are found Artemisia unalaschensis 
(a herbaceous sage), Epilobium angustifoliuyn (fireweed), 
Calamagrostis landsdorffi (a brown top), Geranium erianthum 
(geranium), Anaphalis margaritacea (pearly everlasting), Aconi- 
tum kamtschaticum (aconite) , Polygonum vivipar-um (viviparous 
knotweed), Trientalis (star flower), Bromus aleuticus (brome), 
Castilleja unalaschensis (paint brush), Arnica chamissonis 
(arnica), and Aster peregrinus (aster). Such a meadow asso- 
ciation, as defined by Hulten, is more characteristic of the east- 
ern Aleutians. Prominent patches of the characteristic cotton 
grass, Eriophorum, and Ranunculus (bitterroot), were found in 
many wet areas. Here and there, were found Geum (avens), 
Caltha (marsh marigold), Habenaria (rein orchis), Lupinus 
(lupine), Geranium (geranium), and a botanical list too long to 
enumerate. 

In the more exposed situations above the meadows, scattered 
in accordance with the character of the terrain, are the heaths. 
Here, are lichens, mosses, crowberry (Empetrum, nigrum), and 
cranberry, (Vaccinium uliginosum) . Numerous other plants are 
distributed rather indiscriminately. The showy anemone (Anem- 
one narcissiflora) , so prominent when in bloom, is very common. 

Mention should be made of Heracleum lanatum (cow parsnip) 
and Coelopleurum gmelini (seacoast angelica). These robust 
plants grow throughout the Aleutian district, apparently where 
soil is rich. They are particularly conspicuous, together with 
other plants, on old Aleut village sites where the soil has been 
enriched by refuse from human habitation. Such village sites, 
seen at a distance, were recognizable by the deep-green, heavy 
vegetation. 

On some occasions we would note a particularly green high 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 25 

mountain slope where we would find a colony of auklets nesting 
among rock crevices. We came to the tentative conclusion that 
vegetation grew more luxuriantly on the site of such bird colonies 
as a result of fertilization by bird guano and waste food. This 
vegetation was not necessarily of the same species as those grow- 
ing on the Aleut village sites ; however, the reasons for its pres- 
ence in the two instances may have been related. 

We did not have opportunity to study in detail the recovery of 
vegetation on islands recently covered by volcanic ash, as Griggs 
(1936) has done at Katmai and at Kodiak. However, little flat 
Ogliuga Island would furnish such an opportunity. In 1930, 
there was an eruption on Gareloi, and the ash from the erup- 
tion covered Ogliuga. At the time of our visits in 1936 and 1937, 
vegetation was just beginning to recover. Tall vigorous clumps 
of coarse sedges, Carex, and some Juncus, had pushed up through 
the ash here and there. These clumps had caught some of the 
drifting ash driven by the wind, had pushed up higher to clear 
the ash, and in turn had caught more wind-driven ash, until 
mounds had been created which were similar to sand dunes. 

In the north are found the so-called bird mounds, whose origin 
has caused much speculation. One theory is that birds such as 
gulls and jaegers, repeatedly alighting on a small prominence, 
fertilize the spot, thus causing exuberant vegetative growth — a 
process that continues until a tall mound is formed. 

On nearby Kavalga Island, I found that a part of the area 
nearest to Ogliuga evidently also had been in the path of an ash 
fall from a volcanic eruption, probably not so heavy a fall as that 
which covered Ogliuga. 

Some typical "bird mounds" on Kavalga were carefully dis- 
sected, with the result shown in the accompanying diagram. In 
figure 23, parts a and b, two such mounds show (by dark spots) 
the wearing away, or undercutting, by wind erosion. Also, note 
the wind erosion on the side in the diagrammatic section of an- 
other mound, as shown in part c. 

Part c shows, in cross section, the layers of materials in one 
of these bird mounds. Note that the first layer under the vegeta- 
tion consists of lava sand, or ash. Beneath the first layer are the 
alternating layers, in increasing width toward the center, of black 
soil and rotted moss. This was, of course, a fairly crude field 
examination, with no opportunity for more precise analysis of 
materials. But the drifting volcanic ash on nearby Ogliuga, pil- 
ing up in mounds around the pioneering clumps of vegetation, 
suggested a process that may also have operated on Kavalga 



26 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 







Figure 23. — Mounds on Kavalga Island (July 1937). a and b, undisturbed 
mounds, c, cross-section of a mound: 1, wind erosion to black soil; 2, 
vegetation on surface; 3, lava sand 2 1 A incbes; 4, black earth % inch; 
5, rotted moss 1% inches; 6, black earth % inch; 7, rotted moss 2 inches; 
8, black earth 1 inch; 9, rotted moss 2V 2 inches; 10, black earth 4V 2 inches; 
11, rotted moss 12 inches plus. 



to initiate the formation of the so-called bird mounds. Possibly, 
the creation by the wind of these miniature dunes, together with 
the perching of birds thereon, are both involved in the formation 
of these mounds. 

Wind erosion is very severe on some exposures. In places, the 
wind had eroded the soil in troughs, undermining the vegetative 
turf to form a crude type of terracing. The woody roots of crow- 
berry had been exposed and were already supporting a thin coat- 
ing of lichens. With such constant wind action, one wonders how 
the vegetation became established in the first place. As shown in 
part c, wind erosion apparently had affected only the outer layer. 

Marine vegetation is well represented by the kelp beds, which 
consist of a considerable variety of seaweeds that are prevalent 
throughout the Aleutian district. The kelp is, of course, the 
habitat of numerous marine organisms, and during the summer 
it furnishes a favorite habitat for the sea otter. These kelp beds 
disappear in the winter. 

The oceanic climate of this region, the high humidity and pre- 
cipitation, and the prevalence of strong winds have combined to 
shape the vegetative complex that we find in the Aleutian dis- 
trict. In turn, this complex, together with climatic conditions, 
topography, and the rich marine fauna, has influenced the compo- 
sition of the indigenous fauna. 



Bird 



An effort was made to ascertain the Aleut names for birds and 
mammals. There are difficulties in such an undertaking, because 
one must be certain that both investigator and native informant 
are talking about the same bird. To make sure of this, a de- 
scription of the bird and its calls and habits was supplemented 
with a colored illustration by Allan Brooks, which was obtained 
from the National Geographic Magazine, and in numerous in- 
stances actual specimens were used for identification. In spite of 
all these precautions, it was necessary to guard against confu- 
sion in the minds of the natives because not all of them know 
their birds perfectly. This is particularly true of the more east- 
ern communities, which are farthest removed from a primitive 
way of life. The most accurate information was obtained from 
the Attu people living at the extreme western end of the island 
chain. 

There also is difficulty both in accurately hearing names spoken 
by natives, and in writing them adequately. Not being familiar 
with the technique of the ethnologist, I have used the English 
alphabet to represent the sounds of Aleut words as closely as 
possible. The endings of Aleut words, or syllables, are also a 
problem, because they are very soft, often somewhere between 
h and ch, and sometimes have a soft r sound included. Final ch, 
as used here, is the same as in the German Buck. R is guttural, 
glided over, and sometimes is accompanied by an h to emphasize 
this quality. /, as in "it." E, as in "let," unless marked long. A, 
as in "Ah." 

There are at least three Aleut dialects, which are indicated 
here as Attu, Atka, and Unalaska. When available, names from 
Alaska Peninsula, recorded by Wetmore or others, are included. 
Stejneger's names from the Commander Islands are also given 
(most of these names are Russian, but some are Aleut). Jochel- 
son has listed a few names, but usually he did not designate the 
dialect or the exact species. Some of his names cannot be 
identified ; however, only names that are generally accepted are 
used here. A few names in Russian and Chukchi, from the 
mainland of Siberia, are also given. 

27 



28 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Without doubt, the Aleut language will disappear, and it is 
worthwhile to record the names that these people applied to the 
species in their native fauna. Too often, the professional ethnolo- 
gist obtains only the obvious and generalized terms applied to a 
fauna; however, primitive societies clearly distinguish various 
species, almost as precisely as the scientist. 



Family GAVIIDAE 
Gavia immer: Common Loon 

Attu: Kah-goo-gich 
Atka: Kri-guch 
Qigux (Jochelson) 

The common loon, often observed on salt water in winter and 
in migration, usually is found nesting in interior lakes and ponds 
rather than in coastal marshes, but it also breeds throughout the 
Aleutian district. In this connection it is interesting to note that 
it does not occur in the Pribilofs. 

Bones of this loon have been identified from Kodiak Island and 
from Little Kiska (Friedmann, 1935, 1937). A specimen was 
taken by Bretherton on Kodiak (1896), and the bird was re- 
ported by Chapman at Seldovia (June 30, 1903). Dall (1873) 
reports a "Colymbus torquatus" at Simeonof Island, in the 
Shumagins, on September 2, 1873, and further reports (1874) 
that it breeds on Kiska and is abundant on Amchitka. On July 
23, 1925, I noted a pair of common loons, probably nesting, on a 
pond near Izembek Bay, near the west end of Alaska Peninsula. 

In 1936, our party saw one of these birds (probably a migrant) 
on May 11, near Ushagat Island of the Barren Islands group, and 
on May 23, in Nushagak Bay, we saw six or more. The greatest 
number of these loons was found on Adak Island, though we also 
saw them on Amchitka, Kanaga, and Kiska. In 1937, at least 3 
pairs were found on Agattu, and on June 17 of that year we 
found at least 2 pairs on Semichi Islands, each with 2 small downy 
young. In this instance, when we disturbed the adults, a glaucous- 
winged gull swooped down and carried off one of the young. 

Dall reported that the common loon does not winter in the 
Aleutians, and Mike Hodikoff, chief of Attu Village, stated that 
it arrives at Attu Island in April and departs in October. How- 
ever, during the years 1940 and 1946, Gabrielson found these 
loons on various islands as far west as Atka in midwinter, and 
in early spring and summer they were "common" or "plentiful' 
in numerous localities throughout the entire Aleutian district. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 29 

Also, Cahn (1947) found this loon "not uncommon in winter in 
Captains and Makushin Bays" of Unalaska Island, and he noted 
it also in Iliuliuk Bay; the latest date was March 3. 

Gavia adamsii: Yellow-billed Loon 

Russian, Commander Islands: Bolschoj gagara (Stejneger) 
Russian, latitudes of Yana : Gagara 

Bolschaja gagara (Pleske) 
Chukchi: Uvanketsjouku (Palmen) 

It is extremely rare in this district. Herbert Friedmann (1934, 
1935, 1937) has recorded bones of the yellow-billed loon from 
middens on Kodiak Island, on Amaknak (near Unalaska), and 
on Little Kiska Island in the western Aleutians. A specimen was 
collected at Kodiak bv Bischoff in 1868, and Fisher obtained an 
adult male in 1881. 

We did not observe this species on our expeditions, but the 
n hief of Attu seemed to recognize pictures of the bird and said 
it occurs in his home area occasionally. Stejneger (1885, 1887) 
considered it to oe a rare winter visitor in the Commander Is- 
lands, where he obtained one specimen and saw another. The 
bird he obtained was found on glare ice. unable to rise; evidently, 
it had mistaken the ice for water. 

According to published accounts, this loon migrates along the 
Alaskan coast, from southeastern Alaska, west and north through 
Bering Strait. Presumably, the fall migration is the reverse of 
this. Several specimens are recorded from the Pribilofs (in May 
and August) as transients. In the spring of 1924, I obtained a 
specimen from an Eskimo at Hooper Bay and was informed that 
these loons pass that point in migration. It is likely, however, 
that the yellow-billed loon migration is not confined to the 
Alaskan coastline. In the autumn of 1924, several natives along 
the Koyukuk River in interior Alaska assured me that the yellow- 
billed loon passes through there in migration, though it does not 
nest there. They seemed well acquainted with the species as it 
was described to them, having particularly noted the light-colored 
bill. Therefore, the yellow-billed loon, nesting in the far north, is 
widely scattered in migration and occurs as a transient in the 
Aleutian, Commander, and Pribilof Islands. 

Gavia arctica: Arctic Loon 
Gavia arctica pacifica 
Russian: Gagara 

We could obtain no Aleut name for this species. The Russsian 
name for loon in the general sense seems to have been adopted 



30 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

by the Aleuts, so that we find Bretherton (1896) and Turner 
reporting different forms of this word as the Aleut name for loon 
in general, and Nelson applying it to the red-throated loon. 

The Arctic loon is widely distributed, nesting commonly on 
parts of the coastal plains of Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean, as 
well as in many inland localities. It is quite common on the east- 
ern portion of Alaska Peninsula, but it becomes exceedingly rare 
to the westward, as the following records show. 

Bretherton and Bent report them nesting on Kodiak Island, 
and Cahalane (1943) found them to be common in the Kodiak- 
Afognak group in 1941. Friedmann (1935) records bones at 
various levels in archeological diggings on Kodiak, this indicating 
a regular occurrence over a long period. 

Writing of his observations on the Alaska Peninsula in 1940, 
Cahalane (1944) says, 

We found this species common on the Naknek River September 3, and at 
Brooks Lake September 9. . . . On the western shore of Shelikof Strait, I 
recorded loons as "common" between Amalik and Katmai Bays, October 4, 
and "abundant" on the following day in Amalik and Kinak Bays and Geo- 
graphic Harbor. 

He also observed them off Cape Nushagak, October 7, but he 
adds, "They were absent from the interior of the Alaska Penin- 
sula, even where suitable habitats existed." 

These observations were made chiefly in the migration period, 
when Arctic loons are strikingly abundant along the Alaskan 
coast. On May 18, 1937, as we were approaching Valdez, Pacific 
loons were scattered widely over the water of the fjord. We 
counted at least 75 at one time. One loose flock contained 50 loons. 

In 1940, Gabrielson observed 30 or more pairs, as well as scat- 
tered individuals, on Kvichak River, July 23, and he noted 2 of 
these birds at the upper end of Iliamna Lake on July 24. On July 
7, 1946, he noted a loon at Port Moller. 

Jaques (1930) found them to be common near Port Moller, 
June 1-23, 1928. On May 29, 1936, I noted at least eight pairs, 
apparently preparing to nest, among the ponds bordering the 
lower reaches of Ugashik River, but they are scarce at the west 
end of the peninsula. 

Farther west, these loons are less numerous. Among the Aleu- 
tians proper, we did not identify a single Arctic loon during two 
seasons of extensive field work and a third season of hasty recon- 
naissance. The chief of Attu Village did not recognize pictures 
of the bird and declared that no such bird occurs there. Donald 
H. Stevenson, former warden in the Aleutian Islands National 
Wildlife Refuge, reported them as "not common." His only spe- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 31 

cific record is the mention of two birds that he saw at Unalaska 
Harbor, October 15, 1920, which he thought were of this species. 

Austin H. Clark (1910) mentions only one bird, which was 
seen on a lake on Agattu Island in 1906. 

Turner, however, reported this loon, under the name of Uri- 
nator pacificus, as a common breeding bird in the Near Islands 
(1885), and, later (1886), he specifically reported one at Attu 
in the winter of 1880-81 and said that they nested commonly 
on Semichi Islands. Using the name Urinator arcticus, he said 
that this species was to be found among the Aleutians at any 
time of year, and he mentions seeing one at Amchitka Island 
in June. 

These reports of Turner are rather surprising, and certainly 
they are not in accord with more recent findings. We had abun- 
dant opportunity to examine Agattu, Semichi, and Amchitka Is- 
lands, which were specifically mentioned by Turner, and though 
we found the common loon and red-throated loon, we did not see 
an Arctic loon. Stejneger did not record it for the Commander 
Islands, and it has not been recorded for the Pribilofs. 

Gavia arctica viridigularis is known to be an occasional Old 
World straggler from Siberia to Alaska, and it has been recorded 
on the Pribilofs. Turner recorded two forms for the Aleutians, 
therefore it might be expected that viridigularis has occurred 
among those islands. However, in view of the confusion that 
has existed over the identity of the American forms of this loon, 
and because of its complete absence from the Aleutians, in recent 
years at least, a reported occurrence should be well authenti- 
cated before being accepted. 

Gavia stellata: Red-throated Loon 

Attu : Ka-ka-dra-cha or Ka-da-dra-ka 

Atka: Ka-kach 

Russian, Commander Islands: Gargara (Stejneger) 

Russian, latitude of Yana: Gagara (Birula) ; Malaja gagara (Birula) 

Chukchi: Jouku (Palmen) 

As previously mentioned, the Russian word "gagara" is used 
by natives in various parts of coastal western Alaska. This, and 
the Aleut names, are imitations of the call of this loon. 

The red-throated loon is the most abundant and widespread 
loon in the North, especially on coastal areas, and it occurs on 
both shores of Bering Sea. On the basal portion of Alaska Penin- 
sula it appears to be less abundant. Neither Gabrielson nor 
Cahalane reported seeing it there, although they observed the 



32 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Pacific loon. We did not observe them there on our expeditions. 
Osgood (1904) records a pair on Chulitna River, August 12, 
1902, and he observed a few others "at comparatively long in- 
tervals" on the Chulitna and Kakhtul Rivers; however, he adds 
that "they were far exceeded in numbers by the Pacific loon." 
McKay had collected specimens at Nushagak, and Friedmann has 
recorded the bird from Kodiak Island. 

At the western end of Alaska Peninsula, however, red-throated 
loons were abundant. They were noted in some numbers on Izem- 
bek Bay in 1925. Turner (1886) found them to be abundant in 
the Aleutians and records them nesting on Atka, Semichi, and 
Agattu. We found these loons to be plentiful on Semichi, Agattu, 
and Amchitka, and we noted them on Sanak, Adak, Tanaga, 
Kiska, and Attu. Gabrielson records them on Attu, Amchitka, 
and Izembek Bay. Friedmann and Cahn also recorded the bird 
from Unalaska. They are present on all islands that bear suit- 
able nesting ponds, and many of these red-throated loons spend 
the winter in the Aleutians. 

Stejneger and Hartert report this loon as "abundant" and 
breeding "frequently" in the Commander Islands. Clark also 
noted a pair on Bering Island in 1906. 

Family PODICIPEDIDAE 

Podiceps grisegena: Red-necked Grebe 

Podiceps grisegena holbollii 

Friedmann (1935) records a bone, as well as several skins, 
from Kodiak Island. Cahalane (1943) recorded these birds as 
numerous in Uyak Bay and recorded a few in Kupreanof Strait. 
He also observed 2 birds on Brooks Lake, in the Katmai region, 
on September 9, and he observed 4 or 5 on the lower Naknek 
River on September 28. He stated, "On Shelikof Strait, the 
species was abundant between Katmai and Kinak Bays on Oc- 
tober 4 and 5, and off Cape Nukshak on the 7th." 

On May 29, 1936, we found one of these birds in a pond, ap- 
parently nesting, near lower Ugashik River, and another was 
swimming in the river. 

A little farther west, in ponds near Port Moller, Jaques (1930), 
reports several, June 4 and 20, 1928, and Gianini (1917) observed 
several at Stepovak Bay in June 1916. 

On April 28, 1925, I obtained a specimen at False Pass, at 
the extreme tip of Alaska Peninsula, and on July 21, 1925, I 
found an adult with two young in a pond near Moffet Cove, at 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 33 

the east end of Izembek Bay, thus positively establishing the 
species as a nesting bird that far west. The bird was heard call- 
ing in the evenings. 

In 1942, Gabrielson observed this grebe at Cold Bay, and on 
October 20, 1943, he obtained a specimen at Kodiak and obtained 
two more in September and October 1946. 

There are a number of records for Unalaska. Turner mentions 
two specimens from there. There is a specimen in the National 
Museum that was taken by Dall at Unalaska, December 14, 1871, 
and Donald H. Stevenson informed me that this grebe occurred 
on the salt water at Unalaska, chiefly in the fall. Laing (1925) 
also reports it at Unalaska and at Atka. 

More recently, Cahn (1947) reported this grebe as not un- 
common at Atka in November, December, and January. 

There are a few records of the red-necked grebe west of 
Unalaska, though we have no positive data on nesting. Taber 
(1946) observed a flock of about 50 at Adak Island on November 
25 and observed another large group December 16 — this group 
disappeared by December 25. These sightings were on the 
salt water of Bering Sea. On June 18, 1936, we observed a 
pair as they arose from the salt water near the northeast shore 
of Seguam Island. We have no record of its occurrence west 
of Adak, but Stejneger (1885) described it as a rare straggler 
in the Commander Islands, where he obtained a specimen. Hartert 
also (1920) considered it a straggler in the Commander Islands, 
where he obtained three specimens. 

Podiceps auriius: Horned Grebe 

This little grebe is found sparingly in the Aleutian district, 
and there is no evidence that it nests there. Friedmann (1935) 
found osseous remains in a collection of bones from Kodiak 
Island and lists nine specimens taken there, most of which were 
taken in the winter months. On October 1, 1940, Cahalane (1943) 
recorded several grebes in Viekoda and Terror Bays, Kodiak 
Island. Referring to the Katmai region of the Alaska Peninsula, 
he reports one horned grebe on Brooks Lake, September 9, 1940; 
he found them scarce west of the Aleutian Range. On the east 
side however, he found them abundant and observed "great 
numbers" in early October along the Shelikof Strait coast of 
Katmai National Monument, as well as in most of the inlets from 
Katmai to Kinak Bay. Osgood (1904) recorded several small 
grebes, assumed to be this species, at Becharof Lake, October 



34 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

6-7, 1902, and McKay obtained a specimen at Nushagak, June 
21, 1881. 

Gabrielson noted two specimens at King Cove, March 25, 
1942. He obtained a specimen at Kodiak in October 1944 and 
obtained three more in 1946. 

On our expeditions we saw no horned grebes in the Aleutian 
Islands, but we observed several at Port Chatham, Kenai Penin- 
sula, on May 6, 1936, and observed two at Ushagat Island, of the 
Barren Islands group, 5 days later. 

However, there are a few records for the Aleutian chain. 
Laing (1925) saw about a dozen horned grebes at Unalaska, 
presumably in early spring judging from his itinerary. Bailey 
(1925) records two specimens taken by Hendee at Unalaska, 
September 21, 1922. Cahn (1947) reports on this bird at Un- 
alaska: "Seen sparingly in any of the bays during December 
and January, always solitary and rather shy. December 2, 1943, 
and February 21, 1946 are the extreme dates of record." Turner 
(1886) reports seeing a grebe at Attu that he suspected was 
auritus, but states that he did not observe it in the Aleutians in 
the summer, "and at no time to the westward of Unalaska 
Island." However, on July 1, 1946, Gabrielson noted one horned 
grebe on Amukta. Taber (1946) noted them in small numbers 
on the salt-water lagoons at Adak Island throughout the period 
of his observations and mentions specifically the dates November 
22 and January 9. 

The bird noted by Turner at Attu might well have been 
auritus, because Stejneger (1885) obtained a skeleton of one in 
the Commander Islands, though he considered it rare. Hartert 
(1920) also records two horned grebes wintering on the Com- 
mander Islands. 

There is no evidence that the horned grebe nests in the Aleutian 
district, but, according to these records of its occurrence, it 
evidently winters in those waters. 

Family DIOMEDEIDAE 
Diomedea nigripes: Black-footed Albatross 

Attu: A-la-gri-gich or Ah-la-gri-gich 
Atka: A-ga-lig-ahh or Ah-ga-lig-ach 
Agligax (Jochelson) 

This is the albatross common in the North Pacific during our 
summer season, at least from May to October. The earliest dates 
that I have noted this bird were April 20-23, 1925, in the open 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 35 

sea from Ketchikan to the western part of Alaska Peninsula. 
The black-footed albatross occurs commonly in the Gulf of Alaska ; 
it was observed in the vicinity of Kodiak, and frequently along 
the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian chain, though it rarely 
was observed near land. This albatross also was seen in the 
waters of Bering Sea, just north of Alaska Peninsula and the 
Aleutians. We found these birds particulary plentiful at the 
Petrel Banks, north of Semisopochnoi Island. Laing (1925) re- 
ports them "about 100 miles north of Kyska Island." Though 
these birds were usually far offshore, there are two places where 
they came near land — Seguam and Kiska Islands. 

Nelson (1887) was of the opinion that the northern limit of 
distribution was considerably south of the Aleutians and quotes 
T. H. Bean to the effect that latitude 51° marked the northern 
limit. Turner (1886), on the other hand, stated that the species 

is quite a common bird in some localities north of the Aleutian Islands. 
In Bristol Bay in June, 1878, I saw numbers of them in the vicinity oi 
Cape Newenham . . . Toward the western Aleutian Islands they are not 
common but are frequently met. 

It is not certain that this albatross ranged beyond latitude 51° 
N. in the past, nevertheless it does so today, and, at least in the 
Bristol Bay region, it reaches nearly to latitude 58° N. Further 
consideration of albatross distribution will be found in the dis- 
cussion of the short-tailed albatross. 

An interesting story was told to me by several old natives at 
Atka Island. They insisted that albatrosses used to nest in small 
numbers on Bobrof Island, on top of the mountain, in winter. 
Judging by the descriptive gestures of one informant, icicles 
formed on their beaks while the birds were incubating. This is 
indeed a strange legend. It seems unbelievable that any of these 
albatrosses could have tried to nest in the Aleutians, but at least 
these Aleuts were talking about the proper nesting season. 

If I correctly understood the information given me by the 
Aleuts, they do not distinguish two species of albatrosses in the 
islands, possibly assuming that nigripes is the young of albatrus, 
in which case this stoiy might more properly apply to albatrus. 

A female D. nigripes collected June 17, 1936, near Seguam 
Island weighed 6V4 pounds and had a wingspread of 85 inches. 

The black-footed albatross is said to feed on whatever be- 
comes available at the surface of the water, including refuse 
from ships— this is true for our experience in the Aleutians. 
On one occasion, a dozen were following our ship; they were 
attracted bv fish offal thrown overboard by the sailors, who 



36 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

were cleaning codfish. At times, we saw the albatrosses, ac- 
companied by shearwaters and auklets, feeding in tide rips. 

Cottam and Knappen (1939) reported on two stomachs of the 
black-footed albatross from the Aleutians. One stomach contained 
fish (mostly Scorpaenidae) , 35 percent; remains of 6 or more 
squids, 55 percent ; sea urchin, 2 percent ; brown algae, 8 percent. 
The other stomach contained fish (mostly Scorpaenidae) 92 per- 
cent; Gammaridae, 1 percent; brown algae, 7 percent. 

In 1941, Loye Miller (1942) found, in the course of experi- 
mental food studies off the coast of southern California, that 
"the greatest gooney appeal was provided by bacon drippings 
which had congealed to semisolid state." For better handling 
of this bait material, it was mixed with puffed rice before 
cooling. He remarked further that "Bacon grease seems to throw 
the birds almost into a frenzy. Some of them rushed right up 
under the overhang of the poop." 

Miller summed up his findings as follows : 

The most attractive bait discovered is animal fat. Bacon fat was superior 
to beef suet. The semisolid gelatin settling out from roast beef drippings 
was of no interest at all and was neglected after the first taste. Taste 
buds in the tip of the bill appear to be highly sensitive and discriminative. 
The turpentine-linseed flux of paints used in marking is very repugnant 
and seemed to be recognizable by odor before actual contact was made. 
I was repeatedly impressed by their seeming acuity of olfactory perception. 

He noted, further, that in subsurface feeding the albatross would 
tip up, or actually submerge to a depth of at least 2 feet with 
wings partially spread. This suggests a trait similar to that of 
the slender-billed shearwater, though the latter is capable of 
descending to a depth of many fathoms. 

Diomedea albatrus: Short-tailed Albatross 

Kodiak: Kay-mah-rye-erk (Nelson) 

As mentioned above, the Aleuts apparently do not have separate 
names for the two species of albatross. At least one Aleut 
identified cdbatrus as the adult bird, nigripes the young. Thus, 
the Aleut nomenclature is confusing, and the names already 
given for the black-footed albatross might apply equally well to 
the short-tailed albatross. 

We are concerned here with what appears to be an extinct 
bird. We had thought that a few remained in the Aleutiar 
district, but when the one specimen we collected in 1937 proved 
to be immutabilis, serious doubt was thrown on the possibility 
that any of the light-colored birds were albati~us. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 37 

Bering Sea appeared to be the particular domain of the short- 
tailed albatross in summer. Nelson (1887) defined its summer 
range from 50° N. latitude northward through Bering Sea as 
far as Bering Strait. He reported them in the Aleutians and 
quotes T. H. Bean as having found them around the Gulf of 
Alaska, but he considered the mouth of Cook Inlet and the 
vicinity of the Barren Islands as their favorite resort. Nelson 
"found them very common between the islands east of Unalaska" 
during May 1877. Turner also found them plentiful among the 
Aleutians, as well as at Cape Newenham in the Bristol Bay 
region. Friedmann, who has examined bones unearthed from 
ancient village sites on Kodiak, Amaknak, Unalaska, Little Kiska, 
Atka, and Attu Islands, found numerous remains of this alba- 
tross, but he found no remains of nigripes. They are reported to 
have been abundant in the vicinity of the Pribilofs when whalers 
were active there, and they became scarce when whaling was 
abandoned. 

Austin H. Clark (1910), writing of his expedition in 1906, 
reported that — 

We first saw this species about 100 miles east of Unalaska on the day 
before our arrival at Dutch Harbor. On the next day, two were seen near 
the Aleutian chain, one of them within five miles of the islands. Two 
more were seen between Attu and Copper Island, on June 12; on the 20th 
one was observed about 20 miles off the Kamchatka coast, and the next 
day another in the Okhotsk Sea, near the mouth of the Aangan River. 
On October 1 this species was very common about the southern end of the 
Kurils, on both the inside and outside of the chain. 

Clark believed that the birds were more abundant than these 
notes indicate, because they are very shy and not readily observed. 

Stejneger (1885) reported that the species is not a rare visitor 
to the Commander Islands, and he, too, considered them "re- 
markably shyer than D. nigripes." 

Nelson (1887) also considered them shy, though "natives 
of Alexandrovak sometimes spear them from their kayaks." 

According to Otto Geist (in Murie 1936), in earlier days, 
near St. Lawrence Island, these birds "... were often caught 
on the pack ice near the island. This was often easy because 
the birds were very fat and could hardly make their way in the 

air." 

Today, the short-tailed albatross is rare, or extinct. Although 
Nelson had reported it as common in Bering Strait and noted it 
at St. Lawrence Island, in 1887, Otto Geist, in the course of 
archeological work on St. Lawrence Island from 1926 to 1935, 
did not see this bird. However, bones were found in excavations, 



38 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

and natives stated that it had been present in considerable num- 
bers, at one time (Murie 1936). Bent (1922) reports that he 
did not observe this bird during a cruise along the Aleutian chain 
in June 1911. Laing (1925) observed two whitish albatrosses at 
a distance in the Kuriles in 1924, but he saw no others during two 
crossings of the North Pacific. In the course of many voyages 
across the Gulf of Alaska after 1920, I never saw a short- 
tailed albatross. In 1936 and 1937, we cruised about the Barren 
Islands several times and saw none, although this had been 
considered to be a favorite area for them by T. H. Bean. 

It appears, then, that at one time the short-tailed albatross was 
plentiful in the Aleutian district and Bering Sea region in general, 
but that the population had suffered a drastic reduction in 
numbers, probably about 1900 or a little later. 

Austin (1949) has indicated that Japanese fishermen and plume 
hunters were responsible for the destruction of this species on its 
nesting grounds. But it seems that the decline began long ago. 
Did the plume trade affect this species, as it affected the Laysan 
albatross? Whatever the facts might be, the concentrated nesting 
of a species on one or on a few small islands constitutes a serious 
hazard to its perpetuation. 

There is a puzzling problem in distribution revealed by Fried- 
mann's work on bones found in ancient village sites. All bones 
found on the Aleutian Islands proved to be those of D. albatrus, 
and not those of D. nigripes. This indicates that in earlier times 
D. albatrus was the common bird of the region and that D. 
nigripes was scarce or absent, at least close to the coast. Even 
at Kodiak Island, though there were some bones of D. nigripes, 
Friedmann found numerous bones of D. albatrus, thus confirming 
early reports of this bird's abundance in those more easterly 
waters. 

Friedmann's findings from midden material, therefore, lend 
some support to Bean's designation of 51° N. latitude as the 
northern limit of range of D. nigripes, even though Turner states 
that he saw this bird as far north as Bristol Bay. Otherwise, 
at least a few bones of this bird would have appeared in middens. 

In his study of the distribution of these two forms off the 
California coast, Loye Miller (1940) did not find nigripes in 
channel waters near the coast, but found them farther out; how- 
ever, there is evidence that albatrus did occupy the channel waters 
chiefly. He quotes Willett to that effect, and remarks: "The 
two birds seem to have divided the territory between them, as 
it were." He states, "I have taken from the channel Indian 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 39 

mounds great number of their [D. albatrus] bones, but never 
any of D. nigripes." 

Here, we have a parallel with the situation in the Aleutians. 
In both areas (California and the Aleutian district), only the 
short-tailed albatross occurs in middens, except for some over- 
lapping of the two species at Kodiak. Is it possible that in early 
times D. albat?~us was the species that came closer to land and 
was therefore more available? Apparently, in the north, too, 
these two species had "divided the territory between them." 

We need to know more about the whitish birds being seen today 
in the Aleutian district. Are some of these birds the remnants 
of the vanishing short-tailed albatross, or are they all Laysan 
albatrosses? If they are the latter, will that species eventually 
take over the range of albatrus? 

Turner, in writing of the short-tailed albatross, mentions two 
birds that were killed at Attu in the latter part of March, 1881. 
He claimed that "this species passes the winter in this locality 
and may be found, during very severe weather, about the 
western end of Attu." And he believed that it nested somewhere 
in that region, which also was the belief of the Attu chief at the 
time of our visit there. 

Nelson mentions a specimen, obtained by Dr. Bean, that had a 
wing spread of 88 inches. 

Diomedea immutabilis: Laysan Albatross 

We had not suspected that this bird occupied the Aleutian 
district until a specimen, collected near Ulak island, July 31, 1937, 
eventually proved to be of this species. On the field trip, we had 
assumed this specimen to be D. albatrus, and on the basis of that 
assumption we had recorded our observations on white albatrosses 
as albatrus. However, because Oliver Austin has pointed out the 
extreme scarcity of specimens ©r certain records of the short- 
tailed albatross in recent years, and suggests its probable extinc- 
tion, there must remain doubt about the records on our expedition. 
This, of course, throws much doubt on the possible existence of 
albatrus in the Aleutians today, but I shall record our observations 
for what they are worth, keeping in mind that the species ob- 
served was in doubt in each instance. 

In these seasons of field work, we occasionally saw white- 
colored albatrosses throughout the Aleutian islands. In 1936, we 
saw one between Seguam and Chagulak Islands on June 21. On 
July 31 we saw another sitting on the water between Buldir and 



40 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

kiska Islands, and, later in the evening, we saw one nearer to 
Kiska Island. 

In 1937, we saw them oftener: On May 31, 1 north of Seguam; 
on June 2, at least 3 west of Atka; on June 3, several near the 
Petrel Banks and 2 between Kiska and Segula ; on June 17, 1 east 
of Semichi Islands; on June 18, 1 east of Buldir; and, on July 
31, 1 specimen was taken at Ulak Island, 178° W. longitude. 

In 1938, Scheffer reported the following: On August 11, 4 
were seen south of Atka, 3 of these in 1 group ; August 14, 1 was 
seen south of Khwostof; August 17, 1 was seen northwest of 
Semichi ; August 25, 1 was seen south of Tanaga ; and, on Septem- 
ber 23, 1 was seen in the Gulf of Alaska off Cape Hinchinbrook. 

On June 9, 1940, Gabrielson observed a white albatross fol- 
lowing the ship in the Gulf of Alaska. In 1941, he saw the 
following: February 3, 1 was sighted near Amchitka, and on 
February 7, 2 were seen near Amchitka Pass; June 24, 1 was 
seen at Tanaga Bay ; June 27, 1 was seen near Amchitka ; and on 
July 22, 2 were seen near Attn. 

Were all these birds the Laysan albatross, the same as the 
one specimen collected, or were some, or most, of them albatrus? 

The specimen collected weighed 4 pounds 6 ounces. Its length 
was 30V2 inches, and wingspread was 77^ inches. 

During 1947, 1948, and 1949, on crusies for the Fish and 
Wildlife Serice in North Pacific waters, Karl W. Kenyon (1950) 
made noteworthy observations on albatross distribution. Alert 
to the confusion in sight identifications of light-colored birds, he 
gave close attention to field characteristics. 

On October 13, 1948, Kenyon saw a Laysan albatross about 230 
miles east of Kodiak, and Captain Carlson said that during 5 
round trips to the Pribilofs he often saw 1 or 2 of the white 
albatrosses with the black wings and back at about this same 
place while crossing the Gulf between Kodiak and Cape Spencer 
but not in the Bering Sea. 

Kenyon records a number of other sightings in the North 
Pacific, but south of the Aleutian chain. He received parts sal- 
vaged by Elmer C. Hanson from two dead birds at the Army 
air base at Amchitka, June 5, 1948, which were sufficient for 
identification as Laysan albatrosses. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 41 

Family PROCELLARIIDAE 
Puffinus tenuirostris: Slender-billed Shearwater 

Attu: A-la-mach 
Russian, Commander Islands: "Tschornij Glupisch" (Stejneger) 

In summer, the slender-billed shearwater is distributed widely 
over the North Pacific and throughout the Bering Sea. On the 
Gulf of Alaska, we observed them often, singly or in small groups. 
Some of the birds that we thought to be slender-billed shearwaters 
may have been the sooty shearwater, P. griseus. 

At Kodiak Island, however, P. tenuirostris has been identified, 
and we obtained a specimen there in 1936. Shearwaters, believed 
to be this form, were noted May 10, 1936, near the entrance to 
Cook Inlet; one was noted near Barren Islands on May 11; they 
were numerous between Sutwik Island and Cape Kumlik on May 
14, and there was a flock at the entrance to Chignik Bay. On 
May 15, a few were seen near Xagai Island, in the Shumagins; 
on August 29, some were noted near Simeonof Island in this 
group, and some were noted between that point and the main- 
land; next day, between Kupreanof Harbor and Chignik, more 
were sighted. Again, on September 1, we passed through dense 
masses of shearwaters north of Karluk, in Shelikof Strait. These 
birds occur also on the north side of Alaska Peninsula and were 
seen as far east as the entrance to Bristol Bay. 

Slender-billed shearwaters occur all through the Aleutian 
Islands, with their center of abundance apparently at the eastern 
end of the chain, among the Fox Islands. Unimak Pass is a 
favorite feeding place, with large concentrations also observed 
in other places as far as the western end of Umnak Island. 

Many published accounts describe the hordes of shearwaters 
observed at various times. Arnold (1948), during an hour and a 
half, June 9, 1944, recorded 160,000 shearwaters in Unimak Pass. 
Probably the most outstanding was the flock noted by Scheffer 
in Umnak Pass on September 3, 1938. He says, in his field report: 

In the Pass we saw the greatest concentration of shearwaters that we have 
ever seen in the Aleutians. Captain Sellevold remarked that it was the 
greatest in his experience. The Pass is 3 miles wide. We estimated that 
the raft of birds extended for 25 miles by 2 miles wide, or an area of 50 
square miles. From 5:30 a. m. to 8:00 a. m. the ship passed through 
dense masses of the birds, about half of them on the water and half 
flying back and forth ... At 5 p. m. the birds had thinned out by more 
than half. 

Apparently this bird is much less abundant to the westward, 
though in 1941 Gabrielson saw "thousands" at Attu and "several 



42 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

thousands" at Atka. Stejneger (1885) considered it rather scarce 
in the Commander Islands. It appears to be relatively scarce in 
Bering Sea north of the Aleutian chain, though it does range far 
northward. In 1944, Gabrielson saw "thousands" between St. 
Matthew and Nunivak Islands and a "scattering of birds" be- 
tween St. Matthew and Adak. Nelson (1887) mentions a specimen 
obtained by Dall in Kotzebue Sound in 1899 and adds, "just 
northwest of the straits, the last of August, 1881, quite a number 
of dark-plumaged birds were seen, with many Rodgers's fulmars, 
which appeared to differ in size and appearance from the latter, 
and which I am inclined to think belonged to this species." Nelson 
records the Eskimo name for the slender-billed shearwater in 
Kotzebue Sound, thus showing that it must habitually occur 
there. A number of specimens have been taken at St. Lawrence 
Island in recent years (Murie 1936). The Eskimos of this 
island have certain taboos in connection with eating the bird. 
A specimen is recorded from the Pribilof s. 

According to Bent (1922), the northward migration is mainly 
in the western Pacific-, and the southward migration is in the 
eastern Pacific. He says they occur in the Okhotsk Sea, as well 
as in Bering Sea. 

Slender-billed shearwaters will feed on refuse from a ship's 
galley. On August 10, 1937, three of these birds came up to 
the stern of our ship as we drifted in the fog. They readily 
ate bits of beef and fish thrown overboard. They would dive for 
pieces that sank, keeping wings half opened, but propelling them- 
selves entirely by their feet under water. Apparently they can 
go to a considerable depth ; they would sometimes pursue a 
baited fishhook thrown in for cod and remain underneath for a 
considerable length of time. 

On two occasions we watched a shearwater pursue an injured 
codfish that had been discarded by the sailors as being wormy; 
as the fish wiggled feebly through the water, the bird pursued 
it and snipped out pieces of the gills from the still-living fish. 

But probably the most important food of the shearwater con- 
sists of crustaceans and other small invertebrates. On numerous 
occasions they joined with fulmars and auklets in the turbulent 
tide rips, where all were busy feeding. Sample tows taken in 
such places revealed a greater quantity of plankton than in 
adjacent areas unoccupied by birds. In this connection, it may be 
significant that the center of abundance of shearwaters in the 
Aleutians today coincides fairly well with localities where whales 
were once particularly abundant — in the Fox Island group. Per- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 43 

haps both birds and whales were attracted by the swarming in- 
vertebrate life. 

Cottam and Knappen (1939) reported on 10 stomachs of this 
species that were collected in Alaska. They tabulated the total 
contents as follows: 

Amphipods, 139c ; schizopods, 15% ; undetermined crustaceans, 20.8% ; 
squid (Loligo sp.) 16.1%; undetermined marine invertebrate flesh, possibly 
squid, 29.4% ; and fish, 5.7%-. Gravel was found in each stomach and 
averaged only slightly less than 40% of the contents. 

In their summer range, the only foe of the shearwater that we 
could discover is the northern bald eagle. The shearwater fur- 
nishes one of the principal items of the eagle's diet, probably 
because of its great numbers. These birds also perish in storms, 
perhaps the storm mortality rate is higher than that caused 
by natural enemies. Early in September 1937 a heavy rain- 
storm was raging for several days about Unimak Island. While 
the storm was still at its height, we began to find dead shear- 
waters on a strip of beach. They finally totaled over 30; one 
bird was still alive. The birds from this one sample beach 
may have been representative of the destruction of birds over 
a large area. In 1925, I frequently found dead shearwaters on the 
beaches of Alaska Peninsula. 

On May 31, 1936, as we approached Cave Point on Unimak 
Island, a lone shearwater was sitting on the water. C. S. Williams 
shot it for a specimen, and it was found to be poor in flesh. On 
June 30, 1937, Scheffer shot one that was in a similar condition 
near Rat Island. As it sat on the water, we noticed that it 
appeared to be "dumpy." Grinnell (1900) says, "On July 4th, 
1899, I secured a single speciment about 4 miles off Cape Blossom. 
It was resting on the water not far from a small icefloe and was 
in an emaciated condition." 

Certainly, there is a mortality element of some sort operating 
on the shearwater, as on other sea birds. 

Occasionally, shearwaters come close to land. At least 1 was 
seen in Nelson Lagoon, and in 1925 they were noticed at the 
entrances to Izembek Bay, on the Alaska Peninsula, and at least 
1 flew over the shallow bay. Some of the large flocks noted in the 
turbulent waters of various island passes are not far from the 
rocky points. 

Chief Hodikoff, of Attu Island, declared that shearwaters 
formerly nested abundantly on Agattu Island and that a few 
were seen on Semichi Island in 1932. He said there were "not 
many" now since the introduction of blue foxes. He stated that 



44 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

they nested "on level ground, some in clumps of grass" and that 
as soon as the young were able to fly they left their nesting 
grounds. 

It is interesting to note that, about 1879, Turner was on 
Amchitka Island with some Attu natives, when they picked up 
a dead shearwater. The natives told him that the birds "breed 
plentifully in the Semichi Islands." Though the breeding range 
of shearwaters is now well established, perhaps we should not 
entirely ignore native information of this kind. 

Puffinus griseus: Sooty Shearwater 

According to the fourth edition of the Check List of North 
American Birds, of the American Ornithologists' Union, the 
sooty shearwater occurs in the Aleutian and Kurile Islands. On 
all of our expeditions, we scrutinized flocks of shearwaters in an 
attempt to identify this species among the predominent slender- 
billed shearwaters. Although we thought that we could see 
differences in some instances, positive identification was doubtful. 
But, in the series of specimens of shearwaters collected in the 
Aleutian district, a single specimen proved to be P. griseus. 

Nichols (1927), speaking of his voyage between Seattle and 
the Aleutian Islands, says : 

Of the sooty shearwater I have no satisfactory identification, but am of the 
impression that it replaced the generally common slender bill farthest off 
shore at a point midway between the islands and the coast, and to some 
extent at least on the east side of the Gulf of Alaska. 

Pterodroma inexpectafa: Scaled Petrel 

Attu : Le-vi-dre-che 

This petrel has a wide range, but we have little informa- 
tion on it in the southern Alaskan waters. There is a record for 
Kodiak Island, a specimen collected by Fisher, June 11, 1882, that 
served as the type of Ridgway's Aestrelata fisheri. Wetmore 
collected a specimen at the Alaska Peninsula, August 6, 1911, 
and while crossing from Cape Muzon to Unimak Pass he ob- 
served a number of birds that appeared to be of this form. On 
the same expedition, A. C. Bent also observed the bird in the 
North Pacific, while sailing to the Aleutian Islands, and Rollo 
H. Beck, who was a member of the expedition, took a specimen 
at Kiska Island on June 17. 

Nichols (1927), speaking of seeing this petrel on his trip 
from Seattle to Nome, Alaska, says : 

Seen in the Pacific on 1 day only, August 5, when midway between the 
islands and the west coast, noon position 53° 36' N., 145° 37' W. They were 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 45 

frequent all day, singly and in small groups, a conservative estimate for 
the total number, 30. 

We did not see this bird on our expeditions, but at Attu Island 
the native chief insisted that there was a third petrel, calling it 
le-vi-dre-che. He said that it is gray in color — if we understood 
him correctly — but that it is distinct from the forked-tailed and 
the Leach's petrels, with which he was also familiar and for 
which he had names. 

The chief provided some native guides, and we visited two 
small islets, Cooper and Gibson Islands, which are adjacent to 
Attu. We searched diligently and hopefully, but we found only 
the other two species. Inasmuch as it is known to breed in New 
Zealand, and because the egg dates are "December 24 to January 
7" according to Bent, one would not expect to find it nesting in 
the Aleutians. But in view of the Attu chief's confidence in the 
matter, there was a possibility that the bird may enter burrows 
to roost. 

Pferodroma cookii: Cook's Petrel 
Pterodroma cookii orientalis 

A. W. Anthony (1934, p. 77) recorded a specimen of this petrel, 
postively identified, which was taken at Adak Island by members 
of the crew of the U. S. S. Kingfisher. It was 1 of 2 such birds 
that came aboard the ship, and the specimen saved had been 
sent to the San Diego Zoo in California, where it was placed in 
the collection of Louis B. Bishop. 

Fulmarus glacialis: Fulmar 
Fulmarus glacialis rodgersii 

Attu : Kil'U-ghoo-kin 

Atka: Ah-ga-hich 

Probably Russian Commander Islands: Glupisch (Stejneger) 

The Atka name for fulmar should not be confused with their 
name for killer whale, which was recorded as A'-ga-loh, with 

shorter syllables. 

Fulmars are common in the North Pacific and Bering Sea 
region, though in varying numbers. They are seen on the Gulf 
of Alaska, in small groups, in company with the black-footed 
albatross and shearwaters. We found them in Shelikof Strait, 
between Kodiak-Afognak Islands and the mainland, and farther 
west near the Shumagins. A few were seen north of the Alaska 
Peninsula, east to Bristol Bay, and north to Nunivak and Nelson 
Islands They were more abundant among the eastern Aleutians, 



46 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

and they are fairly prevalent throughout the chain, some having 
been noted at Wrangell Cape on the west side of Attu Island. 

Arnold (1948) recorded a concentration of about 38,000 fulmars 
in Unimak Pass on June 9, 1944. Throughout the Aleutian 
district, the dark color phase predominates, though some con- 
centrations of the light phase were encountered. On May 21, 
1936, Cecil Williams estimated that 50 percent of the fulmars 
seen in Unimak Pass were light colored, and that most of those 
sighted on the north side of Unimak Island were whitish, though 
there were entire bands of dark ones. 

It is interesting to recall that Nichols (1927) found "the dark 
phase to light phase about as 99 to 1" in Shelikof Strait; else- 
where in the Pacific, it was about 9 to 1; near Unimak Pass, 
the pale and dark birds "were in .about equal numbers;" and in 
Bering Sea, they were almost all pale. 

Nesting 

Nesting fulmar colonies have been known in the Bering Sea 
region, on the Pribilofs, where light-colored birds are in the 
majority; on the Siberian coast opposite St. Lawrence Island; 
and at Copper Island, where light-colored birds are rare. Nesting 
places in the Aleutians had been suspected, but they had not been 
found. It was gratifying, therefore, to find several such colonies 
in 1936 and 1937, and in 1940 Gabrielson found other colonies 
east of the Aleutian chain. 

In 1940 Dr. Gabrielson learned that Sea Otter Island, near 
Afognak, supports a colony of fulmars. This nesting colony would 
account for the fulmar flocks so often observed in Shelikof 
Strait. In the same year, on June 18, he found nesting colonies 
in the Semidi Islands, and says, "The enormous concentrations of 
Fulmars, for example, was a great surprise to us, as the colony 
apparently has developed since the previous exploration." In 
the Semidi group, he found the fulmars in "huge colonies" on 
Aghik and Choweit Islands, and there were fulmars also on 
Kateekuk, Anowik, Kiliktagik, and Suklik Islands. They were 
mostly of the dark color phase, with an occasional light-colored 
one. 

In the Aleutians proper, we had found at least four nesting 
places. Among these, Chagulak Island is outstanding. As we 
approached this island on June 15, 1936, it loomed as a peaked 
mountain top rising sheer from the water. It affords nesting 
sites for a variety of sea birds, and a swarm of fulmars swirled 
above its top and milled about its slopes. On the cliffs of the 
south side there were small recesses in the red crumbly rock 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 47 

strata. Each of these recesses was occupied by a fulmar, nesting 
with a single egg. They nested also on other types of ledges 
and on the grassy slopes all the way to the snow line. 

On the same day, we found another large fulmar colony on the 
neighboring island of Amukta. These two islands have the largest 
and the principal nesting colonies of fulmars in the Aleutian 
chain. 

In 1937, we found fulmars nesting in considerable numbers on 
the reddish cliffs of Segula Island (also known as Chugul), 
though this group was not nearly so large as those on Amukta 
and Chagulak. 

Another nesting place is Gareloi Island. Natives had assured 
us that fulmars nest there, though we did not find the birds on 
the first trip. In 1937, however, we found them in limited num- 
bers on the south side of the island. According to the natives, 
their numbers had been decimated, at least on all accessible ledges, 
since the introduction of the blue foxes. The volcanic eruption 
of 1930 also disturbed them; however, if the foxes were re- 
moved, this colony should increase. 

Natives told us that the fulmars nest on outlying rocks at 
Unalga Island, southwest of Gareloi, but we found none there in 
August. They are also reported to nest on Agattu, but we 
failed to find them. 

It is highly probable that a nesting colony will eventually be 
discovered in the general vicinity of Unimak Pass, perhaps on 
some isolated cliff or islet at Unimak Island, because fulmars are 
common in that area. A full schedule and bad weather prevented 
us from exploring that part of the Aleutian chain as thoroughly 
as we wished. 

Food Habits 

We had assumed that fulmars feed to a large extent on plank- 
ton, for we often found them congregated in tide rips, busily 
feeding. And Arnold (1948), observing a huge concentration 
of fulmars and shearwaters in Unimak Pass, found that they — 

evidently were feeding on a type of reddish-orange water life. On occason, 
when one of the birds was hard-pressed to leave the area in the immediate 
vicinity of the ship, it would turn its head down and to one side and 
regurgitate a reddish-orange liquid substance. 

However, records show a great variety in fulmar diet, including 

refuse from ships. 

A. W. Anthony (1895) has pointed out an interesting feeding 
habit of the fulmar off the California coast. Speaking of a large 
jellyfish that is abundant along that coast, he says, 



48 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

I have often seen a fulmar sitting on the water by the side of a jelly 
fish, part of which it had eaten, so filled that it could scarcely move out 
of the way of the boat. Specimens shot while these Medusae are common 
I have always found with the stomach filled with these alone, and a half 
pint of the slimy mass will often run from their mouths when lifted from 
the water by their feet. 

I think the fulmars enjoy a monopoly of this diet, for I have never 
seen other species eating it, nor will gulls, nor any sea birds that I have 
observed, pay any attention to a fulmar that is eating a jelly fish though 
they all claim their share if the food is of a kind that they care for. 

The abundance of the fulmars off this coast would seem to have some 
relation to the abundance of Medusae, since the winter of 1893-94 was 
noted for the almost if not entire absence of fulmars as well as jelly fish 
until some time in late February or March, when both jelly fish and fulmars 
appeared in small numbers. 

This is quoted at some length because it reveals an important 
habit of the fulmar, which also was noted among the Aleutians, 
where a large brown jellyfish, Cyanea capillata, often proved an 
attraction to fulmars. 

Mortality Factors 

Aside from the danger from foxes on accessible nesting sites, 
the only other natural enemy on which we have information is 
the northern bald eagle. The fulmar appears to furnish an 
important item in the eagle's diet throughout the Aleutian Islands 
as a whole, though murres and other species may dominate the 
diet of individual eagle pairs. The drain on the fulmar population 
by eagles could not be significant, in view of the great variety 
of birds on which the eagle preys. More important are man's 
activities, such as the raising of blue foxes. Dead fulmars are 
found on beaches, but, at present, it is hard to estimate the 
results of storms or disease. At any rate, we have several large 
flourishing colonies of fulmars, and those that have been depleted 
should increase again owing to the protection now being given. 



Family HYDROBATIDAE 
Oceanodroma furcata: Fork-tailed Petrel 

Oceanodroma furcata furcata 

Attu \A-la-ma-g6 Ke-kech 

Atka :Ki-ki-tich-noch 

Russian, Commander Islands: Sturmofka (Stejneger) The Atka name is 
applied to both this petrel and to Leach's petrel. 

In 1939, Grinnell and Test separated the forked-tailed petrel 
into two races, designating the southern form O.f. plumbea, 
whose range is said to extend northward to "the Alexander 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 49 

Archipelago, just short of Cross Sound." Sitka birds proved to be 
intermediate, but closer to plumbea. 

In looking over material from the Aleutian district, it is obvious 
that there is variation in the characters used by Grinnell and 
Test — size and color (light or dark) — and many Aleutian speci- 
mens are puzzling in this respect. A specimen from Kodiak is 
similar to the Aleutian group. One from Ugashik, on the north 
side of Alaska Peninsula, obviously is furcata. This also is true 
for two from Nushagak. But a series from Belkofski, on the 
Alaska Peninsula, are darker than other Aleutian specimens — 
fully as dark as a series from Forrester Island, Stephen's Passage, 
Sitka, and Icy Strait — though the Belkofski petrels are larger. 
Since we are dealing with average characters, it is clear that 
the birds from the Aleutian district, from Kodiak and Nushagak 
west to Attu Island, should be called O.f. furcata. 

It is of interest to note that birds from the Commander Islands 
and Kamchatka are paler and (on the average) larger than 
• those from the Aleutian Islands. A few from the Aleutians are 
equally large and pale, and one from as far east as Nushagak 
is identical with many of the Kamchatka birds. These birds bear 
out Grinnell and Test's statement of an increase in size and a 
color transition from dark to pale, in the populations from south 
to north and west. Probably, we should consider the Siberian 
birds as the culmination of this trend toward larger size and 
paler coloration, and, for the present at least, we should class 
them with furcata of the Aleutian district. 

The forked-tailed petrel ranges widely over the North Pacific 
and Bering Sea and is the dominant species among petrels there. 
From May 29 to June 4, 1911, Wetmore found these birds common 
on the Gulf of Alaska. Friedmann (1935) records several speci- 
mens and eggs from Kodiak. Specimens have been taken at 
Nushagak by Hanna and Johnson and have been taken at Ugashik 
by McKay. We observed them in the Shumagin Islands and 
found them to be abundant throughout the Aleutian chain. 
Stejneger (1887) found them nesting in the Commander Islands. 

Nesting of this species in Bering Sea proper has not been re- 
ported, though the bird occurs far northward. Nelson (1887) 
found the birds off Nunivak Island in June 1877, but he speaks 
of them chiefly as autumnal visitors, as far north as St. Lawrence 
Island, Bering Strait, and Plover Bay, Siberia. Two specimens 
were secured from Kotzebue Sound. According to Nelson, they 
lingered in Bering Sea even after the formation of ice, and the 
Eskimos told him that they were captured on the ice, near air 



50 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

holes, in a weakened condition. He says that they were found 
on the lower Yukon, and that one was found about 75 miles 
up the Tanana River, near an air hole in the ice, late in November. 
These petrels are also recorded from the Pribilofs (Preble and 
McAtee 1923). Cahn (1947) reports from Unalaska: "Seen 
abundantly in the fall and winter far out in Bering Sea." 

The Aleutians must be considered to be the stronghold of this 
petrel. We found them on most of the islands. Experience taught 
us that wherever we found petrel wings left by blue foxes, or 
petrel remains in fox droppings, it was safe to assume that the 
birds nested on the island. 

The following islands were specifically noted as being nesting 
places for these petrels: Sanak group, Egg Island (in Akutan 
Pass), Uliaga, Kagamil, Chuginadak, Herbert, Yunaska, Chagulak, 
Amukta, Amlia (reported by natives), Atka (on Korovin 
Volcano, reported by L. M. Turner), Salt (until destroyed by 
fox raising), Kasatochi, Igitkin, Ulak, Bobrof, Tanaga, Ilak (re- 
ported by natives, but now destroyed by blue foxes), Gareloi, 
Semisopochnoi, Little Sitkin, Chugul (reported by natives), Kiska, 
Buldir, Agattu, and Attu. It is almost certain that the birds nest 
also on most of the other islands — on the Shumagins, and probably 
on other islands off the Alaska Peninsula. This list serves to 
show the uniform distribution of these birds. 

It is well known that the forked-tailed petrel nests underground. 
It may make its own burrow, often as a side tunnel from the 
wall of the tufted puffin's burrow, or it may nest in natural 
cavities, such as those found in lava beds. Amukta Island fur- 
nishes a typical example, where the moss-covered lava formation 
had neat round holes through the vegetative crust leading in to 
irregular cavities beneath. 

Food Habits 

The forked-tailed petrel is said to skim the oil from the surface 
of the water near a wounded seal or whale, but we do not have 
extensive data on its food habits. Preble and McAtee (1923) 
record one stomach from the Pribilofs that contained a few 
fish bones. Scheffer made interesting observations at Kagamil 
Island on August 30, 1938, when about 25 forked-tailed petrels 
and 3 Leach's petrels were picked up on the deck of the ship. 
Six piles of regurgitated material on the deck contained broken 
remains of small fish — the largest was about the size of a man's 
little finger 

Mortality Factors 

The principal enemy of the petrel, so far as our observations 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 51 

go, is the introduced blue fox. Petrels appeared to be especially 
palatable to these carnivores, or perhaps they are easy prey at 
their burrows. On Salt Island the species had been entirely elimi- 
nated by foxes, and this appeared to be true of Ilak, also. 

Petrels are attracted by ship's lights at night. They flock 
around the ship, chirping and chattering incessantly, striking 
the rigging and fluttering about the deck. Often, they get into 
staterooms, the galley, or other portions of the ship, and some- 
times in the excitement an egg or two may be dropped on the 
deck. Joseph Mailliard (1898), writing of the petrels on St. 
Lazaria Island, Sitka Bay, quotes Grinnell as saying that it was 
impossible to keep a fire alight in the middle of the night be- 
cause the petrels flew into it in such numbers that they ex- 
tinguished it. 

Oceanodroma leucorhoa: Leach's Petrel 

Oceanodroma leucorhoa leucorhoa 
Attu : Ke-Kech 
Atka : Ki-ki-tich-noch 
Russian, Commander Islands: Malinka tschornaja sturmofka (Stejneger) 

The Russian name given by Stejneger means a small black 
petrel. Leach's petrel has a more southern distribution than 0. 
furcata and does not range far into Bering Sea. Though it 
nests throughout the Aleutian chain and on Copper Island, ac- 
cording to Stejneger, it is much less abundant than the other 
species. Farther south, it becomes much more abundant. Bent 
(1922) states that on St. Lazaria Island, at Sitka Bay of Baranof 
Island, Grinnell and Ma'illiard estimated that 0. leucorhoa out- 
numbered 0. furcata four to one. They also are extremely nu- 
merous on Forrester Island. 

On the Aleutians we found this ratio reversed. Among 
the remains of petrels left by foxes, those of O. leucorhoa were 
scarce. The petrel colonies of any size were 0. furcata. When 
flocks of petrels fluttered about the ship's lights at night they 
were usually furcata, though sometimes there were a few leu- 
corhoa. It is interesting to note that in 1941 Gabrielson found 
Leach's petrel outnumbering furcata at Kasatochi Island. There 
may have been a nesting colony nearby. 

Thus, we find that these two species more or less intermingle 
in their ranges. But 0. furcata has a more northerly center of 
abundance, and ranges farther north, while 0. leucorhoa is more 
concentrated somewhat farther south, and does not reach far 
into Bering Sea. 



52 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

The natives declared that these petrels (probably referring to 
both species) nest "everywhere," but the following islands are 
the only ones for which we have precise evidence of nesting of 
Leach's petrel: Sanak Island group, Egg Island (McGregor, 
1906), Amchitka (reported by Dall), Davidof, Kiska, Buldir, 
Agattu, and Attu. Dr. Gabrielson noted evidence of their presence 
on Amatuli Island, of the Barren Islands group, June 13, 1940. 
They were especially numerous on Buldir Island, where we found 
the greatest number of nesting burrows. No doubt they occur 
on a great many other islands, as the natives intimated, but 
probably in such small numbers that they are not easily detected. 

On Buldir Island, where we had the best opportunity for 
examination, their burrows were found in the sandy banks above 
the beach and along a stream, as well as on high grassy slopes, 
well up on the higher part of the mountain. The burrows extended 
about arm's length, often with a very small entrance so that it 
was difficult to insert the hand, but generally there was an en- 
larged chamber at the end. In sandy soil, the burrows were 
larger in diameter; in sod, they were much smaller and the en- 
trance was more obscure. There was a flat nest of dried grass in 
the end chamber. Usually, there was a single bird in the nest, 
but in at least 1 burrow there were 2 birds. 

Food Habits 

Leach's petrels have been observed following whales for food 
fragments, and they have been seen picking fish refuse in the 
vicinity of fishing boats. We obtained no additional data on their 
food habits. 

Mortality Factors 

Foxes prey on these birds where nesting colonies are available. 

Family PHALACROCORACIDAE 

Phalacrocorax auritus: Double-crested Cormorant 
Phalacrocorax auritus cincinatus 

Attu: Kuch-tirch 
Unalaska: T'chung-ahh 

Of the three species of cormorants nesting throughout the 
Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands, the double-crested is 
much less common than the pelagic or the red-faced. It nests 
on Kodiak Island. Cahalane (1943) reported it to be abundant in 
the Kodiak-Afognak group, and Gabrielson noted a few at Whale 
Island and four in Uyak Bay. Probably it nests in the Barren 
Islands also. Several were seen at Ushagat Island of this group, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 53 

on May 11, 1936. On May 7, 1936, we had seen several of these 
birds on Chisik Island, in Tuxedni Bay, Cook Inlet, obviously 
preparing to nest. C. J. Rhode noted a colony of about 50 
cormorants on islands of Skilak Lake, Kenai Peninsula. Identifica- 
tion was uncertain, but it is probable that these were double- 
crested cormorants. 

Osgood (1904) recorded this cormorant nesting on islands of 
Iliamna Lake. He saw them flying up and down Nogheling 
River, and several were seen on Lake Clark (one specimen taken) ; 
however, he believed few, if any, nested on that lake. He states 
that from the Mulchatna River near the mouth of the Tikchick to 
Nushagak these cormorants were seen daily, but not in great 
numbers. Again, he saw several on Becharof Lake, October 4 to 7, 
1902. 

Cahalane (1944) observed cormorants, "presumably all of this 
species" (double-crested), rather commonly in the Katmai region 
of the Alaska Peninsula in 1940, and he reported them in 
September on Naknek River, on Naknek Lake, at the south shore 
of Iliuk Arm, at the mouth of Savanoski River, on Brooks River, 
and on Brooks Lake. By September 27 and 28, they were 
relatively scarce on Naknek Lake and River. On the Pacific side, 
he reported them to be much more numerous and recorded them 
as "common to abundant" in the bays of the Katmai coast, 
October 4 to 7. 

On July 23, 1940, Gabrielson noted 1 or 2 double-crested 
cormorants on the Kvichak River, and on July 25, he reported 
2 more on Iliamna Lake. In the same season, he also noted 
them at the Semidi Islands. 

On August 29, 1936, we saw at least two double-crested cor- 
morants near Simeonof Island, in the Shumagin group. They 
probably nest among those islands. On May 16 and 17, 1928, 
F. L. Jaques (1930) saw cormorants, which he thought to be this 
species, near the Shumagins and near Belkofski. 

The largest colony of this cormorant was found by the writer 
in 1925, in Isanotski Strait, at the extreme tip of Alaska Penin- 
sula. On the larger of the two Isanotski Islands, which was 
not over 150 yards long, there were at least 25 nests in a close 
group on a grassy slope. On July 27 the nests contained from 
2 to 5 eggs, but usually there were 4 or 5. A specimen was 
collected. It is interesting to note that Beals and Longworth, 
on June 10, 1941, 16 years later, stated in their field report that 
"Small colony of 50 or more birds nesting on the most northerly 
of the two Isanotski Islands." 



54 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Donald H. Stevenson, who accompanied me' in 1925, described 
cormorants nesting on a small island in Swanson Lagoon, on 
the north part of Unimak Island. His description, and the 
location of the nesting site, leaves little doubt that a colony of 
double-crested cormorants were nesting in Swanson Lagoon at 
that time. 

Among the eastern Aleutians we found several nesting groups, 
though they were small in number. On July 16, 1936, we observed 
five of these cormorants perched on low rocks at one of the 
little islands (which we designated "Puffin Island") in Trident 
Bay, Akun Island. On June 7, we had seen about a dozen at the 
west end of Umnak Island ; a specimen was taken here. Nesting 
was not actually observed in these instances. But on June 8, 
we found several of these cormorants nesting on Kagamil Island. 
Some also were found on Uliaga Island near by, and two small 
colonies were found on Carlisle Island. Seven nests, and a 
number of birds, were located on Herbert Island. The nests 
among the Islands of the Four Mountains were on ledges of 
sheer cliffs and in the walls of high caverns (sometimes very 
high) , which was in great contrast to the nesting on the low 
Isanotski Islands, observed in 1925. In some cases, these cor- 
morants were nesting in close proximity to red-faced and pelagic 
cormorants. 

We observed no double-crested cormorants west of these islands. 
The natives of Atka assured us that this cormorant does not 
occur in that part of the Aleutians. We are fairly confident that 
today this species does not nest west of the Islands of the Four 
Mountains. Yet, the Chief of Attu appeared to be familiar 
with this bird; he gave us the native name and declared that 
formerly it was abundant, though it has become scarce in recent 
years. Austin H. Clark (1910), writing of his expedition of 
1906, said "I have a note of a few [double-crested cormorants] 
being seen in Unalga Pass near Unalaska, and I found them 
at Atka, Attu, and Agattu." Turner (1885) also, writing of the 
Near Islands, reported double-crested cormorants to be abundant, 
resident, and breeding. 

Clearly there has been a drastic change in distribution of 
this species since about 1906, (the time of Clark's notes). The 
cause of this restriction of range has not been determined. 

The species P. auritus as a whole is quite versatile in nesting 
habits. Many of the prominent nesting sites in the northern 
part of the continental range are on low islands. Elsewhere, 
cormorants nest in trees and on cliffs as well as on low islands. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 55 

Therefore, there must be adaptability in the species. The in- 
troduction of blue foxes on a large scale in the Aleutians dis- 
couraged the low-ground type of nesting; therefore, the birds 
nested in the cliffs in greater numbers. This change in nesting 
locale of the double-crested cormorant may have resulted in 
competition with the more agile red-faced and pelagic cormorants. 
It may be pointed out that in the absence of blue foxes, the 
double-crested cormorant would nest on low flat ground, away 
from cliffs — a habitat not usually desired by the other two 
species. What the human factor might have been in the 
ecological picture is hard to say, but, under conditions prevailing 
in recent years, cormorants could hardly succeed in nesting except 
on well-protected cliffs. 

Whatever the factors, it is a fact that the double-crested cor- 
morant has virtually disappeared from the Aleutians west of 
the group known as the Islands of the Four Mountains. 

Phalacrocorax pelagicus: Pelagic Cormorant 

Phalacrocorax pelagicus pelagicus 

Attu: Kri-li-ti-kch or Kri-li-ti-kich ; Til'-i-toch (1-year-old young) 
Atka: Agli'-i-uh (possibly referring to any cormorant species) 

Agayux (Jochelson) 
Russian, Commander Islands: Malinky Uril (Stejneger) 

This is the most abundant cormorant in the North Pacific and 
Bering Sea region. We found them in the Barren Islands, the Ko- 
diak-Afognak group, Chisik Island in Cook Inlet, Sutwik Island, 
Chignik Bay, Shumagin Islands, and along the north side of 
Alaska Peninsula to Bristol Bay. 

Hine (1919) said, "Colonies of this cormorant nested on the 
shelves of the sea wall along Katmai and Kashvik bays during 
the 1919 season." 

Osgood (1904) found these birds on Becharof Lake. Gabriel- 
son found them to be common in the Semidi Islands. 

We found the pelagic cormorant to be numerous throughout the 
Aleutian Islands, and they are common in the Commander Islands 
(Stejneger 1885). This bird has a more northerly distribution 
than other species, for it occurs on both sides of Bering Sea and 
as far as the Arctic coast. 

Ordinarily, this species was the more common in the waters 
about the Aleutian Islands, though among the birds actually 
nesting P. urile outnumbered P. pelagicus. There appeared to be 
a considerable number of nonbreeding P. pelagicus, in subadult 
plumages. In some cases we found no nests, though the birds 
were present in considerable numbers. 



56 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Usually, the nests were placed on ledges of steep cliffs, though 
sometimes they were on overhanging walls of caverns well out 
of reach of the surging water. Only once was a different 
nesting site noted. In 1925, I found an unusual nesting situation 
near Izembek Bay at the west end of Alaska Peninsula. On Glen 
Island, at this bay, on May 20, there was a considerable colony 
of P. p. pelagicus in a compact group on a low point. Some of 
the birds had white flank patches at this time. On June 1, Steven- 
son reported that the birds were sitting on nests. On June 26, 
about 30 nests were counted, but there were no eggs. On July 27, 
the cormorants were still plentiful at Glen Island, but there had 
been no success in nesting. 

The interesting fact in this instance is the unusual nesting 
site, which was a low sandy point above tidewater. While there 
had been a few birds in breeding plumage, the majority seemed 
to be immature birds. Amak Island, with immense cliffs occupied 
by large numbers of P. urile and only a few P. p. pelagicus, is 
about 12 to 14 miles out to sea. It was not determined whether 
this was an abortive attempt at nesting on Glen Island by cor- 
morants crowded off Amak Island, or whether the birds were 
immature. Throughout the Aleutian chain, both P. urile and P. p. 
pelagicus are found nesting on the same cliffs. 

While the pelagic cormorant is a salt-water bird almost ex- 
clusively, Osgood found it on Becharof Lake, as noted previously, 
and natives of Atka Island said these birds will go to the lakes of 
Amchitka Island in winter. 

Cahn (1947) reports them at Unalaska as "abundant every- 
where along the rocky shores from September to May," and 
Taber (1946) says the species was present at Adak in winter, 
where they continuously lived in salt water, never in fresh-water 
lakes. Sutton and Wilson (1946) found them at Attu in the 
summer and in the winter. 

Food Habits 

The food of this cormorant is assumed to be fish, but, according 
to Preble and McAtee (1923), a considerable percentage consists 
of various Crustacea, at least in the Pribilofs. Sutton and Wilson, 
at Attu, obtained a specimen on February 28, and report: "Its 
stomach and crop were packed with small sculpins which it had 
caught in water about 15 feet deep along the west side of Casco 
Cove." 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 57 

Phalacrocorax urile: Red-faced Cormorant 

Attu: Ing-a-tohh or Ing-a-torh 
Atka: Ing-a-tohh 
Russian, Commander Islands: Bolschoj Uril (Stejneger) 

Walrus Island, in Bering Sea, has been considered the chief 
nesting place of the red-faced cormorant in Alaskan waters. It 
was a surprise, therefore, to find that the red-faced cormorant 
is the dominant nesting cormorant throughout the Aleutian chain. 



V 








Figure 24.— Red-faced cormorant. 



58 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

On May 16, 1936, while anchored at Unga, in the Shumagin 
Islands, we discovered a good-sized colony of red-faced cor- 
morants on the precipitous cliffs of a rocky point. There were 
about 300 birds beginning to nest. Some of them were carrying 
nesting material; many had no nest at all. In our experience, 
this is the easternmost colony of this species. 

In 1925, I found a colony on Amak Island, a small conelike 
island off the west end of Alaska Peninsula in Bering Sea. It 
was estimated that there were between 4,000 and 5,000 birds 
nesting on the high cliffs — by far the largest colony known south 
of the Pribilofs. When visited again in 1936, these birds were 
still nesting on the same cliffs, many of them carrying nesting 
material (on May 31). On May 22, 1928, Jaques (1930) ob- 
served this species near Port Moller. 

Bogoslof Island is also occupied by .ed-faced cormorants, 
mostly in the form of individuals scattered among a large number 
of murres. 

While most of the Aleutian colonies of the red-faced cormorants 
are very small, there are a few sizable concentrations. On Adokt 
Island, one of the Baby Islands group in Unimak Pass, we esti- 
mated 500 nests. There were also large concentrations on certain 
islets in the Bay of Islands of Adak Island. But in many instances 
there were small groups, sometimes six or less. 

Following are the islands, east to west, on which the red- 
faced cormorant was found nesting: Unga (Shumagins), Amak, 
Adokt and Excelsior of the Baby Islands group, Egg (probably), 
Poa, Tangik, Bogoslof, Ananiuliak near Umnak (not certain), 
Uliaga, Kagamil, Carlisle, Herbert, Yunaska, Chagulak, Amukta, 
Seguam, Ulak, Kasatochi, Igitkin (probably), Adak, Gareloi, 
West Unalga, Semisopochnoi, Amchitka, Little Sitkin, Davidof, 
Kwhostof, Kiska, Agattu, Semichi, and Attu. 

These birds were identified at other islands, though nests were 
not actually observed. This gives the red-faced cormorant a 
fairly uniform distribution as a nesting bird from Unga and 
Amak Islands, and Port Moller, all the way to Attu, and they 
are known to nest still farther west, in the Commander Islands. 
The red-faced cormorant also winters in the Aleutian waters. 

Mortality Factors 

Birds which prey on the cormorants are the bald eagle, pere- 
grine falcon, and glaucous-winged gull. In a study of the food 
habits of the bald eagle in the Aleutians it was found that 
cormorants had been taken for food frequently; however, the 
species of cormorants was not determined. It seemed likely 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 59 

that most of the remains that were examined were those of the 
pelagic cormorant, but no doubt the red-faced cormorant would 
be taken also where it is available. We found no remains of the 
double-crested species, but that form is relatively scarce. 

On Amak Island, several carcasses of red-faced cormorants, 
probably killed by peregrine falcons that nested nearby, were 
found beneath the nesting ledges. Falcons are indicated as the 
predator because eagles would have carried their prey away to 
their feeding places. 

Glaucous-winged gulls persistently seek the cormorant's eggs, 
and they are most successful when the parents are frightened 
off the nests, thus exposing the eggs to predation. 

Family ARDEIDAE 

Ardea herodias: Great Blue Heron 
Ardea herodias fannini 

The heron seldom enters the territory with which we are 
concerned. Osgood (1901) reports, "A great blue heron was 
seen at Hope by E. Heller." In the same general vicinity, May 8, 
1936, the first mate of our ship reported seeing a heron early 
in the morning, as we were approaching Anchorage. It was 
recorded at Portage Bay (Nelson, 1887). So far as we know, 
then, this heron reaches the western part of its range at about 
the head of Cook Inlet. 

Family ANATIDAE 
Olor columbianus: Whistling Swan 

Attu: Kon-kirch 

Qumqix (Jochelson — dialect not given) 
Atka: Ko-kin-yeh (or ko-kin-e-reeh ?) 

Whistling swans nest on Kodiak Island and in suitable areas 
along the Alaska Peninsula. Osgood (1904) specifically mentions 
Swan Lake, Chulitna River, and "upper waters of the Nushagak 
system, and near the Ugaguk River and Becharof Lake." 

Einarsen (1922) observed a swan with four young near 
Ugashik on June 26, 1922, and Jaques (1930) observed eight 
swans near Port Moller from May 24 to June 14, 1928. 

While in the Katmai region in September 1940, Cahalane 
(1944) observed swans "from Kwichak River to Naknek," on 
tundra pools, on Lake Grosvenor, mouth of Savanoski River, 
between Iliuk Arm and Mount Katolinat and above New Savanoski 
Village. 



60 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

On July 19, 1940, Gabrielson noted three pairs of swans be- 
tween Naknek and Brooks Lake, and on July 21, while flying 
over the country from Becharof Lake to Egagik, by way of Ruth, 
Ugashik, and Mother Goose Lakes, he saw numerous pairs of 
swans with 1 to 5 young among the many tundra pools and lakes 
of this area. 

According to local residents (1936) , swans nest on small islands 
in ponds near Ugashik River, and up the river from Nelson 
Lagoon. At Chignik I was informed that swans nest in Black 
Lake, the "second lake up Chignik River." Gabrielson was told 
that they nest in the King Cove-Cold Bay area. 

In 1925, though none were found nesting, a swan was seen 
flying over Hazen Point in Izembek Bay on June 13, and or 
July 23 there was a group of three in a lake near the sand dunes 
there. In the same year, on April 29 and on several subsequent 
dates, two were seen at Urilia Bay, on Unimak Island, and a 
trapper said that he saw a few swans in that locality each year. 

More recently, we have precise information that swans nest 
on Unimak Island, for in 1936 we obtained an egg, which, we were 
told, had rolled out of a nest on Ikatan Flats. The following year 
we learned that a pair had returned to the same flats. 

In 1941, Beals and Longworth noted several swans at Unimak 
Island, and they reported that on August 31 a trapper observed 
3 pairs near Swanson Lagoon — each pair with 2 young. It is 
also reported that a pair nested on Ikatan Flats in 1940. 

Chase Littlejohn (manuscript notes) says, "Only a few seen 
at Morzhovoi Bay, where I know at least one pair reared their 
young in 1879. I found them with their parents in a lake still 
unable to fly on August 29." 

Swans are not known to nest west of Unimak Island. 

Dall (1874) reports the killing of three swans at Sanak Island 
in September 1872 by a sea-otter hunter, who said they were 
not uncommon there in the fall. 

Apparently, swans have not been considered a part of the 
fauna of the Aleutian chain proper. Dall stated that they did not 
occur there, though Turner said a few wintered on Attu Island. 
It is possible that conditions have changed, for there is ample 
evidence that swans occur on many of the islands — at least in 
winter. At Atka Island, the natives assured us that swans winter 
in the Aleutians, and they specifically mentioned Kanaga and 
Amchitka, where swans had been observed on the lakes. On 
Amchitka, we found swan remains among the native buildings, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 61 

and we learned that about 20 had been killed there the previous 
winter. 

We also found swan wings on Semisopochnoi Island, thus show- 
ing that some had been killed there in winter by native fox 
trappers. Friedmann (1937) found four swan bones in midden 
material from Little Kiska. 

The native chief on Attu Island assured us that swans winter 
abundantly among the lakes on the south side of that island, 
occurring in flocks of "eight, ten, to twenty-six." In 1924, the 
swans were said to have walked among the houses of the village, 
and, in 1932, "hundreds and hundreds" were seen among the 
lakes on the south side. Now, they occur only in small numbers. 
According to the natives, the swans arrive at Attu Island late 
in October, and they leave late in April. 

Mortali+y Factors 

It is probable that man has been the greatest enemy of the 
swan, for, under ordinary circumstances, the swan probably 
is able to protect itself against natural enemies. A trapper at 
Port Moller, on the Alaska Peninsula, told me that he had 
seen a swan defend itself against a red fox, and he doubted 
whether foxes were much of a hazard. 

Olor buccinator: Trumpeter Swan 

Quoting Friedmann (1937) on Kodiak Island: "A synsacrum 
and 2 tarsometatarsi were found in the superficial levels and 
another tarsometatarsus in the intermediate depths in 1935 ; in 
1936 a metacarpal and the head of a humerus were collected." 

There are no other records. 

Branta canadensis: Canada Goose 

Branta canadensis leucopareia 
Branta canadensis minima 

Attu: Legch 

Atka: Luck or lug-ach, or lagix (Jochelson) 

Resident whites: land geese 

The white-cheeked geese were formerly common migrants 
throughout the Aleutian Islands area and nested on many of 
the islands. These populations now (1936, 1937, and 1938) have 
been universally reduced. 

The forms of the white-cheeked groups of geese that nest in 
the Aleutian district is a question that has led to endless confusion. 
Our latest findings show that leucopareia and minima are so in- 
extricably associated throughout the Aleutians that it is desir- 



62 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

able to discuss them together. As far as we were able to learn, 
the Aleuts have only one name for this general type of goose. 
However, the Eskimos at Hooper Bay distinguish between these 
two forms, and they have a distinctive name for each form. 

It should be noted here that in much of the previous work with 
these birds, the name hutchinsi was used to identify the form 
that we now call leucopareia (A.O.U. Check List) ; and this 
change has resulted in considerable confusion and misunderstand- 
ing of the literature. 

It is certain that 2 forms of the white-cheeked geese nest in the 
Aleutians, but there is a question about the taxonomic rank to 
accord these 2 forms. As to considering them races of the 
same species, I agree with Bent (19,25) that "Both the cackling 
goose [minima] and the Hutchins goose [leucopareia] are said to 
breed on the Aleutian Islands, but it seems hardly likely that these 
two subspecies should occupy the same breeding range." 

The situation we find here supports Taverner's conclusion 
(1931) and the findings of Aldrich (1946) that we have two 
species. Aldrich has proposed that the smaller species includes 
three subspecies: true hutchinsii (not leucopareia), minima, and 
asiatica, and that B. canadensis includes the other subspecies of 
this group. On June 23, 1911, a female was collected on Attu 
Island by R. H. Beck, which Bent (1925) recorded as minima. On 
June 13, 1937, John H. Steenis collected a male goose of this 
group on Agattu Island. These specimens were studied by Aldrich, 
and he agreed that the Attu specimen was true minima, and that 
the one from Agattu was equally typical of leucopareia. 

At Hooper Bay (south of Yukon Delta), we found the Alaskan 
cackling goose (minima) nesting nearest the sea, while the lesser 
Canada goose (leucopareia) nested farther inland, though the 
two nesting ranges were adjacent. Two groups of Eskimos, an 
inland group and a coastal group, with slightly differing dialects, 
both recognized these two species of geese as different and had 
a name for each. With two geese populations nesting in such 
close proximity, without space for "intergrades," it would be 
illogical to consider them subspecies, aside from the facts shown 
by examination of characters. In the Aleutian district, these two 
species occupy ranges similar to the kinds in the Hooper Bay 
district. 

Former numbers — Turner found "thousands" of geese on the 
Near Islands, of which Agattu and Semichi were the chief breed- 
ing grounds. They nested on Unaska, Amlia, Atka, Adak, 
Kanaga, Tanaga, Kiska, Buldir, Semichi, and Agattu. On some 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 63 

of these islands, the foxes had forced the birds to nest on offshore 
islets, and on Attu the natives hunted them extensively and do- 
mesticated them, clipping the wings of young birds. Jochelson 
(1933) says: "Some of them breed on the Four Mountain Is- 
lands." 

Bill Dirks, Atka chief, mentioned as former nesting grounds: 
Tanadak, Unak, and Tanaklak (all near Great Sitkin), as well as 
Amchitka, Ulak, Tanadak (the one near Kavalga), and Kiska. 
He also stated that at one time there had been a native village 
on Bulclir, and that the villagers used to pinion young geese 
to prevent them from migrating in the fall so that they would 
be available later in winter. Dirks recalled that his father once 
obtained 50 goslings on Buldir, and brought them to Atka, where 
he fattened them for food. Nelson (1887) saw a flock of do- 
mesticated geese at Unalaska, which had been obtained in the 
western Aleutians. 

We must include Attu in the breeding range, for it was on that 
island that Beck collected the nesting goose examined by Aldrich 
and identified as minima. Evidently a few geese have been able 
to nest in spite of foxes, and in primitive times undoubtedly a 
great many nested there. 

As late as 1911, Wetmore reported at Kiska "Two flocks of 
rather good-sized geese were seen flying over high up June 18. 
One of the officers reported seeing two on an inland lake. None 
were taken." And, again at Atka, he reported, "a flock of geese 
seen flying high up June 13." 

Austin H. Clark (1910) has presented a striking picture of 
geese in abundance : 

This goose is the most abundant bird on Agattu, where it breeds by 
thousands. When we approached the shore we saw a number of geese fly- 
ing about the cliffs and bluffs, and soaring in circles high in air. On landing 
I walked up the beach to the left and soon came to a small stream which 
enters the sea through a gap in the high bluffs, when I saw fifty or more 
of these birds along the bank preening their feathers. From this point I 
walked inland over the rough pasture-like country toward a lake where 
this stream rises. Geese were seen on all sides in great abundance, walking 
about the grassy hillsides in companies of six or eight to a dozen, or flying 
about from one place to another. 

Migration 

As would be expected, in the days when the lesser Canada 
goose and the Alaskan cackling goose flourished there was an east 
and a west migration along the Aleutian chain. In 1925, Donald 
Stevenson, former reservation warden, said that geese from the 
western Aleutians came eastward in the fall to join the throngs 



64 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

concentrated about Isanotski Strait. Atka natives said that geese 
passed eastward at Isanotski in August. 

Chief Ermeloff, of Umnak, said that geese passed there "in the 
fall." Nick Kristensen, who has lived many years on Unimak 
Island, said geese arrived at Urilia Bay before they reached St. 
Catherine Cove, and he wondered, because Urilia Bay lies west 
of St. Catherine Cove, if this meant they "came from Siberia 
somewhere." 

Jochelson (1933) says: "In April it flies to the west, in 
October to the east, resting on the islands." 

It is evident that there was an annual fall migration eastward 
along the Aleutians. When the Aleutian birds arrived at the 
west end of the Alaska Peninsula, they undoubtedly joined the 
throngs of cackling geese that came down from the north. 

On August 14, 1936, we noted six cackling geese' flying south- 
ward over Nunivak Island. We were told that they linger a 
bit on the south side of Nunivak Island before continuing farther 
south. According to local information, they generally arrive at 
Unimak and the Alaska Peninsula about September 1, but they 
do not become numerous until 1 or 2 weeks later. Then, they 
assemble in surprising numbers and congregate at Urilia Bay, 
Swanson Lagoon, and St. Catherine Cove, all on Unimak Island, 
and at Izembek Bay, head of Morzhovoi Bay, Nelson Lagoon, 
and Port Moller on the Peninsula. In 1942, Gabrielson reported 
the first fall migrant at Izembek Bay as early as "late in July." 

In 1925, accounts of the coming of the geese in "countless 
thousands" and "millions" testified to unusual concentrations, and 
it is safe to say that this area is the prinicpal gathering place for 
geese nesting along the shore of Bering Sea northward, as 
well as those from the Aleutians proper. The emperor goose and 
the 2 forms of the Canada goose all assemble here — of the two, 
the Canada geese are in the majority. 

This area seems to be a place where the geese can fatten in 
the fall before continuing to their wintering grounds. They 
are said to feed to some extent on eelgrass; minima and leuco- 
pareia feed mostly on crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) and other 
berries and spend so much time on the slopes seeking these foods 
that they are known locally as "land geese" — distinguishing them 
from the "beach goose," which is the local name for the emperor 
goose. 

The geese become very fat and leave for the south about 
November 1, though according to some reports it is as late as 
November 15 or 20. Probably, the earlier date is the more 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 65 

usual one. In 1942, according to Gabrielson, the geese departed 
rather suddenly, eastward, on November 20. 

This situation is quite comparable to that on the other- side 
of the continent at the head of James Bay, a southern extension 
of Hudson Bay, where the blue geese spend more than 2 months 
fattening, and then continue south about November 1. 

As the lesser Canada geese and the Alaskan cackling geese 
move south, they are noted in many other places, such as 
Metrofane and Mallard Bays in the Chignik area, at Simeonof 
Island in the Shumagins, and the Sanak Island group. Chase 
Littlejohn (manuscript notes) said: "A large number are seen 
annually at Sanakh in the fall where they remain for a short time 
at this season; they are very fat and toothsome . . . They are 
also numerous on the peninsula where they feed entirely on 
berries." 

Our information on the white-cheeked group of geese for 
the more eastern parts of the Alaska Peninsula is, at this time, 
not as complete as the information that we have for other parts 
of this group's range. Osgood (1904) reported a flock of the 
birds at the mouth of the Chulitna River on August 5, 1902. 
Others were seen later on the Mulchatna and were seen between 
the Mulchatna and Nushagak. On July 6, 1925, I saw a pair of 
geese, not specifically identified, on the tide flats of Izembek Bay ; 
it is possible that they were nesting birds. In August 1911, Wet- 
more repeatedly saw "a small goose" on the marshes back of Thin 
Point. On July 28, 1911, he saw another at Morzhovoi Bay and 
saw three more on July 30. All of these, he provisionally identi- 
fied as cackling geese. 

The spring migration is much less noticeable, no doubt be- 
cause the birds are intent on reaching the nesting grounds and 
therefore do not gather in large concentrations, and also because 
their numbers have been greatly reduced since the previous 
autumn. Residents at False Pass were undecided whether the 
geese pass through there in the spring. We were told that they 
also pass through the Chignik area, and at Simeonof Island 
in the Shumagins, and at Sanak Island farther west. At Sanak, 
we learned that the geese gather on the water enclosed by Sanak, 
Elma, and Caton Islands, though they do not linger there in the 
fall. This suggests that in the spring they have completed a 
lengthy flight over the ocean, thus needing both food and rest. 
Chase Littlejohn, writing of the migration at Sanak in 1887-88, 
said, "They used to stop here on their way north a few years ago, 
but they rarely if ever do now, for what reason I do not know." 



66 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Evidently, the geese have resumed the practice in view of our 
information for more recent years. 

Jaques (1930) reported that "Three flocks of what were 
probably cackling geese were migrating to the southwest May 
16, inside the Shumagin Islands." They may have been headed 
for the Aleutians, judging by the direction they were taking. 

It is evident, from information at hand, that the spring migra- 
tion took place in April and part of May, but it was not so 
spectacular as the fall migration. 

Nesting Habits 

Agattu, in the Near Islands group, is the most favorable for 
geese. Most of the island is a lowland, liberally dotted with lakes. 
This makes it easy to understand why such islands as Semichi, 
Amchitka, Tanaga, and Kanaga were at one time a goose para- 
dise — all of them have extensive lowlands with lakes. 

There is another type of nesting habitat which is typified by 
Buldir Island — a domelike island rising sheer from the sea. 
Buldir possesses beaches and a small grassy valley cut by a 
stream. In this valley, where the grasses and sedges are heavy 
and rank, there were no geese. High on the mountain there are 
little depressions, benches, and valleys, which are cut by water 
courses. In this terrain, where the grasses and sedges are short 
and tender, there were geese — even though there is fog much of 
the time. So, on Buldir, the geese apparently have found an en- 
vironment that is suited to them. 

It is interesting to note that these geese do not hesitate to take 
to salt water. One, with two downy young, was seen in a bay at 
Agattu, and another was seen in the water near Chagulak, an 
island at Amukta Pass. The presence of a goose at Chagulak 
suggests another high-mountain habitat, because that island is 
extremely precipitous. 

Present numbers — We have just enumerated the early accounts 
of "thousands" of geese, including Turner's "thousands" in the 
Near Islands, and Clarke's tale of abundance on Agattu. Today, 
the Aleutian district presents a striking example of the rapid de- 
cline of a species ; the general opinion is that the fall concentra- 
tions in the False Pass area have greatly declined, apparently 
involving to some extent the geese from the more northerly nest- 
ing grounds. 

We were surprised to find no sign of these geese on the lake- 
dotted flats around the lower part of the Ugashik River, and in 
1937 we observed only a few pairs of geese on Agattu Island — 
probably less than 6 pairs in 4 days of traveling over the island. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 67 

One pair had 2 young, and another had 5 young. In the Semichis, 
we found feathers and a few droppings on Alaid Island. On 
June 15, 1936, the captain and the mate of our ship saw a 
"small goose" of the canadensis type near the shore of Chagulak 
Island, and we found signs of geese on Buldir. However, they 
had disappeared on most of the islands, and our total observa- 
tions indicated that only a few pairs remained in the Aleutians. 
In fact, these geese are so scarce that the migration is no longer 
noticeable, and some of the younger Aleuts didn't seem to know 
about it. When the remaining geese that go to the Aleutians 
are killed, it will be a long time for a migration to become rees- 
tablished, and consequently an extensive habitat for minima and 
leucopareia will lie vacant. 

Causes for decline — The natives, as well as several writers, 
have assumed that the disappearance of these geese from many 
islands was due to the introduction of blue foxes. Undoubtedly, 
this is true, yet on Buiclir where there are no foxes, the geese 
are not plentiful. Undoubtedly, another important cause for 
their decline is increased hunting along the migration route and 
on the wintering grounds in the south. 

Administrative action has already been taken to free certain 
favorable islands, including Agattu, from foxes. Further, to 
preserve these geese, it remains for sportsmen to protect the 
birds on the wintering grounds. With such a combination of 
protection, it is still possible to prevent these geese from losing 
their present tenuous hold in the Aleutians, and perhaps it would 
be possible for them to build up to a point where they will be 
safe from extinction. 

Branta nigricans: Black Brant 

Attu : Agru-ge la-ghe 

Nelson Island Eskimo: Nuk-hla-ra-nak 

Hooper Bay Eskimo: Nuk-ht-nuk 

Hooper Bay, a more inland dialect: Nuk-lu-gu-nuk 

Nelson (Eskimo dialect) : Luk-hlug-u-huk 

Russian, Yana district: Njemok (Pleske) 

Chukchi: Nedljuitti (Palmen) 

The black brant is only a migrant in the Aleutian district, but 
it occurs in considerable numbers. In 1936, we were told at 
Port Moller that the brant appear there in April, and we re- 
ceived the same information for the Chignik area. We had seen 
them on northward migration near Seymour Narrows, British 
Columbia, on April 24, and on Queen Charlotte Sound on April 



68 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

25. Donald Stevenson, in 1925, said that he had seen them at 
King Cove "late in April." 

Apparently, the many bays at the western end of Alaska 
Peninsula are favorite gathering- places for black brant in migra- 
tion. In 1925, Stevenson and I observed them on Izembek Bay, 
where they were present on May 20 in small flocks, on the water 
and flying from point to point. However, some flocks contained 
as many as 200 birds, and about 5,000 black brant were estimated 
for the entire bay. The following day, at the east end of the 
bay, there were only a few groups. 

Stevenson arrived at this bay on June 2 and found the brant 
to be plentiful. As he passed Applegate Cove, he saw a "swarm" 
of brant up the bay, rising and settling in a funnel-shaped mass. 
There were otjier groups of 50 to 75 brant flying up the bay, 
some of these joining the large flock. The following day he 
saw more of them, and, in each instance, they seemed inclined 
to move in a northeasterly direction. 

On June 16, we saw a small flock and a single bird ; next day 
we saw several small flocks near the outer sand islands. This 
was their last appearance. 

In 1943, Gabrielson found black brant on the Sanak Islands on 
April 30, and the next day, at King Cove, he saw 100, or more, 
heading toward Cold Bay. In 1944, residents at Port Moller 
reported the first spring flight on April 26. 

A. C. Bent (1925) quotes Chase Littlejohn as saying that the 
brant move westward along the Alaska Peninsula, 1 or 2 miles 
offshore, turn into Morzhovoi Bay, and thence go into the Bering 
Sea. This probably outlines the spring migration fairly ac- 
curately. 

While we were at Nunivak Island on August 14, 1936, black 
brant had arrived from the north. Eskimo said that these brant 
remain on the inland lakes of that island for about 2 months, 
or until sometime in October, before continuing south. In the 
meantime, many others have gone farther south, because at Port 
Moller, on August 29, the residents said that the brant were due 
at that time and that they would remain there until about 
November 1, before continuing south. They also return to Izembek 
Bay during their migration. 

Dall reported that black brant were nesting on some of the 
western Aleutians, but Nelson was undoubtedly correct when he 
assumed that these birds must have been small geese of the 
canadensis group. Friedmann (1937) records the following re- 
mains from native middens: One skull and 2 sterna from Little 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 69 

Kiska; 1 humerus from Atka; and 4 humeri from Attu. In 1936, 
the Attu natives told us that black brant appear there occasionally 
in the fall, sometimes in company with the emperor goose. 

Stejneger (1885) reported the species occuring sparingly in 
the Commander Islands in migration. 

Philacte canogica: Emperor Goose 

Attu: Il-d-ghir-hch 
Atka: Kd-ghu-mung 

Qdmgan (Jochelson) 

The emperor goose apparently does not commonly nest in 
the Aleutian Islands, nor on the Alaska Peninsula, but at least 
one record of nesting was established. During June 1925, a 
Bureau of Fisheries boat had stopped for a short time at Amak 
Island, on the way to Port Moller. The pilot informed me that 
during that stop at least three pairs of emperor geese were seen. 
On July 10, 1925, during a visit to Amak, I found the remains of 
a young emperor goose in a bald eagle nest. The feet, stomach, 
and numerous pinfeathers were present in the nest, and were 
collected. This appears to be the southernmost nesting locality. 

The Aleutian district is certainly the principal wintering place 
for emperor geese. We noted evidence of such occurrence and 
obtained statements of natives and others who were familiar 
with specific localities, and in 1941 and 1942 Gabrielson noted 
them as plentiful at a number of the islands he visited in the 
winter months. They are reported as spending at least a part 
of the winter as far east as Port Moller, on the north side of the 
peninsula, leaving when the ice formed but returning when the 
water opened again. Some of these geese winter at Urilia Bay 
on Unimak Island and on Izembek Bay; a few geese winter near 
Chignik on the south side of Alaska Peninsula, and some of them 
winter at Simeonof Island in the Shumagins. A banded bird was 
recorded at King Cove in the fall of 1926. 

Turner (1886) makes the sweeping statement that these birds 
winter on the south side of Alaska Peninsula and on offshore 
islands as far east as Cook Inlet. Friedmann recorded bones of 
this goose in all layers of Kodiak middens. Today, they are 
less numerous along those shores, possibly because of the advent 
of white men and an increased kill resulting from modern 
weapons. 

Emperor geese are known to winter in some numbers in the 
Sanak group. We found recent remains at Unalaska, June 3, 
1936, and on Bogoslof Island, June 5, 1936. Eyerdam (1936) 



70 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH 4ND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

obtained two specimens at Unalaska on June 20 and on August 
7, 1932. These geese are known to winter on the following 
islands: Unimak, Unalaska, Sanak, Umnak, Amukta, Seguam, 
Atka, Adak, Tanaga, Kanaga (abundant), Amchitka, Ulak (longi- 
tude 178 c W.), Ogliuga, Kavalga, Semisopochnoi, Kiska, and 
Attu. The chief of Attu declared that they were in that locality in 
"millions." These are the islands on which we have specific 
information. Undoubtedly, emperor geese occur on many, if not 
all, of the other islands; almost certainly they occur on Agattu 
and Semichi, for example. 

As may be expected, there are many records of winter oc- 
currences farther south, in Washington, Oregon, and California. 
These records are numerous enough to suggest that some strag- 
glers find their way into those southern localities quite regularly ; 
however, the regular wintering area is confined to portions of 
Alaska Peninsula, the Shumagin and Sanak Islands, and the 
Aleutian chain. Apparently, they are rare on the west side of 
Bering Sea during the winter. Stejneger (1887) records two 
specimens taken at Bering Island, April 6, 1886. 

The spring migration varies according to the locality and 
the age class. Natives declare that emperor geese leave Attu 
Island in April; Turner (1886) gave the date as the "latter 
part of March." He also stated that after the middle of Apri* 
considerable numbers of geese begin to arrive on the north side 
of Alaska Peninsula, particularly in the neighborhood of Ugashik. 

In 1924, I observed the spring migration at the nesting grounds 
at Hooper Bay. The first migratory wave began about the 
middle of May and continued to the end of the month. There 
was another notable flight about June 5 and 6, which appeared to 
end the migration of breeding birds. Nesting had begun at that 
time. 

A second distinct migration at Hooper Bay took place from 
June 21 to July 1. These were immature birds, probably all 
nonbreeders. 

It was my good fortune to observe the other end of such 
migration in 1925, at Izembek Bay and Unimak Island. On 
April 29, 1925, and for several days following, flocks of emperor 
geese were noted at Urilia Bay, on the north side of Unimak 
Island, many of them flying northeastward. On May 17, a 
flock of 250 was seen standing on an exposed sand bar in St. 
Catherine Cove. On May 20, they were common in Izembek Bay, 
and Donald Stevenson noted a flock of 300 there on June 2. We 
saw a similar-sized flock on June 8, at Moffet Cove, where they 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 71 

were noted throughout June in diminishing numbers. The last 
flock was seen on July 7. The time of gradual disappearance 
on Alaska Peninsula corresponds very well with the time of 
the late migration noted at Hooper Bay the previous year. The 
lingering flocks in Izembek Bay were mostly immature birds. 
One bird, which was collected in adult plumage, proved to be a 
nonbreeder. 

A few late occurrences were noted farther west. C. S. Williams 
noted a group of about six emperor geese on Uliaga Island 
on June 8, 1936; and a bald eagle's nest on Kavalga Island con- 
tained remains that were fresh enough to indicate a kill in July. 

Apparently, there is an eastward movement of emperor geese 
along the Aleutian chain, and a consequent "piling up" at favorite 
locations on the Alaska Peninsula, until the northern flights are 
well under way. 

The exact reversal of this process occurs in the fall. Some 
time early in September, the emperor geese begin to arrive from 
the north in the vicinity of Izembek Bay. And, according to the 
enthusiastic accounts of local residents, these emperor geese are 
almost as numerous as the cackling geese before the latter de- 
clined in numbers. At Port Moller, emperors are said to arrive 
as early as the latter part of August. They congregate on 
Nelson Lagoon, Izembek Bay, head of Morzhovoi Bay, locally 
in Isanotski Strait, St. Catherine Cove, Swanson Lagoon, and 
Urilia Bay. Most of these geese move westward some time in 
November. Incidentally, Swarth (1934) states that emperor 
geese were present on Nunivak Island, to the north, as late as 
October 29, 1927. The Attu chief said that they arrive at that 
westernmost point in the Aleutians late in October. 

Apparently, in fall migration the immature birds again lag 
behind their elders. According to Swarth, the first arrivals on 
Nunivak Island, observed by Cyril G. Harrold, August 20 to the 
middle of September, were white-headed adults. "On September 
15 the first young birds (dusky headed) were seen and they 
were common thereafter." 

Food Habits 

It is well known that the emperor guose is largely a beach 
feeder; in fact, it has earned the local name "beach goose." Yet, 
it is reported as occasionaly feeding on the berries of the 
tundra, notably Empetrum nigrum. Swarth (1934) sums it up 
thus, 

The emperor geese fed mostly upon the sea shore, but occasional flocks 
were encountered on the tundra, feeding upon berries. The one adult male 



72 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

of the series had its face stained and the throat and entire intestinal tract 
dyed blue from a diet of berries. 

In the spring of 1925, these birds were feeding at low tide on 
tide flats in Izembek Bay. The tide is about an hour later at the 
head of Izembek Bay than at the entrance; the same situation 
exists between the two sides of the long Hazen Point. The 
emperor geese were well aware of this, and when their feeding 
grounds were flooded by the incoming tide they simply flew up 
to Hazen Point, crossed over a few hundred yards to the east side, 
where the flats were still exposed, and continued feeding. The 
narrower parts of this point were favorite flyways. In this area, 
the principal food was thought to be eel grass. On June 14, at 
the margin of a pond, it was noted that the grass was grazed 
off short ; the area was trampled and was littered with droppings. 
However, the stomach of an immature bird found in a bald eagle's 
nest on Amak Island on July 10 contained remains of small crabs. 

Emperor geese are often reported as feeding on some kind of 
kelp in winter. At Kanaga Island, we were told that they feed 
on kelp and the green shoots of Elymus, which, even in winter, 
may be found under the dead vegetation. One informant stated 
that the geese probed into the ground and pulled out the horizon- 
tal rhyzomes of Equisetum. We had noted droppings on Ogliuga 
Island consisting of the herbaceous parts of Equisetum arvense; 
but these droppings could not be positively identified. 

Several observers in the Aleutians reported that emperor geese 
feed extensively on green "sea lettuce," as well as Fucus, and the 
"exposed roots" of Elymus. 

Chase Little John, apparently referring to Sanak Island and 
Morzhovoi Bay, says: "Here they live almost entirely on a 
bright green seaweed, locally known as sea lettuce, but at times 
eating small mussels." 

Cottam and Knappen (1939) have presented a comprehensive 
statement on the food habits of the emperor goose, based on 
analyses of 35 stomachs. Few, if any, of these stomachs were 
obtained in the Aleutian Islands, yet the data agree fairly well 
with observations made in this area. Their findings (based on 
the contents of 33 stomachs) show 91.58 percent vegetable matter, 
and 8.42 percent animal matter. Their findings are further sum- 
marized as follows: Algae, 30.73 percent; eel grass and other 
pond weeds, 13.91 percent; grasses and sedges, 24.94 percent; 
undetermined and miscellaneous plant fiber, 22 percent; bivalve 
mollusks (Pelecypoda), 3.66 percent; crabs and other crustaceans, 
2.18 percent; rodents and fishes, 1.76 percent; and miscellaneous 
animal life, 0.82 percent. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 73 
Mortality Factors 

At Sanak Island, a resident declared that one winter he 
found 15 dead emperor geese on the beach. Although he thought 
that the deaths were caused by the frozen condition of the fresh- 
water creeks, the precise mortality factor here must remain 
unknown. 

Among the natural enemies of the emperor goose is the bald 
eagle. However, there is no evidence that the eagle materially 
affects the goose population. 

Anser albifrons: White-fronted goose 
Anser albifrons frontalis 

Attu : Kog-a-la-gich 

Russian, latitudes of the Yana: Kasorka (Pleske) 

Bones of white-fronted geese are recorded by Friedmann in 
middens on Kodiak, Amaknak, Little Kiska, and Attu Islands. 
The Attu natives informed us that they have seen these geese 
in September; but they stated that the sightings are rare and 
that these geese do not winter there. Stejneger (1887) stated 
that occasionally these geese visit Bering Island in spring migra- 
tion. Turner did not observe this species in the Aleutian Islands. 
In 1925, I learned of a trapper at False Pass who had a white- 
fronted goose in captivity; he had caught the goose at St. Cath- 
erine Cove during the previous autumn. Residents of the area 
stated that this goose is very scarce around the west end of 
Alaska Peninsula. 

The white-fronted goose is a rare migrant in the Aleutian 
chain; therefore, Turner (1886) no doubt was partly right when 
he said, "They probably never visit the islands lying west of the 
mainland, as that region does not contain their particular food 
in sufficient quantity to induce them to visit it." His further 
statement that the Russians at St. Michaels referred to it as the 
^un-dri-na goose, or lowland goose, is further explanation of its 
scarcity in the Aleutians, where most of the land is rugged. 
Farther east along the Alaska Peninsula, however, suitable 
ground is available, and we found nesting birds on the tide flats 
at Ugashik River. On May 27-29, 1936, at least six pairs were 
noted in that area. 

Osgood (1904) records that he saw these birds at the base of 
Alaska Peninsula in 1902 ; he frequently saw them on the Chulitna 
River in early August, saw one on the Mulchatna River on 
September 3, and on the trip from the Mulchatna River to 
Nushagak he saw a considerable number of these birds each 
day. 



74 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

On July 23, 1940, Gabrielson observed three pairs of white- 
fronted geese along Kvichak River, above Naknek, and he was 
informed by natives that this is the common nesting goose at 
the base of Alaska Peninsula. He estimated that he saw 500 
birds along the Chulitna River on July 26. 

To sum up, the white-fronted goose nests on the eastern por- 
tions of Alaska Peninsula, at least as far west as Ugashik 
River; farther westward throughout the Aleutian district it is 
only a rare visitor. 

Chen hyperborea: Snow Goose 

On October 1, 1942, Gabrielson noted two snow geese with a 
flock of Canada-type gees? at Cold Bay. Again, on October 20, 
1944, he saw 4 large flocks flying over Olga Bay at Kodiak Island, 
and, on the same day, he stated that 1,000 to 1,500 birds settled 
near Kodiak village, where several were shot by the townspeople. 
He comments: "They are seldom seen here, though more fre- 
quently at the south end of the island." 

This is the only information available for this goose. There 
are no records concerning the area to the west. 

Anas platyrhynchos: Mallard 
Anas plafyrhynchos platyrhynchos 

Attu: Argh'-ich 

Atka: Ag-ich (apparently the same word in both dialects) 

Russian, Commander Islands: Selesenn (Stejneger) 

The mallard is widespread throughout the length of the Alaska 
Peninsula and Aleutian Islands, both as a breeding species and as 
a winter resident. Stejneger (1887) reported also that it was 
"resident, breeding numerously in Bering Island; comparatively 
rare on Copper Island." In 1886, Turner reported that the mallard 
was plentiful in the Aleutians in winter, and stated that it 
breeds sparingly on Agattu and Semichi Islands and that a few 
pairs were seen on Amchitka Island in the latter part of May 
1881 — which indicates nesting. Our expeditions verify this in- 
formation. In 1936, Attu natives stated that they had observed 
these birds nesting near streams, and stated that they winter 
there. The following season, on June 9, which was during the 
nesting season, we saw several mallards along the shore of 
Attu Island. Wilson (1948) observed them at Attu in the 
breeding season when some of them were paired. The last ones 
observed were on August 28. We found a number of mallards 
among the lakes of Agattu Island, and on June 13 we found 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 75 

a female with eight downy young. On June 21, 1937, a pair 
was seen among the lakes on the southeast part of Kiska Island, 
and another pair was seen in a lake at the South Harbor. On 
July 5, we flushed two males and a female from a pond on 
Amchitka Island. The natives of Atka also assured us that 
mallards are found there both summer and winter, which suggests 
nesting. June 20, 1941, Gabrielson saw a female with four 
young at Unalaska Island. The islands mentioned here are the 
principal ones that contain ponds and lakes. However, Cahn 
found this bird nesting at Unalaska Island. 

Farther east, we obtained additional nesting data. On May 
7, 1925, I found a nest of 11 eggs at Urilia Bay, Unimak Island. 
On June 6, a nest of 5 fresh eggs was found in a stream valley 
below Aghileen Pinnacles, western Alaska Peninsula, and on June 
23 a nest of 10 eggs was observed on the tide flat at Hazen 
Point, Izembek Bay. In 1936, residents at Port Moller assured 
us that mallards nest around Nelson Lagoon, and in 1928 Jaques 
(1930) found it a "common breeder in the Port Moller region." 
On May 29, 1936, we saw a single male at Ugashik River. We 
had seen a pair at Chisik Island, Tuxedni Bay, in Cook Inlet 
on May 6, and, on May 9, another pair was observed at Anchor- 
age. According to Osgood (1904), "McKay found the species 
breeding at Nushagak and took a number of specimens there 
in May and June, 1881." Gabrielson noted a few along Kvichak 
River July 23, 1940, including one brood of young. He also noted 
a male in the Barren Islands on June 13. 

Mallards undoubtedly nest on various islands south of the 
Alaska Peninsula. On August 29, 1936, I saw two mallards on 
a pond on Simeonof Island, in the Shumagins, and the local 
rancher said they nest there. On Afognak Island, September 2, 
1936, 14 mallards were seen in a lily pond. These could have 
been migrants, yet mallards undoubtedly nest there because they 
are known to nest on Kodiak, nearby. 

As stated above, mallards winter throughout the territory 
under discussion. Localities where considerable numbers have 
been reported are Unalaska, Kanaga, and Unimak. We were 
told by natives of Unimak that when the bays and lakes freeze 
over, the mallards move to the unfrozen streams in the interior 
of the island and return to the lowlands only when the ice has 
disappeared. 

In the summer and fall of 1936 there was an unusually large 
run of salmon up the streams of Unimak Island; at that time, 
mallards and other ducks, we were told, assembled there to feed 
on free-floating salmon eggs. 



76 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Anas strepera: Gadwall 

The gadwall has been considered to be "accidental" in Alaska, 
on the strength of two records for the Pribilof Islands. It was, 
therefore, of particular interest to find that this bird nests 
regularly in parts of Alaska. 

On May 16 and 17, 1937, several pairs of gadwalls were 
found on the Copper River Flats, near Cordova, not far from 
the mouth of Eyak River. Evidently, these were paired birds 
that were preparing to nest. 

Alfred M. Bailey (1927) reports a pair at Bartlett Cove, 
Glacier Bay, on August 9, and "felt sure" he had identified a 
band at Holkham Bay on September 25, though the light was poor. 

Cahalane (1943) reports that two gadwalls were shot on Oc- 
tober 2, 1940, at the head of Terror Bay, Kodiak Island. 

Chase Littlejohn says "A few of these ducks were shot by me 
while on their way north in the spring at Dolgoi Island, near 
Belkofski. They were the only ones seen." 

On the north side of Alaska Peninsula, where suitable marsh- 
lands are present, the gadwall is fairly common. On May 27 to 
29, 1936, they were common on the tidal marsh and on numerous 
ponds adjacent to Ugashik River where they were courting and 
preparing to nest. Generally, a female would be seen flying about, 
pursued by two or more males. On May 28, this species was 
recorded as "the principal duck seen," and on May 29 "they and 
the scaups made up most of the duck population." A pair was 
collected for specimens. 

At Port Moller, residents assured us that gadwalls nest plenti- 
fully in the lakes upriver from Nelson Lagoon. 

On May 8, 1925, I observed 4 gadwalls near the shore of a 
lagoon at Urilia Bay, Unimak Island ; 2 of these were taken for 
specimens. On May 21, five gadwalls were seen among the ponds 
on Hazen Point in Izembek Bay ; gadwalls were seen repeatedly 
as late as July 25. 

Beals and Longworth, in a field report, mention that they saw 
4 gadwalls on Unimak Island, March 19, 1941, 1 of which was 
collected. Local residents considered it to be uncommon. 

Gabrielson reports a male and female on a lake at Izembek 
Bay, June 4, 1942. During the fall and winter periods of 1943 
and 1944, he found them to be common among the Kodiak- 
Afognak Islands. 

Turner (1886) records a specimen taken at Unalaska Island 
in December, 1878, and states that they are "abundant" along the 
Yukon Delta district in summer. Nelson does not mention it, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 77 

however, and we did not see this duck in the Hooper Bay district 
in 1924. 

Taber found 5 males and 4 females at Adak Island during the 
winter of 1945-46. 

Stejneger says (1887), "Reported by Dybowski as taken on 
Bering Island." Hartert (1920) mentions a specimen shot on 
Copper Island on May 13, 1911. 

Thus, we find (as is the case with a number of species that re- 
quire lowland marsh) that this duck nests along the lowlands on 
the north side of Alaska Peninsula, possibly also on Unimak Is- 
land, but it occurs only as a straggler in the Aleutians to the west. 

Anas acuta: Pintail 

Russian, Commander Islands: Vostrochvost (Stejneger) 

This widely distributed bird is not common in the Aleutian 
district, but it does occur here and there throughout the entire 
area. It is known to occur on Kodiak Island (Friedmann 1935; 
Howell 1948), where Gabrielson found it plentiful in fall and 
winter. Cahalane (1944) observed pintails in several localities in 
the Katmai region in the autumn of 1940, but his report implies 
that this species is not plentiful. Gabrielson noted a female on 
Naknek River on July 19, 1940, and on July 23 several females, 
evidently with broods, were noted on Kvichak River. He also 
found it at Unimak, Cold Bay, Izembek Bay, Shumagin Islands, 
and Kodiak-Afognak Islands; they were rather plentiful in the 
last-mentioned localities in fall and winter. Einarsen (1922) 
found pintails nesting near Ugashik in 1922, and Jaques (1930) 
found it to be a common breeding bird around Port Moller in 
June 1928. 

On May 23, 1936, we saw 2 pintails near Dillingham, Bristol 
Bay, and, on May 26, 2 more pintails were seen near Snag Point. 
On May 27 to 29, an occasional pair was seen on the flats near 
Ugashik River, where they evidently were nesting. 

Residents on Unimak Island stated that pintails nest there, and 
this was verified by my observations in 1925. In that year, they 
were first seen at Urilia Bay on April 30. On May 4, Donald 
Stevenson saw 10 males flying about, and on May 17 a pair was 
seen at St. Catherine Cove. Pintails were also present on Izembek 
Bay, and on June 30, near Point Grant, in the midst of nesting 
Arctic terns and Pacific eiders, a nest of eight eggs was found. 
Near Frosty Peak, a female that obviously had eggs, or young, 
nearby was observed. 

Turner did not observe the pintail in the Aleutians during the 



78 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

nesting season, and we found that the natives 'did not recognize 
pictures of the bird, yet the bird assuredly occurs in these is- 
lands. We noted pintails on a lake on Umnak Island May 30, 
1937, and on August 23, 1937, Steenis obtained a specimen there. 
On June 16, 1936, C. S. Williams reported a pair on Amukta Is- 
land. Laing (1925) saw a small flock at Kuluk Bay, Adak Island, 
April 13, 1924. We noted a pair among the lakes at the south- 
east point of Kiska Island on June 5, 1937, and, in the same vicin- 
ity, on June 21 we saw two males and a female. Remains of a 
pintail were found in a bald eagle's nest on the north side of Little 
Sitkin Island, and, on June 17, 1937, a pair was observed on 
Alaid Island, of the Semichi group, which is near the western 
end of the chain. On Attu Island, Wilson (1948) found three 
pairs that he thought to be nesting. 

Undoubtedly, all these records denote nesting throughout the 
Aleutian chain, though successful nesting in recent years may be 
adversely affected by the blue-fox industry. 

Stejneger (1887) says pintails are very numerous on Bering 
Island, but less common on Copper Island. 

Turner did not think pintails wintered in the Aleutians; how- 
ever, he recorded them at Unalaska as late as November. More- 
over, Beals and Longworth (field report) state that pintails are 
plentiful in winter in the vicinity of Unimak Island. On March 1, 
a flock of 25 was recorded; on March 16, 2 were noted; on March 
26, a flock of 23 was noted. Moreover, Taber observed a flock of 
48 that were wintering at Adak, in 1945-46. 

Anas falcata: Falcated Teal 

Rowland Wilson (1948) reports an unusual observation, in part, 
as follows: 

On May 23 and 24, 1945, Lt. C. L. Stone and I observed a male and female 
of this handsome species, together with two Tufted Dueks and three male 
and four female Greater Scaups, on a little "pothole" pond inland from 
Murder Point [Attu Island]. We had abundant opportunity to watch the 
teals, for they were not shy. On the 24th we saw the male diving several 
times. He went under rather awkwardly, giving us the impression that 
he was not used to such activity. The female did not dive while we watched 
her. . . . Possibly they had been blown in from the west by a recent storm. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 79 

Anas crecca: Common Teal 
Anas crecca nim'ia 

Attu: Cheerrh-ooli (obviously the Russian name) 

Atka: Krech-cheer-tha (derivation from Russian is at least suggested by 

the middle syllable) 
Ataxciyax (Jochelson — probably the true Aleut name) 
Russian, Commander Islands: Tschirok (Stejneger) 

It is now well established that the breeding species of teal 
throughout the Aleutian chain is Anas crecca. During our expedi- 
tions, with only one exception, when a close view of males was 
possible, or when specimens were collected,- the bird proved to be 
the common teal. Beals and Longworth collected a male at Uni- 
mak Island, June 11, 1941. This is the easternmost point for 
which we have a record of this bird. Swarth (1934) records 3 
specimens, 2 males and 1 female, taken on Akutan Island, May 24, 
1927. We found these teals common throughout the Aleutian 
chain, and they are to be found on most of the islands where 
suitable habitat is available. Bent lists a specimen collected by 
Lucien M. Turner on Atka Island, June 28, 1879, and one taken 
by J. Hobart Egbert on Kiska Island, July 14, 1904. He also 
states that in 1911 his party collected "quite a series" of speci- 
mens in the western and central islands, and every male proved 
to be this form. Laing (1925) records two males taken at Adak 
Island, April 13, 1924. On our own expeditions, several specimens 
were taken, including males on Kagalaska, July 4, 1936, and on 
Amchitka, July 24, 1936. 

Gabrielson noted a pair of common teals on Amukta Island, 
June 25, 1940 ; he saw about a dozen on Amchitka, June 28, and 
saw others at Tanaga, Ogliuga, Atka, Ulak, Kavalga, Segula, and 
Adak. 

These teals are the most abundant fresh-water ducks in the 
Aleutians. Broods of young were seen on the small islands, 
Ogliuga and Skagul, and two broods were seen on Kanaga. On 
July 7, 1937, we found a nest of seven fresh eggs on Amchitka. 
On July 3, 1936, a female with two downy young were seen in a 
shallow grassy pond on Adak Island. The natives said that teals 
nest on Attu, and a male was seen on Agattu, June 15, 1937. On 
August 23, 1937, I counted at least 42 teals on a lake near Nikol- 
ski Village, Umnak Island, and Steenis, on the same day, saw a 
greater number. Pairs were seen on various other islands, and it 
is certain that they nest throughout the length of the Aleutian 
chain. 

Stejneger (1887) reported the European (common) teal as an 



80 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

abundant visitor on Bering Island, but less common on Copper 
Island. The species also occurs in the Pribilof Islands. 

Apparently, while nesting, the teals are less susceptible to the 
predations of the blue fox than are most other waterfowl, though 
the chief of Atka Village declared that they were much more 
numerous in early days. They generally occupy shallow, weedy 
ponds, though they also spend much time on the beaches — some- 
times on boulder beaches. They feed extensively along the beach 
margin and are often found on salt water. This was noted par- 
ticularly on Ogliuga Island. The nest found on Amchitka Island, 
July 7, 1937, was situated in the dense stand of Elymus border- 
ing the ocean beach, and the female repeatedly was observed 
feeding on this open beach. 

Cottam and Knappen (1939) have reported on the contents 
of five stomachs of this species, and say that "three out of four 
birds taken in coastal Alaska had fed almost exclusively on soft- 
bodied crustaceans." The authors felt that the high percentage 
of animal matter (80.2 percent) was probably not typical and 
would not be maintained in a larger series of stomachs. However, 
our observations on the feeding habits of these teals in the Aleu- 
tians are in accord with these findings from the stomach analyses. 

Evidently, the common teal winters in the Aleutians. We were 
assured of this by the natives of Attu and Kanaga, and residents 
of Unimak also stated that teals winter there. Furthermore, 
Donald Stevenson, who spent several winters in the Aleutians, 
furnished positive evidence of it, for in his field reports he said, 
in part (referring to Unalaska Island), 

They were again noted here Nov. 2, 1920, and at intervals in the month 
of November until November 21. Then again here January 7, 1921, to 
January 31, 1921. Being often observed feeding in small pools of salt water 
along the beach after the cold weather had set in and had frozen the fresh 
water streams. . . . Existed in great numbers at Umnak Island, near Otter 
Point November 22, 1920, in small fresh water pond, and in large fresh 
water stream. . . . Observed about five hundred here Dec. 13, also noted here 
Dec. 18, 1920. Specimens taken were in a fine fat condition. 

In 1943, Cahn noted 1 common teal at Unalaska Island on Oc- 
tober 14, and 2 on December 2. Taber noted a flock of 47 at 
Clam Lagoon, Adak Island, from November 1945 to late January 
1946. Sutton and Wilson saw a male at Attu, March 5, 1945. 

Anas carolinensJs: Green-winged Teal 

The common teal occupies the Aleutian Islands, and the green- 
winged teal occupies the Alaska Peninsula. There is some over- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 81 

lapping in range. On June 5, 1937, Steenis and I observed 3 teals 
at a small pond on Kiska Island — at least 2 were males in bright 
plumage. One was clearly A. crecca, with a plain breast and a 
light-colored scapular streak. The other bird lacked the scapular 
streak, and plainly showed the crescent on the side of the breast. 
We both saw these markings, but we failed to note the markings 
of the third bird. It may have been a female. It is interesting 
to note that both species of teals occur on the Pribilofs. 

Cahn, writing of his observations at Unalaska Island during 
the war years, says of the green-winged teal : "Observed in every 
month of the year except August in four years of observations ; 
inhabits the same area as A. crecca, but more common." Taber 
did not record it as being present in winter at Adak. 

Because of the difficulty of identification in the field, and be- 
cause females of the two forms are indistinguishable, even with 
specimens, there is confusion about their ranges and the extent of 
territorial overlapping. Until more collecting is done, and be- 
cause specimens of nimia east of Unimak are lacking, we may 
assume for the present that the birds of Alaska Peninsula are 
chiefly carolinensis. They occur in suitable locations along the 
peninsula. In 1925, they were noted on Unimak Island and 
Izembek Bay. In 1936, we were informed by residents that teals 
nest up the river from Nelson Lagoon, and we saw at least two 
teals at Ugashik River on May 29, 1936. Osgood (1904), how- 
ever, found teals scarce in the interior of the base of Alaska 
Peninsula, and says, 

One old female was seen on the Nogheling River July 21, and no more 
appeared until we neared the coast on the lower Nushagak River. Immense 
flocks were seen in late September in the vicinity of Nushagak. McKay 
obtained several specimens at Nushagak and at Ugashik. 

The National Museum has a male green-winged teal that was 
taken at Nushagak, May 6, 1883, by Paul J. Kojevnikoff. 

Cahalane (1944) has observed the green-winged teal on the 
mainland only once positively : a flock of 12 was seen September 
24, 1940, near the mouth of Savanoski River. 

Gabrielson saw several green-winged teals, obviously with 
broods, up the Kvichak River, July 23, 1940. On April 27, 1942, 
he positively identified 21 of these birds at King Cove, and later 
he saw many more at Cold Bay. 

Green-winged teals occur on Kodiak Island, according to Fried- 
mann (1935) and Howell (1948). Cahalane and Gabrielson 
found them to be numerous in the Kodiak-Af ognak area, but there 
are no records for the rest of the territory under discussion. 



82 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Teals winter at Unimak Island, according to residents, and, 
according to Cahn, they winter as far west as Unalaska Island. 



Mareca penelope: European Widqeon 

Russian, Commander Islands: Svistsch or Svistun (Stejneger) 

Four specimens have been collected on the Pribilof Islands, 
and Dall (1873) records a specimen taken at Unalaska, October 
12, 1871. He says it is "not uncommon among the ducks brought 
in by the native hunters of that locality." He considered it to be 
a winter visitor, "migrating about May 1st." 

On June 21, 1937, we found a pair at a lake back from the 
beach at the more southerly harbor on Kiska Island. As the two 
birds flew by, I clearly saw the buffy coloration on the head of 
the male. At that season of the year, a pair suggests nesting. 

Stejneger (1887) records this bird as being a visitor to the 
Commander Islands in migration. 

Mareca americana: American Widgeon 

The American widgeon, or baldpate, is rare in the Aleutian 
district. On May 27, 1936, 2 or 3 were observed on the flat marshes 
near Ugashik River, and 2 males were seen May 29. We saw none 
to the westward, though Gabrielson records seeing a male and a 
female on a pond near Izembek Bay on June 6, 1942, and saw 
others at Port Moller, July 7, 1946. 

Osgood (1904) mentions specimens taken by McKay at Cape 
Constantine and Ugashik in September 1881. 

Hine (1919) observed this duck occasionally in the Katmai 
Region in 1919, and he obtained specimens near the mouth of 
Katmai River. 

Friedmann (1935) records seeing the baldpate at Kodiak, and 
a specimen was taken. He also (1937) reports that bones of this 
duck were found in middens on Little Kiska Island. Gabrielson 
records that the species was "common" in the Kodiak-Afognak 
Islands in the fall and winter months of 1943 and 1944. 

Howell (1948) reports as follows for Kodiak: "Two were seen 
May 31, at Middle Bay, and one on June 16, at Bell's Flats," in 
1944. 

Turner states that it is rarely seen on Attu Island. 

Finally, Stejneger (1887) found a dead bird of this species 
among the sand dunes of Bering Island. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 83 

Spatula clypeata: Shoveler 

Attu: Koo-chu-tuh or Koo-chu-thoh 

Eussian, Commander Islands: Soksan (Stejneger, 

The natives of Attu Island seemed to know this duck and had 
a name for it — if their identification is correct. They recognized 
a picture, agreed on the spoon-shaped beak, and claimed that the 
shoveler nests on Attu Island. 

Stejneger (1887) considered it to be one of the rarer ducks on 
Bering Island, but he thought that it breeds there — hence, it would 
not be surprising to find it among the Near Islands. 

We did not find the shoveler in the Aleutians, but on May 29, 
1936, a male was seen among some other ducks in a pond near 
Ugashik River on the peninsula. Two specimens were taken by 
McKay near Nushagak, on August 14, 1881, and on September 
24, 1882. Cahalane (1944) records 1 bird seen by him, September 
7, 1940, on Brooks River, and Gabrielson observed 2 at Morzhovoi 
Bay, June 21, 1940 — the westernmost point for which we have 
precise record. 

The shoveler is scarce in the Aleutians and Alaska Peninsula, 
and it is comparatively scarce on other parts of the Bering Sea 
coast. The only place where we found them in considerable num- 
bers was in the vicinity of Cordova, on the Copper River flats 
near the mouth of Eyak River. There, on May 16 and 17, 1937, 
we saw many of them engaged in courtship, evidently preparing 
to nest. 

Aythya americana: Redhead 

Attu: Ka-ve im'-much 

The A. 0. U. Check-List states that the redhead is a casual 
visitor on Kodiak Island, Alaska, and Friedmann (1935) men- 
tions a specimen taken there by Rutter. 

On June 16, 1936, I had a glimpse of a pair of ducks, identified 
as redheads, rising from a pond near the beach on Amukta Island. 
Upon arrival at Attu, Chief Hodikoff declared that a few ducks 
(like those in the picture of redheads that we showed him) nest 
on Attu and remain in winter. He gave us the native name, Ka-ve 
(head) im-much (round). He was certain of his identification. 

At the time, we were concerned only with the redhead, but be- 
cause of its similarity to the pochard, which occurs on the Pribi- 
lofs, it is possible that the Aleut chief was really referring to the 
Old World species, Nyroca ferina, and conceivably the birds that 
we noted on Amukta were also of that species. 



84 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Aythya valisineria: Canvasback 

In 1925, I was told by a trapper that canvasbacks had been seen 
on Urilia Bay, on Unimak Island. It was thought at the time 
that he had confused the birds with some other canvas-backed 
type of duck. But the report is more plausible since Friedmann 
(1937) referred to this species — five humeri found in old middens 
at Dutch Harbor. The bird has also been recorded for the Pribi- 
lofs. No other records for canvasbacks were obtained. 

Aythya mania: Greater Scaup 
Aythya mania nearctlca 

Attu: Han-o ka-ve-too 

Russian, Commander Islands: Tschernik (Stejneger) 

Four specimens of this species, which were breeding birds, were 
collected by Donald Stevenson at Izembek Bay in June 1925. On 
geographic grounds, also, the scaup of this region should be 
A. marila nearctica, rather than A. afflnis. The American greater 
scaup was recorded from Kodiak Island by Friedmann (1935). 
Concerning this bird, Osgood (1904) says, "Scaup ducks, doubt- 
less this species, were seen in small flocks along the Nushagak 
River September 4 to 9. McKay took them in May and July at 
Nushagak and Ugashik." And again, he says (1901), "a flock of 
six scaup ducks were seen on a pond near Tyonek September 17." 

Cahalane records this duck on the Naknek River, where it was 
abundant, on September 28, 1940, and he found it to be common 
on Brooks Lake, September 9, though he did not see it in the more 
interior portions of the Katmai National Monument. He also 
said that they were fairly common in the Kodiak-Afognak area. 

On July 23, 1940, Gabrielson observed four broods of greater 
scaups on the Kvichak River. In later years, he saw them in num- 
bers at Unimak, Atka, Kanaga, Umnak, Unalaska, Amchitka, 
Shumagin, Sanak, and Kodiak-Afognak Islands. 

We saw two greater scaups near Chisik Island, Cook Inlet, May 
7, 1936. On May 27-29, 1936, scaups were common, flying about 
in pairs, near Ugashik River. In June 1928, Jaques found them to 
be common near Port Moller. They were reported to be common 
near Chignik, maintaining their numbers better than other ducks 
in that vicinity. 

In 1925, I found scaups nesting in Izembek Bay. About the 
middle of May of that year, there were small bands in St. 
Catherine Cove, at Unimak Island, swimming on the salt water 
or on the small ponds on the shore, sometimes segregating in 
pairs. In the middle of June, they were particularly common 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 85 

about Hazen Point, and they were seen elsewhere in Izembek 
Bay. On June 20, they were still flying about in pairs. On that 
date, a female was seen standing near a recently constructed nest 
cavity. On June 30, 3 nests were found on small islands near 
Point Grant ; 2 of these nests contained 9 and 10 eggs respectively. 
The number of eggs in the third nest was not recorded. On July 
26, a nest of seven eggs was found on a gull island. 

Residents stated that scaups nest on Unimak Island. 

Scaups were noted at intervals throughout the Aleutian chain. 
Four or five were seen near Nikolski, Umnak Island, on May 
30, 1937; 7, mostly males, were seen on Corwin Lake on Atka, 
June 22, 1936; several were noted on Amchitka, July 1937 ; a flock 
of 30 was seen on a lake on Kiska, July 26, 1936 (where half a 
dozen were seen on June 4, 1937) ; and several pairs were seen on 
Agattu Island in the middle of June 1937. Steenis observed four 
pairs and a female there, and other members of the party observed 
paired scaups. On June 15, 1937, on Agattu, I found a scooped- 
out nest cavity with a little down and some white breast feathers, 
which I thought to be a scaup nest. Austin H. Clark (1910) 
found this species to be rather common at Attu and Agattu. 

Chase Littlejohn (manuscript notes) says, "Found breeding 
at Sanak, Ukamuk [Chirikof Island], and Morzhovoi Bay, each 
nest contained nine eggs. They congregate in large flocks in 
winter at Sanakh and remain so until spring, when they pair off 
and begin nesting." 

The Attu chief assured us that scaups nest on Attu and winter 
there. On Kanaga Island, also, we were assured that scaups are 
plentiful in winter, and that they become very tame around the 
dock. 

Taber found them wintering at Adak, and for Unalaska Island 
Cahn reports — 

An abundant winter inhabit-^ of all the larger bays, in common with the 
Harlequin ducks and white-winged scoters. The greatest numbers occur in 
December and January, and the species disappears entirely in April as a 
rule; May 3, 1946 is the latest recorded date. It returns again a few at a 
time, in September and October, gradually increasing in abundance. 

Sutton and Wilson found scaups wintering at Attu Island. 

At Unimak Island, March 1, 1941, Beals and Longworth ob- 
served two rafts, of at least 1,500 scaups each, on Swanson 
Lagoon, and a trapper assured them that these ducks spend the 
winter there. 

In several localities, mention was made of the scaup's habit of 
assembling near docks. In some cases, at least, fish offal appears 



86 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

to be the attraction. This was definitely reported to be the case 
at False Pass, where the ducks gather at the cannery docks during 
the fishing season. 

Aythya affinis: Lesser Scaup 

Friedmann (1935) lists the lesser scaup in the avifauna of 
Kodiak Island on the basis of osseous remains found in middens. 
We did not identify this duck on our expeditions, and we as- 
sumed that the scaups observed were of the larger form. 

Aythya fuligula: Tufted Duck 

Howland Wilson (1948) added this species to the list of Aleu- 
tian birds, bearing out our assumption that it could easily occur 
among the western islands. He reports seeing 2 males and 2 fe- 
males in a little pothole, inland from Murder Point on Attu Is- 
land on May 23 and 24, 1945; he watched them for some time, 
and the "tufts of long, loose feathers which streamed down from 
the nape of each male" were noted in detail. 

Bucephala clangula: Common Goldeneye 
Bucephala clangula americana 

Attu: Ha-no sakh-oi-a 

Russian, Commander Islands: Gogol (Stejneger, referring to the closely 

related European form). 

This may be the "whistler" amtdtux, given by Jochelson, for which no dia- 
lect was mentioned. 

Friedmann (1935) lists bones found in Kodiak middens, which 
he assigned to this subspecies on geographic grounds, and he 
mentions two specimens collected there by Fisher. On March 21, 
1924, Laing (1925) observed three of these ducks at Uyak Bay of 
Kodiak Island. 

Gabrielson noted that this duck is plentiful in the Kodiak- 
Afognak area in fall and winter; he found it in the winter at 
Unalaska, Umnak, Kanaga, and Atka, and at King Cove and Cold 
Bay in spring and fall. 

I observed the goldeneyes in 1925 at Unimak Island. On April 
29, 1925, I saw a pair flying over a lagoon at Urilia Bay, and on 
May 1, 1925, I saw a flock of about 10. On May 4, 1925, Donald 
Stevenson reported at least 200 on Peterson Lagoon. Identifica- 
tion could not be positive on all of these instances, but they were 
assumed to be americana on the basis of known distribution. 

Friedmann identified a goldeneye humerus in middens of Dutch 
Harbor, and Laing (1925) observed nine goldeneyes at Unalaska, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 87 

March 21 and 22, 1924 ; however, those were immature birds, or 
females, and identification of the species was doubtful. Turner, 
also, records this duck for Unalaska in December, and he says 
that it winters there. 

Cahn reports the goldeneye for Unalaska Island, saying, 

Strictly a winter visitor, present in considerable numbers but never in 
large flocks. Goldeneyes drift in by one's and two's in late October (October 
24, 1943), and are common in the larger bays during the period of December 
through February, at which time they disappear far more abruptly than 
they arrive. April 11, 1946, is the latest recorded date; this is unusually 
late. 

Laing observed an unidentified goldeneye at Adak Island, and 
at Attu Island he positively identified two adult males that "were 
found ardently courting in a flock of six." 

Taber found goldeneyes wintering at Adak Island in 1945-46. 

When shown colored illustrations, the Attu chief picked out the 
common goldeneye and said it was plentiful there in winter, 
arriving in November and (he thought) leaving early in March. 

Sutton and Wilson found them wintering at Attu. Stejneger 
(1885) reported that the European common goldeneye occurred 
at the Commander Islands in winter in small numbers. 

Because there are so few specimens, and because racial identi- 
fication cannot be ascertained in the field, it would be possible 
that the Old World form (keeping in mind that it is recorded 
from the Pribilofs) occurs in the western Aleutians and has not 
been detected. In the case of this form, we are leaning heavily 
on assumed geographical distribution. 

Bucephala islandica: Barrow's Goldeneye 

We saw several Barrow's goldeneyes at Seward, May 5, 1936; 
at least 12 at Port Chatham, Kenai Peninsula, on May 6; 2 at 
Chisik Island, Cook Inlet, May 7; and 1 male at Kodiak Island, 
May 13. Friedmann (1935) has given a number of records for 
Kodiak Island, and Gabrielson noted them in winter and fall at 
Unalaska and Kodiak-Afognak Islands. 

With regard to the base of Alaska Peninsula, Osgood (1904) 

reported — 

One was seen on the Nogheling River July 20, and one was killed there 
some days later; another was shot by W. L. Fleming on a small pond near 
the head of Lake Clark July 28. Several immature birds were killed at 
the mouth of the Chulitna River August 4. Rather common at intervals 
along the Chulitna River August 12 to 17; generally seen in family parties 
of 6 to 10. Near Swan Lake a flock of about 15 was seen feeding on a shal- 
low lake in company with a flock of 10 swans. Seen almost daily in pairs 
or small flocks along the Malchatna and upper Nushagak September 3 to 6. 



88 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Cahalane (1944) found this duck "numerous in the upper por- 
tion of the Naknek River, September 4." They were also abundant 
in Amalik, Kaflia, and Kukak Bays on October 5 and 7. Hine 
(1919) considered it to be a common species in the Katmai Bay 
area, and he obtained a specimen there. 

Thus, it would appear that the Barrow's goldeneye is confined 
pretty much to the basal part of Alaska Peninsula, adjacent is- 
land groups, and mainland areas as a breeding bird. The Ameri- 
can common goldeneye, on the other hand, is the form generally 
encountered to the westward, as a migrant. There are no data to 
show that any goldeneye nests west of the more or less tree- 
covered base of Alaska Peninsula. 

Bucephala albeola: Bufflehead 

Attu : Ckirr-u-num Sakh-oi-a 
Atka : Mith-i-me-thruh 

The bufflehead occurs sparsely throughout the Aleutian district. 
Friedmann's data (1935) show that this duck is rather common 
on Kodiak Island, and that it nests there. Osgood (1904) reports 
that "two specimens were seen at Cold Bay October 17 among 
some ducks killed on the bay by natives. One was taken at 
Nushagak by McKay, May 2, 1882." 

We noted at least six buffleheads at Port Chatham, Kenai Penin- 
sula, May 6, 1936. At Chignik, we were told that buffleheads are 
seen there in autumn. Gabrielson has seen them at Cold Bay, at 
the Shumagin Islands, and at Sanak Island. 

We found two females in a pond at Ikatan Peninsula, Unimak 
Island, May 19, 1936. Beals and Longworth noted one at False 
Pass, March 7, 1941, and four on Ikatan Peninsula on April 15, 
1941. 

Turner (1888) says that this duck occurs in winter at Unalaska, 
where he obtained specimens, and he adds that they are rare to 
the westward, where they are present only in winter. Gabriel- 
son found them in winter at Unalaska, Atka, Amchitka, and 
Umnak. Over a period of 4 years, Cahn saw only one bufflehead 
at Unalaska Island (on February 22, 1944). 

Ray Clark, storekeeper on Umnak Island, said that butterballs 
(buffleheads) remain there in winter. 

Wetmore (manuscript notes) says that R. H. Beck saw a pair 
of buffleheads in a pond back of Atka village on June 13, 1911; 
Laing (1925) saw "fully thirty-five" in a small lagoon on Adak 
Island on April 11, 1924. And Taber found the species wintering 
at Adak, where there were 32 birds noted in a census on January 
13, 1946. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 89 

The Attu chief stated that his island is within the wintering 
range of the bufflehead, but he insisted that they also nest on 
Attu, "up high." 

Stejneger (1887) reports the bufflehead as "an accidental visi- 
tor during the winter of 1882-83" in the Commander Islands. 

Incidentally, this bird is mentioned in a number of records for 
the Pribilof Islands. 

Clangula hyemalis: Oldsquaw 

Attu : Ang-lach 

Atka: A-lang-ach 

Unimak: Alg-nach' 

Russian, Commander Islands: Sofka (Stejneger) 

Russian, Yana region: Savka (Birula) 

Chukchi : Pojgochek, male 

Achak, female (Palmen) 

The oldsquaw is fairly common, especially in migration, and 
has been reported by most writers on southwestern Alaska. It 
occurs on Kodiak, and Osgood (1904) reports it from various 
places at the base of Alaska Peninsula and the Bristol Bay region. 
Einarsen (1922) reports several of these birds nesting near 
Ugashik in 1922. Laing (1924) counted as many as 200 at Dolgoi 
Island, March 23, 1924, and apparently he saw it in many other 
unidentified localities. He collected a specimen at Kodiak, March 
21, 1924. Dall (1873) considered it to be abundant east of 
Unalaska. 

We noted the bird at various points : 2 migrating flocks on the 
Gulf of Alaska, May 2, 1936; 150 birds at Chisik Island, Cook 
Inlet, May 7 ; a flock of 30 in Shelikof Strait, May 13 ; 1 bird in 
Nushagak Bay, May 23; and 2 birds on the flats at Ugashik 
River, May 27. They are said to arrive at Chignik "late in the 
fall." 

The oldsquaw is common in migration along the Alaska Penin- 
sula and adjacent islands, but we were unable to establish nesting 

records. 

They are rather common in the Aleutians at certain seasons, 
especially in winter. In 1925, I found them to be numerous 
about False Pass in the latter part of April and in May. One 
was seen in St. Catherine Cove as late as May 20, but none was 
seen after that date. Beals and Longworth (field report) re- 
corded them at False Pass and neighboring points on January 12, 
13, and 19, 1941, and they observed them daily through March 
and as late as April 10. 

Wetmore (manuscript notes) saw 2 birds at Unalaska Island 



90 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

on June 7 and 11, 1911, and McGregor (1906) collected 1 female 
in worn plumage on July 20, 1901, at Tigalda Island. 

Cahn often found them wintering at Unalaska Island; the 
earliest date was November 3, 1943, and the latest date was April 
19, 1946. Taber found them wintering at Adak. 

We did not see many oldsquaws in the Aleutians; however, at 
Atka Island we were told by the natives that they formerly had 
nested on that island, but not "since the foxes came." The natives 
said that these birds winter on Atka and Kanaga in large num- 
bers. The Atka chief assured us that these ducks nest on 
Amchitka — he stated that although he had seen the young, he 
had not seen any nests. 

Kiska Island appears to be one of the favorite localities for 
the oldsquaw. This island was mentioned by Dall as the western 
limit of its range. We saw several birds there as late as June 4 
and 5, 1937, and Wetmore reported them to be fairly common 
near the entrance to Kiska Harbor, June 17 to 21, 1911. We also 
found oldsquaw remains in two bald-eagle nests on that island; 
oldsquaw remains were also found on West Unalga, and in eagle 
nests on Rat and Little Sitkin Islands. 

Dall (1874) said that the oldsquaw was resident as far west 
as Kiska, but that it was not abundant. We learned from the 
Attu natives that it nests on Agattu and is abundant in the Near 
Islands in winter. This is substantiated by the report by Sutton 
and Wilson on Attu. The oldsquaws wintered there, and after 
March 4 they were observed courting. Turner (1886) said that 
few of these birds nested in the Aleutians, but that many of 
them wintered there. In 1887, Stejneger reported oldsquaws 
"breeding numerously on Bering Island." Gabrielson also ob- 
served them wintering as far west as Atka. 

To sum up, Turner's statement (see above) applies very well 
to the Aleutian district as a whole. 

Histrionicus histrionicus: Harlequin Duck 

Attu : Kagh'-i-ach 

Atka: Kagh'-a-thi-ga 

Unalaska : Kang-a-rich 

Unimak: Kang-ath'-a-gich 

Russian, Commander Islands: Kamenuschka (Stejneger) 

This is the most abundant duck in the Aleutian Islands. We 
found harlequin ducks at practically every island that we visited, 
singly sometimes, generally in small groups, and occasionally 
in larger flocks. It is safe to say that, at one time or another, 
harlequin ducks occur at every island, large or small, from Uni- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 91 

mak to Attu. Stejneger has reported them to be common in the 
Commander Islands. 

They were also found east of the Aleutians— at Amak Island, 
at Izembek Bay, and at False Pass. In the Shumagin group, we 
observed them at Unga, Nagai, and Simeonof Islands. They 
were at King Cove, the Barren Islands, Afognak, Port Chatham 
on Kenai Peninsula, and at Seward. Osgood (1904) observed 
them along the Egegik River and "about the mouths of the larger 
streams that empty into Becharof Lake." He found them to be 
common at Kanatak and Cold Bay, and he mentions specimens 
taken by McKay and Johnson at Igushik and Nushagak. 

Cahalane (1944) reported harlequins in large numbers in the 
general region of Katmai National Monument in the fall of 1940, 
and Hine (1919) considered them to be one of the most common 
ducks in the Katmai Bay area in the summer of 1919. Cahalane 
also recorded them as being abundant in the Kodiak-Afognak 
group in the fall of 1940, where Gabrielson noted 200 on June 16, 
1940. W. Sprague Brooks (1915) observed them on April 19, 
1913, at the Semidi Islands, and on April 22, 1913, he saw them 
at King Cove. 

Although these birds occur on the north side of Alaska Penin- 
sula, they are more common on the south side, which is more 
rugged. Evidently, these birds nest on Alaska Peninsula. On 
July 19, 1940, Gabrielson noted a pair flying along Kittiwake 
Creek, between Brooks and Naknek Lakes, and Friedmann (1935) 
states that Bretherton found them breeding in June on Kodiak 
Island. In the spring of 1925, I often observed two pairs along 
a stream just north of Aghileen Pinnacles, near the western end 
of Alaska Peninsula. Eventually, on June 3, only the males were 
seen; presumably, the females were nesting. 

On July 16, 1911, Wetmore (manuscript notes) observed a fe- 
male and a group of young in King Cove. 

It is difficult to determine the status of the harlequin ducks 
in the Aleutians. The natives insisted that they nest along streams 
and that their nests are very hard to find. In way of substantia- 
tion, we found no nests and no broods of young. However, we 
found these birds on islands that had no suitable nesting streams. 
On the other hand, Austin H. Clark (1910) reported: "It was 
common about Atka, where 1 or 2 were seen inland on a small 
stream ; on Attu and Agattu it was also numerous on the streams 
as well as along the coast." 

Turner (1886) described a deserted nest on Unalaska Island, 
in a hollow formed by two blocks of rock. A native assured him 



92 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

that it was the nest of a harlequin duck. Here, again, our own 
experience was baffling. Though there were numerous cliffs and 
many available sites for nesting along the rocky shores, we saw 
no young brood throughout the two summers of observations. 

Wetmore, however, had pertinent observations at Kiska Island 
in 1911, when he says (manuscript notes) that 

some of them were already nesting along the base of a high rocky cliff, as 
they seemed very anxious while I was along there, those on the water 
whistling and swimming in small circles. I saw one or two females slipping 
quietly away from shore ahead of me, but flushed none from the beach itself. 

Beals and Longworth found harlequin ducks wintering at 
Unimak Island, and stated that they nest there. Elsewhere in the 
Aleutians, natives said that they are more numerous in winter 
than in summer. 

Stejneger (1885) found no evidence of nesting in the Com- 
mander Islands, and stated that the natives knew of no nesting. 

From these various observations, it can be concluded that the 
harlequin ducks nest on the Alaska Peninsula, possibly rather 
commonly; that they also nest in numbers unknown in the Aleu- 
tian Islands; that immature birds, various nonbreeders, and 
males gather for the summer in these waters; and that they 
winter there in great numbers. 

We had little opportunity to study food habits, and it must be 
assumed that, in the salt water, it consists of marine inverte- 
brates. The teacher of the native school at Atka informed us 
that in the autumn of 1936, when there was a large run of salmon 
up the streams of Atka Island, harlequin ducks were seen on the 
streams, presumably feeding on salmon eggs. However, we have 
no certain data on this subject. 

Polysticta stelleri: S+eller's Eider 

Chukchi: Kataadlin (Palmen) 

This little eider of the Bering Sea region occurs abundantly 
along the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian chain at certain 
seasons — particularly in winter. It is recorded as far east as 
Kodiak, where Friedmann (1935) lists many specimens and ob- 
servational records, including some bones from middens. Dall 
(1873) says it was observed in the Shumagins "in March, and in 
the summer months." The same writer (Dall 1874) reports them 
as wintering at Sanak Island, but he considered Unalaska to be 
the center of abundance for this species. He remarked upon the 
irregularity of their occurrence, because he had found Steller's 
eider, together with the Pacific eider, to be numerous at Unalaska 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 93 

in May 1872, however in May 1873 he did not see a single one of 
either species in that locality. 

Osgood (1904) considered the Steller's eider to be common 
about Bristol Bay, and he mentions specimens collected by McKay 
and Johnson at Nushagak and Ugashik. On October 4, 1940, 
Cahalane (1944) observed a group of 6 in Amalik Bay, and he 
saw 6 again (perhaps the same group) the next day. Gabriel- 
son noted 2 males at Morzhovoi Bay June 21, 1940, and collected 
1, which was not in breeding condition. In 1936, we observed 
several sizable flocks in Nelson Lagoon. 

In 1925, I found this duck to be rather common in Izembek Bay. 
On May 17, 1925, there were small groups at St. Catherine Cove, 
Unimak Island, and on May 20 about 200 were seen there, as 
well as several bands offshore in Bering Sea. Several flocks, 
totaling at least 300 birds, were spending the summer in Izembek 
Bay; they used Glen Island, near its entrance, as their home- 
ground. These were immature birds of both sexes, though there 
was an occasional one in adult male plumage. One male in adult 
plumage was collected on June 17. The testes were very small. 
None of the birds were seen on the adjacent marshlands, and 
there was no evidence of nesting. 

Turner (1886) testifies to the presence of the Steller's eider 
among the Aleutians in winter, even to the western end of the 
chain. Stejneger (1887) said that they wintered in the Com- 
mander Islands in "countless numbers," arriving early in Novem- 
ber and remaining until after the middle of May. Friedmann 
(1937) has recorded five humeri of this duck from middens on 
Little Kiska Island. Beals and Longworth observed them often 
in January, March, and April, 1941, and saw them as late as April 
25, at False Pass. 

Although we did not find the Steller's eider nesting, older rec- 
ords furnish rather good evidence of nesting on the Alaska 
Peninsula and Aleutian chain. A. C. Bent (1925) records some 
notes sent to Major Bendire in 1892 by Chase Littlejohn, which in- 
cluded a statement that "a few were nesting at Morzhovoi Bay 
in June." Dall (1873) writes of the pairing of these ducks at 
Unalaska and describes a nest found on Amaknak Island, May 
18, 1872. It contained a single egg. Turner (1886) saw a few 
of these ducks at the western end of Attu Island in July 1880, 
and the natives told him that the species nested sparingly on 
Agattu Island. 

Judging by the information available to us, we must recognize 
the strong probability that at one time the Steller's eider nested 



94 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

on Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian chain (though undoubtedly in 
small numbers), and that it wintered there in great numbers. 
It is also clear that there has been a great diminution in num- 
bers. On our two expeditions in 1936 and 1937, we were in the 
general region early enough to have observed these ducks before 
all of them had left their wintering grounds. We saw very few, 
and those that we saw were on the north side of Alaska Penin- 
sula. We saw none in the Aleutian chain. We found the natives 
of Attu Island — who have had only limited contact with the white 
man — to be well versed in their local fauna, much more so than 
natives farther east. These Attu natives did not recognize pic- 
tures of the Steller's eider and declared that it does not occur 
there, even in winter. They could be mistaken ; however, if we 
accept their testimony there must have been a great decline in 
numbers since 1880, when natives told Turner that these birds 
nest "sparingly" on Agattu Island. 

A. C. Bent (1925) considers the principal migration route in the 
fall "southward along the Siberian coast of Bering Sea to their 
winter homes in the Kurile, Commander and Aleutian islands." It is 
probable that the migration along the Siberian coast is the greater 
one, but if the information furnished by the Attu Islanders proves 
correct (and since we know these birds do winter in the eastern 
Aleutians), it is unlikely that the Siberian birds go to the Aleu- 
tians. On the other hand, we now know that there are large 
nesting populations on the American shores — at Hooper Bay and 
Nelson Island — and we have observations pointing out that the 
eastern Aleutians and parts of Alaska Peninsula, even Kodiak 
Island, are the principal concentration points in winter. In view 
of these facts, we must conclude that there is also a southward 
migration down the Alaskan coast of Bering Sea to the eastern 
Aleutians and Alaska Peninsula, and that the majority of the 
birds wintering in the Aleutians nest on the Alaskan coast. 

Somateria mollisslma: Common Eider 
Somateria mollissima v. nigra 
Attu: Kaf-segh'-ich, male 
Chd-is, female 
Ku-ku-toch, young 
Atka: Ka-sam'-ich, adult (sex?) 
Ku-ku-toch, young 

Kasimax (Jochelson — dialect not given) 
Russian (?), Copper Island: Pistrak (Stejneger) 
Chukchi : Kupuken, male 

Emngi, female (Palmen) 

Common eiders were observed at practically every island of the 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 95 

Aleutian chain and are as universally distributed as the western 
harlequin duck, though not so abundant. Apparently, they are 
not plentiful on the Commander Islands, for Stejneger (1887) 
says that they breed in "very limited numbers in a few places 
on Copper Island, only occasionally flying over to Bering Island, 
round the shore of which a few may be seen in winter." 

In the Aleutians, we saw these birds in small groups, generally 
paired, and they nest, or try to nest, throughout the Aleutian 
chain. Blue-fox raising has seriously interfered with nesting, on 
certain islands. 

Nesting of common eiders was determined for the following 
islands : 

Attu — quite a number nesting on rocky islets in Massacre Bay. 

Agattu — preparing to nest. 

Semichi — nesting on islets in a lake. 

Buldir — nesting on the beach (no foxes present). 

Chugul, Little Kiska, Kiska — nesting reported by Wetmore in 
1911. 

Amchitka — nesting on offshore rocks and preparing to nest on 
beach. 

Ogliuga — plentiful, many young birds seen. 

Aiktak, Kavalga, Ulak, and Tanaga — nesting reported by Gab- 
rielson. 

Little Tanaga, Kanaga, Adak, Aso, Igitkin, Salt, Atka, Chu- 
ginadak. 

Baby Islands — nesting on Adokt and Excelsior (no foxes pres- 
ent). 

These are the nestings actually observed. The birds were ob- 
served at many other islands, where they were probably nesting. 
Were it not for the predations of introduced blue foxes, they 
undoubtedly would nest on practically all islands. 

In 1925, I found nesting groups in Izembek Bay, Alaska Penin- 
sula (particularly on Glen Island and islets near Point Grant), 
as well as on a gull island far out in the bay. On May 22, 1936, 
we found flocks of common eiders in Nelson Lagoon, and in one 
place I counted 111 males on the beach. Residents said that they 
nest abundantly on some grass-covered sand islands there. Os- 
good (1901) mentions a young bird and a set of eggs secured 
by T. H. Bean in July 1880 at Chugachik Bay (Kachemak Bay). 
In 1936, we saw them in Ugashik River, but we did not remain 
long enough to determine their nesting status. 

Thus, we have a fairly accurate and continuous record of 
nesting from Bristol Bay westward to Attu Island. 



96 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

On the south side of Alaska Peninsula, our observations are 
more scattered. Common eiders are known to nest as far east as 
Kodiak, and at Chisik Island, in Cook Inlet, we observed at least 
12 pairs in the spring of 1936. The local game warden assured 
us that they nest on Duck Island nearby, and on May 13, 1937, 
several common eiders were seen in Icy Straits — the farthest east 
that we had observed this species. Mrs. Frank C. Hibben (1942, 
p. 182) found them nesting in Glacier Bay, the most easterly 
nesting record for southern Alaska. 

Gabrielson observed about 12 common eiders at Kodiak on June 
14, 1940 ; at least 40 birds and 1 nest were seen in the Semidi Is- 
lands on June 18; and a few were seen at Morzhovoi Bay on 
June 21. 

As might be expected, companies of immature birds (nonbreed- 
ers) spend the summer in the waters along Alaska Peninsula 
and the Aleutians. Furthermore, this is the principal wintering 
ground for the species; they do not venture farther south in any 
great numbers. 

Nesting Habitat 

These eiders utilize a variety of nesting sites. Probably they 
would prefer low islands of gentle slopes (such as the sand is- 
lands of Izembek Bay) , where they can nest in the grass. In such 
places, they nest both on the slopes and on the beach. Similar 
situations may be found in the Aleutians — the beach of Buldir 
Island is an example. There are few places in the Aleutians 
where they can nest with safety on the principal shorelines be- 
cause of the introduced blue fox. We found a few birds nesting 
on the shores at Amchitka and Agattu, but, being adaptable, 
they now seek the grassy tops of offshore rocks and pinnacles, 
or islands in lakes, where they are protected by water. The 
natives assured us that they also nest on ledges of sheer cliffs, 
where foxes are unable to climb. 

Mortality Factors 

The blue fox is probably the most potent predator that the 
eiders face in the Aleutians. In addition to this introduced enemy, 
the northern bald eagle also obtains an occasional eider, but ap- 
parently it does not prey extensively on the species. In a total 
(taken during three seasons) of 466 food items that were identi- 
fied in 32 eagle nests and at a few perching places, only 8 common 
eiders are represented. In one of these instances, the eider had a 
nest within 10 feet of an eagle's perch, and it was to be expected 
that the eagle would eventually seize the bird. It is surprising that 
so few eiders are taken by the eagle, because this duck does not 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 97 

appear to be agile on the wing and is present everywhere. Prob- 
ably the great variety of "sea birds" attract the eagle's attention 
more readily. 

Gulls and ravens are another potent factor in stabilizing the 
eider population, because they prey on the eggs and young. The 
raven is included here solely on the basis of fragmentary ob- 
servations elsewhere. But the glaucous-winged gull was observed 
at times to be active in raiding eider nests. There is an interest- 
ing relationship here that has been noted frequently. Gulls and 
eiders often nest on the same area. Presumably, this should give 
the gulls a better chance to rob the nests of their duck neighbors ; 
however, it does not appear to be that simple, and the situation 
deserves careful study. Assuredly, upon entering such a mixed 
nesting colony, one finds a number of eider nests already rifled ; 
yet, many others have not been disturbed. It is noticeable that 
human intrusion, which forces the eiders to leave hurriedly with- 
out covering the eggs, gives a splendid opportunity to the first 
passing gull, and the gulls readily take advantage of it. 

In 1925, in Izembek Bay, I found eiders nesting in the midst 
of a gull colony and found others nesting in a colony of terns. 
All these birds seek the same type of nesting terrain, regard- 
less of neighborly problems. During that season, an effort was 
made to reduce the hazard for nesting eiders by carefully cover- 
ing the disturbed nest with down, just as the bird would have 
done. So far as the results could be observed, this method was 
effective. One will sometimes find gull and eider nests in amaz- 
ingly close proximity, apparently with no detriment to the eider. 

After being hatched, the small duckling still faces danger 
from the gulls. A number of decimated broods were seen, and 
sometimes, as observed at Ogliuga Island, several families then 
join together in a band. 

But in spite of all these nesting hazards, the eiders hold their 
own — they occupy the entire Aleutian district in fair numbers 
and are plentiful enough to utilize whatever nesting sites are 
available to them. 

Somateria spectabilis: King Eider 

Attu: Sakh'-uch 

Sdkux (Jochelson) 
Russian and Yukat, latitudes of the Yana: Turkan (Pleske) 
Chukchi: Jekadlin (Palmen) 

Information on the king eider is incomplete. We know that it 
spends the winter among the Aleutian Islands, the Shumagins, 
along the Alaska Peninsula, and as far east as Kodiak, where 



98 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Friedmann (1935) has recorded specimens taken and many bones 
found in middens. He also found many bones in middens of 
Dutch Harbor and Little Kiska. In the wintering season, Gabriel- 
son found this eider at various points from Kodiak to Unalaska, 
and Hine (1919) obtained specimens near the mouth of Katmai 
River on June 25, 1919. Though we have relatively few published 
reports of king eiders from the winter range, these ducks must 
occur along the Aleutians and Alaska Peninsula and the ad- 
jacent seas in large numbers, judging by the striking northward 
migration we observed at Hooper Bay in the spring of 1924. 

The Attu chief appeared to recognize this duck; he gave us a 
name for it and stated that a few of them nest at Attu Island 
and that a few winter there. 

Judging by the relatively large number of bones found by 
Herbert Friedmann in the middens at Dutch Harbor and Kodiak, 
and considering the statement of the Attu chief that only "a 
few" winter there, the king eider evidently assembles in the 
greatest numbers among the eastern Aleutians and along the 
Alaska Peninsula. In 1925, I was told by local residents that 
many of these ducks winter at Isanotski Strait and at Wide Bay. 
Beals and Longworth (field report) observed king eiders at 
Isanotski Strait, Ikatan Peninsula, and at neighboring areas at 
intervals from early January to the latter part of May 1941; 
their numbers began to diminish in May, and at the end of May 
practically none were left. Four specimens were collected on 
January 13 and 24 and March 6. 

In winter, Cahn found the king eider to be more common than 
the common eider at Unalaska Island, and he says, 

present from early December to early March, usually in small flocks of 
three to six, or solitarily. Dec. 2, 1945, is the earliest record; April 3, 1944, 
the latest. The gizzard of a female found dead contained two specimens of 
the snail Callistoma. 

Though we do not have nesting records for the Aleutians — the 
Attu chief's statement about their nesting on that island may 
properly be questioned — a number of king eiders spend the sum- 
mer near Alaska Peninsula. In 1925, I observed a flock of about 
200 birds (females and immature males) that spent the summer 
at Glen Island in Izembek Bay. 

Lampronetta f'ischeri: Spectacled Eider 

Information on this eider is disappointingly meager for the 
area under discussion. We saw none during the course of our 
expeditions to the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians. They are 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 99 

considered to be winter residents there, and A. C. Bent (1925) 
says they occur sparingly east to Sanak Island. Friedmann (1934) 
records a humerus from native-village middens on Kodiak Is- 
land. Dall (1873) records it as rare at Unalaska as a winter 
visitor, leaving there in May for northern nesting grounds. 

Surprisingly enough, Turner (1886) says "This species occurs 
among all the Aleutian Islands, where it breeds and is a constant 
resident, but extremely shy." This certainly is not the case 
today. Dall's statement, above, would seem to be more credible. 

Melanitta deglandi: Whi+e-winged Scoter 
Melanitta deglandi dixoni 

Attu: Tru-pan-ach (obviously of Russian origin) 
Atka : T a-mu-ghd-luli 

Russian, Commander Islands: Turpan (Stejneger) 

The Kanddgix of Jochelson (dialect not indicated) may possibly refer to 
this duck. 

White-winged scoters have always been common along the 
southern Alaskan coasts in spring migration, and in the course 
of several voyages they have been noted regularly in late April 
and early May along the southeastern Alaskan waters, as well as 
farther west. In 1936, we noted a few at Seward on May 5; 
at least 20 were noted at Port Chatham, Kenai Peninsula, on 
May 6; a few individuals were seen among the Barren Islands, 
May 10 and 11; and several were noted at Kodiak. They were 
common in Kupreanof Strait on May 13. 

In the fall of 1940, Cahalane found that scoters were numerous 
in the Kodiak-Afognak area. Early in September, he found them 
to be abundant in Naknek River, but none were seen by the end 
of September. He says (1944), "On the Pacific side of the area 
scoters were very numerous during the first half of October. 
They were 'abundant to very abundant' along the entire main- 
land coast from Katmai Bay to Point Nukshak." 

On June 16, 1940, Gabrielson noted 100 scoters near Whale 
Island. 

Osgood (1904) observed a flock of six scoters on Neekahweena 
Lake, about halfway up the Chulitna River on August 14. 

Chase Littlejohn, referring to the area between Kodiak Island 
and the west end of Alaska Peninsula in 1887-88, wrote, "Seen 
often during winter. I saw a number of birds at Ukanuk in 
summer where I am sure they breed but for want of time I 
did not succeed in finding their nests." 

In 1936, we found these ducks to be abundant in Nushagak 



100 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Bay on May 26, and we observed several on lower Ugashik River 
on May 27 to 29. 

Jaques (1930) noted them as abundant in southeastern Alaska, 
May 1 to 9, 1928, and saw a few about Port Moller, May 22 to 
June 2, 1928. 

In 1925, I found them about the western end of Alaska 
Peninsula: At King Cove, April 25; plentiful at False Pass, 
April 28; a flock in Bering Sea near St. Catherine Cove (Unimak 
Island), May 17; and a few near Izembek Bay, May 20. As 
late as July 27 a few (possibly nonbreeders) were found along 
the coast in the vicinity of Izembek Bay. 

We did not observe white-winged scoters in the Aleutians 
west of Unimak Island, but Wetmore (manuscript notes) re- 
ported "a great raft" of these birds at Tanaga Island, June 25, 
1911, and he noted small flocks in Kiska Harbor, June 17-21, 
1911 ; Gabrielson noted a few at Akun, July 9, 1941. 

A. C. Bent (1925) suggests that the species may possibly 
breed in the Aleutians, basing his conjecture on these summer 
observations. This is possible, not only in the Aleutians but 
also on the peninsula, especially before the introduction of blue 
foxes on the islands. However, we have no nesting records for 
this entire district. 

According to general information and statements of natives, 
white-winged scoters winter in large numbers in the Aleutians 
and along the Alaska Peninsula. In 1941, Beals and Longworth 
(field report) recorded these ducks at intervals from January 
12 to June 12 in the region about eastern Unimak and the 
adjacent Alaska Peninsula, and Gabrielson recorded wintering 
birds from Kodiak to Unimak. 

Cahn (1947) writing of Unalaska Island, says: "An abundant 
fall and winter visitor, especially from December to February." 
And Taber (1946) found a few of these birds wintering at 
Adak. Sutton and Wilson (1946) observed one scoter at Attu, 
March 17, 1945. 

G. H. Mackay in 1891 (quoted in Bent 1925) gave an interesting 
account of a mass migration of white- winged scoters to their 
nesting grounds, as observed in Rhode Island. He stated that 
it generally took place about the middle of May and that the 
daily flight was begun in the afternoon. 

We observed a similar occurrence on the other side of the 
continent when we visited Nushagak Bay in 1936. As we went 
up this bay on May 23, we saw large numbers of white-winged 
scoters assembled there, some of them flying about in pairs. 
The following is quoted from our field report; 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 101 

On the evening of May 26, as we were going back out through Nushagak 
Bay, we observed flock after flock of white-winged scoters flying high in 
the air in goose-like formation, all heading up the bay in a general 'inland' 
direction. Some flocks contained 75 or 100 birds. It appeared that we were 
witnessing a movement, en masse, from a temporary salt-water meeting 
place to the inland nesting grounds. 

Melanitta perspicillata: Surf Scoter 

We observed this bird in considerable numbers in the spring, 
on the way to the Aleutians, along the coast of southeastern 
Alaska. They (apparently all males) were particularly numerous 
on the south side of Millbank Sound on April 25, 1936. One 
large flock arose from the water and strung out for a mile. 
It must have contained at least 1,000 birds. There were other 
smaller flocks. We saw 4 or 5 of these birds at Port Chatham, 
Kenai Peninsula, on May 6, which was the last sighting. 

Surf scoters are known to occur at Kodiak Island. Cahalane 
(1944) says: "All of the surf scoters seen were on the Shelikof 
Strait coast of Katmai National Monument, Oct. 4 to 7. They 
were 'common' in Kinak Bay, but were abundant from Katmai 
to Amalik Bay and in Kaflia and Kukak Bays." Gabrielson also 
observed them at Kodiak in early spring and fall. 

Laing (1925) observed these birds in spring as far west as 
Dolgoi Island, south side of Alaska Peninsula, but he saw none 
west of there. 

On July 23, 1940, Gabrielson noted four old males up the 
Kvichak River, and in winter he saw a few at Unimak. 

Wetmore (manuscript notes) reported, "A small flock of 
scoters, that I took to be this species, was seen June 4 in Lost 
Harbor, on Akun Island, and others were seen June 10 and 11, 
in Chernofski Harbor (Unalaska Island)." He reported none 
west of that point. 

Dall (1873), referring to the surf scoter under the name 
Melanitta velvetina, says: "Killed Oct 27th, 1871, at Unalaska, 
and noticed at intervals there during the winter. It was not 
seen at the Shumagins, though it may occur there. A winter 
visitor." 

Beals and Longworth reported a single male as False Pass 
on March 1, 1941, remarking that they saw this bird on several 
occasions. 

Cahn observed 3 scoters at Captain's Bay, Unalaska Island, 
April 3, 1943, and saw 1 on March 16, 1945 ; Taber saw 1 at Adak, 
December 14, 16, and 23, 1945. 



102 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Austin Clark (1910) reports that "A few were seen at Attu 
and Agattu." 

Turner is the only observer who states that the surf scoter 
is "common among the Aleutian Islands," and is "abundant" in 
winter. He also says that "The surf duck is the svestu'n or 
whistler, of the Russians." There is much confusion in Turner's 
account. While the surf scoter does make a whistling sound with 
its wings, the vocal whistling is so characteristic of the common 
scoter that if any 1 of the 3 scoters should be so designated, 
it should be Oidemia n. americana. If sound of wings is the criter- 
ion, then deglandi is outstanding. Furthermore, Turner (1886) 
says of O. n. americana, "The male is noted for the gibbosity of 
pinkish-white near base of bill ; the lower edge of the swelling is 
deep red, gradually blending with the black of the rest of the bill." 
Assuredly, this fits perspicillata and not americana, and testifies 
to Turner's confusion on these species. 

In any case, the surf scoter is comparatively scarce today in the 
Aleutians. 

Oidemia nigra: Common Scoter 
Oidemia nigra americana 

Attu: Hoo-vai-ach 
Atka: Koo-ghang-ach 

Russian (reported at Unimak) : Swiss-toon (No doubt the svestun applied 
by Turner to perspicillata.) 

Laing (1925) observed the common scoter at Kodiak, March 
21, 1924, and Friedmann (1935) has recorded a number of 
specimens from Kodiak Island, though we do not have nesting 
records from there. Cahalane (1943) noted a small number 
of these birds in Viekoda Bay in the fall of 1940, and he saw 
a larger number in Uyak Bay. He also reported that this scoter 
was numerous in the fall of 1940, along the coast from Katmai 
to Amalik Bay, but he reported that noticeably fewer birds were 
seen north of this area. A few were noted in Kaflia and Kukak 
Bays. 

Osgood (1904) reported a few broods of young on ponds near 
Lake Clark, and he adds "Females with young were also seen 
occasionally along the more sluggish courses of the Chulitna 
River." 

On July 19, 1940, Gabrielson noted adults on Naknek River, 
and he saw a female with three young on a small lake at Egegik. 
On July 23, he noted three broods up Kvichak River and noted 
the species again near Iliamna Lake on July 24 to 26. 

On May 23, 1936, we noted 15 or 20 males among large numbers 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 103 

of white-winged scoters in Nushagak Bay. These probably were 
migrants. On May 29, several flocks were flying about at the 
mouth of Ugashik River, and on the adjacent marshes two pairs 
were discovered among the ponds, the males whistling. Ap- 
parently, these birds were preparing to nest. 

Jaques (1930) observed them "about Moller Bay and on fresh- 
water pools on the tundra, May 23 to June 20 — not common." 
This, too, suggests nesting. 

In 1925, I saw this species at the western end of Alaska Penin- 
sula — a flock of both sexes at King Cove, April 25, and a few 
at False Pass on April 28. On June 13, small bands were flying 
about on Izembek Bay, whistling. By June 20, the birds were 
generally paired; on June 13, a female, taken for a specimen, 
contained a perfectly formed, hard-shelled egg. There can be no 
question about these birds nesting at Izembek Bay, chiefly at 
Hazen Point. 

At Unimak Island we were told that this duck nests at Swanson 
Lagoon, which would be expected. 

Laing (1925) observed this duck at Dolgoi Bay, March 23, 
and says: "From Unalaska, where twenty-five were seen on 
March 26, the species was present in most of the harbors as 
far as Hitokappu in the southern Kurils, May 7. It was noted 
at Copper Island, Oest, Kamchatka, or Petropavlovsk." This 
statement indicates that it was noted along the Aleutian chain. 

Bishop (1900) recorded a number of these ducks off Unalaska, 
October 5, 1899. 

The Atka natives stated that this scoter winters sparingly in 
the Aleutians, while the Attu natives said that it was abundant 
there in winter. This is also borne out by Gabrielson's observa- 
tions on wintering birds from Kodiak to Atka. 

Beals and Longworth noted common scoters quite often in vari- 
ous places about the east end of Unimak Island from January 19 
to June 12, 1941. 

Cahn (1947) reported for Unalaska Island: "Common in very 
large flocks in all the major bays from December to February, 
inclusive." Taber (1946), writing of Adak for the winter of 
1945-46, states, "This was the most common bird of the area; 
it was seen in groups of 2 to 70 on the salt lagoon and the open 
sea." Sutton and Wilson (1946) found it wintering commonly 

at Attu. 

Bent (1925) records this bird as nesting in the Aleutian 
Islands ; this is verified by the A.O.U. Check-List (fourth edition) . 
It is possible that both statements are based on Turner's account. 



104 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

But, considering (1) the apparent confusion of the three scoters 
by Turner (shown by his description and misplacement of the 
Russian names) ; (2) that Bent and his party did not observe 
it nesting there in 1911; (3) that we did not find any evidence 
of it nesting there on expeditions throughout the chain, when all 
islands were examined; and (4) that none of the Aleuts re- 
ported it nesting; then we must conclude that nesting of the 
common scoter in the Aleutian Islands as a whole must remain 
in doubt. 

Mergus merganser: Common Merganser 
Mergus merganser americanus 

Attu: Chu-vai-ach, Siss-uch 

Tan-num-ak-tum. sak-oi-a 

Chung-ung-e-koo-loo-ghearch 

Ha-Ka chai-ii-too 
Russian, Commander Islands: Bolschoj Krachal (Stejneger) 

Friedmann (1935) records a number of specimens from Kodiak, 
as well as a number of eggs, which he said to be those of the 
common merganser, and he quotes Bretherton as saying that 
this duck nests on Kodiak. 

Osgood (1904) had very little information on this merganser 
for the base of the Alaska Peninsula, but he mentions an adult 
male killed at Becharof Lake. 

Cahalane (1944) observed several on the Naknek River on 
September 4, 1940. 

Jaques (1930) found flocks of these ducks (most were males) 
near Port Moller in late May and June, but he saw no sign of 
nesting. 

In 1936, we were informed by residents at Chignik that two 
kinds of mergansers occur there. 

A number of records of occurrence are available for Unalaska, 
probably because it has always been a prominent port where 
vessels put in during voyages through that region. Dall (1873) 
said several specimens were taken there on December 20, 1873, 
and he adds that none were seen in the Shumagins. Turner 
says they winter at Unalaska, but do not breed there. Eyerdam 
(1936a) reports that two birds were collected at Unalaska on 
June 10 and August 6, 1932. 

We saw no common mergansers in the Aleutians. The chief 
of Attu Island, who furnished the series of names for this bird, 
said that a few common mergansers nest there but that they 
are more numerous in winter. 

To sum up, the common merganser occurs sparingly from 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 105 

Kodiak to Attu ; the best evidence of nesting comes from Kodiak 
Island; and (possibly) it nests on Attu Island. We know that 
it is an inland form — more so than M. serrator. 

Mergus serrator: Red-breasted Merganser 
Mergus serrator serrator 

Attu : Criich-ah'-lich 
Atka: A-ga-lai-ahh 

Agldyax (given by Jochelson as applying to two species) 
Russian, Commander Islands: Krakhal (Stejneger) (The Attu name is 
undoubtedly a corruption of the Russian.) 

This is the commoner merganser of the Aleutian district. It 
breeds on Kodiak Island (Friedmann, 1935) , and Cahalane (1943) 
found it generally very abundant in the Kodiak- Afognak group in 
1940. He also observed it in various places in the Katmai region, 
where Hine (1919) also reported it to be common. 

Osgood (1904) found it "exceedingly abundant on all the lakes 
and rivers" visited at the base of Alaska Peninsula, and he 
mentions seeing broods of young on Iliamna, Chulitna, Kakhtul, 
and Nushagak Rivers. He remarks, "From start to finish probably 
more mergansers were seen than any other species of water 
bird, with the exception of the large gulls." 

Gabrielson also noted this duck in 1940 on the rivers tributary 
to Bristol Bay. There were at least 50 broods of young, in all 
ages, on the Kvichak River, July 23. 

This merganser was reported as common at Chignik, and 
Jaques (1930) found it paired on King Salmon Creek, near Port 
Moller after June 11, "possibly breeding." 

On May 26, 1936, we saw two females in Nushagak River at 
Snag Point, and a pair was seen back on the marshes among the 
lakes near Ugashik River, where they probably nest. 

In 1925, I found this merganser nesting about Izembek Bay, 
and, on May 25, 1925, 4 were seen on a mountain stream below 
Aghileen Pinnacles. (On May 4, and on several subsequent days, 
red-breasted mergansers were noted at Urilia Bay, on Unimak 
Island.) On July 5, a nest with six eggs was found on a small 
island near Point Grant, and another nest was found on a little 
island far out in Izembek Bay, in the midst of a colony of 
glacous-winged gulls. Red-breasted mergansers with molting wing 
feathers were seen late in July. 

Chase Littlejohn, in 1887-88, said that this duck breeds at 
Sanak and at Morzhovoi Bay, where they remained all winter. 

McGregor (1906) found three nests on Round Island, Beaver 
Inlet, Unalaska Island, July 4, 1901. On June 3, 1936, we saw 



106 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

six of these mergansers at Unalaska — Wetmore also had observed 
them here on June 6 and 7, 1911, and had collected a specimen. 

At Unalaska Island, Cahn (1947) found a brood of 9 young 
in the Makushin Valley swamp, June 23, 1944, and he observed 
a brood of 11 downy young on Coxcomb Lake, July 4, 1945. 

On August 15, 1937, we flushed a female from a grass-topped 
islet off the shore of Amlia Island. We had found 3 pairs on 
Kiska Island, June 4 and 5, where Wetmore had seen 1 pair 
in June 1911. We found a foot of red-breasted merganser in an 
eagle's nest on Buldir. On June 17, we saw a flock of 7 at Semichi 
Islands; 6 were noted on Amchitka Island. Incidentally, Dall 
(1874) had reported that Amchitka was the only place in the 
western Aleutians where this species had been observed. 

In 1936, we noted a flock of seven red-breasted mergansers on 
Corwin Lake, Atka Island, June 22. Several were seen on 
Kanaga, June 29, and eight were seen in a lake on Kiska, July 
26. At Adak Island, July 3, two were seen in Bay of Islands, and 
three or four in Kuluk Bay. June 26-27, 1911, Wetmore found 
them to be fairly common in the small lakes back of Bay Water- 
falls, Adak Island, where he found a brood of nine downy young 
about a week old — he suspected that there was a brood in another 
lake. And on September 3, 1944, Gabrielson found a brood on 
Amchitka, thus definitely establishing a nesting record for that 
part of the Aleutian chain. 

The Attu chief said that these ducks nest on Attu, and Atka 
natives reported them nesting on their island. Turner also re- 
ported them nesting on Atka. 

We can definitely state that the red-breasted merganser nests 
from Kodiak to Attu, and, according to Stejneger (1885), it is 
a very common breeding bird in the Commander Islands. 

Apparently, it winters in the Aleutians also (though perhaps 
in small numbers), because Taber (1946) observed them at 
Adak from December 9, 1945, to January 13, 1946. 

Family ACCIPITRIDAE 

Acdpiter gentilis: Goshawk 
Accipiter gentilis atricapillus 

The goshawk occurs on Kodiak Island, as shown by specimens 
recorded by Friedmann (1935). Harrold saw one on Sitkalidak 
Island, near Kodiak, in May 1927 (Swarth 1934). Howell (1948) 
found a goshawk nest July 9, 1944, located in a 35-foot spruce at 
Middle Bay, Kodiak Island— there was a single young, which- flew 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 107 

from the nest. Osgood (1901) saw goshawks frequently near 
Tyonek, and two immature birds were collected. Osgood (1904) 
again reported a goshawk at Iliamna Pass, July 13, 1902, and 
several immature birds were observed repeatedly at the mouth 
of Chulitna River. Later, he observed the species at Nushagak. 

This sums up normal distribution of the goshawk in the region 
under discussion, though on August 15, 1946, Gabrielson recorded 
one at Dutch Harbor, and, on August 20, he noted another at 
Simeonof Island in the Shumagins. Ordinarily, the goshawk is 
confined to the Kodiak-Afognak area and the base of the Alaska 
Peninsula — the regions that contain the forested areas. 

Accipiter striafus: Sharp-shinned Hawk 
Accipiter striafus velox 

Friedmann (1935) records a specimen collected by Bischoff on 
Kodiak Island, March 10, 1869. Osgood (1904) reports seeing 
a sharp-shinned hawk on the Mulchatna River, September 3, 1902 ; 
apparently, these are the only records for the area here con- 
sidered — this bird sharing the forested areas with the goshawk. 
But Swarth (1934) reports a specimen taken on Nunivak Island, 
north of the area here considered, on September 14, 1927. This 
bird was found among the boulders on the shore, far from any 
forest, which is a most unusual occurrence. 

Buteo lagopus: Rough-legged Hawk 
Buteo lagopus s.johannis 

We observed the rough-legged hawk at Kodiak and Afognak 
Islands. Friedmann (1935) has recorded a number of specimens 
in both light and dark color phases from Kodiak, and he mentions 
Bretherton's statement that this species nests there. Osgood 
(1904) reports a nesting pair on an islet in Lake Clark, and he 
observed one bird near the mouth of Chulitna River and another 
on the lower Nushagak. McKay took a specimen in 1881 on the 
Aleknagik River. 

Cahalane observed these hawks on the west side of Alaska 
Peninsula, on Naknek River and Three Forks, in September 1940, 
and, in the same year, Gabrielson noted one at Kodiak, June 14, 
and one at Dillingham, July 17. 

Gianini (1917) observed these hawks nesting in "fair num- 
bers," in Stepovak Bay, in 1917. In 1911, Wetmore found them 
to be fairly common near Frosty Peak, and he noted one at Un- 

O 1 Q oVo 

In 1925, I found a number of nests on cliffs about Izembek 



108 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Bay and at least 4 nests on Amak Island, and I noted five or six 
hawks on Unimak Island. In 1936, when our party visited Amak 
Island very briefly, two rough-legged hawks were noted there 
again. They occur also in the Shumagins, because we saw one 
at Unga Island. 

Rough-legged hawks have been noted by various ornithologists 
in the Fox Islands group. We saw them on East Unalga, Un- 




Figure 25. — Rough-legged hawk. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 109 

alaska, Umnak, and Ananiuliak (the last is a smaller island off 
the west end of Umnak). Swarth (1934) reports that these 
hawks were seen almost daily on Akutan from May 17 to June 
13, 1927, by Harrold, nesting and in both color phases. He 
also found this species nesting at Unalaska. 

Our own observations, and the published record, show that 
rough-legged hawks nest along the Alaska Peninsula and on 
suitable offshore islands, and westward in the Aleutians as far 
as Ananiuliak Island — but no farther. It is significant that this 
breeding range coincides exactly with the distribution of rodents, 
for no rodents originally occupied the Aleutian Islands west of 
Ananiuliak. Rats and ground squirrels have been introduced on 
a few islands to the westward, but evidently these introductions 
have not yet affected the original distribution of the rough- 
legged hawk. 

Rodents constitute the chief item in the diet of these hawks, 
as was verified by a number of observations. Speaking of the 
area about Frosty Peak, Alaska Peninsula, Wetmore reported 
in 1911 : "The thousands of ground squirrels (Citellus) here fur- 
nished them an abundant food supply as the crops of those taken 
testified." 

On Amak Island, in 1925, I found a quantity of mouse fur, 
three Microtus, and the wing of a Savannah sparrow in a rough- 
legged hawk's nest. Microtus amakensis is the only rodent there. 
The stomach of a female hawk collected by Harrold on Akutan 
Island contained two field mice Microtus. 

Stejneger (1885), speaking of Archibuteo lagopus, said that it 
was occasionally seen in the Commander Islands, and he thought 
that it might become established there, because mice had been 
introduced. 

Aquila chrysaetos: Golden Eagle 
Aquila chrysaetos canadensis 

Both Turner and Dall reported the golden eagle to be abundant 
in the Aleutians. Austin H. Clark (1910) reported: "I observed 
this species once on Unalaska and several times on Atka, where 
it appears to be rather common." 

Chase Littlejohn (manuscript notes), speaking of the area 
from the southwest end of Kodiak Island to the end of Alaska 
Peninsula, including adjacent islands, says, 

Saw quite a number of these fine birds but only obtained one, which was 
unavoidably lost to my collection. He was caught in a steel trap. A couple 



110 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

of days before, he had killed and eaten a silver fox whi^h was in a trap. 
It seems he returned to pick up the fragments and was himself caught. 
He measured nine feet from tip to tip. 

The exact locality was not given. 

In 1936, Douglas Gray and C. S. Williams saw an eagle at 
Unalaska, which they described as having considerable white 
on the tail, but with a terminal dark band. This assuredly 
suggests that the bird was a golden eagle. At Chignik we were 
told that one had been killed there, but we did not see the 
specimen. 

Cahn (1947) writes, "While probably not rare in the higher 
and wilder parts of Unalaska Island, this species is uncommon 
around Dutch Harbor. Two records in four years: June 17, 
1944, over Mt. Ballyhoo, and August 7, 1944, sitting atop a 
mast on a ship anchored at a dock." 

Osgood (1904) refers to a specimen that was supposed to 
have been collected by McKay at Nushagak, but he was unable 
to find it in the National Museum collection. 

Friedmann (1937) found a sternum of this species in midden 
material from Kodiak Island — the only record for that locality. 

Thus, we have quite a number of records (mostly based on 
observations) ; however, authentic specimens are rare. It is a 
little difficult to conceive of the golden eagle as abundant in the 
Aleutians, in view of observations dating back to the time of 
Turner and Dall, but there seems to be ample evidence to conclude 
that at one time the bird was more common that it is today. 
It is now only an occasional straggler in the Aleutian Peninsula 
region. 

Haliaeefus albicilla: Gray Sea Eagle 

Friedmann (1935) records osseous remains of the gray sea 
eagle from village middens on Kodiak Island. Bishop (1900) re- 
ported the first record of this bird for North America — a young 
female that was found dead at Unalaska, October 5, 1899. 
Again, in 1905, he records a specimen that was taken at Van- 
couver Island, March 18, 1898. 

Eyerdam (1936) says, "Several of these birds were seen on 
Unalaska Island on May 25th and May 30th. One was killed 
near Dutch Harbor by a seaman from one of the coast guard 
cutters, who kept the claws, tail and wing feathers for souvenirs." 
It is unfortunate that a specimen was not saved, since it is 
rather remarkable to casually see "several" of a species so rare 
in North America. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 111 

Cahn (1947) reports seeing one of these birds at Dutch Harbor 
on May 16, 1945, and he reports that he watched it under 
favorable circumstances for 10 minutes. Sutton and Wilson, at 
Attu, watched two dark-headed, white-tailed eagles, identified as 
this species, on March 15, 1945. 

We did not see this bird on any of our expeditions. A 
number of times we thought that we had sighted one, but each 
time it proved to be a bald eagle in one of its immature plumages. 
These plumages can be confusing, and we felt that records of 
the gray sea eagle should be based on specimens. 

Haliaeetus leucocephalus: Bald Eagle 
Haliaeetus leucocephalus alascanus 

Attu: Tirrgh-luch 
Atka : Tig-a-lach 

A-waich'-rich (immature) 
Alaska Peninsula: Tikh-lukh (Wetmore) 

The bald eagle is commonly distributed throughout the length 
of Alaska Peninsula and adjacent island groups, and the Aleutian 
chain. It is numerous in some places. In the Aleutians, nearly 
every island that we visited had at least 1, often 2 or more, 
pairs, nesting. They are numerous about the larger islands. 
Williams noted 15 eagles in Bay of Islands, Adak Island, July 2, 
1936, and more were found on other parts of the island. On June 
29, we saw several at Kanaga Island. The caretaker of a fox- 
ranching establishment there had killed 14 of these eagles for 
the bounty, and he planned on raiding 20 more nests later. 

For some reason, the bald eagle is scarce in the Near Islands- 
including Attu, Agattu, and Semichi. We observed a single pair 
on Agattu in 1937, but we saw none at Attu or Semichi and the 
natives assured us they were very scarce. However, we found 
a nest on Buldir Island, and from that point eastward bald 
eagles were common. 

Not only do eagles occur along the Alaska Peninsula, they also 
occur on the offshore island groups. In 1940, Gabrielson observed 
them in several places at the base of Alaska Peninsula. At 
Kodiak, in 1936, one merchant erected a sign advertising the 
fact that eagle feet were acceptable as cash (bounty could be 
collected for them). 

Plumage and Other Color Changes 

Too few specimens were handled to obtain precise information 
on plumage changes. A. C. Bent (1937) states that he believes 
the bald eagle assumes the adult plumage in the fourth year. 



112 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Field observations on numerous immature birds in Alaska were 
confusing, and we were unable to correlate some plumage patterns 
with age. 

The downy-young plumages are well known and are well de- 
scribed by Bent. However, the color of beak, eyes, and other 
soft parts is not so well known. A young bird in the dark-down 
stage on Ananiuliak Island had a slate-colored upper mandible, 
the cere was of a similar color, but it was of a little lighter 
shade. The tip of the lower mandible was similar to the upper 
in color, but posteriorly the margin of the gape was flesh color, 
becoming paler posteriorly and shading into a near-yellow at the 
corner of the mouth. The lores were dull bluish. The iris was 
dusky brown, and the pupil was blue. The eyelids were pale 
plumbeous. The feet were a yellowish-clay color, and the claws 
were slaty. 

The first-year plumage is dark ; as Bent says, "uniformly 
dark 'bone-brown' to 'clove brown' above and below; the flight 
feathers are nearly black, but there is usually a slight sprinkling 
of grayish white in the tail." In the first year, both the bill and 
cere are of a blackish-slate color. The iris is brown, and the 
pupil is black. At this stage, the eyelids are still plumbeous. 

The plumages preceding the final adult stage are hard to 
define. There appears to be much variation, probably over a 2- 
year period. Assuming a 2-year period for the post ju venal 
phases, the plumage varies in the degree of white mottling. 
The essential feature is a pattern that includes patches of dull- 
white mottling on scapulars and back (which, in flight, show as 
three distinct areas), and light-colored upper tail coverts and 
considerable white in under parts. In one phase of this plumage, 
which must be in the second year, the bill and cere are still 
blackish and the eye is still a rich brown. The preocular area 
is essentially white, the eyelid is plumbeous, and the gape is 
dull yellowish. The feet are yellow. 

A later phase, which possibly may represent the third year, 
still includes the dark bill, with a dull-yellowish hue appearing 
on the lower mandible and the margin of the cere. The eye is 
dull yellow also, and a yellowish tinge is encroaching upon the 
preocular area. The eyelid is gray, and the gape is yellow. There 
is much light speckling on the head, though the head is chiefly 
brownish. The specimen on which this description is based did 
not have the light mottling on upper parts falling into a pattern 
of three light patches, as was seen on many birds; instead, it 
was more scattered. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 113 

In still another phase, which is quite advanced, the head is 
white, speckled with a blackish hue. The beak is a dull-yellowish 
tone — perhaps best designated as tan, somewhat streaked with 
a slaty tone. The lower mandible is bright yellow at the base. 
The cere is a mixture of gray black and yellow. The eye is 
yeJlow (as in the adult), the eyelid is a brighter yellow, the 
preocular area is pale yellow, and the gape is a rich, bright 
yellow. 

These are the advancing stages in development, the transition 
from dark "soft parts" to the characteristic yellow of the adult, 
but it was not possible to allocate all of these plumages to age 
groups. 

Nesting 

Trees are absent in the area except in a limited portion of 
the base of Alaska Peninsula, therefore nests are placed on cliffs 
or pinnacles, or on low ground. Many nests are inaccessible to 
man by ordinary means of climbing. Frequently, a nest is placed 
on the top of a pinnacle, which sometimes is separated from an 
adjacent cliff by a narrow chasm, and which is surrounded by 
water, at least at high tide. At times, the nest is placed on a 
cliff, where it may be fairly accessible to man. In one case, on 
Buldir Island in 1936, a nest was found on a small rock outcrop 
on a slope, where one could walk to it without climbing. The same 
place was visited the following year; the former nesting site 
was abandoned, and the eagles (probably the same pair) had 
made their nest on the flat grassy valley bottom below. There 
was not even a hummock at the nest location. 

In 1925, on Unimak Island, a nest containing eggs was placed 
on the top of a smooth sand dune. It is interesting to note that 
on June 9, 1941 (16 years later), Beals and Longworth re- 
ported finding an eagle's nest on a sand dune in the same 
locality. As a rule, eagles seek inaccessible locations on cliffs and 
obviously prefer pinnacles. 

Nests are generally built by assembling a layer of dried grasses, 
mosses, and other vegetable debris. Sometimes kelp is used. 
Kelp nests are rimmed with the dried stems of Heracleum and 
Ligusticum, which are the largest material available in lieu of 
twigs from trees. In some cases, however, the eagles use sticks 
from the driftwood on the beach. 

Eagles build various types of nests. The nest on the sand 
dune, already mentioned, consisted of a cavity that was 360 
mm. wide and 130 mm. deep, heavily lined with dry grass, bits 
of moss, and a small amount of dead eelgrass from the beach. 



114 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

A number of large dry stalks of Heracleum lanatum lay around 
the rim, though these were not used in the construction of the 
nest proper. 

Another nest was on a rock mass rising from a slope on Amak 
Island. A few dried plant stems were the only evidence of nest 
construction, and the single young sat on a bare spot, well 
trampled, on top of the rock, surrounded by a fringe of green 
grass. 

Another nest on the same island was somewhat similar. It 
was on the grassy top of a high cliff. Two well-feathered young 
perched in a bare trampled spot about 8 feet long, which was 
crescent-shaped because of a hump in the middle of the space. 
There were the usual dry cow parsnip stems around the edge, 
but there was practically no nesting material in the center. 

A third nest on this island was more substantial, consisting of 
dry grass with dry cow parsnip stems around the rim. 

These scanty nests contrast sharply with a nest found at 
Amukta Island, June 16, 1936. This nest, on top of a pinnacle, 
was built of kelp, grasses, and driftwood to a height of 4 feet. 
A nest observed at Kanaga Island, June 29, 1936, was on the 
grassy top of a pinnacle; it was made mostly of moss and had 
a wide platform rimmed with dry stems of Heracleum and 
Ligusticum and a few driftwood sticks. 

A nest on the grassy top of a columnar rock on the shore of 
Kiska Island was in the form of a bulky mass, consisting mostly of 
kelp. 

Still another nest, on a rocky point of Little Sitkin, was built 
largely of dry stems of Heracleum and Ligusticum and willow 
roots, with a lining of finer vegetation. The willow there is a 
prostrate form, whose roots often are partly exposed by wind 
erosion. 

These examples illustrate the general type and the variations 
of bald eagle nests. Some of the bulky nests resulted from an 
accumulation of material over a long period — a typical example 
was found at Amchitka Island, July 11, 1937. This nest — a 
shallow affair — was made mostly of moss on the grass-topped 
point of a pinnacle rising from the beach. It rested on a mass 
of old sod and soil to a depth of about 6 feet. This accumulation 
was filled with bird bones. Evidently, this accumulation had been 
built up by annual increment of debris left by nesting eagles 
for many seasons. 

Our various expeditions were usually too late in the season 
to observe eggs — there were young in nearly every case. The 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 115 

number of young, in a series of 34 nests, varied from 1 to 3 per 
nest, though in 1941 Beals and Longworth reported a nest with 
4 young. In 1 nest, there was 1 live youngster and 1 partly 
eaten dead youngster; in 2 other nests, there was 1 young and 
1 rotten egg containing an embryo. All of these must be con- 
sidered as having had two fertile eggs originally. On that basis, 
there were 12 nests with 1 young, 17 nests with 2 young or eggs, 
and 5 nests with 3 young. 

In every nest that we observed, the nesting birds were white- 
headed adults. One report, from Cecil Williams in 1936, indicated 
a nesting pair, in immature plumage, on Uliaga Island. 

Food Habits 

I have discussed the food of this eagle in detail in "Food 
habits of the northern bald eagle in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska" 
(Condor, 1940, vol. 42, No. 4, pp. 198-202). The data presented 
were based on examination of 28 nests. In addition to this 
published material, data from 4 other nests are available, com- 
prising 21 more food items. This additional material agrees with 
the published percentages. 

In the Aleutian district, birds constitute the major part of the 
bald eagle's diet — 58.9 percent on the basis of material obtained 
in 1936; 86 percent for 1937. As would be expected, most of 
the birds taken are the so-called sea birds, chiefly shearwaters, 
fulmars, cormorants, glaucous-winged gulls, murres, ancient 
murrelets, paroquet auklets, crested auklets, and horned and 
tufted puffins. Fulmars and shearwaters head the list. Two 
ravens had been eaten. Others taken included: Petrels, kitti- 
wakes, pigeon guillemots, ptarmigan, least auklets, and ducks, 
though none of these are taken in great numbers. Ducks were not 
preyed on extensively, probably because of the abundance of other 
birds, although harlequin ducks, oldsquaws, European teals, 
pintails, common eiders, red-breasted mergansers, and three 
emperor geese were identified in food remains. 

Mammals are not universally available to eagles in this district 
and are seldom found in the diet. The ground squirrel is by far 
the most common mammal captured. Others, which occasionally 
are taken, are the house rat, the field mouse, the blue fox, and, 
possibly, the domestic sheep at Umnak Island. In 1938, Scheffer 
reported that one of the men in charge of the sheep on Umnak 
Island declared that he had never seen eagles bothering live sheep, 
though they will eat carrion. Another informant, a sheep herder 
at Unalaska, said that eagles will not bother healthy sheep, 
but they will attack dying ones and will feed on dead ones. 



116 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

He had seen both ravens and eagles feeding on carcasses of 
winter-killed sheep. Beals and Longworth, in 1941, reported 
that local residents on Unimak Island believed that the bald 
eagle kills caribou fawns. However, this would need verification. 
It is known, of course, that eagles feed on dead whales and seals. 

It has been thought that bald eagles kill many blue foxes. 
But, according to the evidence we obtained, this is not the case 
in the Aleutian district. The remains of only one fox were found 
in an eagle nest, and these remains could have been carrion 
because we found a few dead foxes on the beaches. To further 
refute this theory, many blue fox families were being raised 
successfully in the vicinity of eagle nests. 

A moderate percentage of fish and invertebrates is eaten by 
the bald eagle. To what extent this eagle feeds on dead or 
spawning salmon on the Alaska Peninsula was not determined. 
In July 1911, at Morzhovoi Bay, Wetmore observed them feeding 
on dog salmon taken from shallow rapids. Edward D. Crabb 
(1923) apparently found fish remains to be prominent in nests 
examined along Alaska Peninsula; there were parts of seven 
Dolly Varden trout in one nest. Edward J. Reimann (1938) 
observed a bald eagle taking a mullet out of the water, reaching 
for it with one foot. Beals and Longworth found two sockeye 
salmon and the head of a sea gull in a nest on Unimak Island, 
June 9, 1941. We did not see bald eagles capture live fish, but 
Atka mackerel were often observed near the surface of the 
water, where an eagle could very easily seize one. 

In the Aleutian chain proper, the main food of the bald eagle 
consists of sea birds. There are some indications that fish of 
various kinds are more prominent in the diet along the Alaska 
Peninsula, where we did less work on this bird. At any rate, 
there is abundant evidence that the eagle is not a serious detri- 
ment to man's interests throughout the Aleutian district. 

Banding 

A number of nestling bald eagles were banded in the Aleutian 
Islands in 1937. Of these, six returns were obtained. All six 
had been banded in June; 1 on Little Kiska Island, 2 at Little 
Sitkin, and 3 (all in one nest) on Rat Island. The following winter, 
all of these were killed by natives on Attu Island. This shows a 
westward drift of immature eagles, at least in the western part 
of the Aleutian chain. 

These eagles are permanent residents in the Aleutian district, 
summer and winter. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 117 

Haliaeetus pelagicus: Steller's Sea Eagle 

In the course of all our expeditions to the Aleutians, a Steller's 
sea eagle was never observed, though we scrutinized all eagles 
closely for such a possibility. Charles H. Gilbert's specimen from 
Kodiak Island (1922) is the only record of a specimen obtained 
from the Aleutian district; however, more recently, Friedmann 
(1935) has recorded several bones of this species from middens 
on Kodiak Island. G. Dallas Hanna (1919, 1920) has recorded 
a specimen taken in the Pribilofs in December 1917. These are 
the only records for North America based on actual specimens. 
Austin H. Clark (1910) reported seeing one of these eagles near 
Unalaska on May 26, 1906. 

Leonard Stejneger (1885) says of this eagle: "The habitat is 
especially the mainland of Kamschatka, where it is abundant, 
but also all the countries bordering the Okotsk Sea. On Bering 
Island it is only an occasional visitor, being chiefly an inland 
bird preferring the quiet rivers and lakes surrounded by dense 
forests." 

Circus cyaneus: Marsh Hawk 
Circus cyaneus hudsonius 

Friedmann (1935) records a specimen taken on Kodiak Island 
by Bretherton on April 2, 1894. Osgood (1901) reports the 
marsh hawk near Homer and Hope, in the Cook Inlet region, 
and again, in August 1902, he found them at intervals along the 
Kakhtul River and occasionally, all the way to Nushagak. Caha- 
lane (1944) observed 4 marsh hawks in Katmai National Monu- 
ment in September and October 1940 ; 2 of these were males. 

We did not see any of these hawks west of Kodiak Island 
during three expeditions, nor does Wetmore record any west 
of Kodiak Island in his field report for 1911. But Turner (1886) 
records a flock of 10 of these hawks at Unalaska, and he remarks 
that it is a rare summer visitor to Attu Island; however, this 
statement is surprising in view of present-day information. Those 
observed at Unalaska must have been a migrant group. But 
Cahn (1947) contributes the valuable information that lie ob- 
served a male in Makushin Swamp, Unalaska Island, June 7, 
1943, and saw a female over the swamp at the end of Captain's 
Bay on July 7, 1944. 

Although the marsh hawk may occasionally appear to the 
westward, it certainly prefers the meadows and marshes of the 
more wooded parts of Alaska, including the base of Alaska 
Peninsula and the Kodiak-Afognak group. Along the north side 



118 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

of Alaska Peninsula all the way to the west end, and on Unimak 
Island, numerous marshy areas with an abundance of mice and 
birds may be found ; yet, this treeless region generally is avoided 
by the marsh hawk. 

Family PANDIONIDAE 

Pandion haliaetus: Osprey 
Pandion haliaetus carolinensis 

This bird has not been recorded from the Kodiak-Afognak 
Islands, but Osgood (1904) reports it to be quite common on 
nearly all watercourses that he has traveled, and he specifically 
mentions the Nogheling, Chulitna, and Kakhtul Rivers — all these 
are north of Lake Iliamna. 

Cahalane (1944) saw 2 American ospreys — 1 at Naknek River, 
September 4, 1940, and the other at the outlet of Brooks Lake, 
September 7. 

In 1940, Gabrielson saw 1 osprey at Wood River Lakes, July 
18; he observed 1 at Brooks Lake, July 19, and he saw another 
near the upper end of Iliamna Lake on July 25. 

There are no records of sighting the American osprey farther 
west, but Stejneger (1885) said that it is an occasional visitor 
in the Commander Islands and that is is very abundant in Kam- 
chatka. This is another bird that does not venture out into the 
treeless areas to nest. 

Family FALCONIDAE . 

Falco rusticolus: Gyrfalcon 
Falco rusticolus uralensis 
Attu: Kus-sum Ah'-ghu-lich 

The Attu chief described a bird larger than the peregrine 
falcon, and gave us the above name. (If it were different from 
the peregrine falcon, and larger, it could hardly be anything but 
a gyrfalcon.) The chief declared that it nests and winters on 
Attu Island. Austin Clark (Collins et al. 1945, p. 37) says 
"Lieutenant Nelson, an experienced falconer, believes he saw 
gyrfalcons on Kiska, though only one, in the white phase, was 
identified with certainty." 

We did not identify this bird on any of our expeditions, nor 
did Wetmore record it. Nelson (1887), using the name Falco 
rusticolus gyrfalco, said that it was very common along the 
Bering Sea coast, but less common in the Aleutian Islands. Swarth 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 119 

(1934), using the name Falco rusticolus candicans, records a 
pair seen on Akutan and several on Unalaska by Cyril G. Harrold. 
Beals and Longworth report — 

March 2, False Pass: 1 falcon, very light, almost grey, on a cliff approxi- 
mately 1500 feet elevation. March 14, False Pass: 2 at elevation of 1800 
feet, color white. March 24, False Pass: 1 with color predominantly white, 
flying over alders back of cannery. May 13, False Pass: 2 almost pure white 
falcons at 1500 feet. 

These are all sight records, and one cannot be sure which 
form of gyrfalcon was represented. But there are several speci- 
mens in the National Museum that are referable to uralensis: 
Three were taken at Nushagak, September 1, 1881, October 20, 
1881, and December 5, 1882; and a juvenile specimen was ob- 
tained from Herendeen Bay, taken July 15, 1890, by C. H. 
Townsend, and marked by Friedmann as "Prob. uralensis." Fried- 
mann has also recorded 2 from Kodiak Island, 1 taken by Fisher, 
September 18, 1882, and the other (no longer extant) by Panshin 
in 1871. 

On September 21, 1942, Beal obtained a specimen at Cold Bay, 
on Alaska Peninsula. 

Stejneger (1885) listed Falco rusticolus and Falco islandus for 
the Commander Islands. The former, he says, is not uncommon in 
winter — feeding chiefly on "the numerous field mice which now 
infest that island," — and possibly nests there. He states that 
F. islandus breeds there in limited numbers. 

Hartert (1920) records 4 white and 4 dark immature birds 
and 1 white and 3 dark adults from the Commander Islands, all 
taken in winter ; he lists them all under Falco rusticolus candicans. 

Falco rusticolus obsoletus 

In the National Museum there is a specimen taken by McKay 
at Ugashik in 1881 ; it was identified by Friedmann as obsoletus. 
To what extent this bird occurs in the Aleutian district is un- 
known, nor do we know how many of this form were represented 
in the sight records listed under uralensis. 

Bond (1949) has thrown some doubt on the classification of 
western American gyrfalcons, but I have not had an opportunity 
to evaluate the situation. 

Falco peregrinus: Peregrine Falcon 
Falco peregrinus anatum 

We did not obtain specimens of anatum in the Aleutian district, 
though Friedmann (1935) records a specimen from Kodiak Is- 



120 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

land, which he suggests may possibly have been a migrant or 
vagrant. Likewise, the duck hawks reported by Captain Ammann 
and Lieutenant Nelson on Kiska (Clark 1945, p. 36) would have 
to be migrants or vagrants if we are to retain the subspecific 
status of these forms. There is, of course, the possibility that 
these birds were wanderers from Siberia (F. p. calidus). 

Falco peregrinus pealei 

Attu: Ah'-ghu-lich 

Atka: Ah'-ghu-lich 

Commander Islands: Agulekh (Stejneger) 

Russian, Commander Islands: Tschornij Jastrip, black hawk (Stejneger) 

The Aleuts of the Commander Islands speak the language of 
the Aleutian Islands, and, evidently, the name for this falcon 
is the same in all dialects. 

It is pretty well established that the nesting birds of the 
Aleutian chain are pealei, and that this form also nests in the 
Commander Islands. Probably the same form occupies the Alaska 
Peninsula and adjacent island groups. However, there is a speci- 
men of F. p. anatum recorded by Friedmann from Kodiak Island, 
and we did not collect specimens of F. p. pealei east of the Aleutian 
chain. 

We found this falcon to be common throughout the Aleutians. 
It nests on nearly all the islands, usually on high inaccessible 
ledges. It is a resident breeding bird and also winters in the 
Aleutians. 

As would be expected, the peregrine falcon feeds chiefly on 
birds. Casual observations revealed that the least auklet and 
the crested auklet are taken — one falcon was seen carrying a 
crested auklet. It has been reported as capturing ptarmigan and 
shorebirds, but it is believed that sea birds furnish a large portion 
of its food. 

Falco columbarius: Pigeon Hawk 
Falco columbarius bendirei 

Friedmann (1935) records a number of specimens of bendirei 
from Kodiak Island, though, as he points out, Peters states in his 
check-list of the birds of the world that suckleyi is the breeding 
bird of Kodiak Island. The 1931 A.O.U. Check-List considers 
the Kodiak birds to be bendirei. Two specimens were obtained 
from Kodiak by Gabrielson, August 8, 1945. 

Osgood (1904) records specimens from the Nogheling and 
Chulitna Rivers, Nushagak Village, and Aleknagik Lake, and 
he observed others on the Kakhtul and Nushagak Rivers. He also 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 121 

reported them common in the Cook Inlet region — specifically men- 
tioning Hope and Tyonek (1901). 

Cahalane (1944) observed a pigeon hawk on lower Ukak River, 
September 9, 1940, and saw another on Windy Creek, September 
16. 

Hine (1919) also found these little hawks to be common in 
the region of Katmai Bay in the summer of 1919. 

The pigeon hawk is exceedingly rare farther west, but there 
are a few records available. Turner (1886) mentions a specimen 
taken at Unalaska in 1879. Bailey (1926) says "Hendee collected 
one at Unalaska Sept. 25, 1922, and saw another the next day." 

Captain G. A. Amman reported a pigeon hawk, not positively 
identified, on Kiska Island. 

Taber had an opportunity to observe a pigeon hawk rather 
closely at the military establishment on Adak Island on De- 
cember 9, 1945. 

It must be considered rare in the Aleutians, however. 

Hartert (1920) records a female Falco columbaHus insignis 
collected on Bering Island, June 10, 1915. 

Falco sparverius: Sparrow Hawk 
Falco sparverius sparverius 

The only record of the sparrow hawk is the statement by 
Dall (1873) that one was killed at Unalaska in the fall of 1871, 
but it was not preserved. There are no other records of this 
species in the entire area under discussion; therefore, Dall's 
inability to preserve the specimen is unfortunate. 

Family TETRAONIDAE 

Canachites canadensis: Spruce Grouse 

Osgood (1901, 1904) found spruce grouse to be plentiful in the 
wooded portions of the base of the Alaska Peninsula and the 
Cook Inlet region. Friedmann (1935) refers to a specimen from 
Kodiak Island, which was mentioned by Baird, Brewer, and Ridg- 
way. Cahalane (1944) found this bird to be abundant in the 
spruce forests north of Mount Katolinat, in the fall of 1940, and 
saw evidence of its presence north of Savanoski River. The 
Kodiak Island record had been referred to the Valdez spruce 
grouse, C. c. atratus, by Friedmann, but it is not known what 
the Alaskan Peninsula birds would be referable to. 

This bird could not be expected to occur west of the forested 
portions of Alaska Peninsula. 



122 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Lagopus lagopus: Willow Ptarmigan 
Lagopus lagopus o/oscens/'s 
Aleut: Alladek (Wetmore) 

The willow ptarmigan, distributed throughout the Alaska Pen- 
insula, is represented by two races, L. 1. alascensis and L. I. muriei. 
Gabrielson and Lincoln (1949) referred the subspecies on the 
Alaska Peninsula proper to alascensis, as distinct from the races 
on nearby islands. 

Alaska willow ptarmigan were observed at the west end of 
the Alaska Peninsula in 1925. About the middle of May, the 
males were strutting and crowing in a lively fashion at Izembek 
Bay. On June 14, very few females were seen. Evidently, they 
were incubating, because on June 22 I found a nest of nine eggs, 
pipped, ready to hatch, and late in July there were broods of 
young on the marsh at Moff et Bay. 

Concerning the boldness of males at this time, I find the follow- 
ing in my field notes for June 3 : 

The female was sulking among the alder stems on the shore of a pond 
and I stood on a rise nearby. The male rushed between me and his mate, 
growling, puffing out his chest, and elevating his combs. He was a splendid 
bird as he strutted, following his mate as she sneaked along in the brush 
but keeping out in the open himself, evidently to attract attention away 
from the female. I was within 15 feet of him at times. 

On July 3, Donald Stevenson watched a pair of ptarmigan pro- 
testing the approach of a brown bear. The bear had been walk- 
ing across a gentle slope toward the mountains and evidently had 
disturbed a brood of young birds. Both parents were pretending 
to be crippled before the huge intruder. The bear made several 
lunges at the birds, but finally continued on its way. 

Lagopus lagopus muriei 

Aleut: Alladak (Wetmore) 

This ptarmigan occurs on Kodiak Island, Unga, Nagai, Little 
Koniuji, Simeonof, and Popof Islands of the Shumagins, and 
Atka, Unalaska, and Unimak of the Aleutians. 

This willow ptarmigan was described by Gabrielson and 
Lincoln in 1949, as follows: ''As compared with L. /. alascensis, 
this race is much redder and darker when skins in comparable 
plumages are compared. L. /. alascensis is buffy; the new race, 
muriei, more reddish and darker, near walnut brown, while 
alexandrae [of Baranof and adjacent islands] is dark brown to 
bister." 

As to distribution, they commented: "Somewhat to our sur- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 123 

prise, all birds from Morzhovoi Bay, only a few miles across from 
False Pass, certainly belonged to alascensis, while those from 
Unimak Island just as definitely belonged to the island group 
(muriei)." 

Beals and Longworth (field report, 1941) reported numerous 
ptarmigans on Unimak from February 26 to April 10, in flocks of 
25 to 300 birds. They noted, on March 6, at False Pass as fol- 
lows: "Large flocks of 300 or more birds each flew about the 
alders back of the cannery. We saw several flocks of 75 to 100 
birds in Sourdough Flats and vicinity the same day." On March 
24, they reported "ptarmigan by the hundreds" in the valley back 
of False Pass. On March 31, at Ikatan Valley, they saw 3 flocks 
of 100 birds each, and saw numerous groups of 10 to 15 birds. 
On April 2, at Sourdough Flats, they reported, "Flock after 
flock of 100 to 150 or more each all through this area. The flocks 
kept moving ahead of us until several thousand ptarmigans were 
gathered in one large brood across the valley floor. It looked 
and sounded like a gigantic chicken ranch." On April 10, at 
P'alse Pass, a flock of "several hundred" were noted; the males 
were "reddish brown about the head and shoulders." 

During field work on Unimak Island in May, 1925, I found 
these ptarmigan common in the lowlands and on the middle 
slopes of the mountains. On April 30, I saw three males that had 
acquired much of the brown plumage, but on May 4 the females 
that I observed were still mostly white, though speckled with 
brown. On May 5, I saw one male in almost complete summer 
plumage. 

An interesting incident occurred on May 19, 1925, at St. 
Catherine Cove. I was about ready to leave my cabin, when the 
clattering call of a male willow ptarmigan sounded close by. The 
call was followed by a light patter on the floor of an adjoining 
shed. Before going into the shed to investigate, I glanced out 
the window and saw a peregrine falcon. In the shed, I found a 
cock ptarmigan that ran out through the open door, only to return 
almost at once. But my presence proved too much for him, and 
he finally bolted out through the open door and, with lusty crow- 
ing, took flight and disappeared over a rise. By this time, the 
falcon was some distance away. 

Lagopus mufus: Rock Ptarmigan 

The rock ptarmigan occurs on the Alaska Peninsula, on the 
eastern Aleutian Islands as far west as Yunaska, on the middle 
and western Aleutians from Atka Island as far west as Kiska 



124 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

and, on the extreme western end of the chain, Attu Island. It is 
represented by eight subspecies : neUoni, yunaskensis, atkhensis, 
chamberlaini, sanfordi, gabrielsoni, toivnsendi, and evermanni. 

As reported elsewhere (Murie 1944, p. 122), the rock ptar- 
migan of the Aleutian Islands-Alaska Peninsula district fall into 
two groups: A dark, more or less blackish group (in summer 
plumage) , and a yellowish group (also in summer plumage) . The 
dark group, comprising nelsoni, yunaskensis, and evermanni, oc- 
cupies the Alaska Peninsula and the eastern Aleutians as far 
west as Yunaska, with the representative subspecies evermanni 
on the extreme western end of the chain, Attu Island. The yellow- 
ish group, comprising the other five forms, occupies the middle 
and western Aleutians from Atka Island as far west as Kiska. 

The five so-called yellowish ptarmigan races in the middle 
Aleutians are actually very similar in appearance and are hard to 
distinguish without a series for comparison purposes. The fact 
that so many forms can be separated within such a comparatively 
limited area can be explained only by the partial isolation af- 
forded by island habitat, though a given race is not necessarily 
confined to a single island, but may occupy a group of islands. 

Close knit as these five "yellowish" races are, it is still possible 
to separate them. The three eastern forms, atkhensis, chamber- 
laini, and sanfordi (the most difficult to distinguish one from an- 
other), form a group characterized by pale coloration, and, more 
particularly, by finer barring in the plumage. The two western 
forms, gabrielsoni and townsendi, have much heavier barring. 

As Bent has pointed out, middle-Aleutian ptarmigan occupy 
lowland areas, comparatively speaking, in contrast with the high- 
mountain habitat of rock ptarmigan farther east. This does not 
mean that the middle-Aleutian races avoid highlands; they oc- 
cur on relatively high ground on Atka and Kiska, and elsewhere. 
But the terrain of these islands is not particularly rugged, nor 
of the high-mountain type. Amchitka, for instance, is a low is- 
land. It is true, as Bent has said, that these rock ptarmigan live 
to a large extent in grassy areas, but it does not necessarily fol- 
low that they have responded directly to environment by taking 
on colors that blend with the color of dead grass. This is a 
possibility, but at present we do not have sufficient facts for a 
conclusive decision. 

Lagopus mutus nelsoni 

Nelson's rock ptarmigan is a dark race that occurs throughout 
the Alaska Peninsula area, including Kodiak and Afognak is- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 125 

lands, the Shumagins, and other neighboring island groups, and 
west in the Aleutians as far as the Islands of the Four Mountains. 

We had suspected that birds from the Islands of the Four 
Mountains might have developed new characteristics due to iso- 
lation. Ground color of the plumage of birds taken on these is- 
lands in early summei differs in tone from that of evermanni or 
ridgivayi (of the Commander Islands) — although there is a slight 
olivaceous cast, the predominating shade is yellow-brown. The 
ground color also differs from that of specimens of nelsoni from 
Unalaska and farther east, tending to gray rather than to red 
in overall effect. Such differences, if real, are too insignificant 
to warrant naming a new form. They can best be referred to a 
slight deviation from the usual in nelsoni. There is a similar situa- 
tion at Kodiak and neighboring localities, where nelsoni shows an 
approach to dixoni (of southeastern Alaska), because the ground 
color of nelsoni has a slightly grayish cast. 

The females of each Aleutian form cannot readily be distin- 
guished, but there is a discernible difference between females of 
nelsoni (which represent the darker forms) and the females 
of the middle Aleutians (which represent the pale forms). On 
female nelsoni, barring is black, broad, and in contrast ; whereas, 
on the pale forms, the barring is less sharp, and the bars tend to 
be discontinuous with a softer effect. 

Spring-plumage changes in Nelson's rock ptarmigan come much 
later than the changes in willow ptarmigan. A 1-pound speci- 
men, collected on Ushagat of the Barren Islands group on May 
11, 1936, was still mostly white. On May 7, 1925, I found, on 
Unimak Island, that the plumage was still nearly all white. On 
May 14, 1925, males were seen with well-speckled plumage, but 
it was a long time before these birds attained full summer dress. 
On June 6, in the Izembek Bay region on Alaska Peninsula, 
males still had considerable white in the plumage, but the females 
had changed completely into summer plumage. A female taken 
on Dolgoi Island, May 24, 1937, contained well-developed eggs. 

Nelson's rock ptarmigans are largely inhabitants of the high 
mountains, .though they are not confined to the steeper parts. 
They are often found on gentler middle slopes — in this respect, 
they resemble the rock ptarmigan of interior Alaska. 

Lagopus mutus yunaskensis 

The Yunaska rock ptarmigan was described by Gabrielson and 
Lincoln (1951) on the basis of a specimen collected by Gabriel- 
son on Yunaska. As might be suspected, although it is grayer 



126 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

than nelsoni, it seems to be more nearly .allied to this darker 
group to the east. Although its range is thought to be confined 
to Yunaska, this is not certain. 

Lagopus mutus atkhensis 

Atka: A-gha-de-gach, or A-gha-de-gah 
Agdlkax (Jochelson) 

Although native names seem to apply to rock ptarmigan in 
general, it seems appropriate to apply the Atka dialect name to 
this form found on Atka Island. Turner's rock ptarmigan may 
possibly occur on Amlia Island (separated from Atka by only 
a narrow pass), though no specimens were collected on Amlia. 
Whether this form occurs eastward as far as Seguam is unknown, 
but it is logical to assume that it does. It may be expected that 
atkhensis also occurs westward to the next group of islands, and 
that it intergrades with the neighboring form, chamberlaini, of 
Adak. 

One is struck by the grayish color of atkhensis, even in flight, 
as compared with nelsoni. This color is generally more rufescent 
than chamberlaini, though both birds have the characteristic 
variegation of gray and rufescent patches. In fact, atkhensis and 
chamberlaini are hard to distinguish, though, when a good series 
of each is laid out for comparison, the difference can be seen. 

On April 4, 1924, Laing obtained a series of 15 birds on Atka — 
a few of these birds were still in full white plumage. The birds 
were just beginning to molt into summer dress, a change that 
appears to be slightly earlier in atkhensis than in nelsoni on 
Unimak Island. 

Rock ptarmigan have always been abundant on Atka, as many 
visiting collectors have testified. They are able to maintain their 
numbers in spite of the blue foxes. It was on Great Sitkin — a 
neighboring island — that I obtained the only direct evidence of 
cyclic behaviour among the Aleutian ptarmigan. John Taylor, who 
had a lease on Great Sitkin to raise blue foxes, said that he had 
placed 14 foxes on the island in 1934. At that time ptarmigan 
were numerous — "Thousands of them" was the way he expressed 
it. When Taylor returned to Great Sitkin the following year, 
ptarmigan were scarce. He did not think that the blue foxes on 
this large island could have been responsible for such a swift 
and marked decrease. There had been red foxes on the island 
before the planting of the blues. This sudden decrease in the 
ptarmigan population appears to have been a case of the char- 
acteristic "die-off" of ptarmigan. Similar fluctuations were not 
reported for Atka Island. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 127 

Lagopus mutus chamberlaini 

Chamberlain's rock ptarmigan is known only from Adak Is- 
land, but it undoubtedly occurs on neighboring islands. It is 
somewhat grayer than atkhensis, and is darker on the top of the 
head and upper neck — an effect, not particularly striking, that 
results from a greater number of black markings. No doubt 
chamberlaini and atkhensis intergrade on some of the intermedi- 
ate islands. 

Laing (1925) found rock ptarmigan on Adak "even more nu- 
merous" than on Atka. He collected five males on Adak, April 13, 
1924, that had started to molt into summer plumage. The date, 
like that for the molt into summer plumage by atkhensis, is un- 
usually early for ptarmigan. 

Lagopus mutus sanfordi 

Sanford's rock ptarmigan is abundant on Kanaga, Tanaga, and 
neighboring islands. Bent (1932), speaking of Tanaga, says: 
"The ptarmigan were tamer and more abundant here than on 
any of the other islands that we visited; we shot more than 40 
in one afternoon." The two specimens we obtained on Kanaga Is- 
land are referable to sanfordi, showing that this race occupies 
Tanaga and Kanaga, at least. 

As Bent said, Sanford's rock ptarmigan is paler than chamber- 
laini, and is somewhat more ochraceous than either chamberlaini 
or atkhensis. Bent (1932) says: 

Although I described and named this race myself (1912), in honor of my 
friend Dr. Leonard C. Sanford, who cooperated with me in organizing our 
expedition to the Aleutian Islands, I must confess that it is only slightly 
differentiated from the Adak ptarmigan. We all noticed a difference when 
our birds were collected, and when we laid our series of about 40 specimens 
of sanfordi beside nearly as many of chamberlaini, it was easy to see that 
the Tanaga birds were appreciably paler than the Adak birds. The Tanaga 
birds are therefore the lightest in color of any of the Aleutian ptarmigan, 
and have the finest vermiculations. 

Lagopus mutus gabrielsoni 

Gabrielson's rock ptarmigan occurs on Amchitka Island, the 
type locality, as well as on Little Sitkin Island and Rat Island. 
We have no specimens from Semisopochnoi Island, where this 
form may occur also. In 1938, Scheffer obtained, on Amchitka, 
a specimen whose crop was filled with berries of Empetrum 
nigrum, no doubt a favorite food of all these rock ptarmigan. 

In summer plumage, the male gabrielsoni differs from sanfordi 



128 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

in that the ground color is more uniformly dark, and the bars 
are broader and extend farther down the flanks and back; it 
differs from toivnsendi in that the coarse barring is not restricted 
to the anterior part of the body, and the ground color is paler 
and less ochraceous. 

Lagopus mutus townsendi 

Differences between toivnsendi and gabrielsoni have just been 
given. Townsend's rock ptarmigan is found on Kiska and on 
Little Kiska Islands. We have no specimens to prove that it oc- 
cupies Chugul Island. It is possible, but unlikely, that townsendi 
is found on Buldir Island, far to the west ; in any event, we found 
no ptarmigan there on several visits. . 

Lagopus mutus evermanni 

Attu: A-ti-ka-took-ach 

Russian, Commander Islands: Kuroptka or Kuropaschka (Stejneger) 

Russian, Yana River region : Mala Kuropatka (Pleske) 

(The Attu and Russian names undoubtedly refer to all rock ptarmigan.) 

Evermann's rock ptarmigan occupies Attu Island. Apparently, 
ptarmigan have always been scarce on Attu, even before the in- 
troduction of blue foxes. According to Turner (1886), the natives 
reported ptarmigan on Agattu Island, but we did not obtain 
specimens there on our visit in 1936. 

Comparison of evermanni with ridgivayi (of the Commander 
Islands) shows that evermanni, darkest of the rock ptarmigan 
series, is closely related to the Commander Islands form. In 
ridgivayi, the ground color shades from dark buckthorn to hazel. 
This ground color varies with different specimens and on differ- 
ent parts of the body ; it is heavily overlaid with a close pattern of 
fine black vermiculation and is spotted with blackish feathers. 
In the Attu evermanni, the ground color suggests buckthorn 
brown, as in ridgivayi; but it is duskier and less rufescent, and 
the black vermiculations are more closely woven and the black 
feathers are more prevalent. The plumage characteristics in 
evermanni give the effect of a darker bird than ridgivayi. Com- 
paring evermanni and ridgivayi with nelsoni from the Islands of 
the Four Mountains in the eastern part of the Aleutian chain, 
we find that there is a general resemblance among the three, but 
that ridgivayi and evermanni show the closest affinity, while, in 
ground color, nelsoni tends to be more olivaceous with an abun- 
dance of Dresden brown. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 129 

Family GRUIDAE 

Grus canadensis: Sandhill Crane 
Grus canadensis canadensis 

This sandhill crane nests on practically the entire length of 
Alaska Peninsula, so it is not surprising that Friedmann (1935) 
includes this species in the avifauna of Kodiak Island also, on the 
basis of a reported specimen as well as on bones found in middens. 

On May 26, 1936, a crane was heard calling on the tundra at 
Snag Point, Nushagak River; cranes were heard several times on 
the flats about Ugashik River, and, on May 27, one was observed 
flying high in the air. On May 29, there was a pair and a group 
of three, on the tide flats. Curiously enough, 1 bird in this group 
of 3 appeared to be much larger than the others, giving the ap- 
pearance of an adult with 2 immature birds. It is believed that 
cranes nest on the flats along Ugashik River. 

A local trapper said that cranes commonly nest upriver from 
Nelson Lagoon, and Gabrielson received reports of cranes in the 
Cold Bay district. 

In 1925, I found cranes on Unimak Island and adjacent parts 
of Alaska Peninsula, and, on May 1, 1925, two cranes were seen 
at Urilia Bay. On May 21 and 22, 1925, at Moffet Cove, on 
Izembek Bay, a pair, or a group of 3, were noted on several 
occasions, and on June 14, 1925, Donald Stevenson saw 1 bird. 
This bird (seen by Stevenson) was very fearless, and we thought 
that its mate probably was on a nest not far away. On July 18, 
on a marsh in another part of Moffet Cove, a pair of cranes tried 
to decoy us away — evidently they had their young nearby. 

Thus, it is clear that the crane nests in suitable areas along the 
Alaska Peninsula, probably also at Urilia Bay, Unimak Island. 
If it nests at Unimak Island, this point probably is the western 
limit of its breeding range. 

On August 24, 1937, I found the decomposed remains of a 
crane (evidently a migrant straggler) on the beach of Bogoslof 
Island. Turner (1886) states that the natives reported killing 
a crane on Attu in October. In Turner's opinion, this bird was a 
storm-driven straggler. 

But Austin H. Clark (1910) gives us a more significant ob- 
servation when he says — 

On the morning of June 8 while ashore on Agattu Island I encountered a 
pair of these birds, but could not succeed in getting anywhere near them. 
On being flushed, they never flew for any great distance, but always alighted 
far out in the open pasture-like areas, out of reach from any rocks or other 
suitable cover. 



130 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 6 1 , FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

It is not impossible that cranes nested occasionally on flat, 
lake-strewn Agattu Island. 

Hartert (1920) records two adult specimens, a male and a fe- 
male, from the Commander Islands, and states that they probably 
visit that area from time to time. 



Family RALLIDAE 

Fulica americana: American Coot 
Fulica americana americana 

The only record of this bird was obtained by Gabrielson. On 
December 10, 1943, John Gardner, of False Pass, observed this 
bird in a small stream near his home. It remained for several 
days and appeared to be sick; on December 15, it was killed by a 
dog. The head, wings, and feet were saved for identification. 
Residents of the community had never seen a coot there before. 



Family HAEMATOPODIDAE 
Haematopus bachmani: Black Oys+ercatcher 

Attu : He-gich 

Hekh (Turner) 
Atka: Hech 

Hegis (Turner) 
Unalaska: Hekh (Turner) 

Hckli (Clark) 
Russian: Morskoi Ptookh, "Sea Cock" (Turner) 

(The variations in native names are unquestionably due to individual speech mannerisms, 
and represent the same name in all dialects.) 

Speaking of Hae??iatnpus osculans, Stejneger (1885) says, 

The Russians of Kamtschatka apply to this bird especially the name 
Ptuschok (pi. "Petuschki") , a chicken, a term used for Sijnorhynchns 
pygmaeus by the natives of Bering Island, for Leucosticte griseonucha by 
those living on the Prybilof Islands (according to H. W. Elliott), and to 
other birds in different parts of the vast empire where the Russian tongue 
is spoken. 

It would not be surprising, then, to have this name appear, var- 
iously applied, in western Alaska. 

The black oystercatcher breeds commonly from Kodiak Island 
westward for the length of Alaska Peninsula, especially on 
islands. We recorded one at Chignik, but we did not record the 
species on the shore of Alaska Peninsula. On May 11, 1936, one 
was found on Ushagat (Barren Islands), and we observed them 
also on Kodiak Island. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 131 




Figure 26. — Black oystercatcher. 



In 1940, Gabrielson noted 6 of these birds at Whale Island, and 
he saw 15 or 20 in the Semidi Islands. 

On May 16, 1936, we obtained a specimen of the black oyster- 
catcher on Nagai Island, in the Shumagins. 

Chase Littlejohn (manuscript notes, 1887-88) wrote: "Found 
from Sanakh to Kodiak in limited numbers. Their warning cry 
at the approach of man if heard by the sea otter causes the 
latter to make off at once, for this reason they are much hated 
by otter hunters." Turner also mentions the reactions of sea- 
otter hunters. 

The north side of Alaska Peninsula is not suitable for this bird 
because it lacks a rocky-shore habitat. But the bird nests on Amak 
Island, near the west end of the Peninsula, which is probably 
the eastern limit of its nesting range in Bering Sea. 

In the Aleutian Islands proper, the black oystercatcher occurs 
on nearly every island and is a fairly constant feature of the 
rocky-shore fauna. On Attu Island, however, we saw none, and 
we were assured by the native chief that they do not occur there. 
This probably is true of all the Near Islands. We have no record 
of this bird west of Kiska. Turner points out (1886) that the 
distance between Kiska and the next island, Buldir, may be too 
much of an over-water flight for this bird. Strangely enough, 
in 1885, Turner had reported it as a rare visitor to Attu, occur- 
ring oftener on Semichi and Agattu. 



132 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

In this connection, it is interesting to note Stejneger's remarks 
on Haematopus osculans, of Siberia (1885) : "This bird comes 
only as a rare visitor to the [Commander] islands during the 
migration seasons. This is rather strange, as it inhabits the 
nearest coast of the mainland." 

Perhaps the oystercatchers are merely conservative — lacking 
the exploratory tendency of some other species — and have not yet 
had time to extend their range to the end of the Aleutian chain. 
However, if we believe Turner's report of 1885, rather than his 
report of 1886, the oystercatchers had reached Attu in 1885. 

Apparently, oystercatchers do not exceed a certain popula- 
tion density and are scattered rather thinly along rocky shores. 

Usually, there were only a few pairs on an island (about six), 
although more birds can be found on the larger islands. But 
sometimes, in summer, they gather in loose flocks. On Ogliuga 
Island, August 6, 1936, at least 25 or 30 were seen. On tiny 
Salt Island, off the shore of Atka, on July 8, 1936, a flock of 13 
was noted. 

A nest was found June 28, 1936, on a small islet off Little 
Tanaga Island. The nest was in the grass — merely a shallow 
depression lined with a few bits of barnacle shells — and con- 
tained two eggs. Gabrielson (1941) found a nest on Tanaga 
Island that contained 2 young and 1 pipped egg. 



Family CHARADRIIDAE 
Charadrius dubius: Litfrle Ringed Plover 

Charadrius dubius curonicus 

The only record of the little ringed plover is the one by Schalow 
(1891, p. 259), for Kodiak Island, which originally was recorded 
as Charadrius alexandrinus Pallas. Oberholser (1919) concluded 
that this record should be identified under Charadrius dubius 
curonicus, and it was so listed in the 1931 A. 0. U. Check List. 
This record is considered doubtful, and has been dropped from 
the 5th edition of the A. 0. U. Check List. 

Charadrius semipalmatus: Semipalmated Plover 

The semipalmated plover is recorded from Kodiak Island 
(Friedmann 1935) , and we observed two on the beach of Ushagat, 
Barren Islands, May 11, 1936. Howell (1948) found a nest 
with eggs at Kodiak Island, May 31, 1944. It occurs through- 
out the length of Alaska Peninsula. G. D. Hanna collected a 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 133 

specimen, May 23, 1911, at Nushagak. Gianini (1917) found 
them to be common about Stepovak Bay on the south side of 
Alaska Peninsula, where they appeared to be nesting, in May 
and June 1916. Jaques (1930) recorded them on the north side 
near Port Moller. We saw three at False Piss, Unimak Island, 
August 23, 1936. In 1925, I observed the species at False Pass 
and at St. Catherine Cove, May 16 and 17. In the latter part of 
May 1925 they were found again in a valley below Aghileen 
Pinnacles, near Izembek Bay, and at Applegate Cove. At the 
time, it was believed that they were nesting. Wetmore found a 
few of these birds at Thin Point, near Cold Bay, in August 1911, 
and he obtained two immature specimens at the east base of 
Frosty Peak on August 6. Beals and Longworth, reporting on 
P'alse Pass, in 1941, noted one on a gravel bar of an old stream 
bed May 9, and remarked that "2 are seen on this gravel bar 
every time we pass. They were not observed after the 25th of 
May." In 1940, Gabrielson also noted three of these birds at 
Morzhovoi Bay. Donald Stevenson obtained a specimen on Uni- 
mak Island, May 25, 1922, and made this notation: "Arrived 
about May 1st. Rather common along glacial stream beds. 
Breeds." 

McGregor (1906) obtained a male and a female in English 
Bay, Unalaska Island, May 27, 1901, and he obtained two imma- 
ture birds on Unimak Island, August 14. 

In view of all these observations, the evidence is rather con- 
clusive that the semipalmated plover nests as far west as Unalaska 
Island. 

Pluvialis dom'mica: American Golden Plover 

Pluvia'is dom'mica fulva 
Attu : Svcgch 

Smix (Jochelson) (Probably refers to this bird; no dialect given) 

Osgood (1904) says of this species at the base of Alaska Penin- 
sula: 

A few small flocks were seen on the tide marshes and along the mud flats 
about Nushagak September 12 to 26. Several were seen at Igagik and 
others occasionally along the Ugaguk River, as far up as the mouth of 
Becharof Lake. Specimens were taken at Nushagak by McKay in June, 1881. 

Hine (1919) observed these birds at Kashvik Bay in 1919, and 
he collected a specimen on August 24. 

Friedmann (1935) records a number of specimens and obser- 
vations of this bird at Kodiak, where it is no doubt a regular 
migrant. 



134 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Farther westward, records are available all the way to Attu. 
On May 16, 1925, Donald Stevenson saw a bird at False Pass, 
which he thought was the golden plover. Eyerdam (1936) says 
"Frequently seen and collected at Unalaska and Unimak Island." 
Dall (1873) reports a specimen of "Charadrius virginicus, Borck" 
taken June 22, 1872, at Popof Island, in the Shumagins. Turner 
(1886) observed a golden plover at Sanak in July 1878, and on 
May 17, 1879, at Atka Island, he identified the plucked body of a 
golden plover. Again, in the early part of October 1880, he saw 
two golden plovers on the beach at Massacre Bay, on the south 
side of Attu Island. 

Gabrielson obtained specimens at Cold Bay and in the Shu- 
magins, in 1943 and 1944 respectively. 

On June 3, 1937, we observed a golden plover circling over the 
stormy sea between Segula and Semisopochnoi Islands. 

The chief of Attu village declared that he knew of the golden 
plover; he recognized a colored picture of it, gave us the Aleut 
name, and referred to it as the "gold snipe." He insisted that 
this plover nests commonly on Attu Island, and that it remains 
until October. 

The reported nesting on Attu requires verification, but it is 
safe to say that the golden plover may appear anywhere — as a 
migrant or nonbreeder, at least, from Kodiak Island to Attu 
Island, though it does not appear to have been observed in great 
numbers. 

Stejneger (1885) remarked that "The individuals of fulvus 
breeding in America migrate in winter along the Asiatic coasts, 
thus giving evidence of the way in which the species once im- 
migrated into Alaska." The records here given, however, are 
proof of a migration along the Alaskan coast. Conover (1945) 
has shown that both the American and Asiatic forms occur in 
Alaska, and that fulva predominates on the Bering Sea coast of 
Alaska. Thus, both forms could occur in the Aleutian district. 

Squatarola squatarola: Black-bellied Plover 

Friedmann (1935) says of the black-bellied plover, "The only 
Kodiak record I have found is a specimen referred to by Salvin 
and Godman in their description of this species in their great 
work on Central American birds." 

Osgood (1904) says "Two black-bellied plover were collected 
by McKay at Nushagak Aug. 8 to 14, 1881." 

Turner (1886) says "They occasionally occur in the spring 
migrations on the Aleutian Islands, the more abundantly on the 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 135 

western islands than those in the vicinity of Unalaska. I saw 
several on Sanakh Island in the spring of 1878, and also in late 
August of 1879." 

Stejneger (1885) says that they occur on the Commander Is- 
lands in fall migration only. 

We saw none of these birds on any of our expeditions. 

Aphriia virgata: Surfbird 

Turner (1886) says of the surfbird "At Sannakh Island in 
1878, and at Kodiak in 1881, I saw several individuals of this 
species, but under circumstances which rendered it an impossi- 
bility to collect them." 

Friedmann (1934) records a specimen to the northward at 
Goodnews Bay on the Bering Sea coast, taken August 12, 1933. 

The Attu chief, who is well versed in his native avifauna, did 
not recognize a picture of this bird. 

Arenaria interpres: Ruddy Turnstone 

Arenaria interpres interpres 

Commander Islands (native) : Kidmalgikh (Stejneger) 
Russian, Commander Islands: Kasnonogoj Kidik, i.e., red-legged sand 

snipe (Stejneger) 

A series of specimens was available for study : 2 from Nusha- 
gak, 1 from King's Cove, 2 from Unimak Island, 1 from Unalaska, 
2 from Umnak Island, 1 from Ogliuga Island, and 1 from "Aleu- 
tians." In addition to these (which we examined), McKay ob- 
tained a turnstone at Nushagak, August 12, 1881. 

We carefully compared the above-mentioned specimens with 
series of A. i. morinella from eastern localities and with speci- 
mens of A. i. interpres. The relationship between these two forms 
did not seem to justify the insertion of an intermediate sub- 
species, such as A. i. oahuensis, as has been proposed. More- 
over, the present series from the Aleutian district agrees with 
the characters of A. i. interpres. One specimen, No. 118845 of the 
U. S. National Museum, taken by William Palmer, at Unalaska, 
May 19, 1890, is much like morinella and perhaps could pass for 
that race, especially because of the coloration of the head. But, 
when the extensive black on upper parts and the restricted brown 
areas and paleness on the wings is considered, it seems best to 
refer it to interpres. 

On May 22, 1936, we observed a small flock of turnstones, 
believed to be of this species, at Nelson Lagoon. On August 20, 
2 or 3 ruddy turnstones were seen at Port Moller, where they 
were feeding on the beach with Aleutian sandpipers. 



136 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

In 1925, I took three specimens of ruddy, turnstones at St. 
Catherine Cove, Unimak Island — others were seen, including one 

at False Pass. 

Wetmore observed them at King's Cove in August 1911; Mc- 
Gregor (1906) noted them on Unimak Island, August 14, 1901, 
and he obtained two specimens on Amaknak Island, August 17. 

Laing (1925) found 10 of these birds at Unalaska on August 8, 
1924, and collected 3. Cahn (1947) saw one ruddy turnstone, in 
company with other sandpipers, at Summer Bay, Unalaska Is- 
land, July 18, 1944. 

Gabrielson found small groups of ruddy turnstones at Amchitka 
in September 1944. 

Littlejohn (1887-88) wrote "Plentiful in the fall at Sanakh 
where some remain during winter. They are very fat and tooth- 
some. Also numerous at Morzhovoi Bay." 

We found small flocks at Ogliuga and Skagul Islands, on July 
23 and August 5, 1936, and the following year they were seen 
again at the same place on July 27 and on August 4. One speci- 
men was taken. On June 5, 1937, we saw 1 on Kiska Island ; on 
July 31, we saw 1 on West Unalga; and on August 2, we saw 12 
on Ilak Island. 

Turner (1886) says "The turnstone is of more frequent occur- 
rence in the region about the shores of Bristol Bay, the Alaska 
Peninsula, and the Aleutian Islands ; perhaps more common on the 
western islands of that chain than to the eastward. I saw indi- 
viduals at Attu, Amchitka, Atkha, and in the vicinity of Belkov- 
sky village." And he adds: "They do not arrive on the Aleutian 
Islands until the middle of May, and none were observed any- 
where after the 1st. of October." 

Nesting throughout this region was not established. Stejneger 
(1885) states, concerning the Commander Islands, that they are 
at least migrants, and that possibly some of them breed. 

Arenaria melanocephala: Black Turnstone 

Bretherton (1896) found the black turnstone breeding on 
Kodiak Island, and Friedmann (1935) lists a number of other 
records for that island. Osgood (1904) collected one black turn- 
stone at Lake Clark, base of Alaska Peninsula, July 23, 1902, 
and observed others at Nushagak. He also mentions specimens 
taken in June, July, and August, at and near Nushagak and 
Ugashik, by McKay and Johnson. 

During August, Hine (1919) found these birds at Kashvik Bay 
in increasing numbers ; by August 25, they were one of the most 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 137 

abundant shorebirds, being observed in flocks of at least 100. 
Specimens were taken. Evidently, this is in the migration route. 

July 23, 1940, Gabrielson found this turnstone to be common 
along Kvichak River, above Naknek. 

We frequently saw the black turnstone on the tide flats at 
Ugashik River, May 27 to 29, 1936. One day, I noted 8 pairs, 
and found a deserted nest containing 3 eggs. Evidently, the birds 
were on their nesting grounds, which were confined to the tide 
flats rather than to the somewhat higher mossy areas farther 
back. 

Littlejohn (notes) wrote "Saw one flock in the spring at 
Sanakh. Tried hard to obtain a specimen but failed. They were 
very wild." 

Turner (1886) saw one of these turnstones at Belkovsky, south 
side of Alaska Peninsula, in the early part of August 1881. He 
says that they were reported to be plentiful on Unga and Sanak 
Islands, where natives claimed this bird interfered with hunting 
of marine mammals by making its characteristic outcries. The 
natives had stated that the black turnstone is not found on 
"Unalashka and other islands west of the mainland." 



Family SCOLOPACIDAE 

Capella gallinago: Common Snipe 
Capella gallinago delicata 
Attu: Goo-lech' -arch (?) 

The Attu chief insisted that he recognized a picture of a Wil- 
son's snipe and gave us the native name, adding that the bird 
nests on Attu as well as on other islands. Since this is at vari- 
ance with all other information, one must seriously question it. 
There is the possibility that the chief was referring to an allied 
form from Siberia, which resembles the Wilson's snipe, and 
which may occur sometimes in the Near Islands. 

On May 12, 1936, a Wilson's snipe was performing high in the 
air over Kodiak Island, evidently on its nesting ground. Again, 
on May 25 and 26, several of these snipe were performing at 
Snag Point, Nushagak River. Osgood observed this species at 
various parts of the base of Alaska Peninsula, and, he records a 
specimen taken by McKay, April 25, 1882 (1904). Hanna also 
obtained a specimen at Nushagak, May 16, 1911. 

Cahalane (1944) observed the common snipe in several places 
within the Katmai National Monument in 1940, and on July 17, 
1940, Gabrielson saw two snipe at Dillingham. 



138 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Jaques (1930) found these birds in the Port Moller region in 
June, and Bent (1927) includes the Shumagin Islands in the 
breeding range. 

In 1925, I noted one common snipe at Urilia Bay, Unimak Is- 
land, on May 3, and another was heard several times at Moffet 
Cove, Izembek Bay, on July 22. Undoubtedly these were nesting 
birds, so there is good evidence that the nesting range reaches 
westward at least as far as the Shumagins and Unimak Island. 

Numenius phaeopus: Whimbrel 
Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus 

The occurrence of curlews or whimbrels was rather sketchy 
and none was found breeding. Osgood (1904) reported three 
specimens collected by McKay at Nushagak in August 1881. 
Cahalane observed a flock of seven flying in an easterly direction 
about 5 miles above Naknek village, on Naknek River, September 
2, 1940. 

On July 23, 1925, 1 observed a flock of six curlews flying over 
the marsh at Moffet Cove, Izembek Bay. On June 5, 1937, 2 
curlews were seen at Kiska Island in company with 16 Pacific 
godwits and a ruddy turnstone. Again, on July 30, a curlew was 
seen on Kavalga Island. These were thought to be phaeopus, but 
specimens were not taken, and it is possible that some, or all, 
were tahitiensis. Stejneger (1885) reports the eastern whimbrel 
as a migrant on Bering Island. 

Numenius tahitiensis: Bristle-thighed Curlew 

On July 23, 1940, Gabrielson recorded in his field notes, for the 
Kvichak River, above Naknek, "Flock of 20 flew over. Dufresne 
has seen as many as 200 in the past 3 days around Naknek." 

This is the only record we have, but, in 1924, we had observed 
migrating flocks of immature birds at Hooper Bay, and it is 
logical that bristle-thighed curlews should pass over the basal 
part of Alaska Peninsula in migration. 

Actit'ts macularia: Spotted Sandpiper 

Friedmann (1935) lists the spotted sandpiper in the Kodiak 
avifauna on the basis of four specimens collected by Wosnes- 
sensky during 1842-43. Speaking of the base of Alaska Penin- 
sula, Osgood (1904) says — 

When we arrived at Lakes Iliamna and Clark, in the latter part of July, 
the majority of the spotted sandpipers, which doubtless breed in the region, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 139 

had migrated, and only scattering stragglers remained. One small flock 
of 8 or 10 hornotines was seen nervously flitting from point to point along 
the gravelly beaches of Lake Clark July 25. Some days later a few belated 
individuals were found along the lower part of the Chulitna River. Prac- 
ticaHy all were gone before August 10. 

We found none of these birds farther west. 

Tringa glareola: Wood Sandpiper 

There is a single record of this bird for Sanak Island — a speci- 
men taken by Chase Littlejohn on May 27, 1894 (Littlejohn, 
1904). The bird was found among some Aleutian sandpipers, 
and another, thought to be of this same species, was seen. 

Stejneger (1885) reported it rather common and breeding in 
the Commander Islands. 

Heteroscelus incanum: Wandering Tattler 

Russian, Commander Islands: Tschornij Kulik (Stejneger) 

A wandering tattler was seen on Kodiak Island, May 12, 1936, 
and 6 or 7 were seen on the beach at Karluk, Kodiak Island, 
September 1. Hine (1919) collected two specimens at Katmai 
Bay in 1919. Gabrielson noted a wandering tattler near Iliamna 
Lake on July 24 and 26, 1940, and he noted the species at Cold 
Bay, King Cove (with specimens), and Kodiak, as well as at 
Dutch Harbor and Amchitka. We obtained a specimen on Nagai 
Island, Shumagin group, May 16, 1936, and we saw one at False 
Pass, August 23. Scheffer saw one on Sanak Island, August 28, 
1937. Nelson (1887) had seen one on Sanak Island, May 15, 

1877. 

The wandering tattler has frequently been reported in the east- 
ern Aleutians. Bishop (1900) obtained 2 at Unalaska, October 5, 
1899; McGregor (1906) recorded 2 specimens from English 
Bay, Unalaska Island, June 2, 1901; Laing (1925) saw 4 at 
Unalaska, where Turner also recorded 1; and Swarth (1934) 
reports 6 at Akutan, which includes 3 specimens taken. 

On July 16, 1911, Wetmore obtained a breeding female at King 
Cove, Alaska Peninsula, and said he judged that she had young 
in the vicinity. He found the birds to be common there in August. 

In 1925, I observed wandering tattlers at False Pass and 
Izembek Bay. On May 21, there was a pair on the beach, calling 
and perching on various boulders. On July 19 and 23, there was 
a pair and a single bird on a small gravelly stream flowing out of 
the marsh at Moffet Cove. August 8 and 9, there were several 
on the gravelly stream at False Pass, and, the next day, five 



140 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

were collected on the rocky beach at Ikatan Peninsula. These 
last-mentioned were extremely fat. Local residents said that 
these birds occur on streams in the vicinity of Becharof Lake. 

Undoubtedly, the wandering tattler nests along the gravel- 
bordered streams in this region. It was on such a habitat that 
Adolph Murie and I found a nest in Mount McKinley National 
Park in 1923, and, considering the available evidence, it is more 
than likely that the wandering tattler nests along the Alaska 
Peninsula, on Kodiak Island, and probably on other suitable 
adjacent islands. It is possible that it nests on many of the 
Aleutian Islands farther west also. Turner (1886) said: "Among 
the Aleutian Islands it was observed once on Unalaska, several 
on Atkha. and twice on Attu." Clark (1910) reported it at 
Unalaska, Agattu, and Attu Islands, but it was not common. 
Scheffer saw one at Atka, June 1, 1937. We also noted one on 
Kiska Island, June 5, 1937, and obtained a specimen on Herbert 
Island, August 22. 

Stejneger (1885) reported this bird to be common in the Com- 
mander Islands, and he suspected that it nested there. While 
visiting those islands, he also obtained a specimen of Heteroscelus 
brevipes. It is possible that some of our sight records in the 
Aleutians represent the latter form. It can be expected in the 
Aleutians, for it has been found on the Pribilofs. 

Totanus melanoleucus: Greater Yellowlegs 

Osgood (1904) described a pair that evidently was nesting at 
a small pond on the portage trail between Lake Clark and Lake 
Iliamna. He found the species again at Swan Lake and Mulchatna 
River, and he mentions two specimens taken by McKay at 
Nushagak, August 14 to 28, 1881. Hine reported that it com- 
monly nested along the shore of Katmai Bay (1919). We ob- 
served two of these birds at Anchorage in 1936, and we were 
informed by local people that the species nests there. Bretherton 
said that it occurs on Kodiak Island and that it probably breeds 
there. Howell reports seeing two birds at Kodiak on May 9, 1944. 
In 1940, Gabrielson found this bird to be common on Alaska 
Peninsula; he obtained a specimen, and saw others, at Cold Bay 
in September 1942. 

We observed three greater yellowlegs on the beach at Port 
Moller, August 20, 1936. On July 7, 1925, I observed one of these 
birds circling about on Amak Island, and from July 18 to 24 
they were common on the marsh at Moffet Cove, Izembek Bay. 

Evidently, this bird nests at the base of Alaska Peninsula, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 141 

and it is possible that it nests as far west as the end; however, 
this is not certain. 

Totanus flavipes: Lesser Yellowlegs 

We did not encounter this species on our expeditions to the 
Aleutian Islands, and records are few. Friedmann (1935) men- 
tions a specimen (not available) collected by Bischoff on Kodiak 
Island ; its occurrence at Karluk River was reported by Bean 
in 1889. Cahalane reported (1943) that he saw "considerable 
numbers of these birds September [1940] on mud flats exposed 
by falling tide on the Naknek River below the rapids." 

Calidris canutus: Knot 

This species is mentioned here on the strength of Turner's re- 
mark (1886) : "I have not observed this bird west of Ugasik, 
on the eastern end of Aliaska, where it was quite plentiful in the 
latter part of June 1878." Presumably, it migrates through the 
Aleutian district, but we do not know the subspecies that are 
involved. 

Erolla ptilocnemis: Rock Sandpiper 
Erolia ptilocnemis ptilocnemis 

Using material that is available in the U. S. National Museum, 
ptilocnemis, couesi, quarta, and maritima were carefully com- 
pared. The last-named species appeared to be more stable in 
characters than the forms from Bering Sea. In some instances 
there was a close similarity, shown, for instance, between cer- 
tain specimens of couesi from the Aleutians and specimens of 
maritima; winter plumages are quite similar. There seemed good 
reason to include them all as forms of one species — maritima. 
However, Conover (1944) studied a much greater series — more 
than 500 specimens — and concluded that two basic species exist. 
His conclusion is followed here. 

E. p. ptilocnemis is larger than the other Bering Sea forms, 
and it is paler, both in summer and winter plumages. Compared 
with couesi, there is more tan color in the plumage of the back 
(less of the rusty brown and less of the black admixture). Even 
the primaries and tail are of a lighter color. 

In immature plumage, the feathers of the back are dark and 
narrowly edged with rusty brown in a smooth regular pattern, 
thus being distinguished from the broadly edged feathers of the 
adult at that time of year. In this immature plumage, the differ- 



142 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

ence in color of upper parts between ptilocnemis and couesi is not 
striking. The under parts of ptilocnemis are much paler with a 
pale buffy and gray area across the breast, the throat is nearly 
white and finely spotted, and the streaks on the breast and up- 
per flanks are narrow and pale. In contrast, the under parts of 
couesi in the same plumage are heavily and boldly streaked and 
spotted, thus giving the bird a darker appearance. In the winter 
plumage also, ptilocnemis is markedly paler than couesi. 

In all races, the measurements of wing and exposed culmen 
average greater in the female than in the male. Measurements, 
in millimeters, of 13 males and 19 females of ptilocnemis are as 
follows : 

Males: wing, 118 to 132 (125.6) ; exposed culmen, 27 to 32 
(29.3) 

Females: wing, 125 to 136 (129.5) ; exposed culmen, 29.5 to 
37.5 (33.4) 

The Pribilof sandpiper nests on St. Matthew and the Pribilof 
Islands, but, as would be expected, it occurs on Alaska Peninsula 
and the Aleutian Islands in migration. Probably, it winters in 
this area to some extent. At any rate, among the specimens ex- 
amined there are at least four from the Bristol Bay region that 
are referable to ptilocnemis. One of these, a female, was taken by 
C. L. McKay, at Point Etolin, April 8, 1883. Three others were 
collected by J. W. Johnson, at Nushagak, April 1 and April 18, 
1885. McGregor (1906) records that this species was collected 
on Unimak Island, August 14, 1901, and on Tigalda Island, Au- 
gust 5, 1901. 

Erolia ptilocnemis couesi 

Attu: Too-loo-goo-yuch 

Atka : Chu-lich'-tah 

Alaska Peninsula: Tsoo-gooch (Wetmore) 

Russian, Commander Islands: Lajdinij kulik (Stejneger) 

In measurements, couesi is quite comparable to maritima and 
quarta, but all three are definitely smaller than ptilocnemis. The 
Aleutian sandpiper is decidedly darker than the Pribilof sand- 
piper — the markings on the under parts are bolder and heavier; 
the upper parts contain more black and a greater proportion of 
rusty brown. In this respect, couesi approaches quarta. 

Measurements, in millimeters, of 29 males and 24 females of 
couesi are as follows : 

Males: wing, 110 to 123 (117.1); exposed culmen, 25 to 34 
(27) 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 143 

Females: wing, 113.5 to 127 (120.5) ; exposed oilmen, 27 to 33 
(30.7) 

The Aleutian sandpiper nests throughout the Aleutian Islands, 
where it is the common shorebird ; it also nests along the Alaska 
Peninsula and adjacent islands — at least as far east as Port 
Moller (Jaques 1930), and undoubtedly all the way to the base 
of the Peninsula. Hine (1919) observed it at Katmai Bay in 
1919. At least two specimens in immature plumage were taken 
by Johnson, at Nushagak, July 11 and 18, 1884, and another was 
taken April 18, 1885 — all these specimens appear to be couesi. 
There may be some question in regard to the breeding status of 
this bird on Kodiak Island ; however, it winters there. 




Figube 27. — Aleutian rock sandpiper. 



The winter range includes all of the Alaska Peninsula-Aleutian 
district. 

The Nesting Period 

Extensive observations on the nesting of the Aleutian sand- 
piper were possible in 1925, when I spent a season on Unimak 
Island and the adjacent part of Alaska Peninsula. On April 29, 
flocks of Aleutian sandpipers (as many as 20 birds) were feed- 
ing along the lagoon at Urilia Bay. The first mated pairs were 
noted on May 3; these mated birds had left the shorelines and 
were nesting on the mossy tundra. By May 7, they had become 



144 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

more plentiful, and mating was in full swing. At this time, 
flocks were still common on the beaches — several flocks were 
noted at St. Catherine Cove on May 17. A flock of 150 to 200 
birds, feeding on the tide flat, occasionally would rise, maneuver, 
wheel, and turn in the air (in characteristic sandpiper fashion), 
then settle back on the beach. Thereupon, a great babel of 
chattering would arise, as they all dabbled busily in the wet sand 

and mud. 

On May 18, a single bird was collected on the beach. It proved 
to be a female with an egg almost ready for the shell. The next 
day, a flock of 400 was seen. The significance of seeing these 
large flocks at the same time that others were nesting is hard 
to determine. They must have been nonbreeders or late nesters. 

On May 23, these sandpipers were common on the higher 
tundra back of Moffet Cove, Izembek Bay trilling and calling, 
evidently nesting or still making preparations. Some had ob- 
viously selected the nesting place or had eggs. By May 28, egg 
laying was definitely under way. 

A nest containing four eggs, found June 5, was a cavity in the 
ground lined with a few tiny leaves — diameter was 100 mm.; 
depth was 53 mm. 

These nesting habits were verified on later expeditions (in 
1936 and 1937) throughout the Aleutian chain. Some sandpipers 
nested close to tidewater, others nested back in the hills — some- 
times a considerable distance from a body of water. On June 1, 
1937, on Atka Island, I found 2 nests, each containing 4 eggs. 
They were shallow depressions in a mass of low vegetation, 
lined with bits of lichens, straws, and dwarf-willow leaves. 

Another nest, with four eggs, was found June 4, high up on 
Kiska Island. It was a depression in the moss beside a rock ; the 
cavity was 3 by 4 inches wide, and IV2 inches deep. 

On June 22, 1936, on Atka Island, I found a dead, newly 
hatched young. On June 22, 1937, Scheffer found a brood of 4 
recently hatched young on Little Kiska Island. Another brood 
of 4, several days old, was found on Little Sitkin Island on June 
27 ; and, on June 29, a brood of 3 was found on Rat Island. 

I heard the mating song of the Aleutian sandpiper at Izembek 
Bay in 1925. Quoting from my field report, the song suggested — 

the droning trill of toads, varied by a repetition of "per-deerrrr, per-deerrrr" 
. . . very much like the red-backed sandpiper's call, but shorter. Later on, 
when frightened from their nests, they had a variety of alarm calls. As they 
flew away, they would call "Ka-deer, ka-deer, ka-deer," similar to the notes 
of mating time, but shorter and sharper, and they also uttered a very rapid 
"uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh." 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 145 

Wetmore, in his field report for 1911, says: "The males have 
a trilling note, almost a whinny that is hard to describe. Also a 
quick musical whistled turdle turdle, on the Carolina wren order." 

The first signs of flocking were noted early in July. On July 5, 
1937, a group of 3 adults was observed flying along the beach on 
Amchitka Island, and, from July 10 to July 20, 5 or 6 were 
seen in groups several times. On July 24, 1925, two immature 
birds were collected at Izembek Bay, and several flocks were seen. 
On July 29, 1937, flocks of 40 or more were seen on Ogliuga Is- 
land ; after July 29, they generally were seen in flocks. 

Erolia ptilocnemis quarta 

Russian, Commander Islands: Lajdinij kulik (Stejneger) 

Ernst Hartert (1920) described quarta from the Commander 
Islands and said — 

The purple sandpiper of the Commander Islands differs from E.m.couesi 
from Alaska and the Aleutian Islands as follows: 'In the winter plumage 
the foreneck and jugulum are darker slate-colour and less mixed with white. 
In the full summer plumage the edges to the feathers of the upperside are 
much wider and of a brighter ferruginous, so that the upperside looks quite 
rust-red, with mostly concealed black centers to the feathers. The wings 
measure 121-127, in one female even 130 mm.' 

In the series from the Commander Islands (in the U. S. Na- 
tion Museum), 6 males and 5 females measure, in millimeters, as 
follows : 

Males: wing, 117-129 (121) ; exposed culmen, 25.5-28.5 (27). 

Females: wing, 120-126.5 (122.8); exposed culmen, 27.5-33 
(29.5) 
These measurements easily fall within the size range of couesi. 

While it is true that quarta is essentially a Siberian form, there 
are a number of records for Alaska. A. C. Bent (1927) reported 
these birds, at least one of which was a breeding bird, from 
Attu Island. Two specimens in the U. S. National Museum, Nos. 
131763 and 131764 (probably the ones mentioned by Bent), as- 
suredly are quarta. Another Attu specimen, No. 201468, is very 
similar to the less brightly colored specimens from the Com- 
mander Islands. There is another specimen, No. 298506, from 
Izembek Bay, Alaska Peninsula, that is very similar to quarta 
and is practically identical with a specimen from St. Lawrence 
Island, No. 165056. Another specimen, No. 230608, from Morzho- 
voi Bay, has the coloration of quarta. Moreover, Bailey (1943) 
records two specimens from Cape Prince of Wales, taken June 6, 
1922, that were identified as quarta. 



146 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Four specimens were collected by F. L. Beals on Unimak Is- 
land in January 1941. One of these is very dark, thus agreeing 
with the description of quarta in winter plumage, and another is 
nearly as dark as quarta. These specimens have not been identi- 
fied definitely. 

It should be pointed out that in the series from Bering Island 
(the type locality), there are several specimens that lack the 
extreme of bright ruf escence which characterizes quarta ; in fact, 
these specimens are very similar to average couesi. One speci- 
men from Bering Island, No. 89037, is as pale as some ptilocnemis. 

In the light of this circumstance, it is difficult to evaluate the 
Alaskan records. Are these stragglers of quarta, or are they ex- 
tremes in variation within the population of couesi 1 ! Until more 
Siberian material is obtained, and until a more extensive knowl- 
edge of quarta is at hand, it may be best to accept our records 
as stragglers of the Old World form. 

Since the above studies were made, Conover (1944) reviewed 
the group and referred the mainland birds north of Alaska 
Peninsula to tschuktschorum. 

Erolia acuminata: Sharp-tailed Sandpiper 

Specimens of this sandpiper have been obtained in various 
parts of Alaska, including St. Lawrence, St. Michael, and Nuni- 
vak Islands, the Pribilofs and the Russian-held Commander Is- 
lands. We saw none of these birds on our expeditions to the 
Aleutian Islands, but Bailey (1925) reported the capture of a 
specimen (a young of that year) by Hendee, on Unalaska Island, 
on September 27; and Bishop (1900) obtained a specimen at 
Unalaska, on October 5, 1899. Undoubtedly, this species occurs 
in the Aleutian district during migration more often than is 
shown by published records. 

Erolia melanotos: Pectoral Sandpiper 

The pectoral sandpiper proved to be exceedingly rare. Osgood 
(1904) says "One was taken by Johnson at Nushagak October 15, 
1884. The species was not seen by our party." Gabrielson saw 
three of these birds up the Kvichak River, July 23, 1940. 

On July 23, 1925, I observed two birds in the grassy marsh 
at MofFet Cove, Izembek Bay, which were believed to be imma- 
ture pectoral sandpipers, but, unfortunately, specimens were not 
obtained. The Alaska Peninsula should be in the migration route. 

Bishop (1900) obtained a specimen at Unalaska October 5, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 147 

1899; Turner (1886) reports taking 3 specimens on Attu Is- 
land; and Hartert (1920) reports taking 2 specimens from Ber- 
ing Island. 

Eventually, this bird may be found nesting on some of the fa- 
vorable habitats on the north side of Alaska Peninsula, such as 
those near Ugashik River, but at present the nearest known 
nesting locality, reported by Friedmann, is at Goodnews Bay 
(1933). 

Erolia bairdii: Baird's Sandpiper 

Friedmann (1935) records a number of specimens from Kodiak 
Island ; only one of these specimens is now available for verifica- 
tion. This specimen was taken by Townsend, August 15, 1888. 

According to Nelson (1887), Dall recorded Baird's sandpiper 
from Kodiak and from Amak Island, north of Alaska Peninsula, 
but there are no specimens to support these records. 

More recently, August 7, 1945, Gabrielson obtained a specimen 
at Wide Bay, Alaska Peninsula. Furthermore, he recorded them 
at Togalak Island, August 5, 1941 ; at Unalaska, Adak, Amchitka, 
Shemya, Agattu, and Kodiak in 1943; and at Amchitka, Adak, 
and Kodiak in 1944. These records reveal that this bird is more 
numerous in +he Aleutian district than was formerly supposed. 

Erolia m'mufilla: Least Sandpiper 

Attu : Kre-a-ma-ghre — choo ( ? ) 

The chief of Attu village said that he recognized a colored pic- 
ture of the least sandpiper, and he gave us the native name for 
it. But because the lack of striking markings makes identifica- 
tion difficult, and because we have no records for the western 
Aleutians, the chief's statement needs verification. 

During our brief stops at Kodiak Island we did not see this 
bird, but Friedmann (1935) records 6 adults and 9 downy young 
from Kodiak in the Thayer collection. We observed least sand- 
pipers at Port Chatham, Kenai Peninsula, May 6, 1936, and we 
observed it again on Ushagat Island, Barren Islands, May 10, 
where two specimens were taken. Several of these birds were 
noted at Chignik on May 14, and, on May 24, 1937, a pair was 
seen on Dolgoi Island. 

Hine (1919) observed a few least sandpipers, and took a speci- 
men, near the mouth of Katmai River, July 23, 1919. 

Dall (1873) reported it to be rather abundant along the beaches 
of Popof Island, in the Shumagins, June 20, 1872, and he obtained 
specimens at that time. 



148 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 




Figure 28. — Least sandpiper. 



On May 25, 1936, six, or more, least sandpipers were found in 
the marshy vegetation at Snag Point, Nushagak River, where 
they were evidently nesting; the following day, a male, with in- 
cubation patches, was collected. The flight song was heard here 
also. 

Jaques (1930) reported that after May 25 this bird was abun- 
dant about Port Moller in the vicinity of tundra pools. In 1911, 
Wetmore observed the species in August at King Cove near 
Thin Point. Late in July, he saw them at Morzhovoi Bay under 
circumstances that suggested they had just finished nesting. He 
also mentions seeing them on August 25 between King Cove and 
Little Koniuji Island, and on August 26 he saw them off Chignik 
Bay. Gabrielson, on June 21, 1940, found 6 or 8 in a high meadow 
at Frosty Peak, and he took specimens there and at Unalaska, 
Alaska Peninsula, and the Shumagins. Gianini (1917) reported 
them to be common and breeding at Stepovak Bay, where he 
found a nest with four eggs. 

In May 1925, I observed these sandpipers about Urilia Bay and 
St. Catherine Cove, Unimak Island, where they were common by 
May 19. At Hazen Point, Izembek Bay, a pair was seen on May 
21, and, on May 29, birds were observed going through their mat- 
ing performance in the valley below Aghileen Pinnacles. Evi- 
dently these birds were nesting in the marshy valley bottom. 
Least sandpipers were found nesting commonly at Hazen Point, 
where a nest was found on June 22. The nest consisted of a slight 
cavity in the matted vegetation, with a few small round leaves 
in the bottom, and it contained four well-incubated eggs. On June 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 149 

20, a small flock, probably nonbreeders, was noted at Hazen 
Point. During July, this sandpiper was common near Frosty 
Peak and the islands near Point Grant, and, on July 24, a number 
of flocks, probably immature birds, were feeding on the tide flats. 

Chase Littlejohn (notes) wrote that he "Found [it] breed- 
ing from Kodiak to Sanakh, but not in great numbers, a few 
remain during winter." 

McGregor (1906) obtained a specimen on Amaknak Island, 
May 17, 1901, and obtained another on Tigalda, August 5. Eyer- 
dam (1936) obtained a specimen at Unalaska on May 17, 1932, 
and Gabrielson collected one there on July 4, 1946. Swarth 
(1934) records two specimens taken on Akutan Island on May 19 
and 31, by Cyril G. Harrold, who had remarked that "Several 
pairs were observed on the flats on Akutan Island. The male 
has a strange flight song consisting of a repetition of several low 
notes uttered while the bird is alternately gliding and hovering." 

On May 30, 1937, a pair of least sandpipers was seen by our 
party at Nikolski Village, Umnak Island. 

We have no records beyond Umnak, but the data indicate that 
the least sandpiper nests as far west as Akutan — very probably as 
far as Umnak. 





Figure 29. — Least sandpipers. 



150 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Erolia alpina: Dunlin 
Erolia alpina pacifica 

The red-backed dunlin, or sandpiper, occurs in some localities 
on the Alaska Peninsula. Osgood (1904) observed several flocks 
flying up and down the Egegik River on September 29. He men- 
tions several specimens taken by McKay at Ugashik in May and 
July 1881. G. D. Hanna obtained three specimens at Nushagak 
on May 31, 1911, and Hine obtained a specimen near the mouth 
of Katmai River, August 23, 1919. 

The specimens taken by McKay suggest nesting. Certainly, 
in 1936 we found good evidence of nesting at Ugashik River; 
these sandpipers were common on the tide flats on May 27 and 
29. They were paired and evidently breeding. One was obviously 
flushed from a nest, though the nest was not found. 

On April 29, 1925, I saw a red-backed dunlin feeding on the 
shore of a lagoon at Urilia Bay, Unimak Island, in company with 
some Aleutian sandpipers. This may have been a migrant be- 
cause none were found nesting on the marshes about Izembek 
Bay. The dunlin's westernmost nesting locality on Alaska Penin- 
sula is, so far as we know, the tidal marshes about Ugashik 
River. 

Taber (1946) noted a few red-backed dunlins wintering on 
Adak Island. 

Stejneger (1885) reported this bird as a migrant in the Com- 
mander Islands. 

Limnodromus griseus: Short-billed Dowitcher 
Limnodromus griseus caurinus 

A series of specimens from various parts of the Alaska Penin- 
sula is available, and comparison of these birds with those in 
other series from differing localities brings up the question of 
the subspecific status among the dowitchers. Specimens from 
Point Barrow, St. Michael, Hooper Bay, Fort Yukon, Nushagak, 
Ugashik, and the west end of Alaska Peninsula were examined 
and compared with numerous specimens from eastern localities. 

At the time that these comparisons were made, it appeared that 
the Alaska Peninsula birds should properly be included with 
scolopaceus. Since then, Pitelka (1950) has studied this genus 
intensively with nearly 3,000 specimens. On the basis of this 
study, he concluded that scolopaceus and griseus are distinct 
species, and that griseus includes three forms — griseus, hender- 
soni, and a new subspecies, caurinus. Previously, Aldrich (1948) 
had concluded that intergradation between populations could be 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 151 

demonstrated among North American dowitchers and, therefore, 
only one species was involved. 

The designation of L. g. caurinus as the breeding form for 
southern Alaska would tend to solve some of the classification 
problems of Alaska Peninsula specimens. However, it still seems 
difficult to visualize specific status for scolopaceus, as proposed by 
Pitelka. As one example, a female from Nushagak, with the spot- 
ting of the underparts characteristic of the griseus group, was 
mated with a male, that was heavily barred on the underparts, 
typical of scolopaceus. Should we consider this to be a case of hy- 
bridization between two ordinarily isolated species, or should it be 
considered a case of intergradation between two races of the same 
species? A parallel situation exists in the case of the fox spar- 
rows at the base of Alaska Peninsula. 

A specimen from Ugashik River, Alaska Peninsula, was com- 
pared with one from La Saline, Athabaska River, which, pre- 
sumably, is the range of the proposed race hendersoni. Both are 
males — the Canadian specimen was taken May 12, 1920, and the 
Alaskan specimen was taken May 27, 1936, from a mated pair. 
These two specimens are almost identical. The longer bill is on 
the Canadian bird, 60.5 mm., while the bill of the Alaskan bird 
is 54.5 mm. The wing of the Canadian bird is smaller than that 
of the Alaskan bird (144 mm. and 147 mm.). Both birds are 
deep buff, with very little spotting, the round spots occurring on 
the sides of the breast and on the flanks. The Alaskan bird has 
a little more white on the belly than the Canadian bird, though 
the latter has a pale, noticeably whitish edging on the feathers 
of the under parts. On the upper parts, the Canadian bird is 
somewhat darker buff than the Alaskan one. If a mixed series 
of these birds were laid, it would be most difficult to separate 
them. 

Another specimen from Nushagak River is mostly white un- 
derneath and rather heavily spotted. This is a female ; the wing 
measures 145.5 mm., and the bill measures 62 mm. Neither of 
these two Alaskan specimens has barring on the side of the 
breast. Without knowledge of the locality, one would place these 
two, both breeding birds, with the Canadian group ; however, other 
birds from Nushagak show plumage associated with typical 
scolopaceus. Indeed, most significant of all, the female from 
Nushagak, lacking the bars, was mated with a male that was 
heavily barred. Other birds from the Bering Sea coast vary 
greatly in degree of spotting, in amount of barring, in amount 
of white underneath, and in shade of solid buff color. Length of 
bill also varies greatly — even within each sex group. 



152 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

In view of so much variation, obvious in any series from a 
given locality, and because of the extreme overlapping shown 
here, it would seem that subspecific variation best expresses the 
nature of the forms. 

Friedmann (1935) reports one record for Kodiak Island, "two 
specimens collected by Wosnessensky in 1842-1843, now in the 
Zoological Museum of the Academy of Sciences at Leningrad." 

As mentioned above, we found several breeding birds on a low 
marshy area near Snag Point, Nushagak River, in 1936, and a 
female, collected there on May 25, contained two eggs almost 
ready for deposition of the shell. Several pairs were seen on the 
tide marshes at Ugashik River, May 27 and 29. 

Jaques (1930) observed several of these birds, and collected 
one at Port Moller, June 12, 1928. 

At Izembek Bay, near the west end of Alaska Peninsula, Donald 
Stevenson collected an immature female, July 2, 1925, and I 
obtained another immature female there, July 24, 1925. These 
birds possibly could have been migrants, but we believe they 
were on their nesting grounds. The locality is excellent habitat 
for this bird. 

Cecil Williams, a member of our party in 1936, reported seeing 
a long-billed dowitcher on Bogoslof Island, June 5, at the little 
"sulphur lake." On such a barren island, this sighting is a most 
surprising occurrence. 

Ereunetes pusillus: Semipalmated Sandpiper 

Eyerdam (1936) reports that this bird was collected at Una- 
laska and Unimak — the only report of this species for the Aleu- 
tion district. I have not had an opportunity to see these speci- 
mens. 

Ereunetes maun: Western Sandpiper 

Friedmann (1935) mentions that specimens were collected on 
Kodiak by Bischoff, August 10 to 15, 1868. These are the only 
positive records based on specimens. This bird should occur 
there in migration more commonly than these meager records 
show. On May 10, 1936, C. S. Williams obtained a specimen on 
Ushagat, one of the Barren Islands, which are not far from 
Kodiak. Osgood (1904) mentions two specimens collected by 
McKay at Nushagak, and Hine (1919) observed them commonly 
in the Katmai-Kashvik Bay area, where he collected specimens. 
Wetmore found these birds to be common near Thin Point, on 
the Alaska Peninsula, August 3 to 13, 1911, and back of King 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 153 

Cove, July 12 to 20, 1911. Eyerdam (1936) reported that he 
collected specimens at Unalaska and Unimak, and Gabrielson 
obtained a specimen at Cold Bay, July 20, 1942. 

Turner (1886) stated that "This sandpiper is abundant in all 
the Aleutians. At Atkah and Amchitka it is extremely abundant." 
Turner's observations must have been made during certain mi- 
gration periods. Certainly, his statement does not fit present- 
day conditions, because, except for Eyerdam's records, no one 
else appears to have seen these birds in the Aleutians. 

Limosa fedoa: Marbled Godwit 

Osgood (1904) says of this species that "Two immature speci- 
mens of the marbled godwit were taken by McKay at Ugashik 
July 16-18, 1881." 

This is 1 of the 3 unusual records of this species for Alaska. 

Limosa lapponica: Bar-tailed Godwit 
Limosa lapponica baueri 

Attu: Mi-u-keegh 
Atka: Chu-ee-gech 

Dall obtained a specimen on an islet in Akutan Pass, June 2, 
1872, and he noted it at Unalaska, June 9. He stated that it 
breeds there. Nelson (1887) said "On May 26, 1877, while I was 
at Unalaska, a native brought in half a dozen of these birds, and 
on June 3 I obtained three others from the sandy beach of a 
small inner bay." He said that they appeared to be migrating. 

Cahn observed one of these birds near Unalaska Island, on the 
beach of Hog Island, May 21, 1946. 

Turner (1886) said that— 

This godwit is found on the Aleutian Islands in the latter part of May as it 
is on its way to the northward. On Atkah Island I obtained three specimens. 
They were on the sandy beach of the west side of Nazan Bay. They re- 
main but a few days, and are probably stragglers from the m^'n body of 
their kind. 

At Amchitka I saw four of this species on May 24, 1881. They were in 
Constantine Harbor of this Island. 

I do not think they breed on any of the Aleutian Islands. 

Joseph Grinnell (1910) has also recorded two specimens taken 
at Unalaska by C. L. Hall on May 29 and June 4, 1894. 

Donald Stevenson obtained a male bird on Unimak Island, 
June 3, 1922, and noted that "A few observed, this one only 
taken. Was very thin and weak. Sex organs swollen." 



154 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Chase Littlejohn (manuscript notes for 1887-88) noted that- 
Many of these seen in the spring going north at Morzhovoi Bay but they 
do not stop, they take almost the same route as the black brant but do not 
bother about flying around the sand bar. As they are not seen in the fall 
they must take some other route. 

A. C. Bent (1927) said— 

On its spring migration the Pacific godwit passes through the Aleutian 
Islands and the Pribilof Islands on its way to its breeding grounds in 
northwestern Alaska. I saw two birds on Atka Island on June 13, 1911, 
probably belated migrants; it has been said to breed near Unalaska, but 
this seems hardly likely. 

On our own expeditions, we met with this bird only once. On 
June 5, 1937, we found a flock of 16 Pacific godwits, 2 Hudsonian 
curlews, and a European turnstone at the south end of Kiska 
Island. Two specimens of the godwit were taken. 

We have no records for the Alaska Peninsula, and we have no 
proof of nesting in the Aleutians. According to Stejneger (1885), 
this bird is a regular migrant in the Commander Islands. 

Limosa haemastica: Hudsonian Godwit 

Osgood (1901) wrote "Nine specimens were taken by Bischoff 
at Fort Kenai. At least two of these are still in the National 
Museum — one an adult in breeding plumage, the other in fall 
plumage." 

A. C. Bent (1927) wrote that "It has been reported from 
Alaska (Kenai, Nulato, Ugashik, mouth of the Yukon River, and 
Point Barrow)." 

These observations show that this godwit rarely appeared near 
the base of Alaska Peninsula. 

Crocethia alba: Sanderling 

Chase Littlejohn (manuscript notes for 1887-88) says "Only 
three seen during my stay, and these were seen during very cold 
weather. Twice alone and once with Aleutian sandpipers." He 
does not mention localities here, but his observations covered the 
general region from Kodiak to Sanak Island. 

On February 7, 1941, F. L. Beals obtained a male specimen 
on Amchitka Island. 

Stejneger (1885) reports the sanderling to be a rare migrant 
in the Commander Islands. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 155 

Family PHALAROPODIDAE 
Phalaropus fulicarius: Red Phalarope 

Attu: A-chi-li-rhd-nch 

Russian, Yana River region: Plavounetz, more often Petouschok (Pleske) 

We observed flocks of red phalarope in spring migration as well 
as later in the summer, when some of them may have been re- 
turning from the north. On May 22, 1937, several flocks were 
seen in Shelikof Strait, many in the red plumage, and the next 
day, they were common all the way between Sutwik Island and 
the Shumagins. These were chiefly in the red plumage. On Au- 
gust 26, as we approached East Unalga Island from Unalaska, 
flocks were seen, this time in whitish winter plumage. On the 
evening of May 21, 1936, while passing offshore from Unimak Is- 
land in Bering Sea, we saw bands of red phalaropes, totaling 
nearly 100, flying over the water. On July 15, over 100 were fly- 
ing near the Baby Islands in Akutan Pass, and near Rootok Is- 
land. Next day, more of these birds were seen near Rootok Island. 
On two occasions, they were seen feeding along a line of dead kelp. 

Cahalane (1943) says "N. J. Benson told me that in August 
1940 he had seen a flock of 'at least five thousand' of the 'whale 
birds' in Shelikof Strait." 

Turner (1886) wrote that he "saw but few of these birds at 
Nushagak. At the mouth of Ugasik River, and the low grounds 
surrounding it, I saw hundreds of these birds." 

Jaques (1930) says that the red phalarope was "First seen 
near the Shumagin Islands May 15 and 16, at Moller Bay, and 
throughout Bering Sea on the northward voyage." And again, 
"Only one bird (at Port Moller) was seen on or near the shore." 

There is a strong probability that a few red phalaropes nest 
on parts of Alaska Peninsula. Turner's observations at Nushagak 
and Ugashik, and the bird noted by Jaques at Port Moller, 
suggest nesting, because these are birds of the open sea when 
on migration. Furthermore, on May 25, 1925, I found a female 
along the stream flowing northwesterward from Aghileen Pin- 
nacles, on the north side of Alaska Peninsula, and on May 29 
another female was flushed from a pond in the upper end of the 
same valley. On June 22 Donald Stevenson shot a female at 
Hazen Point; he thought that this bird had incubation patches. 

Nelson (1887) says "It is an abundant summer visitant on 
the Near Islands, .and breeds abundantly on some of the Com- 
mander group." 

Turner, on the other hand, (1886) says "I have no record 



156 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

of their occurrence in the Aleutian Islands. They may occasionally 
occur there with other species." 

Stejneger (1885) merely reports a flock seen at sea, near the 
Commander Islands. Hartert (1920) records five specimens taken 
on the Commander Islands, and he remarks that the late dates, 
May 25 to June 16, suggest breeding. 

Clark (1910) reports that when he approached Unalaska 
"thousands of these birds were seen, mostly in flocks of from 
fifty to a hundred or more, but many singly or in small com- 
panies." 

The chief of Attu Village said that the red phalarope does 
not nest in the Aleutians, but he stated that it is plentiful there 
in winter. This probably is true, though the above data gives 
good evidence of nesting along the Alaska Peninsula. 

Lobipes lobatus: Northern Phalarope 

Attu : Chirr-teg-ech 

Chhnt-khukh (according to Turner) 
Atka: Chir-riz-ing-ah 

Large numbers of the northern phalarope migrate along the 
southern Alaskan coast. On May 8, 1937, while passing through 
Snow Pass in southeastern Alaska, we enjoyed the impressive 
spectacle of several thousands of northern phalaropes resting on 
the water. There was much dead kelp, which apparently afforded 
good feeding. On May 16 and 17, northern phalaropes were 
abundant on the tide flats at Eyak River, near Cordova, and local 
residents declared that they nest there. On May 11, 1936, we 
observed a small group between the Barren Islands and Afognak 
Island, and on May 13 we saw a flock of about 25 in Kupreanof 
Strait as well as smaller groups near Kodiak Island. All of these 
flocks were seen over open water, where they sometimes alighted 
and swam about. 

Cahalane (1944) observed two northern phalaropes in the 
Katmai region in September 1940, and Hine (1919) noted them 
on a number of occasions near the mouth of Katmai River where 
he obtained specimens. 

Littlejohn wrote : "Seen often at sea in large flocks and found 
nesting at Kodiak and Sanakh in April 1888." 

On May 25, 1936, two were seen near a pond on the tide flat 
at Snag Point, Nushagak River, evidently preparing to nest, and, 
on May 27 and 29, on the tide flats at Ugashik River, many more 
seemed to be preparing to nest. Some were seen in small flocks, 
others in twos and threes. 

Jaques (1930) found this bird "abundant about the Port 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 157 

Moller region in all sorts of pools on the tundra after June 1 
until our departure on June 22." 

Gianini (1917) noted the species at Stepovak Bay as "one of 
the most common and interesting of the smaller birds. Every 
pond had a pair or more ... I found no nests nor saw any young, 
yet these birds breed there." 

In 1911, Wetmore found these phalaropes evidently breeding 
in the Morzhovoi Bay region. 

In 1925, I observed many northern phalaropes, obviously 
breeding, in the wet valley bottom below Aghileen Pinnacles, on 
Hazen Point, and on the marshes at Moffet Cove. Two males 
that were collected June 15 had incubation patches, and, on July 
19, Donald Stevenson saw a young bird. 

Turner (1886) says: "Hundreds of them were seen on the 
low grounds on the northern side of Alaska." 

The northern phalarope also nests on many of the Aleutian 
Islands. We found them on Unimak, Unalaska, Atka, Little 
Tanaga, Adak, Amchitka, Ogliuga, Little Sitkin, Kiska, Little 
Kiska, Buldir, Semichi, and Agattu. Swarth (1934) reports a 
pair taken on Akutan. 

Wetmore found them nesting on Adak, Tanaga, and Kiska, and 
he believed that they nested on Atka. 

Turner (1886) says that they are abundant on the western 
islands in the Aleutian chain, and he adds that many of them 
breed on Atka, Amchitka, Semichi, and Agattu. 

On Buldir Island, we were much interested to find two of these 
birds high on the mountain, in the area occupied by nesting 
geese. 

Stejneger reported the northern phalarope to be a common 
breeding bird in the Commander Islands. 



Family STERCORARIIDAE 

Stercorarius pomarinus: Pomarine Jaeger 

Russian, Yana and Indigirka regions: Terbei (Pleske) 
Chukchi: Aunuklinuadl'-ukanodlin (Palmen) 

According to Pleske, the Russian name "Terbei" applies to 
jaegers in general. He states that in northern Siberia, people 
of various languages use one name for all jaegers, adding "large" 
or "small" for the different kinds. Similarly, among some 
Eskimos I found that the same name was applied to parasiticus 
and longicaudus. 



158 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

The pomarine jaeger proved to be a rare bird in the Aleutian 
district, and there was no evidence of nesting. 

On the evening of May 21, 1936, several miles off Urilia Bay, 
Unimak Island, 3 pomarine jaegers passed the ship — 2 were 
together, followed by a single bird that Cecil Williams identified 
at close range. On May 22, another pomarine jaeger was seen 
offshore from Nelson Lagoon, Alaska Peninsula, and several 
others were seen farther east later in the day. On two occasions, 
we noticed a jaeger trying to rob an Arctic tern. On May 23, 
three or four jaegers were seen in outer Nushagak Bay. Farther 
west, on July 4, three jaegers were observed between Little 
Tanaga and Kagalaska Islands. They probably were pomarinus, 
because they were large and were light underneath; however, 
positive identification was impossible. Another was seen at West 
Unalga Island on August 3. 

Pomarine jaegers were seen again in 1937. One was seen 
near Resurrection Bay on May 20 ; 1 was observed near the 
Shumagins, May 23, and several were seen near Deer Island, 
May 24; 1 was seen near Unimak Island, May 25; and 1 was 
sighted west of Kiska Island, June 6. One June 17, the captain of 
our ship counted 7 of these birds off Semichi Islands — I verified 
4 of them. Later in the day, another was seen at sea, farther 
eastward. On August 19, at Cape Cheerful, near Unalaska, there 
were quite a number of these jaegers among the shearwaters, 
and on August 24 one was seen near Bogoslof, among gulls and 
shearwaters. 

Austin H. Clark (1910) saw a pomarine jaeger at Bower's Bank 
in Bering Sea on June 3 — this is the only one that he noted. 

Pomarine jaegers were always found either at sea or well 
offshore, they never were seen on land. Apparently, the waters 
about the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians afford excellent 
foraging for nonnesting individuals. Jaegers probably parasitize 
gulls and shearwaters in this area, though no doubt they are also 
capable of feeding directly from the water, where marine organ- 
isms are so abundant. 

In 1924, we found the pomarine jaeger nesting commonly at 
Hooper Bay, and no doubt the nonbreeding individuals would be 
attracted to the Aleutian area, which must lie in their migration 
path. 

Hartert (1920) records two specimens taken on the Commander 
Islands. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 159 

Stercorarius parasiticus: Parasitic Jaeger 

Attu: Klu-pa-soch 

Atka: Ke-uch 

Russian, Commander Islands: Rasbojyiik (Stejneger) 

Chukchi: UadV Ukangodlin (Palmen) 

The parasitic jaeger nests on Kodiak Island (Friedmann 1935; 
Bent 1921), throughout the Alaska Peninsula, and along the 
Aleutian chain. On May 23, 1936, 2 of these birds were seen in 
outer Nushagak Bay; on May 25, 3 were seen, and, the next day, 
2 were observed over the marshy tide flats at Snag Point, 
Nushagak River. On May 27 and 29, a number of these birds 
were seen flying about over the tide flats at Ugashik River — 
both the light- and dark-color phases were noted. C. S. Williams 
collected one in the light-color phase. On August 26, there were 
five (all of which were in the light-colored phase) over the marsh 
at Sand Point, Popof Island. 

On June 18, 1940, Gabrielson saw a pair at the Semidi Islands, 
and on July 17, he saw three birds at Dillingham. On July 19, 
he saw 12 parasitic jaegers on Naknek River. 

Jaques (1930) says the parasitic jaeger was "Common along 
shore and over the tundra north of Port Moller, where it was 
breeding in June." 

In 1925, I found these jaegers to be numerous about Izembek 
Bay during the nesting season, and I suspected that they were 
nesting, though proof was lacking. Wetmore reported these 
birds "tolerably common" about Morzhovoi Bay, and Gianini 
(1917) found them quite common about Stepovak Bay. 

We saw this bird frequently throughout the Aleutian chain. 
They were in pairs, on characteristic tundra habitat, and they 
acted in a manner typical of nesting. Unfortunately, we had no 
time to hunt for nests. 

On June 12, 1936, 4 pairs of jaegers were found on Chuginadak 
Island; June 14, 1 was seen on Herbert; June 18, a pair was seen 
on Seguam; June 29, 3 were seen on Kanaga; July 23, 2 were 
seen on Ogliuga ; July 26, several were observed on Kiska ; July 
30, 3 were sighted on Attu; July 31, at least 21 were seen high 
up on Buldir; August 4, 5 were seen on Kavalga and 3 were seen 
on Skagul Island. 

In 1937, they were noted again : June 4 and 5, 6 were seen on 
Kiska ; June 7 and 10, 4 were seen on Attu ; June 11 to 15, common 
on Agattu; June 17, 6 were seen on Semichi; June 18, abundant 
on Buldir; June 21, common on Kiska; June 22, a pair was 
seen on Little Kiska; June 23, 3 were seen on Chugul ; June 27, 
a pair was seen on Little Sitkin; June 30, at least 2 pairs were 



160 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

seen on Rat Island; July 4, 3 were seen on Semisopochnoi ; July 
5 and 11, about 7 were sighted on Amchitka; July 29, at least 
4 were seen on Ogliuga ; July 30, three or four were observed on 
Kavalga; July 31, 2 were seen on West Unalga; and on August 2, 
2 were seen on Uak. 

On the Alaska Peninsula, the black-color phase of the parasitic 
jaeger is particularly common, though the light phase probably 
predominates. In the Shumagins, all five birds seen were light 
colored. 

Among the Aleutian Islands, however, the light-color phase 
is a rarity. More than 100 parasitic jaegers were recorded, and, 
of this number, only 4 were specifically mentioned in our field 
notes as being light colored; nearly all the rest were mentioned 
as being definitely dark. Possibly in no other area is the parasitic 
jaeger population so uniformly dark. 

Stejneger (1885) says of the color phase that "On the Com- 
mander Islands the dark form is the most common. A few only 
with white lower surface were seen and one secured." 

Hartert (1920) obtained 4 adults in the Commander Islands 
with white underparts, and he obtained 3 of the dark phase. 

Dall (1874) noted the same tendency, believing, however, that 
the dark color was in the immature plumage ; this becomes obvious 
when he says "nor have we ever obtained any in completely 
adult plumage. All our specimens are of a nearly uniform dark 
slate color." 

Bent (1921) has suggested that the dark color phase may be 
a distinct species. That appears doubtful, however. Bent quotes 
Grinnell as saying that he found a light and a dark bird mated. 
On two occasions in the Aleutians we observed trios, one of 
which was white. Unless we can show that normally the two 
color types keep segregated in breeding, with only an occasional 
crossbreeding that may be construed as hybridization, it will be 
better to consider that they are color phases. 

A dark-color phase, becoming dominant or very prominent 
locally, is known among other animal species — for example, in 
the case of the marmot in parts of the Rocky Mountains, the 
ground squirrel in eastern Alaska, and the Arctic fox in the 
Aleutians. 

Food Habits 

The name of this bird suggests its food habits. It is known 
to rob gulls and terns of their food. The Arctic tern and European 
turnstone were seen pursuing parasitic jaegers, evidently rec- 
ognizing them as foes. On Alaska Peninsula, there was evidence 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 161 

that these jaegers were seeking fragments of salmon left on 
the banks by brown bears. On Buldir Island, where parasitic 
jaegers were so numerous, a colony, of nesting glaucous-winged 
gulls probably furnished a food supply for the jaegers. 

On Agattu Island, 24 pellets were obtained; these pellets con- 
tained the remains of 17 forked-tailed petrels, 3 murres, and 5 
unidentified birds. Of the last mentioned, 2 were possibly paroquet 
auklets and 1 was a small, sparrow-sized bird. 

Some of these items, especially the murres, were undoubtedly 
carrion. A nesting colony of forked-tailed petrels, near the 
perch where the pellets were obtained obviously was the source 
of the items found in the pellets — however, the method of capture 
was not ascertained. It is, of course, possible that the jaegers 
found parts of petrel carcasses left by blue foxes. 

Certain observations suggest that the parasitic jaeger is 
not solely a carrion eater and robber, but that it hunts part of the 
time in the manner of a hawk. On Semisopochnoi Island, Douglas 
Gray and I sat on a slope in the midst of a least auklet colony 
and watched the performance of a parasitic jaeger. For over an 
hour, we watched the bird repeatedly pursue these little auklets 
as the flocks came in from the sea. It did not stoop from a 
height, but it would single out a bird and follow it as swiftly 
as possible on the level or at various angles, in irregular flight. 
There are two possible interpretations. It may have been trying 
to capture an auklet, or it may have been trying to make it 
disgorge. So far as we could see, in spite of its persistence, it 
did not succeed in either purpose. 

Stejneger (1885) says, of the Commander Islands: "In the 
autumn they seem to feed to a great extent on the berries of 
Empetrum nigrum, and their excreta at that time are colored 
dark blue." 

Stercorarius longicaudus: Long-tailed Jaeger 

Chukchi: AnkakenuadV-ukangodlin (Palmen) 

The long-tailed jaeger is rare in the Aleutian district. Fried- 
mann (1935) records a few bones found in middens on Kodiak 
Island. Osgood (1904) reports one on Iliamna Lake, July 16, 
1902, and he records specimens taken by McKay at Nushagak and 
Ugashik in July and August 1881. 

On July 17, Gabrielson recorded a long-tailed jaeger at Dilling- 
ham; and, on July 19, he noted three on Naknek River. 

Gianini (1917) is the only observer who has reported these 
jaegers to be common; his observations were made at Stepovak 



162 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Bay, where he collected a specimen. Apparently, Wetmore did 
not observe them on Alaska Peninsula in 1911, and I did not 
positively identify this jaeger at Izembek Bay in 1925. 

Turner (1886) says "The Long-tailed Jaeger is rarely seen 
on the Eastern Aleutian Islands. I saw one on Sannakh Island in 
July, 1878. I saw a few at Atkah Island in 1879, and two at 
Attu Island in 1880 . . . This species is reported to breed at the 
Semichi Islands." 

Friedmann (1934) reports a number of bones of this jaeger 
found in middens on Amaknak Island. 

Stevenson obtained a specimen on Ilak Island, September 8, 
1921. 

We observed it only once in the Aleutians. On June 13, 1937, 
I watched a bird in the normal light-colored plumage, flying about 
with three parasitic jaegers. 

Clark (1910) reports seeing one on Bower's Bank, Bering Sea. 

Hartert (1920) records two specimens from Commander Is- 
lands. Stejneger (1885) stated that they do not nest there. 



Family LARIDAE 

Larus hyperboreus: Glaucous Gull 
Larus hyperboreus hyperboreus 

Russian, Murman coast: Kluscha (Pleske) 

Chukchi: Yttak, tchikerga (Palmen) 

Though the glaucous gull normally nests north of the Aleutian 
district, it reaches this area in considerable numbers in winter 
and in migration to more southern localities. As Friedmann 
suggested (1935), it is practically certain that Turner was in 
error when he reported "countless thousands" of these gulls on 
cliffs at Kodiak. Friedmann records several bones found in 
middens on Kodiak, adding, "Macoun mentions a bird in the Hen- 
shaw collection, and 3 eggs taken in June, 1880, now in the 
Mailliard collection, [which] are the only other records I have 
found." 

While these are recorded under the name Larus h. hyperboreus, 
they could possibly refer to L. h. barrovianus. We do, however, 
have at least one undoubted specimen of L. h. hyperboreus — a 
male taken at Unalaska Island by Wetmore on June 9, 1911. 
Though this specimen was listed by Oberholser (1918) under 
L. h. barrovianus, examination of the speciman shows that it 
has the massive beak that characterizes L. h. hyperboreus, the 
measurements being greater than in barrovianus. Since it is 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 163 

known that the eastern glaucous gull nests on St. Matthew and 
Walrus Islands, we would expect it to visit the Aleutian district 
at times, though the western glaucous gull would be most pre- 
valent. Oberholser (1918) also mentions Diomede Islands for 
this form. 

Larus hyperboreus barrovianus 

Though the status of barrovianus has been belabored repeatedly 
by able ornithologists, certain specimens obtained in the Aleutians 
induced me to examine the whole question again. More than 200 
specimens were examined in the U. S. National Museum and in 
the American Museum of Natural History in New York. 

It is useless to deny the difficulties in recognizing barrovianus 
as a distinct form. In studying series from a given locality, one 
is confronted with specimens that do not fit a given description. 
Gulls are variable, and one must be cautious in arriving at con- 
clusions. On the other hand, if one is careful to give due weight 
to breeding territory, and to allow for migration to explain cer- 
tain irregularities, many of these difficulties disappear. 

All gulls of the species hyperboreus are pale mantled, but true 
hyperboreus is noticeably paler than barrovianus. Furthermore, 
hyperboreus is definitely larger and has a decidedly larger and 
more massive beak. Listed measurements do not adequately ex- 
press the difference. Depth of bill of the two forms overlaps, or 
meets, at about 23 mm., though most of them are above, or below, 
this figure, and a difference of even 2 mm. makes a considerable 
difference in appearance. 

A good series of specimens from Point Barrow and the east 
shore of Bering Sea are remarkably uniform in the characters 
assigned to barrovianus — the darker mantle, the smaller size, 
and especially the smaller bill. Available specimens from eastern 
North America are confusing, but it is notable that when winter 
specimens are eliminated, and apparent breeding birds are used, 
they fall more generally into the group of hyperboreus. This was 
especially true of Greenland, where a good series of breeding 
birds presented a clear picture of Larus h. hyperboreus, as here 
described. 

The confusing aspect of the distribution of these two forms is 
the considerable number of small-sized birds found along the 
Atlantic coast in winter, which apparently agree with barro- 
vianus, but which are far from the type locality. Possibly we 
should expect this. Oberholser gave the breeding range as 
extending along the Arctic coast as far east as "the territories of 



164 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Yukon and western Mackenzie." It is entirely possible that the 
breeding range extends much farther east. Among specimens 
examined, L. h. hyperboreus was found to the westward across 
northern Eurasia, Greenland, and northeastern North America 
as far west as Baffin and Ellesmere Islands. In any case, it may 
be expected that many of the birds can find their way from 
Arctic Canada to the Atlantic coast in winter. The gulls are far- 
ranging birds. Steller's eider has been recorded from the Gulf 
of St. Lawrence (Fisher 1900). 

It seems logical to consider Larus h. hyperboreus a& breeding 
throughout the Arctic regions of Siberia and Europe, traveling as 
far west as Baffin and Ellesmere Islands (and probably neighbor- 
ing areas) and, from the west, traveling eastward to the Bering 
Sea coast of Siberia. In Bering Sea, the birds obviously have 
come eastward as far as St. Matthew and Walrus Islands. There 
is a specimen from St. Matthew taken by G. D. Hanna on July 
9, 1916. Gabrielson obtained a breeding specimen on St. Matthew 
Island in the summer of 1940. He noted particularly that the 
breeding colony consisted of birds obviously larger than the 
glaucous-winged gulls. It may be remarked that the size of the 
average barrovianus is not far different from glaucescens, includ- 
ing the size of bill. Therefore, the birds noted on St. Matthew 
Island by Gabrielson would be the larger hyperboreus. 

Thus, L. h. barrovianus has a breeding range that includes the 
Bering Sea coast of Alaska and the Arctic coast of Alaska and 
Canada eastward, possibly across most of the Northwest Terri- 
tory. Collections of breeding specimens would aid in this determi- 
nation. There are indications that the two forms meet in the 
Pribilofs, for there is an immature bird from St. Paul Island that 
agrees with barrovianus, and another that seems to be inter- 
mediate. (No. 118716, U. S. National Museum) 

There are a number of records of the smaller barrovianus in 
the Aleutian district. The records that are not supported by 
specimens, or specimens that were not examined, are included 
here on geographic grounds. 

Oberholser (1918) listed specimens from the following places: 
Unalaska, November 1, 1903; November 12, 1904; July 4, 1901 
(nestling) ; Amak Island, July 18, 1911 (nestling.) 

Wetmore reported seeing a "finely marked" glaucous gull in 
Unimak Pass on June 4, 1911. (The specimen that he collected on 
June 9, at Unalaska, proved to be hyperboreus.) 

Swarth (1934) records two immature specimens taken on 
Akutan, May 18 and 21, 1927. Laing (1925) obtained two im- 
mature specimens at Unalaska, March 26 and 28, 1924. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 165 

Friedmann (1934) reports two bones from middens on Amak- 
nak Island, and (1937) a bone from Dutch Harbor middens, a 
skull and a femur from Little Kiska, and two skulls from Attu. 
Undoubtedly these were not subspecifically determined. In 1937, 
in the dirt foundation of a bald eagle's nest on Amchitka Island, 
I obtained two humeri that appeared large enough to be a glaucous 
gull. This identification was later supported by Friedmann, who 
thought the bones were slightly undersized (which would indicate 
barrovianus.) 

Bishop (1900) reported seeing several of this species at Una- 
laska October 4, 1899. 

Another specimen collected at False Pass by Donald Steven- 
son, April 28, 1925, is an immature bird typical of barrovianus. 
Still another, similar to the above, was taken on Unimak Island 
by F. L. Beals, April 5, 1941, and another one at Unalaska, 
March 5, 1942. 

Cahn (1947), under heading of Larus hyperboreus, reports 
seeing a few at Unalaska, and Taber ( 1946) reports a few winter- 
ing at Adak. It would be difficult to determine the subspecies- 
without specimens, but Sutton and Wilson (1946) observed im- 
mature glaucous gulls wintering at Attu. On March 17, when 
they made a count, there was a glaucous gull for every 25 
glaucous-winged gulls. It is significant that they noted that the 
size was similar to that of glaucous-winged gulls, suggesting bar- 
rovianus. 

We did not find nesting birds of this species on either Una- 
laska or Amak Islands, therefore it is surprising to recall that 
Oberholser had listed his two specimens as "nestlings." 

Larus glaucescens: Glaucous-winged Gull 

Attu: Hlu-ka 

Chd-larch, immature 
Atka : Shlil-ka 

Sliikax (Jochelson) 

Chid-li-arch, immature 

Cuh'igidax, immature (Jochelson) 
Russian, Commander Islands: Tschaika, gull in general (Stejneger) 

The Aleut names given the glaucous-winged gull are obviously 
the same in both dialects and resemble the Russian. 

This is the common breeding gull throughout the length of 
Alaska Peninsula, the Aleutians, and other islands, including the 
Kodiak-Afognak group. Osgood (1904) reported them nesting 
on islands in Iliamna Lake and at Becharof Lake, and he observed 
them at Nushagak. On July 24 and 27, 1940, Gabrielson found 



166 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

glaucous-winged gulls common about the upper end of Iliamna 
Lake, and he found a nesting colony on some small rocky islets. 
In flying over the tundra between Egegik cannery and Becharof 
Lake, he found these gulls to be common everywhere. 

The species is the nesting gull on the Commander Islands; 
also it nests in Kamchatka, the Pribilofs, and as far north as St. 
Lawrence Island (Murie 1936). 

Nesting 

Glaucous-winged gulls nest in a great variety of sites — on high 
ledges on cliffs (as near False Pass), on high grassy slopes of 
islands (a favorite site) , on low rock islets, or on the sandy shores 




Figure 30. — Glaucous-winged gulls. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 167 

amidst the rank growth of Elymus. The most important require- 
ments seem to be a handy source of food, and protection from 
mammalian intrusion. As in the case of many other birds, if blue 
foxes inhabit an island, the gulls nest on offshore rocks. 

Size of colonies varies from a few individuals to as many as 
5,000 birds — this is an estimated count of birds that I observed 
nesting on Glen Island, at the entrance to Izembek Bay in 1925. 
A colony on a high green slope above the cliffs on Amak Island 
numbered about 2,000, and, on Amagat Island, there were at least 
2,000. Throughout the Aleutian chain to the westward, however, 
the colonies numbered from 50 to 150, rarely more than 400. 
The large numbers in the colonies (mentioned above) may be 
due to the large food supply provided by the refuse at the cannery 
at False Pass, the salmon fragments left by brown bears on the 
Alaska Peninsula, and the fish that the gulls are able to obtain in 
the salmon-filled streams. 

Nests are usually the typical gull structure — a mass of vegeta- 
tion consisting of grasses, dry kelp or eel grass rolled up by the 
tide, with dry sponges and other debris mixed in. Frequently, 
however, the nest is a depression with a scanty lining of grass 
or other material, and in some instances the gulls had merely 
formed a depression in a windrow of kelp and eel grass above the 
usual high-tide mark. 

The eggs are of the well-known large gull type, but considerable 
variation was found. The color tone (speaking in general terms) 
varied from brownish to greenish. One unusual set of two eggs 
were a plain light-blue color without brown markings. 

Curiously enough, a corresponding variation in color was noted 
also among the downy young. The majority had a buffy color 
tone, but a few were blue gray with no buffy color. 

The downy young gull is precocious and is wonderfully adept 
at hiding at an early age, and therefore it is hard to find where 
vegetation is rank. On open sandy nesting grounds, the young 
are likely to run, and they take to the water fearlessly, swimming 
out a considerable distance. When once started in flight over 
open ground, these youngsters go headlong and do not stop until 
they think a safe distance has been attained, even though pursuit 
has stopped. 

One young bird, with its gullet bulging with food, presented 
an ungainly and ludicrous sight running across the beach. It 
stopped to spew up food several times until its throat had re- 
gained its normal proportions, then it took flight. This action 
was observed repeatedly. Was the bird consciously lightening its 



168 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

cargo to quicken its speed, or was it a peace offering, an early 
manifestation of the adult reaction to jaegers' attack? Possibly 
it is only a nervous reaction and may be common to the young 
of several species, such as cormorants and pelicans, which 
promptly spew up their food when disturbed. 

Food Habits 

The omnivorous habit of the glaucous-winged gull is well 
known ; it is a glutton in the presence of an abundant food supply. 
Wetmore (manuscript notes, 1911) wrote of the gulls near the 
cannery at False Pass that — 

Everything is gobbled up greedily, and some of the birds can hardly rise in 
the air when gorged. I have seen one of them choke down two full-sized 
dog salmon heads entire, and stand gasping and choking for several min- 
utes with an enormous lump in the throat. 

Gulls congregate in large numbers at the cannery docks to 
feed on the refuse, and are accepted as welcome scavengers. For 
the same purpose they follow the ships, and they gather to feed 
on the carcasses of stranded whales or seals or on dead fish 
thrown up by the tide. They found abundant food at the whaling 
station at Akutan. On Alaska Peninsula and Unimak Island, 
where Alaska brown bears feed on salmon, the gulls gather to pick 
up the leavings. 

The natural food taken by the glaucous-winged gulls depends 
on the environment. In 1925, at Izembek Bay and at St. Catherine 
Cove on Unimak Island, I found these gulls feeding chiefly on 
crabs. A small yellow-brown, hairy variety is very common in 
these waters, and the gulls consistently hunt for it. On the 
ocean beach, they stalk about at low tide and eat crabs. As the 
tide ebbs, many crabs are left on the beach, covered with a layer 
of sand so that they present only a slight lump on the smooth 
beach surface, however the gulls are expert in finding them. In 
Izembek Bay, parts of which run nearly dry at low tide, the 
gulls find a good crab-hunting ground. Food remains on nesting 
grounds of Glen Island and other points in the bay consisted 
almost entirely of crab remains, and many empty carapaces were 
strewn along the beaches, picked clean by the gulls. The smaller 
crabs are swallowed whole. 

The gulls manage to find an occasional clam, and there also 
is an occasional dead murre or codfish on the beach — additional 
items in the gull's diet. 

On Amak and Bogoslof Islands, the glaucous-winged gull 
specializes in murres' eggs and young. Nesting gull colonies 
were situated at a convenient distance from murre cliffs, and the 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 169 

gulls flew along the ledges boldly, hunting eggs in a business- 
like manner. The murres cackled and presented a pointed beak, 
but the gull usually managed to snatch the egg of an absent 
neighbor. 

Common-eider and gull colonies are often closely associated, 
because of similar habitat preferences — an islet safe from blue 
foxes. An eider nest and a gull nest are sometimes situated 
only a few feet apart, apparently in good neighborly relations. 
Yet the gulls seize the eggs or the downy young of the Pacific eider 
when they have an opportunity. In fact, it appears that' the gulls 
manage to devour an appreciable percentage of eider increase, 
both in eggs and young. 

Other nesting birds may be thus preyed upon under favorable 
circumstances. On Semichi Island, Scheffer and I were passing 
a lake, when a common loon swam off at our approach, leaving 
two downy young. A glaucous-winged gull swooped down, picked 
up a young loon and flew off with it, pursued by another gull. 

Certain adult birds are also taken by gulls. On Semisopochnoi 
Island, in a least auklet rookery, 137 glaucous-winged gull pellets 
were collected and analyzed, with the following results: 

Least auklet 116 pellets 

Forked-tailed petrels 3 pellets 

Small fish V pellets 

Sea urchin 8 pellets 

Limpet 3 pellets 

On Gareloi Island we found gull pellets that contained both 
least and crested auklets, and two fulmar eggs. 

Some of the bird material, especially that of the crested auklets, 
probably was carrion left by blue foxes ; however, our observations 
were not conclusive. 

The sea urchin is another important item in this gull's diet 
throughout the entire Aleutian district. 

At Unalaska, on May 27, 1937, we saw a large flock of these 
gulls, chiefly immature birds, feeding back in the hills ; apparently 
they were pulling up small clumps of grass. Regurgitated ma- 
terial consisted mainly of seeds, but we did not have time to make 
a thorough study of this incident. 

Where the gulls depend on the tides for their food, they 
naturally adapt their foraging periods to the time of ebb tide. 
This was noted particularly in Izembek Bay. At Glen Island, 
it was noted that fewer birds were present at the colony during 
low tide; when the tide came in, the colony was in full force. 
Incidentally, it seemed that by means of a division of labor, the 
nests remained guarded while a part of the colony fed. 



170 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

On Hazen Point, June 13, 1925, I watched large flocks of gray, 
immature gulls resting 400 yards inland from shore during ebb 
tide. This area was covered with numerous oval pellets com- 
posed of crab fragments. I also found clam shells, which were 
partly overgrown with vegetation. Obviously, this was a favorite, 
perhaps an ancestral, resting area, where nonbreeding glaucous- 
winged gulls had rested and digested food gleaned from the last 
ebb tide. 

Ecological Relations 

It is clear that the clever, adaptable glaucous-winged gull 
finds its living in a great variety of ways, effectively filling the 
ecological niche in which it happens to find itself. What is the 
effect on its environment? 

The gull is a scavenger, and the effect of its food habits may 
be somewhat beneficial to man. Gleanings from the beach, which 
include crabs, clams, sea urchins and other "shellfish" probably 
do not upset any balance and, so far as we know, have no bearing 
on human interests in the area considered here. 

As for depredations in murre and eider colonies, we did not 
work out the ecological problem in any systematic way, yet 
certain observations may be significant. Perhaps nowhere are 
depredations more severe than in a murre colony. However, on 
Bogoslof Island, where such gull depredations on eggs and young 
have continued for a long time, the murres were present in great 
numbers and were utilizing all the available nesting sites. The 
same situation seemed to prevail on other islands. For more 
detailed consideration of this matter, the reader is referred to 
the discussion of the murre. 

Likewise, the Pacific eider, which also is preyed upon by these 
gulls, appears able to produce a satisfactory increase in population 
by the end of the summer. It should be remembered that this 
eider is not preyed upon by man to any appreciable extent, except 
for the robbing of nests for fresh eggs in a few localities. View- 
ing the situation as a whole, it appears that, at least in the 
Alaska Peninsula-Aleutian Islands district, the Pacific eider and 
the murre, as well as other species, survive in satisfactory num- 
bers in spite of the gulls. 

The glaucous-winged gull is believed to feed on salmon eggs 
and to prey upon the spawning salmon in shallow streams. This 
question would require special study, with attention given to the 
breeding habits and ecological requirements of salmon and the 
percentage of loss occasioned by the gulls. Naturally, such de- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 171 

tailed work could not be attempted in the course of our general 
investigation. 

Larus schistisagus: Slaty-backed Gull 

This bird is seldom seen on the Alaskan coastline, though it 
is common on the Siberian side of Bering Sea. Nelson (1887) 
records a specimen taken by Bean, October 1, 1880, at the head 
of Chernofski Bay, Unalaska, saying, "the birds were abundant 
there at the time." He adds : "Further work in this region may 
show that this specimen is of regular and common occurrence 
at many points on the Alaskan coast, although it was not noted 
by myself nor by any previous explorer there." 

The slaty-backed gull has continued to be rare, however, and 
has seldom been seen. Swarth (1934) wrote "None collected 
but several identified in life [by C. G. Harrold] from time to 
time. An adult was shot from the ship but lost, between Kodiak 
and Akutan, May 16, and others were seen at Cape Etolin 
[Nunivak Island] on August 27 and 29." 

Gianini (1917), speaking of Stepovak Bay, Alaska Peninsula, 
says "I noted but one or two here." 

Clark (1910) observed a few in Unalga Pass, near Unalaska, 
but saw no more until he reached the Commander Islands. 

In the course of three expeditions to the Aleutians I saw a 
dark-mantled gull only once — at Bogoslof Island, August 24, 1937, 
when a single gull of this kind was noted among some glaucous- 
winged gulls. The specimen was collected and proved to be 
schistisagus. 

On February 14, 1941, F. L. Beals obtained a good specimen 
of a female at Atka Island, and on March 15, 1942, he obtained 
parts of another at Sanak. Gabrielson saw 1 at False Pass on 
March 16, 1942, and was told of 1 at Unalaska, March 20. 

Larus argentatus: Herring Gull 
Larus argentatus smithsonianus 

Friedmann (1935) says "The only definite Kodiak specimens 
known to me are two birds collected by Wosnessensky in 1842 or 
1843, another taken on August 30, 1906 and a number of bones 
unearthed from old Eskimo middens by Hrdlicka in 1934." He 
also recorded (1937) bones of this gull from middens at Dutch 
Harbor, Little Kiska, and Attu. 

Jaques (1930) reports "One immature near the Shumagin 
Islands." 

Cahalane (1944) observed a number of gulls on Naknek River, 



172 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Naknek Lake, and Brooks Lake in 1940, which he believed were 
of this species, and Gabrielson, in 1940, observed the species 
at various points along the base of Alaska Peninsula. 

Taber reports Larus argentatus wintering at Adak Island, but 
specimens were not obtained. Sutton and Wilson observed a 
few among the gulls wintering on Attu Island. 

We saw no herring gulls on any of our expeditions. 

Larus argentatus vegae 

According to the 1931 Check-List, this gull "occurs casually in 
Bering Sea and on the coast of Alaska to the Aleutian Islands." 
Swarth (1934) obtained three gulls of the argentatus type from 
Nunivak Island, which could not be satisfactorily identified. 
Many of the sight records of herring gulls centered around the 
base of Alaska Peninsula, where they appeared to be too common 
to be the Siberian-ranging vegae; all such records are here in- 
cluded under smithsonianus. 

Clark (1910), referring to Larus vegae, says: "This gull was 
rather common in Unalga Pass, near Unalaska, and was seen 
again, though not in any numbers in Avacha Bay, Kamchatka." 

There is at least one specimen of this gull — a female collected 
by F. L. Beals at Unalaska on February 14, 1942. 

Larus delawarensis: Ring-billed Gull 

In 1911, Wetmore recorded in his field notes: "In August I 
noted a few ring-billed gulls about the head of the lagoon back 
of King Cove, where they were feeding on dead dog salmon, 
that lay in a creek bed. I shot one for identification but did 
not preserve it." 

This is the only record of this species west of Prince William 
Sound. 

Larus canus: Mew Gull 
Larus canus brachyrhynchus 

Turner (1886) makes the surprising statement that "Among 
the Aleutian Islands these birds congregate in many thousands 
on the cliffs to breed." Obviously, this is an error, since he 
describes very well the nesting habitat of kittiwakes, and not 
the marsh or lake habitat chosen by the short-billed gull. In 
view of this, it is hard to credit his further remarks on the 
food habits of this gull at Atka and Amchitka. 

Nelson (1887) states the situation more in keeping with the 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 173 

usual findings when he says "Although perhaps occurring as a 
straggler on the Eastern Aleutian Islands during the migrations, 
it is nearly or quite unknown on the other islands of Bering 
Sea, except those closely bordering the shoreline." 

On September 7, 1938, Scheffer noted a few of these gulls 
feeding on scraps at the Akutan whaling station, and, on Septem- 
ber 8, he noted them with glaucous-winged gulls feeding on 
refuse behind the ship. 

Friedmann (1937) has recorded two humeri of this gull from 
middens on Attu Island. 

Aside from Friedmann's find, there are no records west of 
Akutan. In 1925, I noted this species at the cannery at False 
Pass, and, on May 25, 1937, a few were seen at Ikatan Peninsula. 
There are suitable lowland nesting places on Unimak Island. 

Nests and eggs were found among some small ponds on Dolgoi 
Island on May 25, 1937. Evidently, nesting was just beginning, 
for only one of the nests contained eggs. These gulls were 
observed also at Sand Point and Unga, in the Shumagins, August 
29, 1936. 

In 1911, Wetmore observed short-billed gulls at Thin Point 
Bay and King Cove, and Gianini (1917) reports them at Step- 
ovak Bay. On May 17, 1936, we found a widely scattered colony 
of short-billed gulls on a wide marshy flat at Belkofski ; this 
colony consisted of fifty to several hundred pairs. This was 
the largest "colony" discovered. 

In 1925, I found these gulls nesting about Izembek Bay in 
moderate numbers. Jaques (1930) found them to be common in 
June in the Port Moller region, where they nest, and, at Snag 
Point, Nushagak River, we found them to be common on May 
23 to 26, 1936. They also were numerous on the tide flats near 
Ugashik River, where they were preparing to nest. 

Hine (1919) noted the species at Kashvik Bay and obtained a 
specimen. 

We saw one on May 12, 1936, at Kodiak, and we saw three 
or four at Nagai, one of the Barren Islands, on May 16. We 
had found them to be common at Seward on May 5 ; we saw a few 
at Chisik Island, Cook Inlet, May 7; and we saw some that 
appeared to be preparing to nest at Anchorage on May 9. 

This fairly well outlines the nesting range — from Unimak 
Island to Kodiak, Seward, and Bristol Bay — which contains the 
marshland that this gull desires. 

Taber (1946) reports four of these gulls at Adak Island, 
January 12, 1946. 



174 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 
Food Habits 

Little was learned about the food habits of the short-billed 
gull. In 1925, I found these gulls on the tundra back of Izembek 
Bay, among the salmon streams. No doubt they feed on fish 
scraps left by the Alaska brown bears, but they also eat salmon 
eggs. Where the water was a little deep, the gulls would drop 
headfirst and partly submerge in order to reach the salmon 
eggs on the bottom. The stomach of a bird taken for a specimen 
was crammed full of salmon eggs. 

Larus Philadelphia: Bonaparte's Gull 

This little gull is found only sparingly in most of the area here 
considered, though it is abundant in southeastern Alaska. At 
Petersburg, a favorite gathering place, flocks assemble at the 
docks of the shrimp cannery and feed on the refuse. At Juneau, 
they were eating herring roe attached to fish nets, and we found 
them again at Cordova. They are reported to be a plentiful 
summer bird, and they nest at Yakutat (Shortt 1939). 

Though they might be expected on Kodiak, such records have 
not been found. On May 5, 1936, several were noted at Seward, 
and one was seen there on May 21, 1937. On May 9, 1936, several 
were seen at Anchorage, and a pair seemed to be preparing 
to nest at a small marsh, near town. 

Osgood (1904) reports a pair of these gulls, evidently nesting, 
on Lake Iliamna, July 16, 1902, and he mentions specimens taken 
by McKay and Johnson at Nushagak, at Lake Aleknagik, and 
at Ugashik. Jaques (1930) found about 40 near Port Moller on 
June 10, and Hine observed large flocks and took specimens in 
Kashvik Bay about August 1, 1919. Cahalane found them common 
on Naknek River, September 3 and 4, 1940, and saw one on 
Savanoski River, September 20. In 1940, Gabrielson observed 
these gulls in the Bristol Bay region, and, in 1945, he obtained 
two specimens at Chignik. 

McGregor (1906) found this species among the Krenitzin group 
of the Aleutians as follows : a bird and a wing found at Tigalda 
Bay on August 6; about 30 seen off Ugamak on August 12; 1 
seen off Tigalda, and 4 seen off Poa, on August 15. He states that 
they were abundant at Dutch Harbor, August 17. 

Bishop (1900) reported these gulls common at Unalaska, 
October 4-5, 1899. 

The base of Alaska Peninsula and the Cook Inlet region lie 
within the normal breeding range of this gull. Occurrences 
westward on Alaska Peninsula can hardly be considered nesting 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 175 

records without further proof, and certainly this would be true 
also of those seen in the Aleutians. 

Larus ridibundus: Black-headed Gull 
Larus ridibundus sibiricus 

On June 4, 1937, Douglas Gray noted 3 strange gulls among the 
glaucous-winged gulls in Kiska Harbor, at Kiska Island, and took 
1 for a specimen. This was at first hastily identified as a Bona- 
parte's Gull, but, on later examination, it proved to be L. r. 
sibiricus, which is the only positive record for North America 
(Muriel945). 

Rissa tridactyla: Black-legged Kit+iwake 
Rissa tridactyla pollicaris 

Attu: Teegle-ah'-girch 

Atka: Teegle-gd-gha 

Eussian: Commander Islands: Gavaruschka, "on account of its loquacity" 

(Stejneger) 

Chukchi: Kakyttack (Palmen) 

The Pacific kittiwake can truly be said to occur throughout 
the entire length of the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian chain ; 
however, it nests only in suitable places. Gabrielson (1940) has 
described the large colony at Resurrection Point, near Seward, 
and he recorded two large colonies on Whale Island, near Kodiak. 
The largest colony we observed was on Chisik Island, Cook Inlet. 
Some estimates of the number of birds on Chisik Island ran as 
high as 25,000 birds. At any rate, we judged this to be the 
largest kittiwake colony that we observed on our trip, though 
it may be rivaled by the Resurrection Bay and Whale Island 
rookeries. 

We observed groups of these birds along both sides of Alaska 
Peninsula, as far east as Bristol Bay on the north side. Cahalane 
found them in some numbers in the Katmai region, and Hine 
observed them at Katmai Bay in 1919 — though they did not 
appear there until about August 10. Gianini (1917) reports a 
small colony on a rocky islet in Stepovak Bay. Gabrielson found 
them to be common in the Semidi Islands, and we found them in 
the Shumagins. There is a colony on a rocky headland on Unga 
Island. They nest in large numbers on Amak Island, and there 
is a small colony on some cliffs at Cave Point, on the north 
side of Unimak Island. 

We found the Pacific kittiwake in moderate numbers, with 
occasional concentrations, throughout the Aleutian chain. There 



176 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 




A. K ^J&2¥ 



Figure 31. — Black-legged kittiwakes. 



are nesting colonies on Chagulak, Amukta, Koniuji, Buldir, 
Unalga, Alaicl (of the Semichi group), Agattu, and Attu. There 
were at least 2 colonies on Attu Island ; 1 of them was on Wrangell 
Cape, which is the westernmost point in the Aleutians. There 
were at least 3 colonies on Agattu, 1 of which contained 300 to 
400 birds. 

An interesting observation was made in regard to the colonies 
on Attu and Agattu, where we noticed a number of birds in 
immature plumage perching on points near the nesting pairs. 
Because of the time of year (too early for full-grown young) , 
these birds must have been 1-year-olds that were lingering about 
their birthplace. 

Rissa brevirostris: Red-legged Kittiwake 

Aleut: Gagdyax (Larus brevirostris Jochelson) 

Russian, Commander Islands: Krasno-nogaja gavaruschka (Stejneger) 

Clark (1910) reported that "The red-legged kittiwake was 
seen in small numbers at sea near Unalaska, but became more 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 177 

common in the western part of the Aleutian chain and about 
the Commander Islands. It was not found in Kamchatka nor 
in the Kurils." 

Bishop (1900) says "One was seen by Osgood at Unalaska 
(Dutch Harbor) Oct. 5, 1899." 

Nelson (1887) found them "in considerable numbers" at Un- 
alaska on May 26 and Friedmann (1937) has recorded two 
humeri from middens on Kodiak Island. 

We have no nesting records based on specimens. Nelson (1887) 
says it is an "abundant summer resident in both the Near and 
Commander islands." He had never been there and obviously was 
quoting Turner. In 1885, Turner stated, writing of the Near 
Islands, that the Pacific kittiwake was not abundant and was 
not known to breed there, while brevirostris was an abundant 
breeding bird. No specimens were taken. In 1886, speaking of the 
Aleutians as a whole, he said, 

The Aleutian Islands and the Pribylof group are its home. On Akutan 
quite a number were observed on a high cliff near the village on that island. 
In the same year (1878) I saw a few at Sannakh, and in later years I 
frequently saw them passing the vessel which I was on. To the westward 
this kittiwake occurs more plentifully than tridactyla, with which it asso- 
ciates. 

It is true that Clark reported the red-legged kittiwake becom- 
ing "more common in the western part of the Aleutian chain," 
but, on the whole, the situation today appears to be the reverse 
of what Turner reported. Certainly we cannot say that the Aleu- 
tians "are its home." We found that pollicaris was the abundant 
bird in the Near Islands — based on careful examination of speci- 
mens and of birds on nesting cliffs — while Turner stated that it 
did not breed there. 

Wetmore, in 1911, and Gabrielson, in 1940, failed to note the 
red-legged kittiwake in the Aleutians; Bent does not report any 
nesting records, but he assumes that it nests there on the strength 
of the records mentioned above. 

On our expeditions we observed kittiwakes closely at all times, 
but we never identified brevirostris. All of the birds that we col- 
lected proved to be the Pacific kittiwake. 

Turner (1886) obviously confused the short-billed gull with 
the kittiwake, and it is possible that he was in error in his account 
of the nesting of brevirostris. 

At any rate, we can be assured that the red-legged kittiwake 
appears in the Aleutians as a migrant, because the observations 
listed above probably involve migrants. The bird may also nest 
in the Aleutians, but, in view of the uncertainties, any such claim 



178 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

should be based on a precise observation, or on specimens of 
breeding birds. 

Hartert (1920) and Stejneger (1885) reported both species 
nesting on the Commander Islands, usually in separate colonies, 
according to Stejneger, though he once found both species nest- 
ing on the same cliff. 

Xema sabini: Sabine's Gull 
Xema sabini woinesenskii 

Friedmann (1935) reports a specimen from Kodiak, taken by 
Bischoff, July 25, 1868, and Gabrielson observed one there on 
August 10, 1945. Osgood (1904) apparently did not observe it at 
the base of Alaska Peninsula, but he records a specimen taken 
by McKay at Lake Aleknagik. Hanna obtained a specimen at 
Nushagak, May 31, 1911. 

These birds undoubtedly nest on Alaska Peninsula, however. 
At Ugashik River, May 27 to 29, 1936, they were common on 
the tide flats, in pairs, obviously preparing to nest. This area 
is identical in character with the nesting habitat of this species 
noted at Hooper Bay in 1924. It is probable that Sabine's gull 
nests farther west — at Port Heiden and Port Moller for example. 
We could not examine those areas thoroughly, but, on May 22, at 
least one bird, in immature plumage, was seen offshore opposite 
Nelson Lagoon, and Jaques (1930) reports an adult at Port 
Moller on May 23, 1928. 

There is no evidence that these birds nest to the west of Nelson 
Lagoon, although they have been observed much farther west. 
On May 18, 1936, one was seen at False Pass, Unimak Island. 
On May 11, 1925, I saw one at Urilia Bay, and McGregor (1906) 
obtained a specimen on Unimak Island, August 14, 1901. In June 
1937, the natives of Atka Island obtained a specimen, which they 
presented to us — this specimen is the westernmost record in the 
Aleutians. 

Hartert (1920) records a specimen of an adult male from the 
Commander Islands, which apparently is the only record for 
those islands. 

Sterna hirundo: Common Tern 
Sterna hirundo hirundo 

The only record of this bird is a brief statement by Wetmore in 
his field report of 1911: "I saw several common terns 50 miles 
off Tigalda Island, June 4." 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 179 

Sterna paradisaea: Arctic Tern 

Attu: Ki-ti-ki-tee-ach 

Atka: Kri-thich'-tha 

Russian, Yana region: Tschemogrudka (Birula) 

Chukchi: Tekechyak (Palmen) 

Arctic terns nest in suitable places all the way from Kodiak 
Island to Attu. Walker (1923) observed a small colony in Alitak 
Bay, Kodiak Island, and reports them nesting at least as far 
south as Taku Glacier, near Juneau. We were informed that a 
colony of terns, presumably of this species, nested at Bear Bay, 
near Belkofski, and on an island in Pavlof Bay. Walker has also 
recorded terns as being common on Simeonof Island, in the 
Shumagins. 

On the north side of Alaska Peninsula a few Arctic terns 
were seen at Ugashik River, probably nesting, and there was a 
nesting colony at Nelson Lagoon. In late July 1940, Gabrielson 
found them to be common on the basal portions of Alaska 
Peninsula, particularly between Becharof Lake and Egegik can- 
nery, on the Wood River Lakes, along Kvichak River, and on 
the upper end of Iliamna Lake. 

In 1925, I found them nesting at Izembek Bay, a few in the 
marshy bottom of the valley running north from Aghileen Pin- 
nacles; a group of 40 and a group of 200 on two small islands 
near Point Grant; and at least 2 pairs at a small pond near the 
base of Frosty Peak. 

In 1940, Gabrielson found 10 pairs and 3 nests at Morzhovoi 
Bay on June 21. 

In the Aleutians proper, we were told that there was a colony 
on Kanaga, a few were seen on Tanaga, and we found several 
colonies on Ogliuga and Skagul. A flock of eight or ten was seen 
at the south end of Kiska Island, and we noted 15 or 20 at a 
low reef in Massacre Bay, Attu Island, June 9, 1937. Evidently, 
there were nesting or preparing to nest. Three pairs were nesting 
on a small island of a lake on Alaid, and another pair was nest- 
ing on the middle island of the Semichi group. Turner reported 
them plentiful here, and breeding. A few birds were noted at 
Semisopochnoi and Amchitka, and in 1938 Scheffer saw one at 
Sanak Island. 

The Arctic tern is not abundant among the Aleutian Islands, 
and the islands mentioned here are probably the majority of those 
occupied by these terns. Colonies are usually small, and even one 
or two pairs may be all that nest in a given locality. 

Arctic terns nest in the Commander Islands. 



180 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 
Food Habits 

We did not obtain extensive data on food habits. However, we 
noticed that Arctic terns followed in the wake of our ship when 
traveling through Bristol Bay. It is possible that the terns de- 
sired to feed on the ship's refuse, as gulls commonly do, but it 
seemed more likely that these terns intended to feed on the small 
invertebrates, which were brought to the surface by the churning 
action of the ship's propellers. 

Sterna aleutica: Aleutian Tern 

This tern was first discovered on Kodiak Island and was de- 
scribed by Baird from a specimen taken there. As Friedmann 
has pointed out, there is one specimen and an egg taken by 
Bischoff on June 12, 1868, when these terns were breeding on 
Kodiak Island, and, in addition, the National Museum has 12 
other eggs taken by Bischoff in that same year, as well as 4 eggs 
taken by W. J. Fisher in July 1882. But because original data 
slips are not present, there can be some doubt as to identification 
of these eggs. Bretherton noted the birds associating with Arctic 
terns as late as 1895, but there were no later records until Howell 
(1948) reported a colony of 50 pairs nesting on Double Island, 
at Kodiak, June 11, 1944. These, too, were associating closely 
with a colony of 100 pairs of Arctic terns. 

Nelson (1887) described 2 nesting places, 1 on an island about 
a mile from St. Michael in the mouth of the "canal," the other 
on an island "some 18 miles to the eastward, along the coast, and 
less than a mile from the Eskimo village of Kegikhtowik." 

In 1920, I visited the first-mentioned of these two islands. The 
Aleutian terns were still there, but the island was being used as 
a slaughtering ground for reindeer, and all the nests were tram- 
pled by the animals. Fragments of downy young birds were 
noted. More recent information indicates that these terns no 
longer nest on this island. 

Ernest P. Walker found Aleutian terns nesting on Strawberry 
Island, Situk River flats, near Yakutat (1923) . 

Friedmann (1933) reports a colony of Aleutian terns nesting at 
the mouth of Goodnews Bay. These were discovered by D. Bern- 
ard Bull, who estimated between 60 and 75 pairs, together with 
some Arctic terns. Mr. Bull obtained 1 of the birds with the 
eggs. As Friedmann says, this is no doubt the largest colony 
now known on our shores. 

Jaques (1930) says "Several hundred were seen at Port Moller, 
May 22 to 30," but he says nothing about nesting. We saw none 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 181 

on our visit to Port Moller in 1936, but found Arctic terns nest- 
ing at Nelson Lagoon. As many as "several hundred" Aleutian 
terns would indicate a nesting colony, the largest yet known, but 
unfortunately there are no further details. It is to be hoped that 
a good nesting colony will be found on that part of Alaska Penin- 
sula. 

In 1925, I thoroughly investigated reports of the nesting of this 
tern on Unimak Island. Donald H. Stevenson, who had spent 5 
years in the Aleutians, reported a colony of Aleutian terns on a 
little sand island in St. Catherine Cove, on the east end of Unimak 
Island, and a local guide, John Gardner, appeared to know the 
species and corroborated Stevenson's statement. However, upon 
investigation it was found that the powerful tidal currents pre- 
vailing there, which no doubt had deposited the little island 
originally, had washed it away again since Stevenson's last visit. 
He had collected specimens, some of them at that breeding place. 
Moreover, on May 20, 1925, I observed 3 terns at St. Catherine 
Cove, 1 of which was identified as aleutica. The other two, though 
not observed so closely, were probably the same. On the whole, 
there is good reason to accept this record of nesting, the first for 
the Aleutians proper. 

Not far from this locality, at Izembek Bay, on Alaska Penin- 
sula, we obtained good evidence of nesting. On June 16, 1925, 
we saw a number of Aleutian terns flying toward Point Grant, 
and one was shot for a specimen. This specimen was a male with 
incubation patches. On June 30, three or four terns flew by at 
an island near Point Grant. Two specimens that were taken 
proved to be a breeding male and a female. 

We covered this area pretty thoroughly, but we found no nest- 
ing colonies; however, it is safe to say that Aleutian terns were 
nesting somewhere in that vicinity. Possibly a few were nesting 
in the Arctic tern colony, undetected by us, or they may have 
been in a group by themselves. 

On August 14, 1936, C. S. Williams picked up a wing on 
Nunivak Island, which proved to be that of an immature Aleutian 
tern. 

There are a number of specimens taken on Sakhalin Island in 
1914. Stejneger did not find them in the Commander Islands, 
but Hartert records a specimen, a male, taken in 1911 on Copper 
Island, the first record for the Commanders. 

The Aleutian tern apparently shifts its nesting place in the face 
of adverse circumstances. This can be construed as an adaptabil- 
ity of survival value. It is possible that this rare species will 
become more safely established in the Alaskan avifauna. 



182 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 6 1 , FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Family ALCIDAE 

Uria aalge: Common Murre 

Uria lomvia: Thick-billed Murre 

Una aalge inornata 
Uria lomvia arra 

Attu : Oo-la-rhook-ta 
Atka: O-loong-thrah 

Sakitax (Jochelson) 
Russian (?), Commander Islands: Are (Stejneger) 

Undoubtedly, natives do not distinguish the two species. The 
Commander Island name given by Stejneger (referring to the 
sound made by the birds), which is assigned to Uria I. arra, may 
be Russian. 

Necessarily, these .two species will have to be discussed to- 
gether, because, in many cases, it was not known which species 
of murre predominated in a rookery. Only a few birds could be 
identified because the two species were intimately associated 
on the nesting cliffs. 

In early spring, murres can be seen at frequent intervals from 
the Kodiak-Afognak region to the end of Alaska Peninsula, and 
in most places throughout the Aleutian chain. Many of these 
probably are migrants. 

Beals and Longworth (field report for 1941), writing of Uni- 
mak Island, said — 

Murres were far from plentiful through the month of March. . . One or two 
birds a day at the most were all we saw until well into April. On March 
16 we saw two birds in full summer plumage. . . Through May only scattered 
pairs and small groups of 3-5 birds were encountered. From the last of 
May until leaving the island June 17, larger bunches were being seen, 
groups of 15 and 20 in full summer plumage. They nest on Bird Island 
near Ikatan Peninsula we are told. 

Cahn speaks of the murre at Unalaska Island as "a rare and 
solitary fall, winter and spring visitor." 

There are numerous nesting colonies, often associated with 
kittiwakes. Gabrielson (1940) has described the large colony 
associated with kittiwakes at Resurrection Point. He also found 
some birds nesting at Kodiak and saw large numbers in the 
Semidi Islands. At the Semidis only inornata was identified. 

Among the outstanding murre colonies that we visited was the 
one on Amak Island. In 1925, I spent 9 days on this island and 
came to the conclusion that most of the thousands of birds on 
the cliffs were Pallas thick-billed murres. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 183 

Bogoslof Island is noted for its sea lions and its murres. Here 
again, although both species are present, we concluded that Pallas 
murres were in the majority. In 1938, Scheffer estimated that 
there were about 50,000 of these birds on Bogoslof. 

There is a notable colony, consisting of both species, on the 
steep cliffs of Kagamil Island ; however, we could make no esti- 
mate of the relative abundance of each. 

Chagulak and Amukta Islands also have their murre colonies, 
and we found a small group on Seguam — all of these colonies 
contained both species. On Chagulak, the Pallas thick-billed murre 
again seemed to predominate. Both species nest on Kasatochi, 
and unidentified murre colonies were seen at a distance on Koniuji. 
We found 2 colonies on Attu and 3 colonies on Agattu. 

Other small groups nest on various cliffs, and the murre is 
found almost everywhere throughout the Aleutian chain and 
along the south side of Alaska Peninsula. On the north side of 
the Peninsula, however, they do not occur as a nesting bird east 
of Amak Island, because the low relatively flat coastal plain does 
not afford proper nesting sites. 

At Agattu Island, on June 11, 1937, we obtained a specimen 
of Pallas's murre that was weak, very thin, and still in winter 
plumage. 

Ecology of the Murre 

The ecological reactions between gulls and murres have already 
been discussed, but further attention should be given this ques- 
tion with special reference to the murre. It is a well-known fact 
that large gulls, in this instance L. gkiucescens, visit bird-nesting 
colonies (such as those of murres) to feed on eggs and young. 
When one observes this relationship in action for the first time, 
one becomes apprehensive that the prey species will be drastically 
reduced in numbers, or exterminated, through interference with 
the reproducing function. However, the more one studies this 
problem, the more one is impressed with the principle of mutual 
racial adjustment, or balance. 

Amak Island may be cited as an example. There are the usual 
colonies of glaucous-winged gulls adjacent to the murre cliffs, 
together with several nesting pairs of northern bald eagles and 
Peale's falcons. I visited this island in the summer of 1925, in 
the month of July. There was plenty of time to take stock of the 
avifauna of this little island, for we had to remain 9 days before 
the weather permitted departure in the small boat. In 1936, we 
visited the island again, which gave us the opportunity for com- 
parison after an interval of 11 years. Conditions had obviously 



184 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

remained static. There were the numerous murres and gulls, and 
about the same number of nesting eagles and falcons. 

On Bogoslof Island, in 1937, we watched the glaucous-winged 
gulls seizing eggs and young murres, apparently on a large scale. 
In 1938, Scheffer remarked in his field report, "On the island 
[Bogoslof], more murres were noted this year resting on the cliffs 
or vertical bluffs where the party landed in 1937 and 1938." 
Apparently, the colony was not only holding its own, but it may 
have been increasing. The bluffs mentioned by Scheffer were not 
in the main nesting grounds, and were not typical, nor per- 
haps as favorable, in some respects. Possibly these bluffs were 
in reality an overflow area in a crowded bird population. 

R. A. Johnson (1938) has presented a detailed study of preda- 
tion of gulls in murre colonies, based on his own specific studies 
of Atlantic murres and great black-backed gulls, as well as re- 
ports of other ornithologists. One factor is disturbance by a 
human intruder, which makes the murres more vulnerable to 
attack by gulls. Johnson believes that the fear response by the 
murres is very important, and that it is a colony response. Once 
a decline in a murre colony is begun and the colony becomes con- 




Figure 32. — Colony of Pallas's thick-billed murres on nesting cliffs of 

Bogoslof Island. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 185 




Figure 33. — Pallas's thick-billed murres. 

ditioned to the fear stimulus, either by human disturbance or by 
excessive predation, progressive reduction of the colony may 
result. 

In the Aleutian district, no such drastic reduction of a popu- 
lation came to our notice. Probably there is a minimum of 
human intrusion. Furthermore, in many cases the historical 
background was unknown. 

The murre is one of the animal species preyed upon rather 
extensively by raptorial forms. Yet, it does not find it necessary 
to produce more than a single young in a season. On the other 
hand, it nests in close-packed colonies and exists in large num- 
bers, and it seems that local predation has little effect. 

In common with some other sea birds, murres often succumb 
to the elements and are found washed upon the beach. 

Beals and Longworth, reporting for Unimak Island in 1941, 
wrote : 

Between April 2 and 4 numerous dead and sick murres were along all the 
beaches. We counted 37 dead birds along 3 miles of beach. The condition 
was general along the strait [probably Isanotski strait], we were told. Old- 
timers on Unimak told us that this happens every spring and that some 
years the beach is black with dead birds. Swimming in close to the waterline 
many of them appeared to be sick or very weak and hardly able to dive in 
shallow water. Altogether we saw 38 dead birds and 40 or more very weak 
ones along 3 miles of beach. For three days before this heavy winds and 
snow blew from the southeast. 



186 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

One would expect such heavy mortality over a considerable area 
to be disastrous, but the reproductive rate seems ample to cope 
with all such natural opposing forces, as well as with predation. 

Cepphus columba: Pigeon Guillemot 
Cepphus columba kaiurka 
Attu: Secv-luch 

Siblux (Jochelson) 
Atka: Seem-luch 

Sinilux (Jochelson) 
Commander Islands: Kajurka (Stejneger) 
Russian, Commander Islands: Svistun (Stejneger) 

There may be an error in the Commander Islands names. 
Stejneger told me that both Aleut and Russian was spoken on 
those islands. The supposed native name, Kajurka, appears to 
have the structure of Russian, and Svistun is essentially the same 
name that Turner found applied to a scoter in the Aleutians, and 
that I found applied to the American scoter by residents on Uni- 
mak Island. The race found in the Commander Islands is C. c. 
kaiurka. 

The pigeon guillemot is so universally distributed, from Kodiak 
Island to Attu, that an enumeration of localities is superfluous. 
Along the north side of Alaska Peninsula it was observed at 
Moller Bay by Jaques (1930), and specimens have been taken 
at Nushagak. 

Usually they are found in small groups. Possibly the largest 
aggregation was a loose band of 40 seen at Chugul Island, west 
of Atka. They nest among boulders on the shore or in crevices 
of cliffs. 

Birds were occasionally seen with an unseasonable whitish 
suffusion on the plumage, suggesting the winter dress. The first 
one was noted June 24, 1937, at Davidof Island, and another 
was noted on June 26, at Little Sitkin. Several were noted at 
Rat Island, June 30; several were seen at Tanaga on August 3; 
one was seen at East Unalga, August 26; and several were seen 
at Sanak on August 29. During this period the vast majority 
were, of course, in the plain black summer dress. 

Apparently, two races of this guillemot breed in the Aleutians. 
Robert W. Storer (1950) has described Cepphus columba adianta, 
giving its range from the mouth of the Columbia River "north to 
and including the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians at least as 
far west as Umnak Island." This would leave the Aleutians west 
of Umnak and the Commander Islands to the race Cepphus 
columba kaiurka. I have not had an opportunity to investigate 
this, but the A.O.U. Check List has not recognized the validity 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 187 

of adianta, therefore at present we may call this species, which 
breeds on the Alaska Peninsula and on the Aleutian chain as 
far as Umnak, C. c. columba. The race that is breeding on the 
more western Aleutian Islands and the Commander Islands is 
probably kaiurka, as indicated by Storer. 

In 1941, at Unimak Island, Beals and Longworth noted 4 birds 
in winter plumage, and 5 in summer plumage on March 26; a 
group of 15 birds in summer plumage was seen on April 8; and 
8 in mottled plumage were noted on April 21. 

Brachyramphus marmoratum: Marbled Murrelet 

Brachyramphus marmoratum marmoratum 

On our expeditions we observed this bird frequently in south- 
eastern Alaska, where it is common. On May 6, 1936, a bird in 
the black and white plumage was seen at Port Chatham, Kenai 
Peninsula; on May 11, at least 6 were seen between the Barren 
Islands and Af ognak ( 1 of these birds was in the black and white 
plumage) ; and on May 14, one or two birds (believed to be of 
this species) were seen south of Alaska Peninsula and southwest 
of Sutwik Island. Other murreiets were seen, but under circum- 
stances unfavorable for identification. 

Marbled murreiets occur at Kodiak, as shown by Friedmann's 
well-documented account, and may nest there. Osgood (1904) 
says "Several murreiets (apparently this species) were seen on 
Kanatak Bay October 13. A single immature specimen (No. 
106605 U.S.N.M.) was taken near Nushagak by J. W. Johnson, 
Sept. 5, 1885." 

Cahalane reports (1944) "I saw these birds commonly along 
the Shelikof Strait coast, from Katmai Bay northward. They 
seemed to be most abundant in Kukak and Hallo Bays." 

On July 27, 1940, Gabrielson observed a number of marbled 
murreiets at the upper end of Iliamna Lake. 

Gianini (1917) reports seeing this species at Stepovak Bay. 

In 1925, I observed murreiets on both sides of Alaska Penin- 
sula, near the western end, but positive identification was diffi- 
cult. The marbled murrelet was most abundant on the south 
side, between Ikatan Peninsula and Amagat Island, where several 
pairs were taken. 

The species has been recorded frequently from Unalaska. Nel- 
son (1887) found it there in May 1877 and says that it breeds 
there. Bailey (1925) reports a specimen taken there by Hendee 
on September 24, 1922, and Clark (1910) secured a female at 
Dutch Harbor. Laing (1925) obtained a "breeding female with 



188 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

bare brood patches" at Unalaska on August 8, 1924, and he saw 
a murrelet at Adak Island, but he was doubtful of identification. 
There is no information on the nesting of the marbled murrelet 
beyond Unalaska Island. 

Brachyramphus brevirostre: Kittlitz's Murrelet 

Glacier Bay has been shown to be the center of abundance of 
the Kittlitz's murrelet (Grinnell 1909), but of course it occurs 
much farther west and north. 

Actual records for the Kodiak-Afognak Islands are not at 
hand, though the birds undoubtedly have occurred there. Osgood 
(1904) mentions three specimens taken by McKay near Nushagak, 
April 3, 1883, and Jaques (1930) obtained a specimen at Port 
Moller, June 6, 1928. Laing (1925) obtained a male in full winter 
plumage at Chignik Bay on March 22, 1924, and on July 27, 
1925, I took a specimen in Isanotski Strait. Stevenson obtained 
a specimen there on August 3, and obtained one in Izembek Bay 
on June 17. 

It is of interest here to note that a specimen was taken on 
June 21, 1933, at Goodnews Bay, north of Alaska Peninsula, 
which was recorded by Friedmann (1934). 

Nelson (1887) obtained a specimen at Unalaska the last of 
May 1877; Turner (1886) obtained one there on April 24, 1879, 
and says that they are not rare at Amchitka and Atka, though 
he obtained no specimens at the latter places. He quotes natives 
as saying that this species occurs throughout the year at Sanak 
Island. 

On June 9, 1937, I collected a pair of Kittlitz's murrelets in 
Massacre Bay, Attu Island. The female had brood patches, and 
dissection showed that egg laying had taken place. The Attu 
chief knew this species and said that it nests on Attu and Agattu 
but does not winter there. According to him, the birds build a 
nest similar to that of kittiwakes, on ledges of cliffs, and lay 
two eggs. 

According to Turner's information from natives (1886), "The 
nest is placed among the roots of the large tussocks of grass on 
the edges of bluffs and cliff ledges." He stated that the birds lay 
a single pure white egg. 

F. E. Kleinschmidt (Thayer 1914) also refers to a white egg 
when he quotes Chester A. Reed, the data of Capt. Tilson : "Kitt- 
litz Murrelet — a pure white egg found in a hollow under a bunch 
of rank matted grass on Sanak Island, June 25, 1899." 

In May and June 1913, Kleinschmidt collected eggs of this bird, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 189 

the nesting place being high in the mountains in the vicinity of 
Pavlof Bay. Some eggs were obtained from birds collected, but 
one egg was found on the bare lava rock, from which the bird 
was flushed. The egg, as described by John E. Thayer (1914), 
is not white, as had been reported, but "has a ground color of 
olive lake, dotted all over with different-sized markings of dark 
and light brown. Two others, taken from the oviduct of birds 
May 29, 1913, had a ground color of yellow glaucous, with dark 
brown spots over the whole egg." 

More recently, the species was found breeding at Wales, Alaska, 
on July 10, 1934, by an Eskimo, who sent the skin (of an incubat- 
ing female) to the Chicago Academy of Sciences. The next year, 
on June 29, the Eskimo obtained an egg. Edward R. Ford (1936) 
described the egg as having "the ground color of the Xantus 
murrelet egg figured as No. 6 on PI. 49 of Bent's 'Diving Birds 
of North America'. The markings are similar too, in character, 
but in color are black or very dark brown. In shape it is exactly 
like the Marbled Murrelet's egg shown as No. 5 on PI. 48 of the 
same work." 

There is one other record, not in an ornithological journal, 
but in a paper-covered pamphlet published by Rev. Bernard R. 




Figure 34. — Kittlitz's murrelet beside its egg. (Photo by Bernard Hubbard.) 



190 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Hubbard (apparently for the tourist trade), entitled "One 
Hundred Pictures of Little Known Alaska." Among other pic- 
tures, there is a photograph of a "Rare merelet and egg," which 
undoubtedly is that of the Kittlitz's murrelet. The caption ex- 
plains that 

This very rare web-footed bird usually nests far from water on the rocky 
crests of mountain ridges. This specimen, unafraid of the camera, was 
gently lifted off its egg and photographed. The picture was taken in mid- 
July in the unmapped northern section of the Katmai National Monument 
on the Alaska Peninsula and is regarded as the only one in existence of this 
unusual bird and its egg. 

Synthliboramphus antiquum: Ancient Murrelet 

Attu: Satrch 

Sdtdx and qiddnax (Jochelson) 
Atka: Kriz-yung-a 
Russian (?), Commander Islands: Starik, "old man" (Stejneger) 

This murrelet is definitely established as a breeding bird of 
Kodiak Island (Friedmann 1935), and we saw it at intervals 
all the way to the western end of the Aleutian chain. Jaques 
(1930) saw several near Belkofski, May 17 and 18, 1928; and 
McGregor (1906) obtained a specimen at the west side of Unimak 
Island, August 14, 1901. 

Probably this bird appears only rarely, if at all, along the north 
side of Alaska Peninsula, but in the Shumagins, on May 23, 1937, 
we found flocks of them to be quite common. Chase Littlejohn 
(Bendire 1895) has given us a vivid account of numbers of these 
birds nesting on Sanak Island, but on our brief visit to that is- 
land in 1937 we learned that large colonies of sea birds no longer 
nest there. Evidently, they have disappeared because of man's 
exploitation of fisheries, with the attendant disturbance, and be- 




Figure 35. — Ancient murrelet. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 191 

cause of the blue-fox industry. Nelson (1887) states that Dall 
found the ancient murrelet breeding abundantly at the Chica 
Islets, in Akutan Pass, near Unalaska, and he adds that Dall 
found them to be abundant throughout the Aleutian chain. 

Turner (1886) obtained a specimen at Atka, June 12, 1879, and 
says "Among the Nearer Islands this Murrelet is abundant in 
summer, breeding, and is sparingly resident; rarely coming to 
Attu, but more plentiful on the western end of Semichi and the 
south side of Agattu." 

We recorded them specifically at Umnak, Kagamil, Carlisle, 
Herbert, Amukta, Adak, Amlia, Salt, Igitkin, Kasatochi, Gareloi, 
Ogliuga, Kiska, Little Sitkin, Buldir, and Semichi Islands. 

Beals and Longworth found them at Unimak Island in small 
groups from March 24 to April 27, 1941, and saw them again on 
August 28, 1941. 

We found the ancient murrelets nesting in burrows ; a cold egg 
was found on one occasion in the burrow of a tufted puffin. Early 
accounts and the statements of natives agree, however, that 
these murrelets also nest in clumps of tangled grass. 

Clark (1910) says "Ancient murrelets were very common all 
about the shores of the Aleutian Islands and in the bays and har- 
bors, being rather more numerous about Atka, Attu, and especially 
Agattu, than elsewhere." 

Cahn found them "not uncommon during the winter months" 
around Unalaska Island. 

This is one of the species that undoubtedly has greatly declined 
in recent years, as a result of increase of the blue-fox industry. 

Ptychoramphus aleutica: Cassin's Auklet 

Ptychoramphus aleutica aleutica 
Atka: Mak-cheeth-ah 

It proved to be a little difficult to identify this bird when speak- 
ing with the natives, but it is believed the native name given 
above is correct. We could obtain no name in the Attu dialect, 
as the people did not seem to know the bird. 

While the Cassin's auklet is supposed to range "from the Aleu- 
tians and Queen Charlotte Islands to Lower California," it is 
by no means equally abundant throughout this range, nor uni- 
formly present therein. It is known to nest at Kodiak (Fried- 
mann 1935). To the westward of that place it is no longer 
common. It formerly nested in large numbers on Sanak Island, 
according to local residents and early accounts (Bendire 1895), 
but today it has nearly, if not entirely, disappeared from that 



192 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

nesting ground. However, on May 23, 1937, we saw several 
Cassin's auklets not far east of the Shumagins. On August 26, 
1937, several flocks were noted off Lava Point, Akutan Island, 
and, on the next day, near Kaligagan Island in Unimak Pass, a 
few groups were noted. George Ermeloff, former chief of Umnak 
Village, stated that this auklet nested on Keegaloo and Adugak 
Island, but added: "I guess foxes finish now." 

On June 14, 1936, at least 12 of these birds were feeding in the 
tide rips off the shore of Yunaska Island in company with the 
more numerous whiskered auklets. 

Paul Dirks, former resident of Atka, said that years ago 
Cassin's auklets were numerous, "millions of them," on 2 small 
islands, 1 on the north side of Amlia, the other on the south side. 
He assumed that they were still there, but some native bystanders 
from Atka remarked that there are not so many there any more, 
for the blue foxes now swim over to these small islands. Paul's 
brother, Bill Dirks, chief of Atka Village, said these auklets also 
nest on one of the small islets at the east end of Tagalak, on 
Ikiginak, Oglodak, Amtagis, on a small islet in Iskum Bay (Atka 
Island) ; on a small islet in the bay west of Amlia Pass; on two 
pinnacles just west of Cape Idalug (Amlia Island) ; and on 
Tanadak, south of the east tip of Amlia. All of these islands 
mentioned by the Dirks brothers are in the general vicinity of 
Atka and Amlia Islands. It may be mentioned that Turner (1886) 
obtained his one specimen from Atka Island. 

On July 7, 1936, at Kasatochi Island, a number of these auklets 
were identified among the vastly more abundant least and crested 
auklets. 

Ilak Island was mentioned as another nesting place, but natives 
pointed out that blue foxes recently had been placed on that is- 
land. On our visit to Ilak Island, we found no live Cassin's auklets, 
but a few must have been present, for we found their remains 
in at least three blue-fox droppings. 

Clark (1910) noticed these birds about Unalaska, Atka, and 
Agattu, and he saw a few at Attu. We found none of these birds 
west of Ilak. 

In earlier times, the Cassin's auklet was considered a delicacy 
by the Aleuts, and Paul Dirks described one method of capture. 
A fire was built at night near their nesting place. As the birds 
came to the fire, dazzled by the light, they were seized and 
thrown into a bag. This attraction to light suggests the similar 
behaviour of the petrels. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 193 

Cyclorrhynchus psittacula: Parakeet Auklet 

Attu : A-bo-chee-arch 
Atka: Krech-mo-ga-tha 
Russian, Commander Islands: Bjele-bruschka, "white breast" 

Bjele-bruski, plural (Stejneger) 

The parakeet auklet has been found nesting on Kodiak Island — 
where a few specimens have been taken, and where Fisher col- 
lected seven eggs in 1884 (Friedmann 1935). Apparently, that 
is the easternmost point in its nesting range, and probably it is 
not abundant there. We saw none in Kodiak-Afognak waters 
on our voyages, and they do not seem to be abundant along the 
Alaska Peninsula. On May 14, 1936, we found a few near Sutwik 
Island. On May 18 and 19, some of this species were identified 
among the numerous crested auklets feeding near Ikatan Penin- 
sula of Unimak Island, and, on May 21, a flock of 100 or more 
was seen near Cape Lazarof of that island. In the following year, 
we again noted these birds near Ikatan Peninsula, and they were 
fairly common near the Shumagins on May 23, 1937. 

These auklets apparently do not nest on the north side of 
Alaska Peninsula. On April 30, 1925, I found a dead parakeet 
auklet at Urilia Bay, Unimak Island; this was the only one seen 
in a summer's work in that area. They do not nest on Amak 
Island. 

Throughout the Aleutian Islands, however, this auklet is well 
distributed. On June 4, 1911, Wetmore observed "large flocks of 
paroquet [parakeet] auklets" in Unimak Pass. We found these 
birds in small numbers at Umnak, Kagamil, and Uliaga; they 
were quite plentiful at Carlisle, where they nest, and several 
were nesting on Chagulak. (In 1940, Gabrielson found them to 
be numerous there.) Nearly 150 were seen at Herbert Island, 
and several thousand of these birds nest on Seguam. A few were 
noted at Kagalaska, Aso, Tanaklak, Unak, Igitkin, Ulak (50 to 
100), Kasatochi, Koniuji, Ogliuga, and Unalga. They were abun- 
dant on Gareloi, Kiska, and Buldir, and were seen in fair numbers 
on Semisopochnoi. A few were also noted at Segula (Chugul), 
Khwostof, Little Sitkin, Amchitka, near Kavalga, Ulak (178° W. 
long.), Ilak, and East Unalga. Probably the principal nesting 
colonies are those at Gareloi, Kiska, Buldir, and Seguam, while 
more-detailed study may show that Semisopochnoi also harbors 
a great many more than we noticed. 

We did not record the parakeet auklets in the Near Islands, 
but Turner (1895) reported it to be plentiful on Agattu, and 
Clark (1910) said that it was "rather numerous in Unalga Pass 



194 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

as we approached the harbor of Unalaska, and was met with at 
Atka, Agattu, and Attu, though in small numbers." 

It also nests in the Pribilofs. 

Stejneger (1885) reported it to be a common nester in the 
Commander Islands, though not numerous, and said that they 
arrive there about the end of April. Turner intimated that they 
do not winter in the Near Islands. 

The parakeet auklets nest among large boulders on the beach 
and in crevices in rocky cliffs, also on slopes where the rocks are 
partly covered with vegetation. This bird has been considered 
quite solitary in habits, and although this is true for the most 
part, they occasionally occur in flocks of moderate size. They 
often gather in flocks on the water just out from the beach, where 
they sit and chatter in chorus; then they may suddenly disap- 
pear from the shoreline and if one were to inspect the beach at 
such time it would seem that there were no auklets in the vicinity. 

We concluded that the parakeet auklet does not consistently fly 
far out to sea to feed, as is common with other species of auklets. 
Its principal food seems to consist of small crustaceans. 

In his notes for 1938, Scheffer reports that, on August 12, at 
Ogliuga Island, the stomach of a 2-foot cod contained the entire 
body of a parakeet auklet. 

Aethia cristatella: Crested Auklet 

Attu: Ku-noo-yuch 

Atka: Ku-no6-yuh 

Commander Islands: Konjuga (Stejneger) 

Pribilofs: Canooskie, "Little Captain" (Preble) 

Eastern Aleutians: "Sea quail" 

Apparently, Kodiak Island is the eastern limit of the nesting 
range of the crested auklet. We saw none east of there. Fried- 
mann (1935) lists a number of specimens from Kodiak, and 
Laing observed them there in March (1925). Though the birds 
occur along the Alaska Peninsula, we did not discover nesting 
colonies there and did not see them in numbers until we reached 
Unimak Island. There, especially about Ikatan Peninsula, we 
saw them in characteristic flocks. Dense masses of them would 
fly over the water, and drop into it, in unison, with a splash, ap- 
parently disappearing from sight momentarily, but then appear- 
ing suddenly like a dark carpet undulating with the swells. We 
saw some of these birds opposite Urilia Bay, on the north side 
of Unimak Island, but we did not learn where these Unimak 
birds nest. We were told that they do not nest on the Sanak 
Island group. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 195 

In the Shumagins, however, the crested auklets evidently have 
nested in huge numbers. Townsend (1913) has given us a vivid 
account of his experience with these birds at Big Koniuji, in the 
Shumagins. In Yukon Harbor there were "myriads" of these 
birds, and Townsend declares that here the crested auklets were 
more numerous than the least auklets were on St. George, in the 
Pribilofs. 

The crested auklet occurs along the north side of Alaska Penin- 
sula, but not as a nesting bird. Turner (1886) observed them in 
Bristol Bay and along the north side of the Peninsula. Osgood 
(1904) records 2 specimens taken by J. W. Johnson at Nushagak 
on April 22, 1885, and he records 2 specimens taken by McKay 
at Nushagak and Ugashik. 

This auklet nests throughout the Aleutian chain, though usually 
not in great numbers. There are sizeable colonies, however, on 
Chagulak, Seguam, Koniuji, Kasatochi, Gareloi, Semisopochnoi, 
Kiska, and Buldir, and, of course, there are lesser colonies on 
other islands. Turner (1885) reported them to be plentiful and 
nesting in the Near Islands. Hartert (1910) noted a few near 
Unalaska, "but at Atka, Attu, and especially Agattu, they were 
much more plentiful." Stejneger (1885) reported this bird nest- 
ing on both of the Commander Islands, though not abundantly. 

Nesting and Feeding Habits 

The crested auklet nests deep in crevices among boulders on 
the beach, in cavities in cliffs, or among jumbled lava rock on 
high slopes. When feeding, they fly in compact flocks and often 
go far out to sea. 

On August 9, 1937, we had an opportunity to observe large 
numbers of foraging crested auklets. They came in flocks through 
the pass between Tagalak and Ikigmak Islands (which lie west 
of Atka) , and the water in, and south of, the pass was dotted with 
the birds. Here, they were literally "loading up" with food to 
take back to their young, and some were so full they could hardly 
fly. From our knowledge of the existing nesting places in this 
section of the Aleutians, we knew that these swarms of auklets 
must have come from Koniuji or Kasatochi, or both, and that 
they would have a distance of at least 10 miles to fly with their 
loads of food. It is certain, then, that crested auklets will go at 
least 10 miles out to sea to forage, perhaps farther. 

Observations on the nesting grounds show that small Crustacea 
form an important part of the diet. The rocks about the nest 
crevices were streaked pink with excrement or with material 
occasionally spewed out by the birds. 



196 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 




<M?V 




.:*» 




%.*■** 





Figure 36. — Crested auklets. 



C. H. Townsend has characterized the food situation for the 
auklets very well when he said (1913) : 

We found that a considerable part [of the food] of this [crested] and other 
kinds of auklets consisted of amphipod crustaceans or "beach fleas," as 
they are called, when found under bits of seaweed along shore. These 
small crustaceans, less than a quarter of an inch in length, are amazingly 
abundant in Alaskan waters and, as a never-failing food supply, account 
for the surprising abundance of auklets of all kinds. 

G. Dallas Hanna reported that in the vicinity of the Pribilofs 
he found crested auklets in two cod stomachs. One of the stom- 
achs contained 1 bird and the other stomach contained 2 of these 
birds. Cod are bottom feeders, therefore he points out that the 
birds must have descended 30 fathoms — the depth at which these 
two cod were caught (Preble and McAtee 1923) . 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 197 

The crested auklet winters around the Aleutian Islands, north- 
ward in Bering Sea waters, and southward in the North Pacific. 
Judging by Gabrielson's observations, they winter in great num- 
bers in the Kodiak region. Some of the sea birds succumb in vio- 
lent winter storms. A crested auklet was blown far inland about 
September 21 or 22, 1937, and was found at Nulato, at least 85 
miles from the nearest point in Norton Sound (Geist 1939). 

Residents on Unimak Island reported that sometimes they 
find hundreds of dead crested auklets on the beaches. 

• 

Aethia pusilla: Least Auklet 

Attu: A-la-ma-gam hu-li-gi (see next species) 
Atka: Choo-cheah 

Bent (1919) remarks, probably on the authority of Turner 
(1886), that this bird is said to breed on Kodiak Island. We saw 
none that far east in the breeding season, and Friedmann (1935), 
who has recorded only a few winter specimens from that island, 
rightly concludes that "it must be either very scarce, or local, or 
of only sporadic occurrence." We saw none of these birds until 
we reached the Aleutian Islands, and they do not nest on Amak 
Island, where so many other species nest, though Turner (1886) 
reported seeing it in that vicinity. 




Figure 37. — Least auklets. 



198 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

In Unimak Pass, however, these birds occur in numbers and 
have been recorded there by Bent (1919), Wetmore (field notes), 
and Nelson (1887). Laing (1925) observed them in Akutan Pass. 

During our various expeditions, no least auklets were identified 
east of Amlia, where we saw a few. On Koniuji and Kasatochi, 
a little farther west, they are very numerous and there are large 
colonies on Gareloi, Semisopochnoi, Segula, Kiska, and Buldir. 
This group of islands contains the principal least auklet popu- 
lations in the Aleutians, and, on some of these islands, they were 
concentrated in greater numbers than the other auklets. 

We found trace of this species on a few other islands — a few 
were seen at Amatignak, a wing was found on Tanadak, and the' 
remains of a few birds were found on Bobrof, where blue foxes 
had feasted. 

We did not find them in the Near Islands, though Turner re- 
ported them near Semichi (1886) and breeding on Agattu. Nel- 
son undoubtedly was quoting Turner when he wrote (1887) "This 
species is abundant on the Near Islands where it breeds on 
Agattu, but does not winter there." 

Possibly, the breeding range has been curtailed since Turner's 
observations by the introduction of foxes. We know from native 
reports that least auklets were once abundant on Bobrof Island 
but that now they are rare because of the introduction of blue 
foxes. 

Nesting and Feeding Habits 

In the manner of other auklets, this species nests among boul- 
ders on the beach, in openings in cliffs, and in jumbled lava beds. 
We found the greatest concentrations on extended beds of lava 
that were partly covered with vegetation, and on the mountainous 
slopes of islands such as Gareloi, Segula, and Semisopochnoi. 

In common with other auklets, this bird feeds on small crus- 
taceans, and it has the habit of loading itself with food on a 
foraging trip at sea to the extent that, when it comes back to 
the nesting place, it often literally "spills over" on landing. 
Hence, the pink material that is so prevalent on the nesting 
grounds. 

Stejneger has reported on the contents of the crops of several 
specimens from the Commander Islands. Briefly stated, the con- 
tents were as follows: One crop contained several small Gam- 
maridae ; the stomach and crop of another contained Gammaridae 
and Palaemonidae ; one crop was crammed with small Palaemoni- 
dae; and another crop contained amphipods. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 199 

The least auklets gather in large swarms — from a distance, 
they sometimes give the impression of swarms of insects, or of 
smoke. In flight, the flocks change shape, twisting like drifting 
smoke, and sometimes the "bottom" seems to drop out of the flock 
in some sudden maneuver. 

No attempt was made to estimate the total numbers in any 
given colony, but, while anchored offshore at Gareloi on the eve- 
ning of July 29, 1937, I watched a constant procession of least 
auklet flocks moving out to sea, low over the water. After some 
time, I decided to count the flocks for a given period of time. 
During 5 minutes, I counted 106 flocks with an average of 50 
birds per flock. This indicated that 5,300 least auklets passed out 
to sea in my line of vision during those 5 minutes. By that time, 
a parallel line of flocks had begun to return to the island. 

We observed least auklets foraging at sea about 6 or 7 miles 
from their nesting place on Kiska Island. Apparently, this was 
the limit of their feeding range, though it could vary with the 
distribution of organisms on which they feed. We also have 
seen them flying at night. Aleuts informed us that least auklets 
winter in the Aleutians and that, in winter, they continue to 
enter their rock crevices for shelter — thus giving the blue foxes 
a further opportunity to prey upon them. Stejneger (1885) says 




FrGURE 38. — Least auklet. 



200 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

"They evidently winter on the open ocean somewhere about the 
islands [Commander Islands]." 

F. L. Beals collected a specimen at Atka on January 31, 1941, 
and collected another at Unimak Island, April 5, 1941. Gabriel- 
son observed them in moderate numbers in winter among the 
easternmost Aleutian Islands. 

Aethia pygmaea: Whiskered Auklet 

Attu : Choo-chirf-ech 

Atka: Tooch'-much 

Aleut, Copper Island: Too-roo-toork (Stejneger) 

Russian, Commander Islands: Malinka Konjuga, "small crested auklet", 

a local usage on Bering Island, or the 
general term Petuschka (Stejneger) 

There probably is some confusion in these native names. The 
Attu name for the whiskered auklet, as given above, apparently 
corresponds to the Atka name for the least auklet, choo-cheah. 
This, in turn, seems to correspond to choochkie, or its variants, 
as so often recorded as the least auklet in the Pribilofs. Yet, 
we had actual specimens for identification and the Attu natives 
insisted that the whiskered auklet is identified by the name given 
above. 

This bird, which is the rarest of our auklets, is restricted in 
range and numbers, though it probably was more abundant in 
the past. Dall (1874) discussed a bird obtained by him in Unimak 
Pass in 1865, which was described by Coues as Simorhyncus 
cassini, and says : "Brandt refers cassini to the immature form of 
Kamchaticus, but Kamchaticus has never been authentically iden- 
tified from the Aleutian chain, and I doubt its occurrence there." 
Dall believed that this bird was the young of the ancient murrelet, 
" Brachyrhamphus a?itiquus." Nelson (1887) referred to this speci- 
men and considered it to be the young of the whiskered auklet. 

McGregor (1906) mentions specimens taken at Dutch Harbor 
on June 8; one taken from Easy Cove, Akun Island, in winter 
dress; and a pair taken in fall plumage in Akutan Harbor on 
August 19. 

We found no evidence of the whiskered auklet east of the Is- 
lands of the Four Mountains. Today, these auklets nest on a num- 
ber of islands from the Four Mountains group westward as far 
as Chugul, near Kiska, though in small numbers. They may still 
occur as far east as Akutan, though we saw none there. 

We obtained 1 specimen at Kagamil, saw at least 300 at Her- 
bert Island, and saw several flocks at Chuginadak. There were 
at least 250 near Yunaska; they were found nesting on Chagu- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 201 

lak ; and at Seguam we counted 138 and noted others. The Aleuts 
said that they nest at Amlia Island. Turner (1886) reports 
seeing them at Nazan Bay, Atka Island, and he obtained three 
specimens there, which were brought in by natives from the base 
of Korovinsky Volcano. Laing (1925) obtained specimens at 
Atka and reports "about a hundred" in Kuluk Bay, Adak Is- 
land, on April 11. In 1940, Gabrielson also recorded the species 
on Atka, where he obtained a specimen, and he saw several 
hundred between Carlisle and Kagamil islands. 

Still farther west, we found a few of these birds at Little 
Tanaga; we observed 11 at Umak, about 100 at Aso, about 6 near 
Igitkin, two or three at Ulak, and saw 5 at Chugul. They nest on 
Kasatochi, and the natives assured us that they also nest on 
nearby Koniuji. We found a few at Gareloi, and saw three at 
Ulak (179° W.) ; the Aleuts reported them to be nesting on 
Segula (or Chugul), near Kiska. 

Turner reported the whiskered auklet "quite abundant" in the 
Near Islands (1886), and Nelson agrees, evidently on the basis 
of Turner's report. However, we saw none in the Near Islands, 
and it is probable that this bird, as well as other species, has 
decreased in numbers since the time of Turner's observations. 
Stejneger (1885) found these birds nesting commonly on Copper 
Island and saw a few on Bering Island. 

In 1936, we observed about 1,000 whiskered auklets during 
the season, and we estimated that there would be at least 2,000 
in the Aleutians, though this figure could prove to be ridiculously 
low. 

Nesting 

The nesting habits of the whiskered auklet are the same as 
those of the least auklet. According to the natives, this species 
also winters in the Aleutians and, as is the habit of the least 
auklet, it enters the rocky crevices to roost, thus being subjected 
to blue-fox depredations. Fortunately, the principal nesting is- 
lands for this species have now been withdrawn from fox farming. 

Food Habits 

Stejneger (1885) reported that these birds feed mainly on 
gammarids. 

Of 5 stomachs collected in June 1936, and reported upon by 
Cottam and Knappen (1939), 3 stomachs contained copepods 
(Xanthocalanus sp.) exclusively. Another stomach contained 60 
percent soft-bodied crustaceans (amphipods, isopods, and cope- 
pods) ; 40 percent of one fish (Scorpaenidae) ; and a trace of 
spider. The fifth stomach contained 10 percent of unidentified 



202 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

soft-bodied crustaceans and 90 percent of fragments of what 
appeared to be mollusk eggs. 

Cerorhinca monocerata: Rhinoceros Auklet 

Bent (1919) gives the breeding range of this species as "west 
to the Aleutian Islands (Atka, Agattu, and Umnak Islands)." 
We found no trace of this bird on any of our expeditions. Fried- 
mann (1935) records two specimens taken at Kodiak Island in 
1842 or 1843 by Wosnessensky, and he mentions that they were 
observed there by Brandt. He has also recorded three humeri 
from middens on Little Kiska Island (1937). 

Austin H. Clark (1910) said: "This species was observed in 
limited numbers at Atka and at Agattu, and in the northern 
Kurils I occasionally noticed small companies on the water as 
far south as Simushir." 

Cahalane (1943) reported: "I observed a number of these 
auklets on October 4 between Amalik and Katmai Bays." This 
observation was made in 1940. 

Hartert (1920) wrote of the Commander Islands: "Cerorhinca 
monocerata was obtained by Grebinitzki, but neither Stejneger 
nor Sokolnikoff came across it." 

Fratercula corniculata: Horned Puffin 

Attu: Ka-gee-ach 
Atka: Ka-geeth'-ali 

Russian, Commander Islands: Ipatka, (pronounced Ipatok on Copper Is- 
land) Stejneger 

The horned puffin is so universally distributed and so common 
that it is hardly of interest to single out a particular locality. As 
Bent (1919) has aptly stated it : 

The horned puffin is essentially an Alaskan and a Bering Sea bird, being 
found breeding throughout the whole length of the Alaskan coast, from 
Cape Lisburne, north of the Arctic Circle, south nearly to British Columbia; 
it also breeds westward throughout the Aleutian Islands and on all the 
coasts and islands of Bering Sea. 

It also breeds on the Commander Islands and the Siberian coast. 
We found the horned puffin on all suitable islands, from Kodiak 
to Attu, including the Shumagins and Sanak; Gabrielson found 
them in the Semidis. The only factor that limits their distribu- 
tion is unsuitable terrain. Naturally, they do not nest on the low 
shores of the north side of Alaska Peninsula, but they do nest on 
nearby rocky Amak Island. There were at least a few at nearly 
every island of the Aleutian chain. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 203 

Perhaps one of the largest horned puffin colonies that I ob- 
served in 1925 was on Amagat Island, near the mouth of Mor- 
zhovoi Bay. I estimated that the colony contained 15,000 birds. 

The horned puffin is less abundant than the tufted puffin, in 
whose company it generally nests. The fact that it has a differ- 
ent nesting habit may account for its smaller numbers, for its 
particular nesting habitat may be less available than that of the 
tufted puffin. While the latter burrows in the sod, the horned 
puffin seeks a crevice among large boulders or in a cliff. Its 
habit of nesting in burrows already has been described, and 
Bretherton (1896), writing of Kodiak Island, states that it digs 
its own burrow. This, however, cannot be considered to be a 
normal procedure, for, as stated above, its distinctive nesting 
habitat is in rock crevices. 

There were a few places where this species equaled, or ex- 
ceeded, in numbers the tufted puffin, as at Gareloi and Agattu, 
and possibly at Davidof and Khwostof. Gabrielson considered 
them to be more abundant on Chagulak. They were nearly as 
abundant as the tufted puffin on Little Sitkin Island. 

According to the natives, the horned puffin winters in the 
Aleutians. 




Figure 39. — Horned puffins. 



204 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 




!, J . i •» F'*Ci i 

V o , f ;C \\ 



Figure 40.— Tufted puffins. 



Lunda cirrhata: Tufted Puffin 

Attu: Och'-choch 

Kong-o-luch, the young. 
Atka : OU-chuh oi- OK-chuch 

Uxoux (Jochelson) 
Russian, Commander Islands: Toporok, Toporki, plural (Stejneger) 

The tufted puffin is even more plentiful than the horned puffin ; 
it probably is the most abundant single species in the Aleutian 
district. We noted them in the Barren Islands, Kupreanof and 
Shelikof Straits, and the Shumagins and Sanak groups. Gabriel- 
son recorded them in the Semidis. Some islands, such as Uliaga, 
in the Four Mountains group, contain large numbers of these 
birds. When a shot is fired, there is a shower of puffins sailing 
out and down from the high grassy slopes. A small island in 
Trident Bay of Akun Island was thoroughly honeycombed by 
puffin burrows. Gabrielson described Bereskin Island, near 
Akutan, as being honeycombed in the same manner. Many other 
islands harbor thousands of these birds. They occur on Bogoslof, 
and Stejneger considered this bird to be the most numerous of 
the Alcidae in the Commander Islands. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 205 

The tufted puffin, unlike corniculata, normally digs a burrow 
in the turf for its nest, though it will nest in a natural open- 
ing, such as a crevice among jumbled blocks of stone. 

The natives say that the tufted puffin winters among the Aleu- 
tian Islands. Apparently, they begin to arrive at their nesting 
sites in May. 

Arnold (1948) who recorded data on populations of North 
Pacific pelagic birds, makes the comment that — 

These data indicate that the Fulmar, Tufted Puffin (Lunda cirrhata) , 
Shearwater (Slender-billed?) (Puffinus sp.), and Black-footed Albatross are 
the only birds that could be classed as truly universal pelagic birds in the 
area concerned . . . During periods of high winds and rough water, the 
Tufted Puffin was the only bird of the four with a decided tendency to "ride 
out the storm" on the water rather than remain aloft. 

The above statement is understandable when one considers the 
inability of the puffin to remain aloft in soaring flight. Remain- 
ing in the water is a necessity, but it also is proof of its hardi- 
hood. 

Family CUCULIDAE 

Cuculus saturatus: Oriental Cuckoo 
Cuculus saturatus horsfieldi 

On June 29, 1937, at Rat Island, Steenis saw a strange bird 
on the beach as he was returning from the day's field trip. He 
shot it for a specimen and thus obtained the first cuckoo that 
has been recorded for the Aleutian district. 

Deignan (1951) recently reexamined 3 specimens of Cuculus 
from St. Lawrence Island, Wales, and St. Paul Island for the 
benefit of the A.O.U. Committee on Nomenclature, and he con- 
cluded that all 3 are referable to Cuculus saturatus horsfieldi. 

1 then called attention to this specimen from the Aleutian Is- 
lands and forwarded a second specimen from St. Lawrence Island 
to Duvall for determination. He and Deignan examined these 

2 specimens and reported them to be the same as the other 3 
(Murie 1952). The five North American specimens, then, are 
finally resolved as Cuculus saturatus horsfieldi. 

Family STRIGIDAE 

Bubo virginianus: Great Horned Owl 
Bubo virginianus algistus 

This owl, of course, is confined to the wooded regions. Osgood 
(1904) observed several at the base of Alaska Peninsula and 



206 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

considered it to be fairly common. He heard one at Iliamna 
Village, July 14 ; heard another at the mouth of Chulitna River, 
August 6 ; heard one on lower Kakhtul River, September 1 ; and 
collected an immature bird at the forks of Upper Chulitna River, 
August 16. He also recorded a specimen taken by McKay near 
Aleknagik River, August 24, 1881. 

Friedmann (1934) reported six ulnae of a horned owl in mid- 
dens on Kodiak Island, which could be algistus; but there would 
be some doubt about this because lagophonus occurs in neighbor- 
ing areas. Grinnell (1910) recorded lagophonus, an adult male, 
taken on Kenai by A. Seale, August 5, 1906. Specimens are 
needed from Kodiak. 

Nyctea scandiaca: Snowy Owl 

Attu: Ah'-vai-ach 

Russian: Sova (Birula) 

Russian, Commander Islands: Sitsch (Stejneger) 

Chukchi: Jakkadlej (Palmen) 

Stejneger remarked that, according to Pallas, the name "sitsch" 
is applied to Nyctala tengmalmi in Russia proper. 

The snowy owl occurs mostly as a straggler over the Aleutian 
district. Friedmann (1935) records a specimen taken by Fisher, 
at Kodiak, in March 1882. Osgood (1904) found a mounted 
specimen in the trader's store at Nushagak and learned that it 
was a regular winter visitant there, as well as at Egegik and 
Becharof Lake. He also mentions specimens taken by McKay on 
the Mulchatna River and at Lake Aleknagik. These occurrences 
are not surprising, for the snowy owl nests regularily at Hooper 
Bay to the north, and we know from the Eskimo that it nests 
in the interior of Nunivak and Nelson Islands also. 

In 1925, and again in 1936, local residents assured me that the 
snowy owl occurs in winter about the western end of Alaska Pen- 
insula and Unimak Island. Dall (1873) observed a number of 
skins in the possession of people at Unalaska, where it was said 
to be "resident." Friedmann (1937) found a femur among bones 
collected in a village site on Little Kiska, and Turner (1886) also 
obtained a specimen at Unalaska and said that according to the 
natives it is "only occasionally seen there." He adds that it is 
quite common on Agattu, where it is a constant resident, but 
that it rarely visits Attu. On May 8, 1944, Gabrielson saw what 
appeared to be three immature snowy owls near Sand Point, and 
he was assured that they occur throughout the year in that area. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 207 

Cahn reported it — 

Rare on Unalaska Island but present in the uninhabited and rugged interior. 
On January 22, 1943, I saw a male that had been shot near Pyramid Moun- 
tain; on February 5, 1945, I saw another male shot near Unalaska village. 
During the war, men stationed on Bogoslof Island, 40 miles northward of 
Dutch Harbor in the Bering Sea, shot three during the winter of 1943. 

The Attu chief told us that it nests on Attu. 

Stejneger, writing in 1885 of the Commander Islands, said that 
the snowy owl, which formerly was considered to be rare (though 
nesting), was now becoming common. He stated that it has in- 
creased in numbers after the introduction of mice. Nine stomachs 
contained only arvicolae, and one stomach contained bird remains. 

Although we did not see the snowy owl in the Alaska Penin- 
sula and Aleutian Islands, it is evident from the records that it 
visits the region, especially in winter, and that it may nest in the 
Near Islands, and possibly in the Shumagins. 

Surnia ulula: Hawk-Owl 
Surnia ulula caparoch 

The hawk-owl is fairly common in the wooded portions of the 
base of Alaska Peninsula, where Osgood collected several speci- 
mens (1904) in the following localities: at the head of Lake 
Clark (an immature bird) ; at the mouth of Chulitna River; and 
at a locality a few miles above the mouth of Chulitna River. He 
also mentions a specimen taken by McKay, on the Aleknagik, 
and four specimens taken by Johnson, at Nushagak. Cahalane 
observed several of these owls at Mount Kalolinat and other 
localities in the Katmai region in September 1940. Friedmann 
(1935) records a number of specimens and eggs taken on Kodiak 
Island, and Gabrielson also obtained specimens there. Howell 
(1948) obtained a specimen at Kodiak Island, June 6, 1944, which 
contained developing eggs. All of these localities are typical 
nesting habitat for the hawk-owl. 

Farther west, sightings of the hawk-owl would be accidental, 
and no records of such sightings have been found. 

Ash flammeus: Short-eared Owl 
Asio flammeus flammeus 

Attu : Too-too-tooch 
Atka: Too-too-tuch 

The short-eared owl is a common breeding bird at least as far 
west as Unalaska. Skins and eggs have been collected on Kodiak 
Island (Friedmann 1935) . We saw 1 on Ushagat, Barren Islands, 



208 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

on May 10, 1936, and saw 1 near Sand Point, Popof Island, 
on May 16. Osgood (1904) found it plentiful at the base of 
Alaska Peninsula. The first mate of our ship reported seeing 
one flying offshore at Bristol Bay, May 23, 1936. 

In 1925, I noted several of these owls at Moffet Cove, at the 
west end of Alaska Peninsula, and others were seen on Umnak 
Island at Urilia Bay, St. Catherine Cove, False Pass, and Ikatan 
Peninsula. All of these localities contain excellent marshy nest- 
ing places. In the evening of May 13, 1925, we watched a short- 
eared owl soaring and hooting high in the air at False Pass, 
in its mating performance. 

In 1936, a short-eared owl was found on Amak Island; this 
owl was found, not on marshland, but on a high grassy slope, 
where mice were plentiful. 

On August 26, 1937, we collected a short-eared owl on Akutan 
Island. In 1902, McGregor reported that "The short-eared owl 
was observed on Amaknak Island June 23, where one was flushed 
from its nest containing two eggs. The nest consisted of a deep 
hollow on a hillside, and was neatly lined with grass." In 1906, 
he reported taking a specimen on Amaknak Island. It is known 
to occur on Unalaska, where the natives say it nests commonly. 
Dall (1873) reported finding these owls nesting in burrows on 
Unalaska. Swarth, also (1934), reports 1 seen on Unalaska and 
1 on Akutan, and Eyerdam (1936) observed 1 on Unalaska. 
Turner (1886), Nelson (1887), Clark (1910), and Cahn (1947) 
all observed this bird at Unalaska, and Gabrielson saw one there 
on June 18, 1943. 

Certainly, the occurrence and nesting of this owl is well es- 
tablished for Unalaska. West of that island, however, it appears 
to be rare. Turner (1886) intimates that it is common in the 
Aleutian Islands, yet he mentions only two places west of Una- 
laska where he observed it — Atka and Attu. Natives told us that 
although the short-eared owl does not nest in the western Aleu- 
tians, it occurs there in winter. In 1936, while at Atka Island, 
we were told that in the previous winter a short-eared owl had 
been shot on an adjacent islet, and our informant volunteered to 
guide us to the place. Upon searching the vicinity we found 
the wings and part of the body, which was sufficient for identifica- 
tion. The stomach, which we found also, contained the remains 
of a common house rat. 

The short-eared owl has a nesting distribution quite similar to 
that of the rough-legged hawk in this district. It is practically 
certain that more detailed work on Umnak, lying just west of 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 209 

Unalaska Island, will reveal the presence of this owl. In that 
event, the westward nesting distribution of these two birds coin- 
cides with the westward distribution of small native rodents. 
Ground squirrels have been introduced on Kavalga, and rats 
have been introduced on Rat and Atka islands, but these arti- 
ficial innovations have not yet influenced the nesting distribu- 
tion of these two raptores. It is of ecological significance, perhaps, 
that the only owl that we obtained west of Umnak (at Atka Is- 
land) had eaten a rat, which is the only rodent available there. 

Aegolius funereus: Boreal Owl 
Aegolius funereus richardsoni 

There are only a few records of this owl in the area here con- 
sidered, and some of these records are doubtful. Friedmann 
(1935) reports a specimen and a set of eggs collected at Kodiak 
by Fisher in June 1882. The identity of the eggs is open to ques- 
tion as they are no longer available. Osgood (1904) says — 

The catalogue of the National Museum records one specimen of Richardson 
owl, taken at Nushagak by J. W. Johnson February 20, 1884. I have been 
unable to find this specimen in the Museum, but since the occurrence of the 
species in the region is altogether probable, and since most of the names 
entered in the catalogue are correct, the record may be accepted. 

On the basis of this information, the wooded portions of the 
base of Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island may be considered as 
part of the range of this little owl. How much farther west it 
may occur is problematical. Gianini (1917) reports for Stepovak 
Bay: "The guide told me of a small owl he had often seen in 
the alders and willows but I was never fortunate enough to see 
one. On several occasions, late in the afternoon, I heard the 
notes of some species of owl and I thought it might be Richard- 
son's." 

Likewise, Wetmore reported, in his field notes for 1911, under 
the heading "Nyctala t. richardson?", "a small owl was reported 
to me as seen occasionally in a little thicket of stunted spruces on 
Expedition Island, in Unalaska Harbor. I looked for them, but 
could not find them." 

With further reference to this locality, Laing (1925) says: "At 
Unalaska, Mr. Donald A. Stevenson pointed out the only growing 
spruce clump on the island as the usual roosting place of a short- 
eared owl, but time did not allow of verification." 

Did these two reports refer to the same species? Certainly, 
verification is needed, but eventually we may learn that the 
Richardson owl occurs in the alder thickets that far west. 



210 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Family TROCHILIDAE 

Selasphorus rufus Rufous Hummingbird 

On May 21, 1937, four or five rufous hummingbirds were seen 
at Seward. Osgood (1901) says "Mr. T. W. Hanmore, who has 
been stationed at Tyonek for 11 years, says that he has seen 
hummingbirds there several times. This is doubtless near the 
limit of the range of the species, as the bird has not been recorded 
farther north." 

There is one other curious occurrence. On June 20, 1936, 
Howard Jensen, a member of the ship's crew, declared that he 
saw a hummingbird on the beach at Uliaga Island. When ques- 
tioned, he described it as a "brown bird," smaller than a winter 
wren, with a long bill. He did not see a red gorget, but he noted 
a whirring of the wings and heard their sound and described 
the bird as darting here and there in the air. He assured us that 
he "knew a hummingbird when he saw one." This man was a 
good observer and had assisted us considerably in our work. His 
description fits the hummingbird pretty well. Yet, this occur- 
rence would be offered here with some hesitation except for the 
fact that Swarth (1934) reported that a hummingbird (species 
unknown) was seen by Cyril G. Harrold on August 9, 1927, at 
Cape Etolin, Nunivak Island. Possibly we may accept the Uliaga 
Island record, with Swarth's, as unusual occurrences. Because 
of Jensen's description of a "brown bird," and because of the 
geographic possibilities, the logical species would be Selasphorus 
rufus. 

Family ALCEDINIDAE 

Megaceryle alcyon: Belted Kingfisher 
Megaceryle alcyon caurina 

Friedmann (1935) recorded the kingfisher on Kodiak Island, 
and, on September 19, 1940, Cahalane observed several on the 
small lakes and streams north of Kodiak Village. Cahalane 
(1943) also found kingfishers "fairly common in the lake country 
of the Katmai region, as well as in the bays of Shelikof Strait." 
Osgood (1904) observed a kingfisher on Kakhtul River, August 
28, 1902, another on August 31, and another on the Mulchatna 
River on September 3. We saw a kingfisher at Port Chatham, 
Kenai Peninsula, May 6, 1936. 

There are some records farther west on Alaska Peninsula. 
Gabrielson noted it at King Cove and Cold Bay, and he recorded 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 211 

one nesting at Sand Point, in the Shumagins. In 1925, I learned 
that a local guide, John Gardner, has seen a kingfisher at False 
Pass in the autumn of 1924, probably in October. He stated that 
he had seen one there in the previous autumn, but that they did 
not summer there. 

On August 23, 1936, these 10-year-old reports were verified 
when we saw a kingfisher at False Pass. Again, in 1938, Scheffer 
saw one at False Pass, back of the cannery buildings. In 1941, 
Beals and Longworth reported that, as of January 13, "one bird 
seen daily for several weeks," and later reported "one bird seen 
about the cannery buildings all through March and April." 
Gabrielson also noted them at False Pass in winter. 

Cahn reports from Unalaska Island that — 

I have three records for this species, all in the area of Captain's Bay: On 
August 17, 1943, a male and female were seen flying over the tip of that 
bay; on August 21 a single individual was seen near the village of Unalaska; 
and on July 27, 1944 a male was seen and heard near the mouth of the 
Shaishnikof River. 

This suggests possible nesting as far west as Unalaska, though 
it has not been verified. 

Gabrielson observed the kingfisher in winter as far west as 
Unalaska, and he reported that one was killed at Nikolski Village, 
on Umnak Island, and was identified by the village school teacher. 



Family PICIDAE 

Dendrocopos pubescens: Downy Woodpecker 

Dendrocopos pubescens nelsoni 

Friedmann (1935) has summarized what we know of this 
bird's occurrence on Kocliak Island, listing a number of specimens 
taken there. Swarth (1934) had referred to the Kodiak bird as 
leucurus, but, after comparing a number of specimens from this 
island with mainland forms, Friedmann concluded that it should 
be referred to the interior- Alaska nelsoni. 

We saw none elsewhere, and Osgood did not mention the species 
in his report on the base of the Alaska Peninsula. Cahalane, 
however (1944), records that a male was observed between Iliuk 
Bay and Mount Katolinat on September 19, 1940. 

Pico'ides arcticus: Black-backed Three-toed Woodpecker 

Osgood (1904) records a single specimen taken by McKay on 
the Mulchatna River in March 1883. No other data have been 
secured on this species for the territory here considered. 



212 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Picoides tridactylus: Northern Three-toed Woodpecker 
Picoides tridactylus fasciatus 

I saw one, and heard another, of these birds at Kodiak, May 12, 
1936. Friedmann (1935) lists at least four specimens taken there. 

Osgood (1904) noted this species at Iliamna Village, at Keejik 
Village on Lake Clark, on the Chulitna River, and near the head 
of Lake Clark, where he took two specimens. He also mentions 
a specimen taken by McKay on Nushagak River, January 10, 
1882. 

Cahalane (1944) observed one at the outlet of Ukak River, 
September 12, 1940. 

Family TYRANNIDAE 

Sayornis saya: Say's Phoebe 
Sayornis saya yukonensis 

Osgood (1904) took a specimen of this bird at the mouth of 
Chulitna River, August 6, 1902, which was the only one seen. 
We have no other records for this area. 



Family ALAUDIDAE 

Eremoph'ila alpestris: Horned Lark 
Eremophila alpestris arcticola 

Osgood (1904) says "A small flock of 10 or 15 was seen flying 
about the summit of 'Portage Mountain,' between the head of 
the Chulitna River and Swan Lake, August 19." 

The Alaska Peninsula should offer satisfactory nesting habitat 
for horned larks, but we have no records of their presence. Har- 
rold Etolin saw one among the sandhills 2 miles south of Cape 
Etolin, Nunivak Island, on August 28, 1927 (Swarth 1934). 

Family HIRUNDINIDAE 

Tachycineta thalassina: Violet-green Swallow 
Tachycineta thalassina lepida 

A violet-green swallow was seen flying over the tide flats at 
Point Gustavus, Icy Strait, on May 12, 1937, and several were 
noted at Seward on May 21. We saw none west of Seward, but 
Osgood (1904) found them in considerable numbers at Iliamna 
Village, and he saw a few on Iliamna and Clark lakes. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 213 

Iridoprocne bicolor: Tree Swallow 

On May 13, 1937, we saw two of these birds at Point Gustavus, 
Icy Strait. Friedmann (1935) mentions a reported sight record 
of a family group on the northern part of Kodiak Island on July 
27, 1929. Osgood (1904) identified a few at Iliamna Village. On 
May 25 and 26, 1936, we observed at least six at Snag Point, 
Nushagak River. Turner, also, observed these birds on Nushagak 
River (1886). On July 17, 1940, Gabrielson found these swallows 
common at Dillingham; he saw some at Brooks Lake, July 20, 
and noted one at Iliamna Lake, July 24. 

There is a specimen in the National Museum taken by G. D. 
Hanna at Lake Aleknagik, June 17, 1911. 

As would be expected, the tree swallows are confined to the 
wooded basal part of Alaska Peninsula. 

Riparia riparia: Bank Swallow 
Riparia riparia riparia 

Aleut (dialect uncertain) : Agdmdax' (Jochelson, for "the swallow") 

In his work at the base of Alaska Peninsula, Osgood found that, 
on the Nushagak River between the mouth of the Tikchik and 
Kakwok, most of the high banks "were drilled along the upper 
edges with their characteristic holes," and he mentions that 
specimens of the bank swallow were taken at Nushagak by Mc- 
Kay. Osgood obtained a specimen at Lake Iliamna, July 17, 
1902. Turner (1886) found them "quite plentiful on Nushagak 
River." 

On June 17, 1940, Gabrielson observed two bank swallows at 
Karluk weir on Kodiak Island. On June 19, he noted 5 of these 
birds at Chignik Bay; on June 21, he saw at least 12 at Morzhovoi. 
Bay; on July 17, he saw several at Dillingham; on the next day 
they were common at Wood River Lakes; on July 21, they were 
noted at Brooks Lake; and on July 21, they were common in the 
tundra region between Becharof Lake and Egegik cannery. 

On May 30 and June 4, 1925, I found several bank swallows 
along the upper part of the stream flowing into Izembek Bay 
from Aghileen Pinnacles. Near Point Grant, in Izembek Bay, 
there was a nesting colony on a steep bank of one of the islands. 
A bank swallow was seen on Amak Island, July 7, and, on August 
9, several were seen at False Pass. 

In 1911, Wetmore collected specimens of bank swallows nest- 
ing in small numbers at some sandy cutbanks at the head of 
Morzhovoi Bay. Gianini (1917) saw one at Stepovak Bay. Beals 
and Longworth reported, May 22, 1941, at False Pass that "First 



214 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

swallows seen today. They were flying about a small pond up 
Lee's valley." Twenty-five or thirty were seen there until the 
observers left in June. It was reported that the swallows nested 
in banks. Gabrielson found them at False Pass, Chignik, Cold 
Bay, and in the Shumagins, and he obtained specimens at Wide 
Bay and Cold Bay. 

We have no records of bank swallows west of Unimak. 

Hirundo rustica: Barn Swallow 
Hirundo rustica erythrogaster 

A specimen from Kodiak was collected by Bischoff in 1888, 
and Friedmann (1935) mentions other observations there. Os- 
good (1904) found them breeding commonly in the vicinity of 
Lake Iliamna and Lake Clark, and he observed them at the 
mouth of Chulitna River. Turner (1886) found the barn swallow 
in considerable numbers at Nushagak, where it nested. On July 
21, 1940, Gabrielson recorded two or three of these birds at 
Ugashik Lake, and, on July 24, he saw at least 12 about some 
buildings at the upper end of Iliamna Lake. 

Gianini (1917) found a pair nesting on a house at Stepovak 
Bay, and, in 1925, I observed several barn swallows among the 
cannery buildings at Ikatan Peninsula, Unimak Island, where 
they evidently were nesting. At Unalaska, the barn swallow has 
been observed by many naturalists, including Turner, Dall, Nel- 
son, Wetmore, Clark, and McGregor. The last-named observer 
(McGregor 1906) found a pair nesting "on a rocky shelf in the 
face of a sea cliff." 

There is no satisfactory evidence as yet that the barn swallow 
occurs west of Unalaska Island — Turner stated that, in his opin- 
ion, it does not. 

There is a series of specimens in the National Museum. Among 
these, at least three are from Unalaska, and others are from Lake 
Iliamna and Nushagak. These were carefully examined and 
show that the bird of the Aleutian district is typical erythrogaster. 



Family CORVIDAE 

Perisoreus canadensis: Gray Jay 
Perisoreus canadensis pacificus 

Osgood (1904) found this jay to be common from Iliamna Pass 
to Nushagak. Speaking of the Cook Inlet region (1901) he says 
"Occasionally seen. One morning, after a light fall of snow, a 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 215 

small party of jays visited our camp in the mountains near Hope. 
A few were also seen at Tyonek. A large series was taken by 
Bischoff at Fort Kenai." 

t 

Nelson (1887) speaks of this bird occurring throughout "the 
Sitkan and Kodiak region." It is not clear whether he had spe- 
cific reference to Kodiak Island. 

Cahalane (1944) found them "common in the spruce-aspen 
'forest', and wherever scattered trees occurred," in the Katmai 
region. 

Normally, this bird would, of course, be confined to the wooded 
region, though Gianini (1917) reports that he saw 4 of these 
birds one day at Stepovak Bay, a surprising record. No speci- 
mens were taken. 

Pica pica: Black-billed Magpie 
Pica pica hudsonia 

Turner and Nelson both reported the magpie as common on 
Kodiak Island, and Friedmann (1935) has listed many specimens 
taken there. In 1940, Cahalane observed several on Kodiak Is- 
land and found them in many places in the Katmai region. We 
noted magpie feathers at Port Chatham, Kenai Peninsula, in 
1936. On May 10, 1936, we saw a magpie on Ushagat, Barren 
Islands ; on May 13, we saw one on Af ognak ; on May 16, we saw 
several birds and a nest with eight eggs on Nagai Island, 
Shumagins; and, on August 26, we saw several at Sand Point, 
Popof Island, in the Shumagins. We also noted one on Dolgoi Is- 
land, May 24, 1937. In 1940, Gabrielson observed the magpie at 
Kodiak, Sand Point (in the Shumagins), and Brooks Lake. 
Turner (1886) heard of its presence at Belkofski, and he saw 
one on Unga, in the Shumagins. Gianini (1917) found magpies 
and nests at Stepovak Bay, and Wetmore found them nesting at 
King Cove and saw them at Belkofski. 

Dall had stated (1873) that magpies do not occur on the north 
side of Alaska Peninsula, but, in 1925, I found them nesting at 
Moffet Cove, Izembek Bay. Undoubtedly, magpies are more 
plentiful on the Pacific side. 

Curiously enough, we did not find any on Unimak Island, and 
local residents said that they do not occur there, nor on other 
Aleutian Islands. 



216 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Corvus corax: Common Raven 
Corvus corax principalis 

Attu: Kd-ga-lach 
Atka: Kang-lach' 
Russian: Woron (Pleske) 

Voron (Stejneger) 
Chukchi: Uedlje (Palmen) 

Pleske applies the Russian name to Corvus corax corax, 
Stejneger applies it to Corvus behringianus, but, of course, the 
Russian common name has a general application. 

The raven is universally distributed throughout this entire dis- 
trict, from Bristol Bay, Seward, and the Kodiak-Afognak group 
westward to Attu Island. We noted them at the Barren Islands, 
Shumagins, Amak Island, and throughout the Aleutians, where 
at least one or two were found at nearly every island. Gabrielson 
observed them in the Semidis. 

In his field notes for 1911, Wetmore described the actions of 
numerous ravens at the village on Unalaska Island, where they 
were very tame and acted as scavengers. Turner also (1886) 
found this bird to be a scavenger about villages in the Aleutian 
Islands. In 1925, when I collected several specimens of the 
Alaska brown bear in the mountains west of Pavlof Volcano, 
ravens gathered in large numbers to feed on the carcasses. They 
also were seen along salmon streams, where they probably find 
fragments of salmon left by bears, just as the gulls do. And they 
join the gulls in gleaning food, dead or alive, on reefs or beaches 
at low tide. 

During the war, the military establishments from Dutch Harbor 
to Attu furnished abundant garbage for ravens and sea gulls. 

Ravens are by no means exclusively carrion eaters. Pellets 
found on Amak Island contained remains of field mice, Microtus, 
and sea urchins. At St. Catherine Cove, Unimak Island, a raven 
was flushed from the partly eaten body of a female willow 
ptarmigan. They have been reported as killing incubating birds 
on their nests, and this may have been an example of that oc- 
currence, though the evidence was not conclusive. 

Cahn, at Dutch Harbor, says "Twice I have watched a raven 
kill a rat, the second time a young Bald Eagle was also watch- 
ing, and when the rat was dead, the eagle took it away from the 
raven without argument." 

At Kanaga Island, the caretaker of fox-raising operations said 
he had trapped about 150 ravens in the previous winter. He 
stated that ravens will kill blue foxes in traps and that he has 
found remains of blue-fox pups in raven nests. Whether adult 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 217 

blue foxes are killed in traps by ravens, and whether the raven 
will seize and carry off blue-fox pups, and, if so, the frequency 
of such an occurrence, are facts that should be established by 
accurate observation. The ecological status of the raven should 
be determined by a comprehensive study. 

In 1938, Scheffer was informed by someone at Umnak Island 
that ravens will "gang up" and kill full-grown sheep. "Four or 
five birds peck at the head until the sheep stands still with head 
bowed and allows the birds to pick off flesh." Another sheep 
herder said that ravens will pick the eyes out of weak sheep. 
This last habit has been observed elsewhere, when ravens have 
begun to pick at the eyes of a dying animal. In all such cases, 
it is important to know the condition of the animal preyed upon, 
as well as other attendant circumstances. 

In turn, the raven itself is preyed upon occasionally, as shown 
by remains sometimes found in northern bald eagle nests. 

Corvus caurinus: Northwestern Crow 

The crow is common at Seward, where it patrols the beaches, 
and it is abundant in the Kodiak-Afognak Islands group. At 
Afognak Village, on September 2, 1936, we found a flock of 50 
to 75 birds. 

We did not see this bird anywhere to the westward, and I was 
unable to find any record of its occurrence on the base of Alaska 
Peninsula. 

Nucifraga columbiana: Clark's Nutcracker 

There is a specimen in the National Museum of a Clark's nut- 
cracker, which was taken by J. W. Johnson at Nushagak, Novem- 
ber 5, 1885. This is the only information on this bird for the 
Alaska Peninsula, and of course it is not found west of there. 

Family PARIDAE 

Parus atricapillus: Black-capped Chickadee 
Parus atricapillus turneri 

The black-capped chickadee is widespread; it occurs from the 
base of Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak to the Shumagins, though 
too little work has been done in intermediate localities to de- 
termine relative abundance. Both Osgood (1904a), who found 
this bird sparingly throughout portions of the base of Alaska 
Peninsula and Friedmann (1935), who examined the speci- 



218 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

mens from Kodiak, concluded that the bird of this region is 
turneri. 

Subsequently, Duvall (1945) reviewed the black-capped chicka- 
dees of North America and assigned turneri to "The coast of 
Alaska north to St. Michael; west to the Aleutian Islands (Shu- 
magins etc.), Kodiak Island; south to southeastern Alaska 
(Haines), northern British Columbia (Atlin), southern Yukon, 
and central-southern Mackenzie; and east to Great Bear Lake in 
west-central Mackenzie." 

Cahalane (1944) "found them quite frequently and in some 
abundance west of the Aleutian Range" in September 1940. 

On our expeditions, we heard a chickadee in the woods near 
Afognak Village, September 2, 1936; we heard one in the alders 
at Sand Point, Popof Island, August 26; and heard at least 6 
pairs on Nagai Island, Shumagins, May 16, where we collected 
2 specimens. 

Gianini (1917) saw several chickadees at Stepovak Bay on one 
occasion. He listed them as Penthestes cinctus alascensis and said 
they looked much like the eastern black cap. Undoubtedly, these 
birds were P. a. turneri, judging by his own description and by 
the fact that the Alaska gray-headed chickadee resembles the 
Hudsonian chickadee. 

Gabrielson observed these chickadees at Kodiak, King Cove, 
and the Shumagins. 

Parus hudsonicus: Boreal Chickadee 
Parus hudsonicus hudsonicus 

Osgood (1904) found this chickadee at long intervals in the 
timbered portions of the base of Alaska Peninsula and collected 
several specimens. In 1940, Gabrielson saw them on Naknek 
River and Brooks Lake, and he obtained two specimens in the 
latter locality. 

In 1940, Gabrielson noted two chickadees on Kodiak which he 
called Hudsonian chickadee. Friedmann (1935), under the head- 
ing of Penthestes 7-ufescens rufescens, says "all that I have been 
able to learn of this chickadee on Kodiak Island is that Finsch 
states that Bischoff observed it there. Apparently he collected 
no specimens." On geographic grounds, considering Gabrielson's 
sight identification and the absence of specimens of rufescens 
that far west, it is more likely that it is a form of the boreal 
chickadee that occurs there. 

At least 15 specimens from the Bristol Bay region, and 2 from 
Brooks Lake, were available and were compared with large se- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 219 

ries from interior and southeastern Alaska. In this study, I 
was again impressed with the importance of restricting com- 
parisons to comparable seasonal plumages. Neglect of this pro- 
cedure can lead to erroneous conclusions. 

Of the series available, Osgood obtained 2 from Nushagak on 
May 28, 1911, and G. D. Hanna obtained the others in 1912, 2 
from Doonochchogaweet Mountains, 1 from Kakwok River, 45 
miles from its mouth, and 8 from 80 miles up the Kakwok 
River. Gabrielson obtained 2 from Brooks Lake. These all 
appear to be P. h. hudsonicus, the form occurring in interior 
Alaska, though some of these are not typical of true hudsonicus 
from interior Alaska and Canada. At least seven of them, from 
Nushagak and Kakwok River, appear to be a little paler than 
normal, especially on the crown. On the back, too, the general 
tone is more plumbeous, rather than the usual olive brown. These 
are in spring plumage, therefore the differences noted may be 
seasonal ones. At any rate, the series is referable to typical 
hudsonicus rather than to columbianus, and it furnishes evidence 
that the range of hudsonicus extends southward to the base of 
Alaska Peninsula. 

Parus hudsonicus columbianus 

Although this form has not been identified on the Alaska Penin- 
sula proper, there is a specimen taken by Osgood at Tyonek, in 
Cook Inlet. Another specimen, taken by Osgood on July 31, 1902, 
at Lake Clark (though in badly worn plumage and hard to place), 
was referred to columbianus on the basis of some new plumage 
that was coming in. Gabrielson (1944) reported specimens of 
columbianus from Kodiak Island and Brooks Lake. 

Family CERTHIIDAE 

Certhia familiaris: Brown Creeper 

At present, the brown creeper has not been recorded from the 
Alaska Peninsula proper; however, it occurs on some parts of the 
adjacent mainland. On February 4, 1922, I obtained a specimen 
at Susitna. Bischoff obtained a specimen at Fort Kenai, May 6, 
1869; C. H. Townsend took a specimen in Cook Inlet, April 8, 
1892; and Osgood obtained another specimen from Hope, Cook 
Inlet, August 31, 1900. Then, on June 13, 1944, Howell (1948) 
saw two brown creepers at Bell's Flats, Kodiak Island. Lack of 
specimens from the geographical area covered in this report 
makes it impossible to identify the subspecies of brown creeper 
that breeds in the eastern portions. 



220 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Family CINCLIDAE 

Cinclus mexicanus: Dipper 
Cinclus mexicanus unicolor 

Judging by published records, the dipper occurs from Kodiak 
and Bristol Bay to Attu Island. Osgood (1904) obtained a speci- 
men near Lake Clark and one at Cold Bay, and he records five 
specimens taken by McKay at Mulchatna River. On September 
5, 1940, Cahalane (1944) saw a northern dipper at Brooks Falls 
in the Katmai region. The dipper is known to occur on Kodiak 
Island (Friedmann 1935), and Cahalane saw several on Afognak 
Island in 1940. 

Gianini (1917) saw one at Stepovak Bay, and his guide con- 
sidered these birds to be very common in the swift streams in 
that district. On June 21, 1940, Gabrielson observed the species 
at Morzhovoi Bay. In 1925, I found several in small streams in 
the valley below Aghileen Pinnacles. In that same season, 1 was 
seen at Urilia Bay, Unimak Island, and at False Pass, where 
Scheffer also saw 1 on September 8, 1938. Eyerdam (1936) has 
reported the dipper as occurring on Unimak Island and at King 
Cove. 

Beals and Longworth, in their field report for 1941, sum up 
the status of the dipper on Unimak Island, saying — 

Common on Unimak Island. Every stream seems to have its quota of these 
birds and we often found them four and five to the mile of stream. On Sour- 
dough Flats we enjoyed a concert given by four dippers on the same little 
bend of the stream. They are well known to everyone on the island. 

According to residents, the dippers winter on Unimak. 

Swarth (1934) reported several specimens from Akutan, where 
it was considered to be common. 

Dippers have been reported from Unalaska by several ob- 
servers (Dall, Turner, Bishop, Cahn), and we obtained a speci- 
men there. 

We did not find the dipper on any island west of Unalaska, 
though there are many streams that should furnish suitable 
habitat. Turner (1886) stated that he saw a dipper in a little 
stream that emptied into Chichagof Harbor, Attu Island ; he did 
not obtain a specimen. He remarked that it was extremely rare 
and that few natives had any knowledge of the birds. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 221 

Family TROGLODYTIDAE 
Troglodytes troglodytes: Winter Wren 

Attu : Kach-tai-ach Kit-rich 

Atka: Kat-chrai-uh 

Russian, Commander Islands: Limaschinka (Stejneger) 

The name given by Stejneger is undoubtedly Russian, mean- 
ing "Little chew of tobacco," which has been adopted by many 
Aleuts. This bird is the "limmershin," as reported from the 
Pribilofs. 

Oberholser (1919) proposed that all of the winter wrens be 
combined under the European species troglodytes. After examin- 
ing the forms from the Bering Sea region, I found no difficulty 
in bridging the gap between the Old World and the New World 
via the Aleutians. Pallescens, of the Commander Islands, and 
meligerus, of Attu, are not much different; in fact, they have 
more characters in common than have meligerus and wrens of 
the more eastern Aleutians. 

On the other hand, the most difficult gap to bridge to make 
them all conspeciflc, is the gap between helleri of Kodiak Island 
and either semidiensis of the Semidis, or petrophilus of the Fox 
Islands group. The Aleutian wrens, and the one on the Semidis, 
are comparatively long billed. Helleri and its nearest relatives, 
pacificus and hiemalis, are short billed. In this character, the 
two groups do not intergrade. Coloration may approach more 
closely in the two groups, but color comparisons in the winter 
wrens (in the plumages usually available) are rather complex, 
and it is difficult to know what factor constitutes real inter- 
gradation. It should be pointed out, however, that there is a 
long distance between Kodiak and the end of Alaska Peninsula; 
in fact, there are many hundreds of miles of territory from which 
specimens are not available, and one could assume intergradation 
there. Furthermore, petrophilus from Unalaska, and alascensis 
from the Pribilofs, are the closest in color and measurements to 
helleri, though they do not intergrade. It could be reasonably 
argued that these two at least show a trend toward helleri and 
that intermediate areas will eventually produce the intergrades. 
Furthermore, helleri has the longest bill of the hiemalis group. 
Yet, the Semidi wren, whose habitat is not far from Kodiak 
(relatively speaking), is decidedly of the long-billed group. 

The three short-billed wrens, helleri, pacificus, and hiemalis, 
naturally fall into one group, possibly into one species, and the 
other forms throughout the Aleutians and the west side of Ber- 



222 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

ing Sea fall into another group or species. Some such course was 
suggested by Swarth (1931), who wished to regard the "North 
American, the Bering Sea, and the Old World group, each as a 
separate species." 

There has not been opportunity to review the Old World wrens, 
and because they have generally been placed in the species 
troglodytes, that name is the most convenient to use for the 
Aleutian group until the relationships with the Old World group 
can be determined. 

The Aleutian winter wrens are a difficult group to identify be- 
cause their plumages vary so greatly with wear and we do not 
always have comparable plumages for study. Giving these facts 
their due weight, we cannot speak with too much assurance in 
some cases, nor can we rely too much on island isolation to pro- 
duce new characters. 

The winter wren is one of the few small land birds found 
commonly throughout the Alaska Peninsula-Aleutian district. 
This is a bird of the rocky shoreline, nesting in rock crevices. 
It was not found far inland; in fact, it apparently prefers the 
vicinity of the sea, and it finds its favorite habitat on islands. 

On Amchitka Island, July 11, 1937, I found a family of young 
winter wrens on the beach, and, a few days later, I found a nest 
with eggs. This nest had been placed in the timber structure of 
an old barabara. On July 17, these eggs hatched. They were 
probably a second laying. 

Troglodytes troglodytes heller] 

This is the wren of the Kodiak-Afognak Islands. It has not 
been determined if it also occurs on the adjacent parts of Alaska 
Peninsula. 

This winter wren is quite similar to pacificus in coloration, 
when comparable plumages are used. The bill, however, is slightly 
longer. Measurements are as follows : 

helleri (9 males) 10 to 11.5 mm.; average, 11.1 mm. 

pacificus (5 males, chiefly from Alaska) .... 10 to 11 mm.; average, 10.4 mm. 

Troglodytes troglodytes semidiensis 

This form is confined to the Semidi Islands. According to 
Brooks (1915), it is "similar to N. alascensis, but less rufescent, 
especially above; bill longer." He gave the length of culmen of 
two males, including the type, as 16 mm. This is in contrast with 
the average of 11.1 mm. for helleri. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 223 

Troglodytes troglodytes petrophilus 

This wren is much like alascensis from the Pribilofs, but, with 
comparable specimens, the upper parts appear to be somewhat 
more rufescent and the under parts are definitely paler, or grayer. 
The bill of petrophilus averages slightly longer than that of 
alascensis, though the difference is small, and these two differ 
from other Aleutian wrens in having somewhat shorter bills. 
Measurements of the exposed culmen are as follows : 

petrophilus (11 males) 13 to 14.5 mm.; average, 13.9 mm. 

petrophilus (4 females) 13 to 14 mm.; average, 13.2 mm. 

alascensis (3 males) 13 to 13.5 mm. ; average, 13.3 mm. 

alascensis (7 females) 12 to 13.5 mm. ; average, 13 mm. 

This wren occurs on Unalaska, Amaknak, Unalga, and Akutan 
Islands. One would expect to find it also on Umnak and Akun 
Islands, but we do not have specimens from these two islands. 

Troglodytes troglodytes stevensoni 

This wren was described by Oberholser on the basis of speci- 
mens from Amak and Amagat islands, near the west end of 
Alaska Peninsula. It was described as being slightly less rufe- 
scent than petrophilus and with a slightly longer bill and middle 
toe. I found it very difficult to distinguish this form from 
petrophilus by color, though the slightly longer bill was apparent 
in the four adult specimens available. Most of the birds in the 
series are young, and the material seems inadequate to determine 
the status of this small group. The adult Aleutian wrens taken 
during the nesting season are so irregular in condition of plumage 
that a very extensive series should be at hand to adequately eval- 
uate its taxonomic position. For this reason, I can not attempt 
to ascertain whether these easternmost specimens of the Aleu- 
tian chain show the slightest trend toward helleri, whose habitat 
is far to the east, on Kodiak. 

Stevensoni is known from Amak and Amagat Islands, and it 
can be expected to occur on adjacent parts of Alaska Peninsula 
and on Unimak Island. 

Troglodytes troglodytes seguamensis 

Gabrielson and Lincoln (1951) described this form on the basis 
of specimens from the islands of Seguam, Amukta, and Yunaska. 
They commented that "This is the palest and grayest of all 
the Aleutian races," and it appears, logically, to be an intermedi- 
ate race between petrophilus to the east and tanagensis to the 



224 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

west. The wrens from the Islands of the Four Mountains are 
described as not typical of petrophilus, but somewhat intermedi- 
ate between it and seguamensis. However, in the present state of 
our knowledge, we probably should include the Islands of the 
Four Mountains in the range of seguamensis. 

Troglodytes troglodytes tanagensis 

After careful study of a series of specimens, tanagensis ap- 
pears to be slightly less rufescent than petrophilus. In length of 
bill, it differs significantly, tanagensis having a decidedly longer 
bill. Measurements of culmen of 12 males and 7 females are as 
follows : 

Males 14 to 16 mm. ; average, 14.9 mm. 

Females 13.3 to 15.5 mm. ; average, 14.8 mm. 

Since Gabrielson and Lincoln's determination of T. t. segua- 
mensis, we must confine the range of tanagensis to Tanaga and 
the immediately adjacent islands. 

Troglodytes troglodytes kiskensis 

This wren is paler, but more tawny, than meligerus. It is also 
more tawny than tanagensis. In length of culmen, it appears to 
average greater than either of the other two. Measurements of 
culmen, in millimeters, of 8 males and 8 females are as follows : 

Males 14.5 to 16 mm. ; average, 15.6 mm. 

Females 14 to 17 mm. ; average, 15.2 mm. 

This wren occupies the Rat Islands group, from Kiska to 
Amchitka. There *are specimens from Kiska, Little Kiska, 
Davidof, Little Sitkin, Semisopochnoi, and Amchitka; and there 
are three specimens from Ogliuga Island, in the Andreanof 
group — supposedly in the range of tanagensis, which appeared 
referable to kiskensis. 

Troglodytes troglodytes meligerus 

The wrens of the Aleutian chain fall into two groups that may 
be distinguished pretty well at the extremes of the total range. 
The wrens of the westernmost islands, and we may include the 
Commander Islands, show a marked tendency toward a dusky, 
grayish cast, while those of the eastern Aleutians, including 
alascensis, of the Pribilofs, are more rufescent. 

T. t. meligerus is quite similar to T. t. pallescens of the Com- 
mander Islands, sharing with that form the general duskiness 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 225 

and the more-extensive barring and spotting of the under parts, 
which separates these forms from kiskensis. The under parts 
are noticeably grayer than those of kiskensis, the latter being 
more tawny. But meligerus is the darkest one of the group. 

There is a single specimen from Agattu Island — a mummified, 
extremely dark, immature bird. The fact that this single speci- 
men is immature makes it impracticable to identify it with cer- 
tainty, though one would expect it to be meligerus. Four 
specimens from Buldir Island, 2 immature and 2 in worn breed- 
ing plumage, are referable to meligerus — this is most interesting, 
because Buldir (the most isolated island in the Aleutian chain) 
is a lone island, far from either Kiska or Attu. 



Family TURDIDAE 

Turdus migratorius: Robin 
Tardus migratorius migratorius 

We found robins common at Snag Point, Nushagak River, on 
May 25 and 26, 1936. We saw them at Seward on May 21, 1937. 
Osgood (1904) says — 

A few robins were seen near Iliamna Village, and one specimen was taken 
there July 15. From this point on to the upper Chulitna River robins were 
seldom seen, though once in a great while we heard their familiar note. 
They were quite abundant in small flocks about Swan Lake August 25, and 
considerable numbers were also seen near there in the brush and young 
timber around the base of the "Portage Mountain." 

Cahalane (1943) reports — 

I found that robins were numerous in the willow-cottonwood-spruce thickets 
on Naknek River at Big Creek on the early morning of September 4. They 
were probably migrating. I did not see any after leaving the river on that 
date and passing into the lake region in the National Monument. 

Gabrielson noted a few robins on Afognak Island on June 15, 
1940, and he found them to be common at Dillingham on July 17. 

There are specimens in the National Museum from Nushagak, 
Kakwok, and Lake Iliamna. 

Ixoreus naevius: Varied Thrush 
Ixoreus naevius naevius 

At least six specimens from Kocliak Island were examined. 
These were collected by F. Bischoff, in 1868 ; by C. H. Townsend, 
in 1888; by A. K. Fisher, in 1899; and by R. H. Beck, in 1919. 
All these specimens are typical naevius, thus suggesting that this 



226 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

form also would be found on the adjacent Kenai Peninsula. We 
found varied thrushes to be common at Port Chatham, Kenai 
Peninsula, May 6, 1936. One was seen in the driftwood on the 
beach of Ushagat, Barren Islands, May 11, where there is only 
a trace of forest growth. We saw them at Seward on May 21, 
1937, and on Kodiak Island, May 12, 1936, varied thrushes ap- 
peared to be the most common bird. Several were noted on 
Afognak, May 13 and September 2, and Cahalane and Gabrielson 
found them to be abundant on Afognak in 1940. 

Ixoreus naevius meruloides 

A number of specimens are available in the National Museum 
from the Bristol Bay region. C. L. McKay obtained 2 specimens 
10 miles below Lake Alleknagik and 1 on the Nushagak River 
in 1881. J. W. Johnson obtained 1 at Nushagak in 1885, and 
G. D. Hanna obtained 2 at Nushagak and 1 on the Kakwok River 
in 1911. All these specimens are referable to meruloides and 
furnish another example of how the eastern and northern avi- 
fauna extends to the base of Alaska Peninsula. 

Osgood (1904) noted two of these birds on the Kakhtul River, 
and Gabrielson found varied thrushes to be common at Dilling- 
ham on July 17, 1940. 

Hylocichla guttata: Hermit Thrush 
Hylocichla guttata guttata 

A number of specimens of the Alaska hermit thrush are in the 
National Museum, including a good series from Kodiak, one each 
from Hope and Tyonek, Cook Inlet, and others from Lake Clark, 
Nushagak, Kukak Bay, Chugachik Bay, King Cove, and Frosty 
Peak. Hine (1919) obtained a specimen at Katmai Bay on July 
25, 1919. Thus, the range of this thrush is established for the 
length of Alaska Peninsula. 

The species has also been observed by various naturalists. In 
1940, Gabrielson found these birds to be very common on Afognak 
Island, and he noted two or three at Chignik Bay. Howell (1948) 
records 6 nests with eggs at Kodiak Island from June 9 to July 
4, 1944 — one nest with 3 eggs, one nest with 5 eggs, and four 
nests with 4 each. We observed several of these birds at Kodiak 
and Afognak Islands on May 12 and 13, 1936, and, on May 11, 
we found two or three birds on Ushagat, Barren Islands, on a 
high slope where the principal vegetation is crowberry. On May 
15, 1936, many of these thrushes were singing among the alders 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 227 

on Nagai, Shumagin Islands, and, on the next evening, several 
thrushes were noted in the alders at Sand Point, Popof Island. 
On May 24, 1937, we heard several thrushes singing on Dolgoi 
Island, west of the Shumagins. 

In 1911, Wetmore found hermit thrushes to be "tolerably com- 
mon" in the alders at King Cove and in the alders at the east 
base of Frosty Peak, and he obtained specimens. Gianini (1917) 
reports that he observed the bird at Stepovak Bay. 

I found the hermit thrush in the alders back of Izembek Bay, 
early in June 1925. One of these birds was in the last alder 
patch at the head of the valley below Aghileen Pinnacles. Two 
or three thrushes were heard singing at the base of Frosty Peak 
on July 3. 

On July 15, Donald Stevenson heard thrushes singing on the 
rocky slopes of Amak Island ; although he had a distant view of 
them, they were too wary for him to obtain a specimen. There 
is no shrubbery on Amak, the tallest vegetation being Heracleum 
lanatum. 

Beals and Longworth, in their field report of 1941, on Unimak 
Island, stated that they heard the first thrush of the spring at 
False Pass on May 12. Next day, they saw five of these birds in 
the alder thickets. Between May 12 and June 17, "they could 
be heard whenever we patrolled the valley floors and even up to 
5-6000 ft. elevation." No specimens were taken, but "their song, 
habits and appearance are the same as our Russet-backed thrushes 
of Southeastern Alaska." Later, in May 1944, Gabrielson ob- 
tained a specimen at King Cove, and, in 1946, he took specimens 
from Popof and Aghiyuk Islands. 

The hermit thrush is most common in this region, and the lack 
of conflicting information leads us to suppose that it is the hermit 
thrush that is most common on Unimak Island. However, speci- 
mens are needed for positive identification. 

Nelson (1887) has discussed the impropriety of assigning 
Gmelin's name "Turdus aoonakiscensis" to this bird, the type of 
which was supposed to have come from Unalaska. He pointed 
out that no other naturalist has observed it there. However, we 
found the hermit thrush on such barren islands as Amak and 
Dolgoi, and (apparently) as far west as Unimak; therefore, it is 
not at all improbable that a specimen could have been obtained 
on Unalaska. But Nelson's thesis remains correct, especially since 
he demonstrates that the original description was inadequate. 



228 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Hylocichla ustulata: Swainson's Thrush 
Hylocichla ustulata incana 

Osgood (1904) reported finding this thrush in the Lake Clark 
and Lake Iliamna region and he obtained a specimen at Lake 
Clark on July 24. This specimen is in the Fish and Wildlife Serv- 
ice collection at the U. S. National Museum. It is a male in 
juvenal plumage and probably was taken not far from its nest- 
ing area. A. Wetmore (manuscript notes) heard this species sing- 
ing July 12 and 16 at King Cove. We did not identify this form 
on any of our trips to the Alaska Peninsula. 

Hylocichla minima: Gray-cheeked Thrush 
Hylocichla minima minima 

Osgood (1904) writes — 

A gray-cheeked thrush was seen at Swan Lake August 25, and another a 
few days later on the Kakhtul River; a third was collected near the mouth 
of the Kakhtul River September 1. This specimen is more olivaceous than 
any other I have seen, which is perhaps due to its being in newly acquired 
fall plumage. 

Friedmann (1935) records a number of specimens from Kodiak 
Island, and the National Museum has a number of specimens 
from Nushagak, Lake Aleknegik, and Kakwok River. Gabrielson 
obtained specimens at Dillingham on July 18, 1940, and at Naknek 
River and Brooks Lake on July 10, 1946. 

This bird has a wide distribution, occurring on the Pribilofs, 
St. Lawrence Island, and parts of Siberia. Wallace (1939) re- 
marks — 

One striking feature of the distribution of this form is its apparent pref- 
erence for coastlines, island, rivers, and lakes. The presence of sheltering 
thickets of alder and willow bordering the streams and water courses in these 
otherwise treeless regions presumably accounts for such a pattern of distri- 
bution. 

At present, this species has not been recorded west of the base 
of Alaska Peninsula, though it could occur somewhat farther 
west. 

Luscinia calliope: Siberian Ruby+hroat 
Luscinia calliope camtschatkensis 

This species was collected on Kiska Island by F. B. McKechnie 
on June 17, 1911, and he saw two others. Still another was seen 
there on June 19 by Wetmore (Bent 1912). These are the only 
records for North America. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 229 

Family SYLVIIDAE 

Phylloscopus borealis: Arctic Warbler 
Phylloscopus borealis kennicotti 

Osgood (1904) obtained two specimens of this bird near 
Iliamna Village, and he records a specimen taken by McKay 
near Aleknegik River on August 24, 1881. Two specimens were 
taken by J. W. Johnson at Nushagak on June 19, 1884, and Hanna 
obtained a specimen at Lake Aleknegik on July 2, 1911. 

On July 19, 1940, Gabrielson saw 3 of these birds at Brooks 
Lake and collected 1 of them, and he obtained another at Dilling- 
ham. 

According to Parkes and Amadon (1948), the Kennicott arctic 
warbler "winters commonly in the Philippine Islands and spar- 
ingly in the Indo-Chinese countries, Malaysia and the East Indies 
east to the Moluccas; known to migrate through eastern China 
(Shantung, Yunnan)." 

Regulus satrapa: Golden-crowned Kinglet 
Regulus satrapa amoenus 

A number of specimens are in the National Museum that were 
collected by Bischoff and Townsend on Kodiak Island. Gabriel- 
son noted the species on Afognak in 1940, and he found it to be 
common on Kodiak Island in the winters of 1941 to 1944, where 
he collected two specimens. 

This bird could be expected in the wooded parts of Alaska 
Peninsula, but Osgood did not record it, except for the Cook 
Inlet region, where he found it "moderately common." A study 
of this species by Aldrich (manuscript notes) indicates that 
birds of this region are referable to amoenus, and that olivaceus 
is restricted to the narrow coastal strip from Sitka, Alaska to 
Oregon. 

Regulus calendula: Ruby-crowned Kinglet 
Regulus calendula calendula 

Osgood (1901) mentions a male taken by Bischoff at Fort 
Kenai, and remarks that "Examination of this specimen does 
not show any characters that approach those of Regulus calendula 
grinnelli, which is found on the coast only a short distance 
farther south." 

We heard one singing at Port Chatham, Kenai Peninsula, on 
May 6, 1936, but we saw none west of there, nor did Osgood 



230 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

record any for the base of Alaska Peninsula. However, Turner 
(1886) reports seeing one at Nushagak on June 28, 1878. 

On June 14, 1940, Gabrielson noted one on Kodiak Island. The 
bird from Kenai Peninsula is R. c. calendula, therefore the Kodiak 
birds would undoubtedly be the same. 

Family MOTACILLIDAE 

Mofacilla alba: White Wagtail 
Motacilla alba lugens 

During the expedition in 1913 and 1914 on which Joseph Dixon 
and W. Sprague Brooks were the zoological collectors, several of 
these wagtails were seen on the beach of Attu Island early in 
May 1913, and, on May 4, an adult male was collected. This is 
the only occurrence known for the Aleutian district; it was re- 
ported by John E. Thayer and Outram Bangs in 1921. 

This bird is a regular migrant in the Commander Islands, 
according to Stejneger (1885). 

Turner (1886) observed a wagtail at Attu Island on May 18, 
3881, which he thought would be M. a. ocularis, though he men- 
tions the possibility of its being M. a. lugens. The specimen was 
not secured, and there must remain some doubt about the identity. 
Turner quotes Seebohm to the effect that a specimen of Motacilla 
amurensis had been collected by Wosnessensky on April 23, 1845, 
on Oorogan Island "possibly either one of the Kurile or one of 
the Aleutian Islands." Oorogan Island cannot be identified, there- 
fore this record too must remain doubtful. 

Stejneger (1885) records a specimen from Bering Island. 

Mofacilla flava: Yellow Wagtail 
Motacilla flava tschutschensis 

This wagtail is not common in the area here considered, though 
it has been observed numerous times in the Bristol Bay region, 
where it is considered to be a breeding species. Osgood (1904) 
states that McKay and Johnson obtained four breeding birds at 
Nushagak, and he concludes that "This is doubtless near the 
southern limit of its breeding range on this continent." Turner 
also (1886) found this bird at Nushagak in the breeding season. 

We did not find this bird on the Alaska Peninsula or in the 
Aleutian chain, but Turner (1886) reports seeing one on Attu 
Island on October 8, 1880. He adds that the bird does not breed 
in the Aleutians. The 1931 Check List states that this wagtail 
migrates through the western Aleutian Islands to eastern Asia. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 231 

Anfhus spinoletta: Water Pipit 
Anthus spinoleita pacificus 
Attu: Assu Ka-vif 

A series of 13 breeding birds and 2 in winter plumage from 
Unalaska was available for study, as well as one breeding bird 
each from Fort Kenai, King Cove, Morzhovoi Bay, Chogiung, Nu- 
shagak, Sanak, and Unimak Island. There was also a series 
from Sitka, Hoonah Sound, and Ketchikan, Alaska, and White 
Pass, Yukon Territory, as well as others from interior Alaska and 
eastern North America. 

The series from Unalaska and other parts of western Alaska 
is grayer on the back than those from Alberta and Mackenzie, and 
the under parts of the Alaska birds average paler, though the 
coloration varies from a definite pinkish buff to rather pale in- 
dividuals. This is not due to wear, because some of the most-worn 
specimens are the most buffy. Also, the spotting on the breast 
varies from very sparse to very heavy. 

In winter plumage, the western Alaskan birds are a little 
browner, and the Canadian birds are slightly, but noticeably, 
more olivaceous. 

When compared with a small series from White Pass, Ketchi- 
kan, and other southeastern localities, which are presumed to be 
pacificus as described by Todd (1935), the Aleutian birds cor- 
respond very well and therefore are referred to pacificus. 

It was difficult to separate the birds from Alberta, Canada, at 
least those used in this study, from the birds described as alticola 
from Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming. 

The pipit occurs from the base of Alaska Peninsula to Attu 
Island, the ugh it is not equally abundant everywhere. Osgood 
found them near Kakhtul River, McKay obtained specimens at 
Nushagak, and Hine observed them, and obtained specimens, at 
Katmai and Kashvik Bays. 

We noted the birds at Ugashik River on May 29, 1936. On 
May 14, we found them at Chignik, and, on May 16, 2 were heard 
singing at Unga and 2 were heard at Sand Point, Popof Island. 
Several were heard singing at Unimak Island on May 19 and 20, 
and, on May 24, 1937, pipits were commonly seen on Dolgoi Is- 
land. John Steenis obtained a specimen at Sanak Island on Au- 
gust 28, 1937, and two were seen on Bogoslof on August 24. 

In 1925, I found pipits to be common on the north side of 
Alaska Peninsula, mainly in the mountains above the alder 
growth. There were pipits at False Pass on the mountains near 



232 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Aghileen Pinnacles, Frosty Peak, and Amak Island, where young 
birds were flying about on July 10. 

In 1911, Wetmore found pipits to be common at the east base 
of Frosty Peak, Morzhovoi Bay, and King Cove, where they 
nested above the alder growth on mountain sides. He also found 
them to be common at Unga. Gianini (1917) observed them at 
Stepovak Bay. 

In 1940, Gabrielson noted a pipit above timberline on Kodiak 
Island, noted four or five at Morzhovoi Bay, and noted one on 
Metrofania Island. In subsequent years, he found them to be 
rather common in many localities, including Akutan and Una- 
laska. 

Howell (1948) found the pipits on Kodiak on the open grassy 
slopes above 1,500 feet. A nest sunk in the ground with its rim 
flush with the surface, containing four well-incubated eggs, was 
found on June 17. 

Nelson (1887) observed pipits on Unalaska Island and says 
that specimens have been obtained on Kodiak. Laing (1925) col- 
lected pipits on Unalaska. McGregor (1906) found them at Dutch 
Harbor, Unimak Island, and Aektok Island. Swarth (1934) re- 
ports specimens taken by Harrold on Akutan, where it was 
common. 

We found pipits to be fairly numerous on Unimak and Una- 
laska, but they were scarce farther west. One was seen on 
Amchitka Island on July 24, 1936. The chief of Attu was fa- 
miliar with the bird and gave us the native name. 

Turner (1886) reports it throughout the Aleutian Islands 
and specifically mentions Unalaska, Atka, and Attu. We did not 
see the species in the Near Islands. 

Cahn reports for Unalaska that "Pipits arrive in early May 
(earliest date, May 3, 1944), and remain until mid-September." 

Nesting 

In general, pipits nest chiefly on high ground, above the alder 
zone where such growth occurs, and on the more or less barren 
mountain tops or ridges of the western islands. They occasionally 
occur on lower ground, however, even in the nesting season. After 
the nesting season, when they begin to form small flocks, they 
often feed on the beaches, among the tide-rolled masses of dead 
kelp. 

Swarth (1934) mentions a nest with six eggs found by Har- 
rold on Akutan on a "bare wind-swept ridge about 1,000 feet 
above the sea." Swarth also mentions another nest with six 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 233 

fresh eggs, found on June 19, on Unalaska, at an elevation of 
about 500 feet. 

On June 10, 1925, in the valley bottom below Aghileen Pin- 
nacles, I found a nest on mossy ground, almost completely over- 
hung by vegetation, mostly grass. The nest was made of fine 
roots in the outer structure, then a layer of old fine grass, dark in 
color, and an inner lining of fine clean grass. Outer diameter 
was 110 mm. ; inner diameter was 67 mm. ; and depth was 40 mm. 
There were six eggs in the nest. 

Anthus cervinus: Red-throated Pipit 

This species is credited to the Aleutian Islands on the authority 
of Zander (1853). Stating its general distribution, Zander says 
that it is widespread, reaching from Dalmatia and Lapland, 
through the adjacent part of Asia to the islands near America, 
and also in Egypt and Nubia ("durch den angrenzenden Theil 
von Asien bis zu den Inseln bei Amerika verbreitet") . 

This is a vague reference in a general statement of distribu- 
tion. It does not specify specimens taken nor type of observa- 
tions made, nor does it identify the "islands near America" that 
he mentions. Apparently, subsequent authors have assumed that 
he meant the Aleutian Islands. Certainly, Zander did not state 
the case adequately, and, although it is possible that the species 
occurs on the Aleutians, we should have better evidence. 

Family LANIIDAE 

Lanius excubitor: Northern Shrike 
Lanius excubitor invictus 

Osgood (1904) records specimens from the mouth of Chulitna 
River and Swan Lake, and he observed the bird on Kakhtul River 
and near Nushagak. McKay obtained specimens at Ugashik, and 
Cahalane (1943) "found shrikes to be fairly common on the west 
side of the Aleutian Range" in the Katmai region. Friedmann 
(1935) mentions 2 specimens from Kodiak, and Gabrielson ob- 
served 3 of these birds at Kodiak also. 

These records refer to the base of Alaska Peninsula and 
neighboring localities, where some timber is present, but the 
bird also occurs far to the west on treeless terrain. In 1936, 
Petri, who was warden in the U. S. Bureau of Fisheries at 
Chignik, told us that shrikes occur commonly in that locality. 

On May 5, 1925, I saw a shrike on a trapper's hut at Urilia 
Bay, Unimak Island. Arthur Neuman, of Ikatan Peninsula, 



234 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

said shrikes occur on Unimak and that on several occasions he 
had seen them carrying mice, or hanging them in the willows. 
He had once seen a shrike harrying a ptarmigan. 

Beals and Longworth reported seeing 10 shrikes near False 
Pass, between January 11 and May 15, 1941. Presumably, some 
of these sightings may have been duplications. They saw a pair 
on one occasion. They remarked that "Residents of Unimak Is- 
land recognize them and their murderous work among the smaller 
song birds." 

A more western record for this bird in the Aleutians is 
Gabrielson's observation at Unalaska Island, July 3, 1941. 

Taber, writing of Adak Island, reports — 

On January 9, 1946, a female mallard was seen flying along a small stream 
near Shagak Bay; a shrike struck at her back twice as she flew. The mallard 
lit in the water and the shrike hovered characteristically over her for a 
moment and then lit on a barbed wire fence. The ground was snow covered 
at this time, leading to the supposition that this shrike was extremely hard 
pressed for food. 

Family PARUUDAE 

Vermivora celata: Orange-crowned Warbler 
Vermivora celata celata 

The orange-crowned warbler was collected by McKay at 
Nushagak, where it breeds, and Osgood (1904) observed a few 
about Lakes Iliamna and Clark, and took specimens. We ob- 
tained a specimen at Snag Point, Nushagak River, May 25, but 
we saw none farther west. 

Vermivora celata lutescens 

This is the form known to inhabit the Cook Inlet region. Nel- 
son (1887) mentions a specimen taken by Bischoff at Fort Kenai, 
the type locality, and says that it occurs on Kodiak. Howell 
reported them to be common on Kodiak, where he found four 
nests. He considered them "sparsely but regularly distributed 
in the wooded valleys" of this island. Friedmann (1935) lists 
three Kodiak specimens. It is interesting to note that it is lutes- 
cens, from Kenai Peninsula, and not celata, from Alaska Penin- 
sula, that has reached Kodiak Island. 

Dendroica petechia: Yellow Warbler 
Dendroica petechia rubiginosa 

Aldrich (1942) has presented convincing evidence that the 
golden and yellow warblers are conspecific, and, because the 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 235 

name petechia has priority, all of them are placed under that 
species. 

The Alaska yellow warbler has an extensive distribution. Os- 
good (1904) observed the bird, and obtained specimens, at Lake 
Clark and Lake Uiamna and on the Chulitna River, and he 
mentions specimens taken by McKay and Johnson at Nushagak. 
Hine (1919) obtained a specimen, and observed the species, on 
various occasions about Katmai Bay. Friedmann (1935) re- 
cords a number of specimens from Kodiak, and it is evident 
that it breeds there. In June 1940, Gabrielson found the yellow 
warbler to be common on Kodiak and Af ognak Islands ; he noted 
several on the Semidi Islands, and he recorded the bird as com- 
mon at Chignik Bay. Later, he observed it on Unimak Island, 
Nelson Lagoon, Wide Bay, and Cold Bay. 

Gianini (1917) obtained a specimen at Stepovak Bay, and he 
saw others, but he remarks that they were not common there. 
On July 3, 1925, I saw one of these warblers below Frosty Peak, 
and I observed another at False Pass on August 9. 

Beals and Longworth, in their 1941 field report, reported the 
yellow warbler to be common on the eastern part of Unimak Is- 
land. These birds were referred to by residents as "little yellow 
canaries." One had been seen there May 5, and two were seen 
on May 20. 

The alder brush is the home of the yellow warbler. 

Dendroica coronata: Myrtle Warbler 
Dendroica coronata hooveri 

Osgood (1904) found this warbler to be abundant about Lake 
Clark and took several specimens. He also observed it at the 
mouth of Chulitna River. McKay took specimens at Nushagak, 
and Turner (1886) found it to be abundant there in June 1878. 
Gabrielson observed it at Brooks Lake, July 10, 1946. 

Dendroica sfriafa: Blackpoll Warbler 

Osgood (1904) considered this to be the most common warbler 
that he saw at the base of Alaska Peninsula from July 14 to Au- 
gust 12. He observed it at Iliamna Village, Lake Clark, and 
Nogheling River. McKay obtained a specimen 80 miles up 
Nushagak River and obtained another on Aleknagik Lake. 

Gabrielson saw this warbler at Dillingham, July 17, 1940. 



236 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Seiurus noveboracensis: Northern Waterthrush 
Seiurus noveboracensis notabilis 

Osgood (1904) observed a pair of these birds at Iliamna Vil- 
lage on July 14, and he found them to be quite common at the 
mouth of Chulitna River on August 3. A specimen was taken 
by McKay 85 miles up the Nushagak River on June 6, 1881. 

On May 26, 1936, I repeatedly heard a song in the alders and 
willows at Snag Point, Nushagak River, that I identified as that 
of the waterthrush, but I could not get a glimpse of the birds. 

Wilsonia pusilla: Wilson's Warbler 
Wilsonia pusilla pileolata 

This warbler inhabits the entire length of Alaska Peninsula. 
Osgood (1904) frequently found it at the base of the Peninsula, 
Hine (1919) reported it to be common in lower Katmai River 
valley and secured specimens, and Friedmann (1935) recorded 
many specimens from Kodiak. 

On May 23 and 26, 1936, these warblers were heard singing 
in the willows and alders at Snag Point, Nushagak River. On 
August 20, as we approached Port Moller (but still several miles 
offshore), three Wilson's warblers hovered about the ship for 
some time and occasionally settled on the deck. 

In June 1940, Gabrielson noted this warbler commonly on 
Kodiak Island; he saw a few on Semidi Islands, and he noted 
them as common at Chignik Bay. Howell reported this "the 
most numerous warbler" on Kodiak. Later, he saw them on 
Unimak Island, at Cold Bay, at King Cove, at Pavlof Bay, and 
at Nelson Lagoon. 

In 1925, I found these birds below Aghileen Pinnacles, near 
the western end of Alaska Peninsula — the first sighting was on 
May 29. They were common in the alders at Moffet Cove, 
Izembek Bay, and two were seen on Hazen Point on June 22. 

Gianini (1917) found them to be common, and nesting, at 
Stepovak Bay. 

In 1911, Wetmore reported this warbler as common at King 
Cove; he saw one west of Morzhovoi Bay, and he said that they 
were common at the east base of Frosty Peak. 

Family ICTERIDAE 

Eupbagus carolinus: Rusty Blackbird 

Osgood (1904) recorded several occurrences of the rusty black- 
bird at the base of Alaska Peninsula: A specimen taken near 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 237 

Keejik Village, Lake Clark, July 24; observations made near the 
headwaters of Chulitna River; and several seen at Ikwok Village, 
on Nushagak River, September 5. McKay obtained a specimen 
on Nushagak River and two at Lake Aleknagik. Osgood obtained 
2 specimens at Tyonek, Cook Inlet, and he mentions 2 others taken 
there by Bischoff. 

Friedmann (1935) records a specimen taken on Kodiak Island 
by Reichenow, October 22, 1906. Cahalane (1943) found the 
rusty blackbird to be abundant at Kodiak in the fall of 1940. 

Family FRINGILLIDAE 

Pinicola enucleator: Pine Grosbeak 
Pinicola enucleator alascensis 

The type specimen of the Alaska pine grosbeak (No. 86510, 
U. S. National Museum) was taken by McKay near Nushagak on 
June 9, 1881, and he obtained others on Nushagak River and 
Lake Aleknagik. Hanna obtained two specimens at Ahyoowaytha 
Creek and two on Kakwok River in 1912. We found the skeleton 
of a female at Snag Point, Nushagak River, on May 25, 1936. 

Pinicola enucleator flammula 

Specimens from Kodiak and other localities along the coast 
to Sitka were compared with a series from Bristol Bay and in- 
terior Alaska. The colors are confusing, but the coastal birds, 
including those from Kodiak, have larger bills. Thus we find 
still another subspecies on Kodiak that apparently has been de- 
rived from the southern Alaskan coast, rather than from the 
north. 

At least eight specimens from Kodiak were available for study, 
collected by Panshin, Ridgway, Osgood, and R. H. Beck. In 1940, 
Gabrielson noted the bird on Kodiak and Afognak Islands. Howell 
also observed this grosbeak on Kodiak, and, on June 9, 1944, he 
found a nest with three fresh eggs; he obtained a specimen on 
Kodiak, November 12, 1944. 

Leucosticte tephrocofis: Gray-crowned Rosy Finch 

For a proper understanding of the relationships of the rosy 
finches of the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak, and Aleutian Islands, it 
became necessary to examine, as a whole, the group occupying 
Alaska and the Bering Sea region. As a result of this study, the 
group appears more closely knit than previous taxonomic usage 



238 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

has indicated. There appears to be gradation from the smaller 
birds of the eastern and southeastern part of this territory to 
the large birds of the Aleutians and Commander Islands. The 
various forms should be included under the species tephrocotis. 
This parallels the series of song sparrows, which have shown a 
similar development. 

Leucosticte tephrocotis litforalis 

The rosy finches of Kodiak Island have been difficult to identify. 
Nelson had reported that both griseonucha and littoralis occur 
there together, and Friedmann (1935) listed both forms for 
Kodiak. Allen J. Duvall (to whom I am indebted for further 
comparisons with additional material after the initial study 
had been made) finds that Robert Ridgway had at first designated 
the Kodiak birds as a new form in his manuscript notes, but 
that later he changed his mind. In 1901, McGregor named the 
bird Leucosticte kadiaka and defined it as similar to L. 
griseonucha, but with a smaller bill and smaller, weaker feet 
and claws. Grinnell (1901) pointed out that five specimens from 
Kodiak in the collection of Leland Stanford University indicated 
that — 

an almost complete gradation between Leucosticte tephrocotis of the Sierra 
Nevada and griseonucha of the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands. Such being 
the case, then the latter form is a subspecies of tephrocotis, as long ago 
contended (L. tephrocotis var. griseonucha Coues Key, 1872, p. 130). 

It has been difficult to obtain breeding birds from Kodiak, 
and specimens from there may be migrants. Thus, it would seem 
that the kadiaka form must be assumed to be merely intergradation 
between the birds of the Aleutians farther west and littoralis 
farther east and south, and it is not included in the Fifth Edition 
of the A. 0. U. Check-List. 

Leucosticte tephrocotis littoralis is known to occur from White 
Pass, Yukon Territory, south to central Oregon. But a speci- 
men taken by Adolph Murie at Savage River, Mount McKinley 
National Park, September 2, 1923 (298055, U. S. National Mu- 
seum) , proved to be littoralis, thus extending its range consider- 
ably northward. In 1926, Joseph Dixon (1938, p. 121) obtained 
additional specimens there, which also proved to be littoralis. 
On May 28, 1955, Adolph Murie obtained another specimen of 
littoralis in Mount McKinley National Park. On the other hand, 
two specimens that I obtained at Bettles, Alaska, October 17, 
1924 (298085 and 298086, U. S. National Museum) are L. t. 
tephrocotis. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 239 

The specimens just referred to here suggest the following dis- 
tribution : L. t. tephrocotis is the more-inland form, occurring in 
eastern Alaska and extending its range chiefly along the Brooks 
Range ; littoralis is a coastal form, ranging through southeastern 
Alaska and occupying the more southern mountain ranges, in- 
cluding the Alaska Range, at least as far west as the Mount Mc- 
Kinley region ; and kadiaka is a form intermediate between 
littoralis and griseonucha, occupying the Kodiak-Afognak island 
group. The specimen from Nushagak suggests an influence from 
the Kodiak form, therefore we may assume that kadiaka also 
occurs on nearby parts of Alaska Peninsula. 

Leucosticte tephrocotis griseonucha 

Attu : Kohl-grhd-ghuch 

Qidgax and Ulugasix (Jochelson) 
Atka : Chd-nuh 

This well-known, large-sized rosy finch ranges throughout the 
Aleutian Islands and probably over a large part of Alaska Penin- 
sula. We found them to be common, and nesting, on Amak Island 
on May 31, 1936 (where I had also observed them in 1925), and 
we saw them among the alders at Chignik on May 15, and at 
Belkofski on May 17. Laing (1925) also observed them near 
Chignik, and, in 1911, Wetmore saw them with young at the 
east base of Frosty Peak and at Unga, in the Shumagins. Schef- 
fer noted them at Sanak Island in 1938. 

The distance that this form extends northeastward along the 
Alaska Peninsula is not known, but Gabrielson obtained four 
specimens on the Semidi Islands that are referable to griseonucha. 

For the most part, the Aleutian rosy finch is a beach bird, 
spending much of its time among the boulders and the coastal 
bluffs. But it also is found in the high interior of islands, es- 
pecially where lava beds are present. It is fond of feeding about 
buildings and trappers' huts. At Ikatan, Unimak Island, they 
were common about the cannery buildings, and, on Amchitka 
Island, these birds used some abandoned houses as roosting 
places, entering through broken windows. Sometimes a bird 
is trapped in this way, being unable to find the small hole through 
which it entered, and, of course, eventually starves. 

In July, on Amchitka Island, the rosy finches were found to be 
feeding on plant seeds, including those of Poa sp. and Alsine 
sitchana. 

Reporting on Adak Island, Taber says, "These birds were pres- 
ent throughout the winter, feeding on the heads of composites 
which projected above the snow. Even after the heaviest snow- 



240 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

storms, some dry vegetation always seemed to be exposed. The 
Rosy Finch flocks varied from 6 to about 30 individuals." 

In 1937, the first family of young on the wing was seen on 
Buldir Island on June 18, and another such family was seen on 
Little Kiska Island on June 22. 

Two other forms are of interest here. Leucosticte tephrocotis 
umbrina, from the Pribilof Islands (Murie 1944, p. 122), has 
become differentiated as a darker bird, about the same size as 
griseonucha, and L. t. maxima, the Commander Islands rosy finch, 
is the largest of the group. The bird of the Commander Islands 
is of the American type ; the nearest Siberian form, brunneinucha, 
from Kamchatka, is of an entirely different group. Thus, the 
rosy finches show a gradual increase in size north and west 
through the Aleutian district — culminating in the largest one 
being found on the Commander Islands (which is the farthest 
point reached to the west), and the darkest one being found on 
the Pribilof Islands. 

Acanthis hornemanni: Hoary Redpoll 
Acanthis hornemanni exilipes 

Chukchi: Kedliptschekadlin (Palmen) 

Osgood (1904) observed flocks of these birds at Nushagak and 
lower Nushagak River in September, and they were common at 
Becharof Lake, Kanatak, and Cold Bay during October. McKay 
and Johnson have collected specimens in breeding plumage in 
June and July at Nushagak, and Cahalane (1943) reports a 
group near the outlet of Katmai River on October 4, 1940. 

We did not see this bird. Wetmore, however, according to his 
field notes for 1911, heard a redpoll in the mountains west of 
Morzhovoi Bay on July 26, and he suspected that it may have 
been this species. He felt certain that it was not A. f. flammea. 

Stejneger (1885) lists this redpoll as a winter visitor in the 
Commander Islands. 

Acanthis flammea: Common Redpoll 
Acanthis flammea flammea 

Osgood (1904) found this redpoll to be common about Lake 
Iliamna and Lake Clark and the Chulitna River. McKay and 
Johnson have taken specimens at Nushagak, and Hine (1919) 
obtained specimens at Katmai Bay, where they began to appear 
about the middle of July. Gabrielson found several on the Kvichak 
River on July 23, and they were common at Iliamna Lake on 
July 24. We observed these birds at Snag Point, Nushagak River, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 241 

May 25 and 26, 1936. Redpolls also occur on Kodiak Island, ap- 
parently the year round according to the specimens recorded by 
Friedmann (1935). Howell (1948) observed them frequently 
on Kodiak, and, on June 19, he found a nest with four eggs in an 
alder bush. 

The common redpoll also is found far to the west. In June, 
1940, Gabrielson noted this bird at Chignik Bay, at Sand Point 
on Popof Island, and at Morzhovoi Bay. We noted them at Sand 
Point on August 26, 1936, and, on May 24, 1937, two or three 
were heard singing on Dolgoi Island. 

Arthur Neumann, a resident at Ikatan, Unimak Island, de- 
scribed a "small brown bird with pink head" that came to feed 
on crumbs he put out for birds. 

In May 1925, I found redpolls to be common on Unimak Is- 
land, in the alders back of False Pass, where the first flock were 
seen April 27. Late in May, redpolls were trilling and singing 
among the alder patches below Aghileen Pinnacles. 

Beals and Longworth found redpolls in flocks at False Pass in 
the winter and spring of 1941. Specific dates mentioned are: 
January 19, February 24, March 13 and 18, and May 2, 3, and 23. 
Flocks, which often were seen in alder thickets, numbered from 
10 to 60 birds. 

McGregor (1906) found redpolls nesting on Unalaska Island. 
We saw them on Unalaska on July 12, 1936, and Gabrielson saw 
them nesting on several occasions. Wetmore refers to one of 
these birds that Bent saw on Amaknak Island on June 7, 1911, 
and Turner (1886) records the species from Unalaska, adding 
that it does not occur west of that point. Probably they do not 
nest farther west, but, on July 28, 1937, we saw 2 redpolls on 
the beach of Ogliuga Island, and, on July 31, we saw 2 more 
on West Unalga Island. However, these may have been migrants. 
Gabrielson saw a flock of nine birds on Atka Island on January 
31, 1941. Taber saw a single redpoll on Adak Island on Decem- 
ber 16 and 30, 1945, and Sutton and Wilson (1946) record one 
on Attu on February 18, 1945. 

Stejneger (1885) mentions this species in the Commander Is- 
lands, but he thought that it probably does not nest there. 

Acanthis flammea holboell'ii 

This subspecies was taken by McKay and Johnson at Nushagak. 
We have no other records of it, but redpolls are not always 
readily identified, and it might be overlooked in mixed flocks un- 
less a good view is obtained. 



242 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Stejneger (1885) considers this to be a resident of the Com- 
mander Islands. 

Spinus pinus: Pine Siskin 
Spinus pinus pinus 

Apparently, the pine siskin occurs only sparingly at the base of 
Alaska Peninsula. Osgood (1904) obtained one at Iliamna Village, 
and he saw a few others there and on the Nogheling River. He 
saw a large flock at Tyonek and obtained three specimens from 
it, but he saw the bird nowhere else about Cook Inlet (1901). 

'Friedmann (1935) indicates that the pine siskin occurs regu- 
larly on Kodiak Island, and Beal obtained a specimen at Kodiak 
on March 16, 1947. Apparently, however, it is not abundant in 
this part of Alaska. 

It is interesting to note that on March 9, 1942, Gabrielson 
saw a group of about 15 birds, which he thought to be siskins, 
in a grove of spruce trees at Sand Point in the Shumagin Islands, 
and on April 20, 1943, Lieutenant Eddy, of the U. S. Navy, 
positively identified eight or ten siskins in the same spruce grove 
at Sand Point. 

Lox/'o curvirostra: Red Crossbill 
/.ox/a curvirosfra sitkensis 

This crossbill occurs on Kodiak Island, which probably is the 
western limit of its range. Friedmann (1935) records three 
specimens taken there by Bischoff on May 18 and June 13, 1868, 
which were the only records he could find. We observed a group 
of 12 crossbills feeding on spruce cones on Afognak Island, but 
positive identification of the species was not possible. 

Osgood (1901) mentions a specimen taken at Graham Harbor, 
in Cook Inlet, in 1892, by C. H. Townsend and B. W. Evermann. 

Loxia leucopfera: White-winged Crossbill 
Loxia leucopfera leucopfera 

This crossbill seems to be more common than sitkensis in this 
area. Osgood saw a few at Lake Clark and Iliamna (1904), and 
many specimens have come from Kodiak (Friedmann 1935). On 
June 15, 1940, Gabrielson obtained a specimen on Afognak Island. 
McKay got a specimen in January, 1883, on Mulchatna River, 
and Osgood (1901) found them to be common in Cook Inlet and 
obtained specimens at Hope. We did not observe these birds on 
our expeditions. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 243 

Passerculus sandwichensis: Savannah Sparrow 
Passerculus sandwichensis anthinus 

Examination of a fairly large series of specimens revealed that 
the birds of the Kodiak-Afognak group, Barren Islands, base of 
Alaska Peninsula, and Cook Inlet average smaller than P. s. sand- 
wichensis, and therefore they are referred to anthinus. The 
length of bill usually is 10 mm. instead of 11 mm. The bill of 
sandwichensis, on the other hand, rarely is less than 11 mm., and 
it often reaches 12 mm. in length, sometimes more. The length 
of wing averages less in anthinus. There is some overlapping of 
characters. 

Localities represented by specimens are Kodiak, Middleton 
Island, Barren Islands, Nushagak, Ugashik River, Chogiung, 
Kakwok, Lake Iliamna, Hooper Bay, and Hope and Tyonek in 
Cook Inlet. 

In June 1940, Gabrielson found Savannah sparrows to be com- 
mon at Amatuli, Barren Islands, Kodiak, Afognak, and Semidi 
Islands. Allen Duvall, who examined two immature specimens 
taken in the Semidis by Gabrielson on August 5, 1945, states 
that these are referable to anthinus on the basis of measure- 
ments, but that it is not certain that they had reached full develop- 
ment. There also is a specimen from Wide Bay, on the peninsula, 
that appears to be anthinus. 

There are some puzzling specimens. I took a specimen on May 
29, 1936, at Ugashik River (original No. 3536) that is larger 
than usual, however the beak is not so heavy as most sand- 
wichensis, and it seems referable to anthinus. 

On May 12 and 13, 1936, we heard Savannah sparrows singing 
on Kodiak and Afognak Islands. On May 10 and 11, a number 
of these birds were feeding on the gravel beach at Ushagat, 
Barren Islands, and specimens were obtained. On May 14, a 
Savannah sparrow passed our ship between Sutwik Island and 
Cape Kumlin ; it is possible that these were migrating. On May 2, 
near Yakutat, 1 of these sparrows had settled on our forward 
deck, and the first mate reported 2 other "sparrows" on the deck. 

Howell found them to be common on Kodiak. On June 9, 1944, 
he found a nest, containing 5 fresh eggs, in a swampy area at 
Middle Bay, and, on June 17, he found a nest with 4 half-incu- 
bated eggs in an open growth of grass and moss at an elevation 
of 1,500 feet. 

Under the heading of alaudinus [anthinus], Osgood (1904) 
says — 

Breeding abundantly on the treeless slopes and in the small grassy moun- 



244 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

tain valleys on the west side of Iliamna Pass, where one specimen was taken 
July 12. Seen in small numbers in open places in the vicinity of Iliamna 
Village and along the Nogheling River. None were seen about Lake Clark 
until August 7, when they suddenly appeared in considerable numbers near 
the mouth of the Chulitna River, not in the open swamps, but in scattering 
twos and threes in the thick willow brush, evidently preparing for migration. 
After this date none were seen. McKay and Johnson found the species breed- 
ing at Nushagak. 

Hine (1919) obtained specimens at Katmai Bay, June 22 and 
July 8, 1919, and found the species to be common there. 

We found these sparrows at Snag Point, Nushagak River, on 
May 25, 1936, and on May 27 and 29 they were common at 
Ugashik River, being the principal passerine bird in that locality. 

Presumably, the birds here recorded would all be anthinus. It 
is difficult to know where to place the line of demarcation on 
Alaska Peninsula between anthinus and sandwichensis , but the 
Wide Bay specimen suggests that anthinus extends at least that 
far southwest. 

Passerculus sandwichensis sandwichensis 
Unalaska: Saksagada (Wetmore) 

This is the largest of the Savannah sparrows, and it has the 
longest bill. In a large series from Unalaska, and many more 
from other localities, the bill measures from 11 to 12 mm. long — 
only five specimens in a series of more than 80 had a bill shorter 
than 11 mm. A few bills were as long as 13 to 13.5 mm. Length 
of wing, in this series, is also greater than that of anthinus. 
There are some, of course, that approach the intermediate status. 
One specimen (No. 298534, U. S. National Museum) from Izembek 
Bay has a fairly small bill, but it does not fit into the series of 
anthinus very well and has a long wing. Another specimen 
(No. 164927), from Stepovak Bay, has a bill that is 11.5 mm. long, 
with a slightly smaller body; this bird is larger than anthinus 
and should be placed with sandwichensis. Thus, the range of this 
subspecies extends eastward at least as far as Stepovak Bay, and, 
as there is a specimen of anthinus from Ugashik River, the meet- 
ing place for these two subspecies would comprise the area 
between Stepovak Bay and Ugashik River. 

On May 2, 1936, we found Savannah sparrows to be common at 
Yakutat. They seemed to be large and robust and could have been 
sandwichensis on westward migration. The bird occurs on Kodiak 
Island, where it is undoubtedly a migrant. Bischoff collected an 
immature bird on Kodiak Island in July 1868, and Bretherton 
obtained an adult in July 1893. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 245 

In 1941, Beals and Longworth noted the first Savannah spar- 
row at False Pass on May 1 ; they became abundant after this 
date. In 1925, I noted the first sparrow at Urilia Bay, Unimak 
Island, on May 7. They had become common at False Pass by 
May 13, 1925. 

Thus, the migration period can be limited to the first part of 
May. 

After May 13, 1925, Savannah sparrows became common in all 
the lowlands, including the grassy islands of Izembek Bay and 
the mountain valley to Aghileen Pinnacles. They were common 
on Amak Island, where young birds were on the wing by July 11, 
and, in late summer, they were noted on Amagat Island and at 
Ikatan. 

In 1936, we found them to be common on Unimak Island, 
Amak, Unalaska, Baby Islands, and Tangik Island, near Akun. 
In 1937, we saw a considerable number of them on Unalaska, and, 
on August 29, they were common on Sanak. On May 16, 1936, 
they were present on Nagai and Popof, in the Shumagins, where 
they were again observed on August 26. We took a specimen on 
Dolgoi, May 24, 1937. 

Gianini (1917) noted these birds at Stepovak Bay. In 1911, 
Wetmore found them to be common at Morzhovoi Bay, at King 
Cove, at Belkofski, and at the east base of Frosty Peak. 

In 1940, Gabrielson reported these birds to be common at 
Morzhovoi Bay, Akutan, Carlisle, and Amukta, and in following 
seasons he found them to be plentiful in numerous places through- 
out this area, including Uliaga, Kagamil, Yanaska, and Adak, 
but he saw none on Amchitka. 

McGregor (1906) found this species on Unalaska, Amaknak, 
Unalga, Tigalda, Unimak, Akutan, Akun, Egg, and Aektok Is- 
lands. He says, "The sandwich sparrow was abundant on every 
one of the Krenitzin Islands, and on most of them they fairly 
swarmed, outnumbering all other land birds combined." 

In 1936, we saw them on Ananiuliak (near Umnak Island), 
Kagamil, Uliaga, Chuginadak, and Carlisle. In 1937, we noted 
them on Ananiuliak and at Nikolski Village on Umnak. On Au- 
gust 22, they were common on Samalga Island, which is low and 
grassy, and we noted one on Herbert Island. 

Cahn writes of this sparrow on Unalaska, "Apparently ar- 
rives in numbers overnight; by late May (earliest date, May 20, 
1943) or early June they are suddenly everywhere among the 
tundra grasses, and in full song at once. During June, July and 
August they are extremely abundant and nest in the open tundra." 



246 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

In summary, the Aleutian Savannah sparrow is abundant and 
occupies the western part of Alaska Peninsula, the Fox Islands, 
Islands of the Four Mountains, and lias been seen as far west as 
Amukta, where Gabrielson collected a specimen on June 25, 1940, 
and on Adak, where he found many adults and young. 

Farther west, they are rare, and they were not seen on any of 
our expeditions; however, Turner (1886) reported that he saw 
a few at Atka Island in 1879 and a few on Attu in 1880. The 
Attu chief did not seem to know of the bird. 

Nesting 

McGregor (1906) obtained several sets of eggs that indicate 
the nesting period: A nest with 4 slightly incubated eggs was 
found on June 27 in Beaver Inlet; 5 slightly incubated eggs were 
found June 28 at English Bay; 5 moderately incubated eggs 
were collected on July 20 on Tigalda; a set of 4 eggs was found 
on July 28 on Akun ; and 2 females were collected on July 15 and 
16 at Dutch Harbor, each of which contained eggs. Some of 
these data suggest a second laying. 

Wetmore found a nest of five fresh eggs at Unalaska, June 9, 
1911. By July 7, apparently all the young had been hatched. 

When Savannah sparrows are flocking, they are prone to feed 
along the beaches. 

Junco hyemalis: Slate-colored Junco 
Junco hyemalis hyemalis 

Osgood (1904), writing of his expedition at the base of Alaska 
Peninsula, says, "Up to the second week in August j uncos were 
seen almost daily from Iliamna Village to the lower Chulitna 
River." 

They are not recorded from Nushagak. Osgood found this 
junco to be common at Hope and collected specimens there. We 
saw several of these birds at Seward on May 21, 1937, and 
Gabrielson found them on Kodiak in November and December. 

Junco oreganus: Oregon Junco 
Junco oreganus oreganus 

Turner (1886) reported that he obtained a specimen of the 
Oregon junco at Unalaska Island on April 8, 1879, but I could 
not find the specimen in the National Museum. Turner says 
further that he saw "numerous individuals" at Karluk, Kodiak 
Island, where they were hopping about the village. 

These identifications must be held in doubt. Miller (1941, p. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 247 

275) lists the western boundary for the Oregon junco as south- 
eastern Alaska; it is nonmigratory, and clings to the forest 
habitat. The nearest junco population is hy emails, from the base 
of Alaska Peninsula and Kenai Peninsula — we have no junco rec- 
ords west of this area. 

Spizella arborea: Tree Sparrow 

Spizella arborea ochracea 

Osgood (1904) found the tree sparrow to be common along his 
route through the base of Alaska Peninsula, and McKay collected 
specimens at Nushagak. Turner also (1886) observed the bird 
at Nushagak, and, on May 25, 1936, we obtained a specimen at 
Snag Point, Nushagak River. 

Cahalane (1944) reported that he saw the species at Big Creek 
on Naknek River, September 4, 1940, and near the outlet of 
Savanoski River on September 6. In the same year, Gabrielson 
found them to be common near Iliamna Lake on July 24. He 
obtained specimens at Iliamna Lake, at Dillingham, and at Nak- 
nek. On August 7, 1945, he noted the species at Wide Bay, and 
on August 17, 1946, he saw these birds at Pavlof. 

Zonotrichia leucophrys: White-crowned Sparrow 
Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii 

Osgood (1904) says — 

First seen on the portage between lakes Iliamna and Clark, where it was 
found in company with Z. coronata [atricapilla] July 18. Scattered indi- 
viduals were observed later about Lake Clark and along the Chulitna River. 
One specimen was taken and a few others were seen near Swan River August 
27. They were quite rare at this time, and the majority that breed in the 
region had doubtless migrated. One specimen was taken at Nushagak as 
late as September 18. Specimens were also taken at this locality by McKay 
June 6 to August 9, 1881. 

Howell (1948) found these birds on Kodiak "Common in the 
valleys and on the slopes of the mountains up to 1500 feet." On 
June 10, he found a nest, containing five well-incubated eggs, 
just below the snow line. On June 13, he found a nest with 4 
eggs, and, on June 19, he found a nest with 5 eggs at Bell's Flats. 

We obtained a specimen at Snag Point, Nushagak River, May 
25, and Williams saw a GambeFs sparrow at Sand Point, Popof 
Island, May 16. 

On July 19, 1925, near Moffet Cove, Izembek Bay, I saw a 
bright-plumaged male and heard another. These are the western- 
most records of this bird — though specimens were not taken, 



248 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

identification was almost certain. This was verified in July 1942, 
when Beals and Gabrielson obtained a specimen, and noted others, 
at Izembek Bay. 

Zonotrichia atricapilla: Golden-crowned Sparrow 

This fine-looking sparrow is perfectly at home throughout the 
length of Alaska Peninsula, on Unimak Island, and the Shumagins. 
There are many records of its occurrence. Osgood (1901) found 
it to be common around the village of Hope, and he saw it 
occasionally in the mountains nearby. On a later expedition, he 
found it to be very common about Iliamna Bay and Iliamna 
Village, and he saw a few at Lake Clark, which he considered to 
be as far as these birds go into the interior (1904). He men- 
tions the fact that these birds are erratic in migration, strag- 
gling along irregularly. He refers to one of these stragglers 
which was taken by McKay and Johnson at Nushagak on Novem- 
ber 5. 

Cahalane (1944) observed a flock of these sparrows in the 
lower Ukak River Valley, September 11, 1940, and Hine (1919) 
evidently found them to be common in the general region of 
Katmai National Monument. 

The golden-crowned sparrow is a common nesting bird on 
Kodiak Island, where Friedmann (1935) has obtained many 
specimens. In the summer of 1940, Gabrielson noted the species 
on the Barren Islands, Kodiak Island, Afognak Island, Semidi 
Islands, at Chignik Bay, and Dillingham, and he took several 
specimens. Later, he saw this bird at Umnak, the Shumagins, and 
other peninsula localities. 

Gianini (1917) found them to be fairly common at Stepovak 
Bay, remarking that he heard them first on May 28. In 1911, 
Wetmore observed them at the east base of Frosty Peak, King 
Cove, and in the mountains west of Morzhovoi Bay. 

On the 1936 expedition, we noted this sparrow at Yakutat, 
May 2 ; at Ushagat (Barren Islands) , May 10 ; at Kodiak, May 12 ; 
at Chignik, May 14 ; at Nagai and Popof Islands, Shumagins, May 
16 (again on Popof Island, August 26) ; and we saw several at 
Snag Point, Nushagak River, May 25 and 26. A sparrow was 
heard singing on Amak Island, May 31, and Williams secured 
a specimen there. In 1937, we saw this bird at Seward, May 21, 
and on May 24 they were common, singing and evidently nest- 
ing, on Dolgoi Island, west of the Shumagins. 

In 1925, I observed this sparrow about the west end of Alaska 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 249 

Peninsula and Unimak Island. My field studies were summarized 
in a report, as follows: 

May 22, near Moffet Cove on Izembek Bay, I heard the first golden- 
crowned sparrow. Next day there were many. [In 1941, Beals and Long- 
worth reported the first ones at False Pass on May 5.] They were common 
among the alders, as far as these bushes grow up the valley toward Aghileen 
Pinnacles. They were noted in the alder patches at the base of Frosty Peak, 
at False Pass, and Ikatan. While not as numerous as some other sparrows, 
the golden-crown nests commonly throughout the region covered, though 
local range is naturally governed by the boundaries of the alder patches, 
which are by no means universally distributed. This statement, however, 
must be subject to some exceptions, for on July 10 and 11 three males were 
singing and on July 15 a specimen was taken on Amak Island, where there 
are no alders and the largest form of vegetation is the cow parsnip. 

On one occasion I heard a distinct variation of the song. Instead of three 
notes in decending scale, the usual second and third notes were reversed. 
It was the normal song for this bird, as I heard it day after day in the same 
clump of alders near camp. 

Passerella iliaca: Fox Sparrow 
Passerella iliaca zaboria 

The fox sparrows of this region present an interesting distri- 
butional pattern. At the base of Alaska Peninsula there are a 
number of specimens of typical zaboria. G. D. Hanna collected 
three specimens in May and June 1911, at Nushagak (Nos. 
231281, 231282, and 231283, U. S. National Museum). He also 
obtained an immature male at Kakwok, August 19, 1911 (No. 
239707). There is another taken at Nushagak on June 20, 1881 
(No. 86535). And on May 26, 1936, I obtained a specimen on the 
Nushagak River, at Snag Point (original No. 3528). Osgood 
also mentions a specimen taken at Nushagak, by McKay, June 6, 
1881, which I have not examined. Furthermore, on July 17, 1940, 
Gabrielson recorded several eastern-type fox sparrows at Dilling- 
ham (with one specimen) and, the next day, he saw several at 
Wood River Lakes. 

At any rate, the birds occupying the base of Alaska Peninsula, 
in the Nushagak district, apparently are typical zaboria from 
the interior Alaska fox-sparrow population, which has found 
here an outlet to the southwest coast of Alaska. 

Here, too, it has come in contact with another fox sparrow 
population — the unalaschcensis group. There are several interest- 
ing specimens that have intermediate characters — two immature 
birds, (Nos. 239705 and 239706, U. S. National Museum), taken 
by Hanna at Kakwok, and another (No. 110105) taken by J. W. 
Johnson in this general area, July 14, 1885. The streaking on the 



250 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

back, so characteristic of iliaca and almost absent in unalasch- 
censis or insularis, is much subdued and clouded over by the 
duskiness of the coloration. The spotting on the breast is slightly 
bicolored, as in iliaca, but it is more like that in unalaschcensis. 
Osgood (1904) evidently referred to one of these specimens, the 
adult taken by Johnson, and described it as "intermediate in 
character between iliaca and unalaschcensis, but nearer to iliaca." 
Swarth (1920), in his revision of this genus, properly recog- 
nized three fox sparrow groups, the iliaca group, the unalasch- 
censis group, and the schistacea group. He considered all these 
to be subspecifically related, but this relationship is complex, and 
not entirely clear. In the same general area occupied by the 
iliaca group, as mentioned above, there are typical specimens 
of the unalaschcensis group. Osgood (1904) reported — 

One specimen was taken and several were seen in the mountains near Iliamna 
Bay July 12; two others, one adult and one immature bird, were taken at 
Iliamna Village July 14; and another young bird was taken on Lake Iliamna 
at the Nogheling portage July 18. These agree well with birds from the 
Shumagin Islands and localities to the westward on the Alaska Peninsula . . . 
A specimen of typcial unalaschcensis in fresh fall plumage was taken at 
Nushagak September 19; another, which is not quite typical, but easily 
referable to unalaschcensis, was taken at the same locality by J. W. Johnson 
October 22, 1884. 

The last two specimens just mentioned may have been fall 
migrants, though they were north of the known breeding range, 
rather than south of it. But omitting these as possible breeding 
birds, there is hardly room for an area of intergradation between 
the known breeding ranges of these two well-marked forms. As 
Osgood suggested many years ago, there does not appear to be 
gradual intergradation here. The intermediate specimens de- 
scribed above show the abrupt mixtures found in hybrids. 

Apparently, altivagans is the form in which we may look for 
complete intergradation with typical iliaca. Specimens of alti- 
vagans available for this study did not show complete intergrada- 
tion. Presumably this may take place somewhere in Alberta. 
On the whole, on the basis of material that is available at pres- 
ent, iliaca seems to be a species apart, although it may be proper 
to assume intergradation with altivagans somewhere in Canadian 
territory. Therefore, granting subspecific status, iliaca is an ex- 
ample of a subspecies that intergrades with another subspecies 
at one part of its range and becomes a species, with hybrids, 
where it meets another subspecies of the same group, as at the 
base of Alaska Peninsula. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 251 

Passerella iliaca unalaschcensis 

The three subspecies of the unalaschcensis group that are in- 
volved in the present study are unalaschcensis, insularis, and 
sinuosa. Minute examination of material available, which was 
strictly segregated into seasonal lots, brought out general differ- 
ences as follows : All are brown in general coloration, but unalasch- 
censis is the palest and grayest of the three. Insularis averages 
browner, sometimes with a slight olivaceous trend, and often 
is a markedly richer brown. Sinuosa is the darkest; in some 
seasons it is a deeper, "ruddier," brown, sometimes merely more 
dusky. Probably the chief distinction of sinuosa is the darker, 
or duskier, quality. These forms are very close and are very 
difficult to distinguish, especially the difference between insularis 
and sinuosa. Incidentally, in some instances it was found that 
worn July specimens could not be assigned with certainty. Au- 
gust specimens, with their fresh plumage, were very satisfactory, 
but they were not comparable with spring specimens. Further- 
more, it was found that considerable change takes place in the 
plumage during the spring from April through June, and ap- 
parently this change is much greater than the change that takes 
place throughout the entire winter period. It was only by a 
faithful adherence to seasonal segregation of specimens that 
reasonable identification could be made. 

The Shumagin fox sparrow, as stated above, is characterized 
by a grayer coloration, and some specimens from Unimak Island 
show this to a remarkable degree. In fact, fox sparrows from 
Unimak seem to be slightly different from fox sparrows in the 
Shumagins and the Peninsula. However, this extreme grayish 
character is not entirely consistent even among Unimak Island 
specimens, and it is possible that there is a slight dichromatism 
in this group. At least, there is variation. 

We heard fox sparrows singing at Chignik, May 14, 1936, and 
on May 16, we saw them in the Shumagins on Unga, Nagai 
(abundant), and Popof (common). Specimens were taken. In 
August, they were very common in the alders at False Pass. On 
May 24, 1937, we saw several and collected two on Dolgoi Island. 

Gianini (1917) saw a few at Stepovak Bay. In 1911, Wetmore 
saw them in the mountains west of Morzhovoi Bay, and he 
found them nesting commonly at King Cove and at the east 
base of Frosty Peak. In 1940, Gabrielson saw the birds on the 
Semidis, Chignik Bay, and at Sand Point in the Shumagins. 

There is an important specimen in the collection of the Museum 
of Vertebrate Zoology, at Berkeley, Calif., which is an adult male 



252 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

taken by C. L. Hall at Unalaska, June 4, 1894. It is almost as 
gray as the specimens from Unimak Island, though the tail is 
slightly more rufescent. Speaking of this specimen, Grinnell 
(1910) says- 
No Fox Sparrow has been previously secured from Unalaska 'unless the 
Aoonalashka Bunting of Latham really came from there' (Ridgway, Birds 
of North and Middle America, Vol. I, 1901, p. 389). So that the present 
specimen assumes a decided importance. This bird bears out all the char- 
acters of the race called unalaschce?isis, as defined by Ridgway, and doubt- 
less indicates the western limit of the range of that form. 

In view of these uncertainties, Calm (1947) makes an impor- 
tant contribution when he reports, for Unalaska Island ''One 
was seen on June 5, 1944, at the foot of Mt. Ballyhoo." 

The 1931 Check List gives Unalaska as part of the nesting 
range of the Shumagin fox sparrow, and the two records men- 
tioned above may have been nesting birds. Yet, Harrold (Swarth 
1934) says- 
No fox sparrows were found on Akutan Island. The only cover consists of 
salmon-berry canes and a few stunted willows here and there, of an average 
height of about 18 inches. Unalaska, although having slightly larger bushes, 
was just as unfavorable, and none of this species was seen there either. 

Apparently, the fox sparrow has occurred only sporadically on 
Unalaska, and actual nesting has not been established. It is 
interesting to note that a specimen was obtained by Hanna on 
St. Paul, Pribilofs, May 20, 1919 (which is in the breeding sea- 
son) and an immature male was taken by Harrold on Nunivak 
Island on September 9. 

So far as is known, Unimak Island marks the western limit of 
the breeding range of the Shumagin fox sparrow, as well as the 
western limit of a habitat that is typical and fully occupied. If 
the unique record from Unalaska was a breeding bird, it prob- 
ably was an accidental occurrence. The regular breeding range 
extends eastward at least as far as the Shumagins and the Alaska 
Peninsula opposite these islands. Still farther eastward, on por- 
tions of the peninsula from which we do not now have specimens, 
this subspecies must merge so thoroughly with insularis that it 
would be impractical to separate them. 

There are two specimens in the National Museum (Nos. 105767 
and 184003) that are hard to identify. They are from Nushagak, 
taken on October 22, 1884, and on September 19, 1902, and may 
have been migrants. These specimens appear to be unalaschcensis. 
(Since these studies were made, Gabrielson has obtained many 
specimens from Alaska Peninsula, which have not been compared 
with the series here discussed.) 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 253 
Nesting 

The following is quoted from my field report for 1925 : 

On returning to False Pass from Urilia Bay I found the fox sparrow 
plentiful among the alders. May 13 they were singing everywhere. They 
are common both on Unimak and the Peninsula, among the alders. Two 
nests were found in the valley below Aghileen Pinnacles, June 2, constructed 
as follows: 

No. 1. Outer structure of old brown coarse vegetation, mostly grass ; inner 
structure of fine dry grass, a little porcupine hair, and a few feathers. Sunk 
in the ground on the side of a little bank, in moss, completely screened by 
salmonberry stems and grass, 6 feet from edge of alder patch. Outside 
diameter 140 mm.; inside diameter 70 mm.; depth 68 mm.; five eggs. 

No. 2. Outer structure of dead grass, inner structure finer grass, with 
a few feathers, the whole sunk evenly in the ground under some large over- 
hanging alder stems. Ferns were just emerging near rim. Outside diameter 
100 mm., inside diameter 70 mm., depth 47 mm.; five eggs. 

Passerella iliaca insularis 

This is the bird of the Kodiak-Afognak Island group, though 
specimens have been taken elsewhere. It undoubtedly occurs on 
adjacent parts of Alaska Peninsula and nearby islands, though 
the limits of its breeding range are unknown. There are two 
specimens taken by Osgood at Lake Iliamna on July 12 and July 
14, 1902. These are intermediate in character, but probably 
should be called insularis. Furthermore, two others taken by Os- 
good at Hope, in Cook Inlet, also appear referable to insularis. 
We obtained two specimens on the Barren Islands on May 10 and 
11, 1936, that are referable to insularis in comparable plumage. 
I have not examined a specimen taken by Hine in Katmai River 
Valley, July 9, 1919, and I have not examined specimens from 
the Semidi Islands, which also are available. 

In summary, insularis is the fox sparrow of the Kodiak-Afog- 
nak Islands, Barren Islands, and (according to a few available 
specimens) the adjacent parts of Alaska Peninsula. Probably 
it extends eastward for an unknown distance to merge with 
sinuosa, and westward to the range of unalaschcensis. 

We observed many of these birds, singing, on May 12, 1936, 
on Kodiak Island, and on the next day on Deranof Island near 
Afognak; we saw them on Afognak on September 2. Gabriel- 
son noted the birds on Kodiak and Afognak in June 1940, and on 
that occasion he thought that it was the most abundant bird on 
Afognak. 



25 1 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Melospiza lincolnii: Lincoln's Sparrow 
Melospiza lincolnii lincolnii 

Birds observed in the Cook [nle1 region b\ Osgood evidently 
were considered to be the typical form, for he says (1001), 

An adult male was taken at Hope August 28, and a few others were seen 
while we were there. The Bpecimen taken shows none of the characters 
attributed to Melospiza lincolni striata [gracilis], 

On July 27, 1940, Gabrielson collected a Lincoln's sparrow at 
the upper end of [liamna Lake, the only record we have for 

the base of Alaska Peninsula. 

Melospiza melodia: Song Sparrow 
Attu: Chu-gu-chigh 
Atka: Chig"-wiach 

The song sparrows occupy the Aleutian district (as here 

defined) from Attn Island to Kodiak. Gabrielson and Lincoln 

(1951), who reviewed the Alaskan song sparrows, have char- 
acterized them as follows, to state the matter very briefly. 

Melospiia melodia maxima 

Described as a new form, differing from stoniku in being 
browner, with a larger beak. Range extends from Atka to Attn. 

Melospiza melodia sanaka 

Grayer in color. Range extends from Seguam Island, in the 
Aleutians, eastward to Stepovak K:i\ on Alaska Peninsula and 
to the Somidi Islands, including other islands south of the western 
part of the peninsula (Sanak, Shumagins, and many others). 

Melospiza melodia amaka 

This is a new race, described by Gabrielson and Lincoln — 

Resembles max ima from the western Aleutians in color and extensive brown 
markings, but somewhat more heavily marked with brown than that race 
both on back and breast; in most available specimens the brown markings 

also somewhat brighter. Closer in color to maxima than to the geographically 
closer race r,a aahii. Hill short, and stubby as in :;anal:a. Range, routined to 
Amak Island, a rocky island north of the west end of Alaska Peninsula some 
15 miles. 

A distinct subspecies that is confined to a single island, such 
as Amak, may seem incongruous when one considers the exten- 
sive ranges of the other forms. However, Amak is somewhat 



K VI \ V OF Hit' VI V\ P| VN 1S1 \Mv; V\P VI VNK V PI'MNSI 1 V 






mxa 





I i.. i i.i 1 1 V i.mii inn pii i ,.u 



more Isolated from other song sparrow range than is suggested 
bj the ihori distance from the mainland The adjacent mainland 
is not iong sparrow habitat Quoting from im rtcld report foi 
1926 — 

In y,x'\w\ :il. III,' ■,.<iu- r > i i . > \\ 0C0U1 0J1 iht Paclftl lidf ''I th< IVnm ul.i 

and Untmak and <i<> not oeeui on the Barini • i Ida, which la dua to the 
topography of tha eountrj Tha Barini S< i ' • ara lo^ and landy, while 
tha Pacific lida, with deepei water, |* rocky, with bouldai itrewn beach< 
the «-ii«".«-u habitat of thli bird ^n exception li \m;ik [aland, a i m-.-. ,i inland 

m Imi mi-. Son. 

^f €"/ov/>( ;,t mr/oi/f'o m\i.;/n\ 

Tins bird la lomewhat imallei and darkei than mnnkn "with 
:i soot) wash that noticeably obscures the markings and tends to 
make the color more uniform " But It is paler and grayei than 
the next pace (<> the east Its range Is the Kodiak Afognak Island 
group, Barren islands, and generally the adjacent base ol Uaska 
Peninsula There Is a lonji gap to Stepovak Baj ii<>m which 
specimens ha\ e not been taken 

Upon arrival in the Aleutian district, ona is Impressed with fix 1 
large lite and tha habitat of these sparrows, Thej ara largely 



256 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 6 1 , FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

littoral, living in boulders or on cliffs, although they ascend into 
grassy areas to nest. Here, as elsewhere, the song sparrow 
seems to delight in finding a mass of driftwood, which it substi- 
tutes for the brush heaps of interior country in the south. 

Song sparrows often frequent buildings, especially unused 
barabaras or huts. In a cabin on Herbert Island, August 22, 1936, 
Scheffer found 30 dead adult and immature song sparrows, to- 
gether with several individuals of other species. Evidently, they 
had entered by a small opening and failed to find a way out. 
On Segula Island, I found a dead immature song sparrow float- 
ing in a keg of water at a trapper's cabin. 

On Kasatochi Island, a song sparrow was seen within the 
crater rim, which rises about 1,000 feet above the beach. How- 
ever, the inner walls of the crater descend abruptly to a crater 
lake, far below, creating an aspect of a sloping cliff above water, 
as on the seashore. 

These sparrows nest in the grass on slopes adjacent to the 
beach. We found a nest at East Anchor Cove, Unimak Island, 
May 19, 1936. It was in ryegrass on a slope a considerable dis- 
tance from the beach. The nest was tucked away under a mass 
of dead grass and was made of fine, smooth, nicely bleached grass 
stems. There were three downy young. 

A similar nest, in a similar situation, but abandoned, was 
found on Unimak Island, June 7, 1936. On Kiska, June 5, 1937, 
Steenis found a nest containing three eggs. It was placed deep 
in the vegetation and was built of fine grass stems. Incidentally, 
on that same day, Douglas Gray reported a curious perform- 
ance — a song sparrow followed him along the beach for about 
a mile. 

Cahn (1947) reports that the song sparrow was abundant at 
Unalaska Island from April 7 to September 22, 1945. He found 
that the young left the nest by early July ; a second nesting was 
suggested by observing a nest with newly hatched young on 
August 8, 1945. 

Although there may be local movements due to the approach 
of winter, the song sparrows of the Aleutian district are perma- 
nent residents. Cahn reports them to be absent in winter in the 
Dutch Harbor area, but Taber found them all winter on Adak, 
and Sutton and Wilson (1946) found them in winter on Attu. 
As this sparrow evidently finds its food on the beach at the tide's 
edge, subsistence is possible year round where the sea never 
freezes and where the ebb and flow of tide is dependable. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 257 

Calcarius lapponicus: Lapland Longspur 

Calcarius lapponicus clascensis 
Attu : Chir-loch 
Atka: Chi-loch 

Unalaska: Chelookh (Wetmore) 
Commander Islands: Tschelutschjek (Stejneger) 
Chukchi: Tumkup (Palmen) 

This is one of the most common passerine birds throughout 
the Aleutian chain, the Alaska Peninsula, and adjacent islands, 
and it also occurs on Nunivak Island and the Pribilofs. The 
Alaska longspurs probably inhabit every island in this district 
at some time of the year. Furthermore, this bird has a well- 
distributed habitat, ranging from the beach line to the upper 
mountain sides and lava beds, although it evidently prefers 
grassy flats and slopes. We saw them on the flat lowlands at 
Ugashik River, on the sand dunes at Urilia Bay, as well as on 
the' slopes of such islands as Amak, Ananiuliak, and Uliaga. 

The Attu chief stated that longspurs leave Attu in August and 
return early in April. This is fairly well verified by Beals and 
Longworth, who reported in 1941 that the first longspur was 
seen on Unimak Island on April 16. They further stated that 
none were seen when they returned to the island, August 31. 
We noted longspurs on Sanak Island as late as August 28. 

In 1925, I had an opportunity to note the progress of the nest- 
ing season at Unimak Island and Alaska Peninsula. The first 
longspurs, two small groups, appeared among the sand dunes at 
Urilia Bay on April 30. A few were seen each day afterward; 
they were heard singing on May 3 ; they were common and were 
heard singing on May 5; and they were numerous on May 8. 
On May 1 6, they were noted as common at False Pass ; they were 
common at St. Catherine Cove on May 17; and were common on 
May 28 at Izembek Bay. On June 14, a nest of four eggs was 
found on Hazen Point, Izembek Bay, and, the following day, a 
number of specimens were taken. The females of this group of 
specimens had brood patches, which were absent on the males. 

On June 18, 1936, we found a nest on Seguam Island. It was 
sunk in the vegetation and was built of. fine dried grass stems 
with few longspur feathers. There were four young, with yellow 
down. 

On May 24, 1937, longspurs were common on Dolgoi Island ; 
they were singing, and some of them evidently were nesting. On 
June 1, they were very active, singing, on Atka Island — this 
probably was at the height of the nesting period. On June 22, I 
found a nest with 5 eggs in a clump of anemones on Little Kiska 



258 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND W4LDLIFE SERVICE 

Island, and Steenis found another nest with 4 eggs. Apparently, 
the male sings throughout the entire nesting period. 

In 1936, young birds on the wing were seen as early as July 2. 
On July 11, 1937, four or five young birds were seen flying about 
on Amchitka Island. On August 22, Scheffer found 2 dead long- 
spurs in a cabin on Herbert Island, together with 30 dead song 
sparrows. 

The Alaska longspur is lighter in color than typical lapponicus. 
Concerning the birds of the western Aleutians, Ridgway says 
(1901), "The great contrast in coloration is just as marked be- 
tween specimens from the extreme western Aleutian Islands 
(Atka, Adak, and Attu) and the extremely dark form (C. I. 
coloratus) of the Commander Islands as between the latter and 
specimens from the Pribilofs and Unalaska." 

Plectrophenax nivalis: Snow Bunting 
Plectrophenax nivalis nivalis 

It is probable that some eastern snow buntings winter in the 
Aleutian district. According to Ridgway (1901), this form 
winters at Unalaska, the Shumagins, and at other points in south- 
eastern Alaska. Osgood (1904) reports — 

One specimen was taken on the beach at Nushagak, September 20, and 
another was seen in company with it. A small flock was seen on Becharof 
Lake, October 6, and a few more were seen in the mountains between Bech- 
arof Lake and Kanatak. Numerous specimens were taken at Nushagak by 
McKay and Johnson. Most of these are winter birds, but at least one (No. 
110128) is in full nupital plumage. It was taken July 3, 1886, which would 
indicate its breeding in the vicinity. It also breeds at Cold Bay, where Mad- 
dren found it nesting in high rocky cliffs in the summer of 1903. 

Hine (1919), and other members of the 1919 expedition of the 
National Geographic Society noted snow buntings on mountain 
tops of the Katmai region and in Katmai Canyon. A pair were 
noted, singing, in upper Mageik Creek. These observations indi- 
cate nesting. 

Specimens from Kodiak have been taken in the migration pe- 
riod, but Turner (1886) states that he saw these birds "at Kodiak 
in the early part of August, 1881. At the latter place young birds 
of the season were abundant." On June 18, 1940, Gabrielson 
noted snow buntings on the Semidi Islands. 

Howell (1948), reporting for 1944, says of the snow bunting 
on Kodiak Island — 

Seen only on the top of a mountain near Bell's Flats. Here ten were seen 
on June 25. They were above the snow line near the crest of the mountain 
at an elevation of about 2500 feet. Numerous bare areas in the extensive 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 259 

snow fields were overgrown by low grass. In one of these a nest was found 
which contained five young three days old. The nest was in a crevice in 
some rocks that was too small to admit my hand until some overhanging 
moss was removed. 

Thus, we know that the eastern snow bunting nests in suitable 
places on Kodiak Island and at the base of Alaska Peninsula, 
westward as far as Becharof Lake, and probably in the Semidis. 
It may be assumed that nivalis intergrades with toivnsendi some- 
where on Alaska Peninsula. 

Plectrophenax nivalis townsendi 

Attu: K6-ka-noch 

Atka: Math'-a-wach 

Unalaska: Masnikh (Wetmore) 

.Russian, Commander Islands :Sniegirok, plu. Snegirki (Stejneger) 

Russian: Snegir (Zitkow, Birula) or Seryi Snegir (Tolstow) 

Chukchi: Ptochekadlin (Palmen) 

This snow bunting nests throughout the Aleutian Islands, pre- 
ferring the high, rocky terrain. We considered it likely that snow 
buntings inhabited most of these islands. 

Turner (1886) observed snow buntings at Belkofski in July 
1881, and Gianini (1917) found snow buntings in the mountains 
at Stepovak Bay. In 1911, Wetmore found the birds to be com- 
mon in the mountains near Morzhovoi Bay. Without question, 
snow buntings nest in the high country throughout Alaska Penin- 
sula. Somewhere along this Aleutian Range, probably well to the 
east, townsendi must intergrade with nivalis. Of course, town- 
sendi is known to nest also on Nunivak, the Pribilofs, the 
Shumagins, the Commanders, and the Bering Sea coast of Siberia. 

In 1925, I observed snow buntings at King Cove on April 25, 
and on April 26 and 27 I saw more of these birds at False Pass. 
Subspecific identification was not made in these instances, but, 
later, the birds were found on the nesting grounds and were 
identified as townsendi. On May 4, a male was heard singing 
among the lava beds near Urilia Bay, Unimak Island, where 
they were common. Soon, their songs were ringing everywhere 
in the rugged lava. Later, they were found among the high rocks 
at False Pass ; at the head of the valley near Aghileen Pinnacles ; 
on the rocky slopes of Frosty Peak ; on Amak Island ; and on 
Ikatan Peninsula. Immature birds were flying about on Amak 
Island on July 11. On August 10, at Ikatan, a family of young 
birds on the beach was observed learning to fly. 

In 1941, Beals and Longworth found snow buntings on Unimak 
Island all winter. 



260 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

In the Aleutians, the snow bunting is found from the shore- 
line to the high mountains, but it seems to prefer the mountains. 

The nest of the snow bunting may be placed among lava rocks, 
in crevices or cliffs, or under a ledge of a rock on fairly level 
terrain. On June 4, 1937, Douglas Gray found a nest with three 
eggs under an overhanging rock on Kiska Island. 

On June 12, 1937, on Agattu Island, I found two nests. One 
was in the form of a deep grassy cup, with a few feathers worked 
in, placed under a ledge of a flat rock on fairly level ground. It 
contained four eggs. 

The other nest was located under an overhanging boulder, and 
it had feathers of a forked-tailed petrel woven into the structure. 
This nest also contained four eggs. 

On June 14, also on Agattu Island, a similar nest made of grass 
was found in a hollow under a flat rock. There were four eggs. 

According to the Attu chief, the snow bunting is a permanent 
resident in the Near Islands. 

Plectrophenax hyperboreus: McKay's Bunting 

This species nests only on Hall and St. Matthew Islands, but it 
occurs in migration in the Aleutian district. Nelson (1887) de- 
scribes a bird of this species taken at Unalaska in January, and 
several specimens were taken at Nushagak Bay by McKay and 
Johnson. Without doubt, this bird is quite common on Alaska 
Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands in winter. 

Emberiia rusfica: Rustic Bunting 
Emberiia rusfica latifascia 

The only record of this species for North America is a small 
series of skins obtained on Kiska Island in June 1911 by Wetmore 
and F. B. McKechnie. On June 17, Wetmore found a dead bird, 
which was estimated to have been dead about a month, and an- 
other dead bird was found by McKechnie. In his field notes, 
Wetmore says further — 

On June 19, while making the rounds of my traps, I flushed a small bird 
that flew up with a faint tsip, and dove immediately into the grass along a 
creek. The flight was quick and with an up and down motion, and the bird 
showed two white outer tail feathers. I flushed it again after some tramping, 
and shot it on the wing, and found it a fine specimen of the bird found on 
the seventeenth. A hundred yards further I flushed another on a grassy 
slope, and missed it the first time. When it got up again I shot it, but the 
wind carried it so that I was not able to find it, though I searched carefully. 
No others could be found. The one taken was a female, in fine plumage, but 
exceedingly fat. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 261 

Apparently, these birds represented a straggling group that 
had landed on Kiska Island. On our visits to Kiska Island in 1937 
we spent considerable time on lowlands and uplands, but we 
did not encounter this species. 



M 



ammals 



Family SORICIDAE 

Sorex cinereus: Cinereous Shrew 
Sorex cinereus hollisteri 

This western Alaska form of cinereus is distributed throughout 
the length of Alaska Peninsula arid on Unimak Island. A mummi- 
fied specimen from Tigalda Island, obtained by Stevenson in April 
1925, marks the westernmost record of this shrew. 

More than 200 specimens have been collected, chiefly in the 
district here under discussion. We have specimens from the basal 
parts of Alaska Peninsula and adjacent territory, including such 
localities as Nushagak, Kakwok, Lake Aleknagik, Lake Clark, 
Iliamna Lake, Katmai, and Becharof Lake. There are specimens 
from Port Moller, Cold Bay, Chignik, King Cove, Frosty Peak, 
Izembek Bay, and Unimak Island, but we have no specimens 
from Kodiak-Afognak Islands, the Shumagins, or other outlying 
islands. 

In 1925, I found these shrews to be abundant at Izembek Bay, 
and I obtained specimens at Urilia Bay, St. Catherine Cove, and 
False Pass on Unimak Island. They were found in the grassy 
margin of ponds as well as on the higher tundra. On May 5, 
1925, as Donald Stevenson and I came upon a high grassy flat 
above a lagoon at Urilia Bay, we heard a faint squeaking in the 
grass and caught glimpses of shrews darting here and there. To 
quote from my notes : 

I imitated the squeaks, and presently a shrew came bobbing over the grass 
right up to me and I pounced on him. Soon another came along in response 
to my squeaking, but disappeared in a tuft of grass. Then a third came up 
and I caught him. Stevenson caught another and we missed several. These 
shrews came from a distance of 20 to 25 feet. Those caught (original Nos. 
1979, 1980 and 1981) were all males, with enlarged testes. They probably 
responded to the squeaking in the spirit of battle with another male, or 
perhaps with the expectation of finding a female. 

Stevenson trapped two females at Izembek Bay; one had 11 
embryos, and the other had 8. 

262 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 263 

Sorex tundrensis: Tundra Saddle-backed Shrew 

This well-marked shrew is represented by specimens from 
Nushagak, Kakwok, Lake Weelooluk, and Lake Aleknagik. Robert 
T. Orr (1939, p. 251) records a more-recent specimen taken by 
Dallas Hanna in 1937 at Wide Bay, which is the farthest west 
that this animal has been recorded. Lack of other specimens 
suggests a limited distribution farther west on the peninsula. 

Sorex hydrodromus: Unalaska Saddle-backed Shrew 

In view of the uncertainties concerning the Unalaska saddle- 
backed shrew (the only known specimen is in Russia), every 
effort was made to obtain specimens, but without success. Our 
stops at Unalaska were necessarily brief, and no shrews of any 
kind were found. 

In 1911, Wetmore was told by the natives that shrews were 
present on Unalaska Island, but no specimens were taken. 

Donald Stevenson, who spent 5 years in the Aleutians from 
1920 to 1925, had reports of shrews on Unalaska, but he got no 
specimens. 

Therefore, the original specimen and description are all we have 
on this species. In 1937, E. Raymond Hall had an opportunity to 
examine the original specimen in the Zoological Institute of the 
Academy of Sciences in Leningrad. He has kindly furnished a 
copy of his notes, which are here quoted in full. 

ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE INDICATING THAT 
SOREX HYDRODROMUS DOBSON IS A MEMBER OF THE SOREX 

ARCTICUS GROUP OF SHREWS 

Sorex hydrodromus Dobson from Unalaska Island, Aleutian Islands, 
Alaska, was diagnosed in the original description (Annals and Mag. Nat. 
Hist., sei\ 6; vol. 4 p. 373, November 1889) as resembling Sorex vulgaris of 
the Old World in dental characters but resembling Neosorex in possessing 
swimming fringes on the digits. Jackson, who was unable to examine the 
type specimen or topotypes, in his "A Taxonomic review of the American 
long-tailed shrews" (N. Amer. Fauna No. 51, July, 1928) tentatively assigned 
the species to the Sorex arcticus group, with the suggestion that S. hydro- 
dromus might be the same as Sorex tundrensis or at most subspecifically 
distinct. 

Bearing in mind the uncertainty as to the relationships of this shrew, 
I was glad to take advantage of the opportunity which Prof. B. Vinogradov 
and his assistant, Mr. A. J. Argyropulo, afforded me to study the type speci- 
men when I visited the Zoological Institute of the Academy of Sciences in 
Leningrad in August 1937. 

The assumed type is an immature female, no. 2389, Zoological Museum of 
the Academy of Sciences of Leningrad, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 
collected by I. G. Vosnesensky at Unalaska, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, some 



264 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

time between 1840 and 1848 (see Essig, E. O., p. 777, "A History of En- 
tomology," The Macmillan Co., New York, 1931). 

The specimen was preserved in alcohol, in a small jar containing no 
other specimen. An unattached label in the jar bears the catalogue number, 
2389, "Unalaska" and "Wosnesensky". A label on the outside of the jar bears 
the data given on the label inside the jar and also the words "Sorex hy- 
drodromus type". The specimen is poorly preserved and has lost much 
of the hair. From the parts preserved, it is ascertainable that the animal 
was darker-colored above than below. The hairs remaining on the tail are 
of the same reddish color on the top, bottom and sides of the tail. Dissec- 
tion of the specimen revealed the uterine horns as small structures which 
certainly had not recently contained young. Upon removal, the skull was 
found to have the left side of the brain case broken in and to be broken in 
two along the plane of the cribiform plate. Fortunately, another specimen, 
an adult female, containing 6 embryos, 5.8 mm. in crown-rump length, taken 
at Unalaska by Vosnesensky in 1848, is available at the Zoological Insti- 
tute at Leningrad. This specimen, no. 2370, also an alcoholic, proved to 
have a perfect skull. Nos. 2389 and 2370, measured respectively as follows: 
Total length, 97, 93; length of tail, 42.8, 32.6; length of hind foot, with 
claws, 13.4, 12.3. 



Species and locality 


Mo 

3 3 


X 

w 


*3 

,0 

O 
o o 


"35 

C3 a> 




"3 

u- S3 

4-> — 




^2 

o3 <~ 

>2 ° 


Wear of 
teeth 


Remarks 


Sorez hydrodromus: 
Unalaska 


2389 


9 yg 


16.1 


6.0 


8.2 


2.8* 


4.45 


5.3 


None 


Type, body 
in alcohol 






Sorez: Unalaska 


2370 


9 ad 


16.0 


6.3 


8.0 


3.2 


4.7 


5.6 


Moderate 


Body in 
alcohol 


Sorez pribilofensis 


2437 


?ad 


? 


6.1 


7.8 


3.2 


4.8 


5.55 


Moderate, 
but less 
than 
above 


Coll. by 
Vosnes- 
enski 



* Probably least interorbital breadth. 



The hairiness of the tail is about the same in no. 2370 and Sorex arcticus, 
No. 39709, of the Mus. Vert. Zool., from Barrow, Alaska, and the fringe 
of hair on the sides of both the fore- and hind-feet are not appreciably 
different. The skull of no. 2370, compared with M.V.Z. 39710 (one of 2 
specimens of S. tundrensis taken with me from the United States to use 
in comparison), has less protruding upper incisors and a slightly "flatter" 
brain case, due in each instance, I think, to the greater age of no. 2370 
which, however, is smaller in every measurement taken. Otherwise, when 
viewed from the side the two skulls have identical contour in the dorsal 
longitudinal axis. Also, when the same two skulls are viewed from directly 
above they are, to my eye, of identical outline excepting in the rostrum 
which appears to be broader, relative to its length, in no. 2370, even allow- 
ing for the lesser profusion of the incisors in that specimen — a circumstance 
which magnifies the impression of greater relative breadth. 

When comparison is made between Sorex pribilofensis (cat. nos. 2485 and 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 265 

2437 of Leningrad Acad. Sci.) from St. Paul Island, and no. 2370, the 
latter is seen to differ in wider (labial to lingual side) molars, seemingly 
broader rostrum and certainly less continuous ridge on unicuspid. In S. 
pribilofensis there is a ridge continuous from the tip of the unicuspid on 
down into the cingulum without a break, whereas in no. 2370 from Unalaska 
there is a notch, or break, in this ridge where it meets the cingulum, al- 
though the notch is shallower than in a specimen of Sorex tundrensis (no. 
39710, Mus. Vert. Zool., from Barrow, Alaska ) which may be said to have 
a distinct notch separating the internal ridge from the cingulum. In no. 
2370 the pigmentation stops short of the cingulum. The holotype of Sorex 
hydrodromus agrees with no. 2370 in the presence of the notch and in the 
extent of the pigmentation. Nevertheless, in the holotype of hydrodromus 
the molar teeth are narrower than in no. 2370 and about the same width 
as in Sorex pribilofensis. 

My conclusion is that Sorex hydrodromus is a recognizable kind (species 
or subspecies) of Sorex best placed in the arcticus group. In structure of 
unicuspids it bridges the gap between S. tundrensis and S. pribilofensis. If 
specimens from the base of the Alaska Peninsula are morphologically 
intermediate between S. hydrodromus and populations of S. tundrensis east 
of the base of the Alaska Peninsula, perhaps S. hydrodromus should be 
treated as only subspecifically distinct from S. tundrensis — otherwise as 
a full species. To judge from measurements (published by Ognev in Vol. 
1 of his "Mammals of the U. S. S. R.", 1928) of the various subspecies of 
Sorex ultimus, S. hydrodromus is a smaller animal. 

In a further communication, Hall expressed the opinion that 
hydrodromus probably should rank as a full species rather than 
as a subspecies. In that connection, it is interesting to note that 
from Unalaska to the Bristol Bay region there are hundreds of 
miles of territory from which no specimens of saddle-backed 
shrews have been taken. This would indicate ample isolation on 
Unalaska for the formation of a species. 

Sorex obscurus: Dusky Shrew 
Sorex obscurus shumaginensis 

Unalaska -.Chichimukthah (Wetmore) 

In southwestern Alaska, this shrew has a range that is roughly 
coextensive with that of S. c. hollisteri. About 200 specimens are 
available in the Fish and Wildlife Service collection, some of 
which are from the following localities: Nushagak River, Kakwok, 
Lake Aleknagik, Ugaguk River, Dillingham, Cold Bay, Becharof 
Lake, Katmai, Chignik, King Cove, Morzhovoi Bay, Port Moller, 
Frosty Peak, Izembek Bay, Unimak Island, and the Shumagins. 
In 1937, on Sanak Island, I obtained a shrew that proved to be 
shumaginensis. 

In the field, w T e noted that this shrew was about as abundant as 
hollisteri, and that it inhabited grassy areas and wet places. 
Wetmore reported it to be especially abundant along little streams. 



266 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

At Sanak Island, where this shrew is common and is known as 
the "pig-nosed mouse," it readily enters buildings. 

It is of considerable interest that S. o. shumaginensis occurs on 
island groups, such as the Shumagins and Sanak, while speci- 
mens of S. c. hollisteri have not been obtained from such localities, 
apparently being confined to the Alaska Peninsula and Unimak. 
The picture may change, however, with more extensive field 
work. At present, we have no specimens of shrews from the 
Kodiak-Afognak group. 

Microsorex hoyi: Pigmy Shrew 
Microsorex hoyi eximius 

Only 2 specimens of this rare shrew have been obtained in this 
district — one was taken by Maddren on the south branch of 
Chulitna River (west of Lake Clark), and another was taken 80 
miles up the Kakwok River. 

Family VESPERTILIONIDAE 

Myofis lucifugus: Little Brown Bat 
Myotis lucifugus alascensis 

We saw no bats on any of our expeditions, but Osgood (1904) 
mentions seeing several of them, presumed to be this form, at 
Iliamna Village and near the head of Lake Clark, in July. True 
(1886) records a specimen taken by McKay at Iliamna Lake in 
the spring of 1882, and he mentions many specimens taken by 
W. J. Fisher on Kodiak Island. 

Captain G. A. Amman has compiled a list of birds, mammals, 
and plants, which were observed or collected chiefly by him or by 
Private Edward D. McDonald, while stationed on Kiska Island 
with the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment from August 15 to 
December 5, 1943. Included in the list is a bat observed at Kiska. 
Naturally, this would not represent a resident species, because 
a bat could not survive in the environment of the Aleutians. It 
would have to be a storm-driven waif that had been blown a great 
distance from its normal territory. 

Family URSIDAE 
Euarctos americanus: Black Bear 

Kenai, Indian: Terdeeshlah (Osgood) 

Osgood (1904), concerning the distribution of the black bear, 
stated that — 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 267 

The Indians of Iliamna village say that according to tradition a few- 
black bears were formerly found in the mountains northeast from there, 
but that in recent years none have been seen. As far as we could learn 
they do not occur elsewhere in the region. Their westward limit on the 
Pacific side of the peninsula is about coincident with that of the coniferous 
trees, which cease a short distance east of Iliamna Bay. The westernmost 
records of the black bear known to the writer are those of two killed at 
Chinitna Bay in 1901 by the party of J. H. Kidder, of Boston, Mass. 

True (1886) mentions the skins of two young bears brought 
in to Kakwok on April 30, 1882. Osgood suggested that these may 
have been the young of the large brown bear. 

Nelson (1886) probably was confusing this species with the 
brown bear when he stated that it occurred throughout the Alaska 
Peninsula and Unimak Island, as well as on Kodiak. He also 
refers to Veniaminof's statement that the black bear was found 
on the "eastermost" of the Aleutians. There is no evidence that 
the habitat of the black bear extends beyond the last timber at 
the eastern end of Alaska Peninsula. 

Ursus arctos: Brown Bear 
Ursus arctos gyas 

Aleut, Alaska Peninsula: Tunarokh and Chuchiuk (Wetmore) 

Tanghakh or Tanghaghikh (Geoghegan) 

For many years there has been much speculation about the 
status of the large number of so-called Alaska brown bears, as 
described years ago by C. Hart Merriam. In the first place, 
early writers were inclined to consider all of the "brown bear" 
forms on both continents, to be of one species. In 1954, Marcel 
A. J. Couturier published a monograph, "L'Ours Brun," on the 
brown bears and grizzlies of the world, putting them all into one 
species, Ursus arctos L. In 1953, Robert Rausch adopted the one 
species, Ursus arctos, for the grizzly and the brown bear. 

We find great individual variation in size and color in the same 
locality. In his color movies of bears in the Mount McKinley 
region, Adolph Murie shows a small, very light-colored male and a 
large dark male, both near a rather large female. At the approach 
of the large male the small, light-colored male arose on his hind 
legs, looked over the large newcomer, then fled. Some grizzlies 
in this region are nearly white, many are shades of brown, and, 
in 1953, my brother and I skinned a large grizzly that had been 
shot at a road camp. This animal was black, with a little brown 
tipping to the hairs, which was not noticeable at a little distance. 

In his studies, Rausch also found much variation in the skulls 
from a given locality. Without attempting to revise the whole 



268 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

group of Alaska grizzlies, on the basis of my field observations 
and the studies I have cited above, it seems wise to assume North 
American and Palearctic bears of the brown group conspecific. 
Furthermore, in view of my field observations and as a result of 
the more recent work of Rausch, it seems improbable that there is 
more than one form occupying Alaska Peninsula. Therefore, I list 
for the Alaska Peninsula only one subspecies, U. a. gyas. 

The great size of the Alaska brown bear has caught the imagi- 
nation of the public, and it is a favorite trophy for the sports- 
man, as well as for the camera enthusiast. The estimates of 
weight of this animal probably are not greatly exaggerated. 

Necessarily, most of the information on weight is based on 
estimates, but some authentic figures have been reported. 

Loring (1907) gives the weight of one bear as 1,010 pounds. 

There are some interesting data on a male bear, Ursus gyas, 
that lived for many years in the National Zoological Park in 
Washington, D. C. The bear died September 30, 1914, and was 
measured by Vernon Bailey. A record of weights, kept since 
its capture at Cape Douglas, Alaska Peninsula, on May 24, 1901, 
were published by Townsend Whelen (1946) as follows: 

Pounds 

May 24, 1901 18 

January 9, 1902 180 

June 15, 1903 450 

January 18, 1904 625 

January 28, 1905 770 

February 26, 1906 890 

March 11, 1907 970 

March 21, 1908 1,050 

January 20, 1911 1,160 

September 30, 1914 1,020 

Measurements of this bear, taken by Vernon Bailey at time of 
death, were as follows: Total length, 2,590 mm.; tail vertebrae, 
120 mm. ; length of hind foot, 350 mm. (claws were worn short) ; 
height at shoulder, 1,380 mm. ; girth back of shoulders, 1,760 mm. ; 
girth at belly, 2,305 mm. 

The bear had attained an age of about 13V2 years; cause of 
death was attributed to rupture of the abdominal aorta. At time 
of death, it was described by Bailey as being "in fine muscular 
condition, but not fat." 

Allen (1904) reports the measurements of a specimen taken at 
Port Moller as follows: Total length, 2,057 mm.; tail vertebrae, 
127 mm. ; hind foot, 349 mm. ; shoulder height, 1,068 mm. ; weight, 
approximately 1,600 pounds. The weight was estimated. 

Anderson (1909) obtained a bear, June 1, 1909, on Unimak Is- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 269 

land, that weighed 1,325 pounds — the skin weighed 135 pounds. 
Anderson gives the height at shoulder as 48 inches ; height at hip, 
3 feet 10 inches; girth back of shoulders, 10 feet; and width 
between ears, 14 inches. 

McCracken (1920) obtained a bear at Frosty Peak, whose 
weight was estimated to be between 1,600 and 1,800 pounds. The 
tanned skin was 11 feet 4 inches long, and "the skull was 18V4 
in. long one-half inch under the world's record according to 
Washington, D. C. authorities." 

Beasley (1910) shot a bear at Port Moller that weighed 1,200 
pounds. 

I obtained a large male bear north of Pavlof Volcano, May 30, 
1925. Total length was 2,100 mm. The skin, when laid out 
loosely, measured 11 feet. It made a heavy pack load, weighing 
well over 100 pounds. The bear was estimated to weigh roughly 
about 1,000 pounds. This probably was a conservative estimate 
because he was extremely fat. The fat on the rump was so thick 
that the tail bone was completely buried in the layer, and the 
tail itself was not visible. There were large bare places on both 
elbows, which were calloused as a result of the bear lying about 
on the rocks. 

Brown bears have been abundant on Alaska Peninsula. Mc- 
Cracken (1924) says — 

On my sojourn in the section around the western end of the Alaska Penin- 
sula, which was in 1922 between the breakup of spring until August, I 
saw 190 brown bears. The fact that we saw 28 bears in a single day, and 
as high as 12 in sight at the same time, is in itself good evidence of the 
numbers to be found. 

In primitive times, brown bears are said to have been gre- 
garious and very plentiful. Even today, on Unimak Island, where 
the primitive state has been preserved, groups of at least seven 
or eight bears have been noted. 

In areas that are extensively hunted, the large, old, male bears 
tend to become scarce, though there may be many females, 
younger animals and cubs. 

The dates of hibernation are not definitely known, and no doubt 
there is much variation among individuals. Many bears probably 
come out of hibernation some time in April. Beals and Long- 
worth (field report) saw their first bear on April 15, 1941 ; after 
this date, sightings became common. In 1925, I saw the first bear 
on May 5, ambling about the lower edge of the lava beds at Urilia 
Bay. The bear country on the mainland was not investigated 
until May 24. At that time, it was evident that the bears had 



270 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

been out of hibernation for quite a while. The bears that we 
observed at this time were very sluggish, still fat, and apparently 
did not require large quantities of food. A local guide said that 
he once found a bear sleeping on a snow patch, and the trail lead- 
ing to the bear had thawed away. The guide believed that bears 
sometimes remain several days in one spot. 

In early spring, the bears remain high in the mountains, in the 
upper valleys, among the rocky ledges and high snowfields, as 
well as in the lava beds. During May and early June, there is 
still much snow in the mountains, especially in scattered deep 
drifts, and the weather is often cold and stormy. But the bears 
are immune to such weather and generally are seen resting on 
exposed rocky ledges or snow banks. This is their habitat until 
at least the middle of June, though a few may appear in the 
lowlands much earlier. Bear trails were found on the slopes of 
Pavlof Volcano and on many of the high ridges, as well as on the 
glacier in the shadow of Aghileen Pinnacles. 

For the most part, the spring diet consists of grass and roots, 
varied occasionally by a ground squirrel. The stomach of a male 
killed on May 24 contained a ground squirrel, various roots, and 
a mass of Equisetum (horsetail). A large male killed on May 30 
had only a handful of roots in the stomach. The stomach of a 
female killed on June 3 was empty, but the intestines contained 
a considerable amount of grass. At this time of year, there is 
little else for the bears to eat, unless they occasionally find some 
carrion. 

When the salmon ascend the streams in June, the bears seem to 
subsist largely on salmon. However, they do not entirely forsake 
the highlands. Long trails leading back to the highlands show 
the routes of travel down to the salmon streams, though the 
bears often sleep near the streams, in the alder thickets. The 
bears scoop out beds along the banks, and sometimes pile up 
moss and other vegetation to form a mattress. We found one 
such structure at Izembek Bay, and, in 1911, Wetmore described 
a similar heap found at Morzhovoi Bay, at a salmon pool: "On 
the bank above this was a curious bed of moss and grass dug 
up from the ground around piled up a foot deep and twelve 
feet square. Below it were smaller ones freshly made about two 
feet square and all padded down as though bruin had been sitting 
on them." 

I have observed a bear capturing salmon only once. It took 
place in July 1925, when I was photographing a bear that was 
attempting to dig out a ground squirrel. The bear seemed to be 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 271 

lazy, and after a short time he stopped digging and ambled over 
to a shallow stream near my place of concealment. He splashed 
noisily through the stream and ran through some shallow riffles 
where he seized two or three of the swarming salmon with his 
teeth. 

In some streams there were deep pools that showed claw marks 
on the bottoms and sides far underwater. Evidently, these 
marks were made by bears that were fishing, but the method of 
capturing salmon in such places was not observed. 

In autumn, when berries ripen, a new food supply becomes 
available. On Unimak Island, the bears then seek the salmon- 
berry thickets and feed on the ripe fruit. Many other berries are 
eaten also. Osgood (1904) mentions crowberry (Empetrum 
nigrum), which are eaten in "great quantities," and various 
species of Vaccinium. There were indications that roots and grass 
are eaten in the fall, and it was reported that bears occasionally 
are seen on the beach, where they probably would eat anything 
edible that had washed ashore. 

Bears are always on the lookout for carrion. Some caribou 
carcasses appeared to have been eaten by bears, but there was 
no indication that the brown bear will kill caribou under normal 
circumstances. 

A striking feature of the brown-bear country is the character- 
istic bear trail. In marshy ground, the bear trail forms a well- 
marked path, in which a man can sink to the ankles. But on firm 
ground, on the higher mossy tundra, the trail consists of two well- 
defined ruts with a high center. In one instance, where the trail 
led over a slight embankment, the ruts had been worn so deeply 
that the bear's chest had rubbed on the high hump between the 
ruts. The bear had literally "high-centered." 

One often finds a trail in which individual footprints are pre- 
served. Each bear has carefully stepped in the tracks of his 
predecessors until the well-worn trail becomes a zig-zag series 
of holes. It was only with great effort that I could step far 
enough to walk in these tracks. This type of trail was usually 
found in the vicinity of a large boulder, where a bear was ac- 
customed to lurk, or where the trail led to a den or some other 
local point of interest. The trails with uniform ruts generally 
extended for long distances. 

Occasionally, an abandoned trail is evidenced by clumps of 
grass that have found a foothold in the disturbed ground in 
each footstep. Griggs (1922) mentions an interesting bear trail 
in the volcanic ash of Katmai, in which drifting grass seeds had 
lodged and taken root in the individual footprints. 



272 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Much has been written about the ferocity of the Alaska brown 
bear. The great strength of the bear cannot be doubted, but 
danger from this bear is dependent upon its disposition at a 
given moment. There have been some disastrous encounters 
with this huge beast, but a detailed analysis of such cases will 
not be attempted here. However, during my experience on Alaska 
Peninsula there was not a single instance when the bear did not 
try to get away, even when wounded. One bear that was photo- 
graphed at close range, a matter of some 30 or 40 feet, started 
for the photographer at the sound of the shutter, and I must 
admit considerable nervousness at the time, but it was obvious 
that he was advancing out of curiosity. The bear fled when we 
shouted and brandished a rifle vigorously. On the same day, an- 
other bear, coming slowly along a trail straight for the camera, 
heard the camera at close range and stopped. This bear was 
more suspicious and *walked off reluctantly, obviously puzzled. 
In neither case did I wish to shoot, unless it was unavoidable. 
Indeed, except for a head shot, it might have been dangerous 
to shoot at such close range. 

Apparently, some residents of Unimak Island had little fear 
of the brown bear. Arthur Neumann related that on one oc- 
casion he had forced a group of bears into the rough water of 
Swanson Lagoon on a stormy day to watch them struggle in 
the choppy waves. 

The Alaska brown bear deserves respect and should be ap- 
proached carefully, because it can cause considerable damage for 
a few moments even after being shot through the heart. It is 
best to realize that although this bear is not particularly vicious, 
it is very curious and is likely to investigate anything unusual. 
The bear's eyesight is not good, which may account for its close 
approach at times. 

An interesting incident occurred on the slope of Pavlof Moun- 
tain. A companion and I sighted several bears high on a slope. 
At the first shot, the largest bear rolled downhill, obviously shot 
in the head (incidently, this was a regrettable shot because the 
bear was wanted for a specimen). Three other bears followed 
the rolling carcass, pell-mell, and it was apparent that they were 
yearling cubs that were instinctively following the mother. The 
mother rolled by very near us, and dropped off a small cliff at 
that point. The three young bears followed headlong, and we 
could hear them grunting, but at the very brink of the little 
cliff they suddenly braced themselves and stopped. After a 
detour, they approached the dead bear farther down the slope, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 273 

but suddenly they became frightened and fled. Either the death 
of the mother, or our scent, had frightened them. Upon exami- 
nation, it was discovered that there was a small amount of milk 
in the udders of the mother. Next day, the cubs were seen again 
on the same mountain slopes; they were wary and seemed able 
to shift for themselves. 

It has been said that the female brown bear has cubs only 
every other year, or only over an interval of three years. This 
may be true, for the female mentioned above had no young cubs 
that year, and there may be some irregularity and individual 
variation in the breeding cycle. The young number from two to 
four; two are the usual number. 

According to some reports from the western end of Alaska 
Peninsula, brown bears may go into hibernation in December, as 
late as Christmas. Osgood (1904), speaking of the base of the 
peninsula, on the authority of natives there, said that they go 
into hibernation early in November, and even in October, but he 
adds that the time of hibernation may vary with the severity 
of the weather. They occasionally may emerge during the winter. 

Brown bears find dens in the lava rocks. I was told of several 
such caves at the north base of Shishaldin Volcano on Unimak 
Island. They are said to extend for a disance of as much as 
100 feet. In 1925, I explored such a cave in a lava bed near 
Shishaldin. It formed an underground tunnel some 30 or 40 feet 
long and proved to be unoccupied at the time, though there were 
huge footprints on the floor. 

Ursus arctos middendorffi 

This has been assumed to be the largest of all the Alaska brown 
bears, though Merriam, in his monograph on these animals, sug- 
gests that the peninsula bear may be fully as large. With in- 
formation at hand, we are not in a position to decide. 

This bear occupies the Kodiak-Afognak Island group, ap- 
parently including some of the smaller islands. E. M. Ball, of 
Afognak, writing to Barton W. Evermann, of the Bureau of 
Fisheries, January 10, 1914, says — 

It is true that the brown bear is found on Shuyak and Raspberry Islands, 
as well as Afognak. The east end of Raspberry Straits is very narrow 
and shallow and is often dry during heavy ebb-tides so that bears can 
cross from one island to the other without entering the water. It is highly 
probable that they swim across these straits. Presumably there are only 
a few bears on Raspberry at this time. On Shuyak, however, bears are 
comparatively plentiful, and the number is believed to be fairly constant 
as local hunters seldom go that far for them. Shuyak Straits are narrow 
though deep, and there may be some travel to and from Afognak Island. 



274 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Bears should have no difficulty reaching any of these islands, 
because residents of Unimak Island stated that bears have been 
known to swim across Isanotski Strait, from the Alaska Penin- 
sula. 

I have not had firsthand experience with this Kodiak bear, but 
undoubtedly its habits are quite similar to those of the Alaska 
Peninsula bears. At times, the bears have interfered with do- 
mestic stock raising on Kodiak Island, but I have no recent in- 
formation, and there is no report based on consistent study of 
the question. 

Thalarctos maritimus: Polar Bear 
Thalarctos maritimus maritimus 

Information on the occurrence of the polar bear in the Aleutian 
district is vague and unsatisfactory. In volume 2 of "Voyages of 
Captain James Cook", mention is made of white bear skins seen 
in Prince William Sound, in May 1778. Evermann (1922) lists 
the polar bear among the marine mammals of the Pacific. They 
have been known to occur on the Pribilofs, and Preble and McAtee 
( 1923) quote W. L. Hahn to the effect that the latter had found in 
the St. Paul Island log, "under date of September 20, 1874, an 
entry stating that a party visited the cave on Bogoslof and brought 
back a bear skull known to have been there since the time of the 
first occupation of the island." 

This is the most definite record we have for the Aleutian dis- 
trict, though St. Paul is several hundred miles north of the chain. 
Polar bears could visit the Aleutians or Alaska Peninsula only by 
means of ice floes drifting south — no doubt this is possible, but it 
would be a rare occurrence. 



Family PROCYONIDAE 

Procyon lotor: Raccoon 

Turner (1886) reported, "I have heard, on what I consider 
reliable authority, that the Raccoon is not uncommon in the 
south portions of the Alaskan mainland." 

Such occurrence has not been substantiated. However, in 1936, 
it was learned that A. W. Bennett and A. C. Bryant were 
operating a blue-fox farm on Long Island, near Kodiak. A num- 
ber of years previously they had stocked the little island with 
raccoons from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and North Da- 
kota. In the years 1932, 1933, and 1934, dead raccoons had been 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 275 

found at intervals on the island, In a single year, 12 to 15 dead 
raccoons were found, as well as some sick ones — the sick ones 
apparently were paralyzed, dragging the hind quarters. 

There were still a few raccoons at large on Long Island in 1936. 



Family MUSTELIDAE 

Martes americana: Marten 
Maries americana actuosa 

Indian or Aleut (?), Iliamna Village: Kcheegocha (Osgood) 

Russian: So-bel (Buxton) 

Osgood (1904) reported the marten as being scarce at the base 
of Alaska Peninsula. We have, indeed, very few records of it. 
There are five skulls from Kakhtul River in the Fish and Wildlife 
Service collection that were taken by Hanna in 1912. Naturally, 
these animals are confined to forested areas and would not be 
found far out on Alaska Peninsula. 

Nelson (1887) says marten occur on Kodiak Island, but I have 
not seen specimens from there. 

Mustela erminea: Weasel 
Mustela erminea arctica 

Aleut (dialect?) : Samikakh (Geoghegan) 

Aleut Iliamna Village: Ameetahduk (Osgood) 

Indian, Iliamna Village: Tahkiak and Kahoolcheenah (Osgood) 

Russian: Gor-no-stai-e (Buxton) 

Hall (1951) has placed the weasels in three groups: The least 
weasels, rixosa; the long-tailed weasels, frermta; and the short- 
tailed weasels, erminea. Accordingly, the weasel of Alaska Penin- 
sula becomes Mustela erminea arctica. 

These weasels occur throughout the entire length of the Alaska 
Peninsula and Unimak Island, as well as the Kodiak-Afognak 
group. They are common on Unimak Island but have not been 
found on any islands farther west. Specimens have been obtained 
at the following localities: Nushagak, 1 by Osgood; Ugashik 
River, 6 by McKay, and 1 by Hanna ; Kakwok River, 1 by Hanna ; 
Lake Aleknagik, 1 by Hanna; Lake Weelooluk, 1 by Hanna; 
Becharof Lake, 3 by Osgood and Maddren ; Chignik, 7 by J. Oliver ; 
Frosty Peak, 1 by Wetmore ; Unimak Island, 1 each by Gardner, 
Murie, and Beals. 

Crabb (1922) reports a specimen from Pavlof Bay. No doubt, 
there are other specimens, obtained by various collectors, that I 
have not examined. 



276 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Weasels are reported to occur on Kodiak Island, but specimens 
were not available. Jack Benson, agent of the Alaska Game Com- 
mission, in a report dated June 30, 1940, commented that weasels 
on Kodiak and Afognak were not as plentiful that year. In 1936, 
on a visit to Kodiak and Afognak Islands, we were assured that 
weasels occur there, and we were shown a photograph of a live 
weasel as proof. 

Mustela rixosa: Least Weasel 
Mustela rixosa rixosa 

Though this little weasel has been seldom observed in this 
area, it is known to occur as far west as Unimak Island. In 1925, 
a trapper informed me that he had caught a least weasel near 
Izembek Bay and had intended sending it to the Biological Survey, 
but he said that the specimen had been neglected and lost. 

In 1941, Beals reported that this weasel, though not plentiful 
on Unimak Island, is known to most of the residents there. He 
saw one at St. Catherine Cove and another at False Pass; the 
latter was taken for a specimen. This animal was seen trying to 
capture snow buntings, but it was not successful. 

Mustela vison: Mink 
Mustela vison ingens 

Aleut, Morzhovoi Bay: Illigitookh (Wetmore) ; ilgitukh (Geoghegan) 
Aleut (?), Iliamna Village: Emachamooduk (Osgood) 
Egegik: Kochcheechuk (Osgood) 
Kenai: Yarkeechah (Osgood) 

This is assumed to be the form occupying the Alaska Peninsula. 
Hollister (1913) says: 'Though specimens from the Alaska Pen- 
insula are placed with ingens, these show an approach toward 
melampeplus." Evidently, the mink occurs throughout the length 
of the peninsula and on Unimak Island. Specimens, mostly skulls 
but also a few skins, are available from various localities : Kakh- 
tul, 2 ; Kakwok, 1 ; Kakwok River, 7 ; Lake Weelooluk, 5 ; Lake 
Aleknagik, 1 ; Becharof Lake and between Portage Bay and 
Becharof Lake, 73 ; Cold Bay, 3 ; Stepovak Bay, 1 ; Chignik and 
Chignik Bay, 2; Frosty Peak, 1. No specimens are available 
from Unimak Island, but mink are known to occur there, for 
trappers mention their occurrence as a matter of course. In 
1925, a trapper told me that he had trapped six minks at Urilia 
Bay in the winter of 1924-25. In 1936, another trapper of 
Unimak Island remarked that minks were increasing in numbers, 
and, in 1941, Beals saw mink tracks at False Pass and neighbor- 
ing localities. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 277 

On Juty 21, 1925, I saw a mink at Moffet Cove, Izembek Bay. 
In 1911, Wetmore had seen proof of the presence of mink at 
Morzhovoi Bay, Frosty Peak, and King Cove. 

In 1936, we were informed at Afognak that there are mink 
on that island, but Jack Benson, of the Alaska Game Commis- 
sion, reported in 1940 that there are no mink on the Kodiak- 
Afognak group. It is of interest to note that a blue-fox farm 
on Long Island (near Kodiak) has released mink. 

I have not seen specimens from the Kodiak-Afognak group, 
and there are no records of mink west of Unimak. 

Gulo luscus: Wolverine 

Aleut (dialect?) : Khachimo.yughnakh (Geoghegan) 
Russian, Siberia: Rus-so-makah (Buxton) 

The wolverine never becomes abundant, being largely a solitary 
animal, but it occurs throughout the length of Alaska Peninsula 
and on Unimak Island. There are wolverine skulls in the Fish and 
Wildlife Service collection from upper Nushagak River, from the 
area between Portage Bay and Becharof Lake, from Chignik, and 
from Frosty Peak. Allen (1903) describes a specimen taken at 
Oksenof Bay, Unimak Island. 

In 1925, I found evidence of wolverines at the west end of 
Alaska Peninsula. A wolverine was seen on May 25 on a ridge 
west of Aghileen Pinnacles, and, on June 3, another was seen 
north of Aghileen Pinnacles high on a rocky slope. Wolverine 
tracks were seen on several occasions, and a wolverine, identi- 
fied by tracks, was noted as having fed on a brown bear carcass — 
it had carried off a foreleg. 

In 1925, it was reported that wolverines were extremely scarce 
on Unimak Island. By means of extensive inquiries, Donald 
Stevenson had estimated that over a 20-year period before 1925, 
four male wolverines had been killed on Unimak Island. How- 
ever, in 1936, we saw tracks on the beach at Ikatan, and, in 1941, 
Beals and Longworth stated that wolverines were plentiful on 
Unimak. They saw their tracks "on practically all the beaches 
from Swanson Lagoon to Banjo Bay." On January 13, they 
watched a wolverine foraging along the beach at Ikatan, and, 
on April 22, they saw a very dark animal, almost black, high 
on a mountain on Ikatan Peninsula. 

It was reported that a wolverine, killed near Pavlof Mountain, 
had small rock fragments embedded in the skin of the head and 
neck. The hair was gone from these spots, but the skin had 
healed perfectly. It was surmised that these pieces of rock could 



278 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

have been small fragments of lava material 4 from an eruption 
of Mount Pavlof. 

Lutra canadensis: Otter 
Lutra canadensis yukonensls 

Aleut: Ahkweeah (Osgood) Morzhovoi Bay: akhuyakh (Geoghegan) 
Aleut, Ahkwenkh (Wetmore) 
Russian: Nee-drah (Buxton) 

This mustelid species ranges throughout the length of Alaska 
Peninsula and Unimak Island, but we have no records farther 
west. Wetmore reported that they were partial to salt water as 
well as fresh, ''frequently swimming boldly out to the islands, 
lying off the coast." 

In 1925, I learned that a local trapper had caught 10 otters at 
Urilia Bay in the winter of 1924-25. 

Lutra canadensis kodiacensis 

Goldman (1935) distinguished the Kodiak otter from the main- 
land form. The type is a skull from Uyak Bay, Kodiak Island, 
collected by C. Hart Merriam in 1899. There are a number of 
other skulls from the same island. Otters occur on both Kodiak 
and Afognak Islands, and in 1936, we saw a number of otter 
skins at Afognak Village. 

Enhydra lutris: Sea O+ter 
Enhydra lutris lutris 

Attu: Chach-toch 

Caxtux (Jochelson) 
Atka : Ching-d-tho 

Cna-tux (Jochelson) 
Morzhovoi Bay (dialect?) : Chngatukh (geoghegan) ; Chgatluk (Wetmore) 
Base of Alaska Peninsula: Ahchgh-nahchgh (Osgood) 
Kodiak: Ach-an-ah (King) 
Kwakiutl Indian: Kas-uh (Dawson) 
Russian: Bohr Morskoi (Steller), "sea beaver" 

Bobry, adult males 

Matka, females 

Koschloki, 1-year-olds 

Medviedki, "little bears" — cubs 

The northern sea otter is described as being larger than the 
southern sea otter of the California coast, E. I. nereis. I collected 
a single specimen at Ogliuga Island on August 4, 1937. It was an 
old male, weighing 80 pounds, and its measurements, in milli- 
meters, were as follows: Total length, 1,390; length of tail 
vertebrae, 315; and length of hind foot, 242. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 279 

The sea otter is stockier than the land otter, Lutra canadenis, 
and has acquired other special modifications. Its specialized food 
habits (discussed later) do not call for great agility, and this 
may be one reason for the development of a heavier, somewhat 
less streamlined body than the ancestral form — if we may assume 
the ancestral form to be similar to that of the present-day Lutra. 
But the sea otter has become more aquatic than its ancestors, 
with much less dependence on land, and it has developed seal-like 
flippers on its hind feet. Its front feet, on the other hand, appear 
to have responded to a specialized use in handling sea urchins 
and hard shells of mollusks that make up its principal food. 
The soles of the front feet have become very thick hard pads, 
and the toes have more or less coalesced — judging by the speci- 
men examined in detail (mentioned above) the toes are hardly 
functional as separate digits. The claws have become very weak 
and pale colored and are placed well up on the dorsal surface of 
the toes. They probably have little use. The whole structure of 
the front paw indicates that it is used largely for resisting abra- 
sion from hard sea urchins and shells; it seems incapable of 
manual dexterity. In fact, the animal seems incapable of hold- 
ing anything in one "hand." Yet, I have watched sea otters 
feeding and have seen them use one paw to toss away, with a 
forward motion, an unwanted fragment of shell or other sub- 
stance. Possibly it was only "pushed" away. (Karl W. Kenyon, 








- 












f^ * £' w^f^^^, 1 --^* "it^?^^BB^%.«SBc *««? 








^ ■ ^ * 


A 1 ^ 



Figure 42. — Sea otter. 



280 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

in correspondence in 1957, writes that a subadult female in the 
Seattle Zoo is very dexterous. It uses its front digits almost like 
fingers in grooming and feeding operations.) 

It is well known that the molariform teeth have been greatly 
modified for a special diet, and have departed strikingly from 
the mustelid type. Instead of the teeth having a shearing func- 
tion, they are used for crushing, and have taken a bunodont 
form. 

A most interesting feature of the sea otter dentition is the 
prevalence of cavities in the molariform teeth. Among the more 
or less fragmentary skulls and jaws found in Aleut village sites, 
a considerable percentage of the teeth had cavities, large and 
small. E. M. Fisher (1941) has given a detailed discussion of 
this and other features of the sea otter's dentition, and she 
intimates that rather active evolutionary changes may be taking 
place. She suggests that the difference in diet between the 
southern and northern sea otter may account for the greater 
prevalence of cavities in the teeth of the northern form. As in- 
terpreted by Fisher, the dental formula of the adult would be 
I 1,2,3-Cl-Pm 2,3,4-Ml 
I 1,2 -Cl-Pm 2,3,4-Ml,2 ' 

The sea otter is generally dark brown, with considerable varia- 
tion, although this variation may be clue to age. Some old ani- 
mals, as typified by the old male obtained by the writer at Ogliuga 
Island, are a dull, dark brown, becoming black on legs, but with 
a pale-brown head and neck — this pale coloration extends down 
on the chest, where it becomes almost straw-colored. The under 
side of the tail is paler than the body. White hairs are sprinkled 
throughout the pelage. In most of the darker animals these 
silvery hairs become more conspicuous. The younger adults are 
much darker, often blackish, with fine, lustrous fur. 

The young pups are a very light brown. In every case, from 
the pup to the grizzled old male, the head and neck is paler than 
the body, and this difference is accentuated in the very old ones. 

General Habits 

There is a voluminous literature on the habits of the sea otter, 
much of it largely repetition of what was reported by the earliest 
observers, including Steller. Only in the last few years have we 
begun to study the sea otter in any great detail, and there is 
much to learn. Therefore, I will not attempt to give a compre- 
hensive life history of this interesting mammal. 

Of chief interest to the biologist is the fact that this member of 
the weasel family has resorted to a marine environment and has 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 281 

gone a long way in adapting itself to a strictly aquatic life. It 
is interesting to note that, according to reports, the "land otter" 
of the Aleutian district readily takes to salt water at times ; ap- 
parently, this also is true of the otter of Great Britain. 

The sea otter spends most of its time in the water. When 
wishing to sleep, it simply lies on its back and dozes, sometimes 
with a strand or two of kelp across the body serving as an an- 
chor, whether intentional or not. When feeding, the animal dives 
for its food, then lies on its back to eat, using its chest for a 
table. On specimens from Alaska that were examined, the hair 
on the chest was somewhat worn, no doubt through this use in 
feeding. When the little pup wishes to sleep, it curls up on the 
mother's abdomen, and both mother and offspring lie quiescent 
on the water. The offspring also climbs aboard the mother to 
nurse. 

When startled, the mother puts an arm around the little one 
and dives with it. On some occasions, the mother seemed to pat 
the little one on the head first, as if by this patting or pushing 
motion she were warning it of the impending immersion. This 
was never clearly seen, however, and it needs to be verified. If 
merely worried or suspicious, the mother seizes the pup with her 
arm and swims away with it. 

Generally, when startled, the sea otter rises erect in the water 
for a better view of the intruder before diving. It swims readily 
on its back, as well as on its belly. In fact, the observer soon 
gains the impression that the sea otter spends most of its life 
floating on its back. 

The sea otter does come ashore, however, and there are favorite 
hauling-out places for certain individuals. One or more mothers 
may climb out on a kelp-covered rock, with their youngsters, 
where they squirm about and fondle their little ones and end- 
lessly dress their fur. Sometimes a pup will wander off to the 
water, or will be reluctant to climb out on the rock. Then the 
mother persistently forces him, nudging and pushing, until he 
complies with her desire to haul out on the rocks. Occasionally, 
a male will join the group. We also saw lone individuals, ap- 
parently adult males, curled up on a rock, where they may lie 
long enough for the fur to dry. Even here, they appear restless, 
and may raise their heads to look about, yawn, rub their faces 
with their paws, or otherwise dress their fur. 

It is reported that sea otters go ashore in times of severe 
storms, but that sometimes they succumb in heavy surf on the 
reefs. 



282 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 
Reproduction 

Sea otter breeding was observed once in Aleutian waters. It 
took place in the water, as the pair rolled over and over, some- 
times being at the surface, sometimes underneath, the male grasp- 
ing the female at the head with his teeth. This was on July 23, 
1936, at a time when the female had a small dependent pup. The 
pup had been left at the outer edge of the kelp patch, where it 
swam about calling for its mother. This circumstance indicates 
that the female may breed in successive years. Scammon (1874) 
remarks that the gestation period is supposed to be 8 or 9 months. 
Probably it is fully that long. 

Many observers agree that breeding may take place at almost 
any time of the year, because young of different ages can be 
seen at any season. Fisher (1940) appears to have definitely 
noted this during her research on the California sea otter. It is 
known that the young are born on the kelp beds, but in Alaskan 
waters, /where kelp beds disappear during the winter, the pro- 
cedure is uncertain. Herendeen (1892) claims that the young 
are born at sea — he did not mention kelp beds. 

Food Habits 

It is well established that the northern sea otter feeds largely 
on sea urchins, and that this diet is supplemented by considerable 
quantities of mollusks, including mussels, chitons, limpets, snails, 
and others; and with lesser quantities of crabs, octopuses, and 
other items — fish play a minor role in the diet. More detailed 
analyses of the diet of the northern sea otter are given by 
Williams (1938), Barabash-Nikiforov (1935), and Murie (1940). 

Although the sea otter has, to a large extent, forsaken fish as 
an important item in the diet, apparently it still enjoys such food 
on occasion. Chase Littlejohn (1916) reports an interesting inci- 
dent: A sea otter was seen approaching his ship, but it dived. 
Presently, a fisherman pulled in a codfish and, as the fish came 
to the surface, the sea otter was seen clasping it in its paws. 

One feature of the feeding habits deserves special mention, 
because it involves the use of tools. It was first seen in detail 
in California (Fisher 1939, and Murie 1940). Briefly stated, the 
sea otter dove for food and when it came to the surface the 
observer saw a rock lying on its chest or abdomen. The animal 
held a small mussel (or whatever the food morsel might be in 
such instances) in both paws and pounded it on the rock to 
break it. When feeding, the sea otter has a habit of rolling over 
occasionally in a complete turn, then continuing with its repast. 
Sometimes, it performs this roll with a rock and mollusk both 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 283 

on the chest. Naturally, it must clasp both of these objects to 
its body during the roll, but it does this very adroitly and 
casually, and it continues unconcerned with its meal. 

Mortality Factors 

The natural mortality factors affecting the sea otter are almost 
unknown. The northern bald eagle has been suspected of preying 
on young sea otters, and it is possible that this may occur on 
rare occasions. But it is notable that in our study of the food 
habits of this eagle (see under that species), not a single in- 
stance of such predation was found upon examination of eagle 
nests in the center of abundance of sea otters. It was concluded 
that eagle predation on the sea otter must be negligible. 

Two mammals, the sea lion and the killer whale, have fre- 
quently been mentioned as sea otter enemies, but we had little 
opportunity to verify this. We rarely saw these animals near 
any sea otters, and although occasionally we saw killer whales 
cruising by the outer edge of a kelp bed, we could not identify 
its prey. However, the killer whale is known to eat fur seals, 
therefore it is reasonable to suppose that it will pick up a sea 
otter when the opportunity is presented. At any rate, the sea 
otter has demonstrated in recent years that it can increase in 
numbers and extend its range when it is protected from human 
hunters. Identification, and degree of predation, of its natural 
enemies must be determined by thorough scientific study. 

It is a well-known fact that dead sea otters occasionally are 
washed up on the beach. On our expeditions, we found a number 
of skeletons on the beaches, from which blue foxes or eagles, or 
both, had eaten the flesh. It is said that a sea otter sometimes 
succumbs in the heavy surf in winter. Pups, as well as large 
adults, are included in casualties thus recorded on the beach. In 
the postwar years a higher mortality rate has become evident 
and many dead sea otters have been found. The cause is not yet 
known. 

From the evolutionary standpoint, the sea otter seems to be in 
an intermediate or transitional stage. The peculiar dental spe- 
cialization has been mentioned, as well as the prevalence of cavi- 
ties in the molariform series. These cavities are present in fresh 
specimens as well as in remains from old Aleut village middens. 
Fisher (1940) has reported an instance of gastric perforations 
in a sea otter found dead on a California beach. 

One cannot refrain from speculating whether the specializa- 
tion in food, which involves hard and sharp mollusk shells, tests 
and spines of sea urchins, barnacles, and similar materials that 



284 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

are ingested together with the soft digestible parts, are causing 
the sea otter some difficulty. Do some individuals succumb 
through injuries caused by such materials? How are the tissues 
responding to the demands for taking care of such rough fare? 

It is obvious that the sea otter does not meticulously select only 
the soft parts. Apparently, it relies on crushing the shells with 
its teeth (and the teeth have developed enormously to meet the 
need) and then proceeds to swallow a considerable portion of 
shells, tests, and spines. Even the byssus of the mussel, often 
with pieces of stone or coral attached, is swallowed. In one in- 
stance, pebbles made up 21.8 percent of the contents of one scat. 
All such material passes through the alimentary tract, therefore 
it would not be surprising if serious injury occasionally resulted. 
It would be interesting to know how many of the sea otters 
washed up on the beach in Alaska have internal injuries similar 
to the gastric perforations reported by Miss Fisher. 

On the other hand, from the standpoint of the sea otter popula- 
tion as a whole, the organism appears to be coping with the de- 
mands successfully. Rate of reproduction is slow — one young per 
year — yet, when released from the pressure of the fur trade, the 
sea otter has multiplied rapidly. 

Distribution and Numbers 

It is well known that in primitive times the northern sea otter 
ranged along all of the southern Alaskan coast, including the 
Aleutian chain and Alaska Peninsula. It ranged southward, evi- 
dently intergrading with the southern form at some unknown 
point, and the southern form ranged from this point southward 
as far as the coast of Baja California. The northern sea otter 
also occurred in the Commander Islands and southward into the 
Kurile Island chain, and they were numerous about the Pribilof 
Islands. Littlejohn (1916) reported schools of 400 sea otters 
in the early days of hunting along the Kuriles. 

The decline of the sea otter population is a striking instance 
of the near extinction of a species through unregulated commer- 
cial exploitation. Before the coming of the white man, sea otters 
were extremely numerous and the skin was used by the Aleuts 
for clothing and (according to the chief of Atka Village) for a 
lining of the interior of their underground huts. We found Aleut 
mummies in a cave on Kagamil Island that w ere wrapped, in part, 
in sea otter skins. 

When the Pribilofs were first visited, the sea otters were abun- 
dant. Preble and McAtee (1923), quoting Elliott and Littlejohn 
(1916), state that 5,000 sea otters were killed in the first year of 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 285 

occupation of the Pribilofs. Veniaminof , speaking of the Pribilof s, 
stated that the animals became scarce in 1811, and that they 
were extinct 30 years later (Preble and McAtee 1923). 

In the Aleutian district, the Russians found a rich harvest of 
sea otter furs and exploited it vigorously. Without citing the 
voluminous statistics on the shiploads of furs sent back to Rus- 
sia, let it suffice to say that the sea otter population could not 
stand up under the continued excessive harvest. History tells 
us that the Russians, sensing the end of a lucrative industry, at- 
tempted to regulate the killing of sea otters. But a new compli- 
cation had entered the picture. Trading ships from the south 
had discovered this great fur resource— Americans, French, and 
others. Although the Russians could impose regulations on their 
own people, they found it hard to deal with this new foreign in- 
flux. The sea otters continued to decline in numbers and probably 
reached their low point shortly after 1900. When almost all were 
destroyed, protection was finally granted. 

For years, the few remaining sea otters found a refuge in the 
Aleutians. Their status was hidden in the fog and mystery of 
this seldom-visited island chain, and for years naturalists feared 
that this animal species had disappeared from American fauna. 

But, as mentioned above, complete protection had finally be- 
come a reality, and it soon became evident that the animal had 
survived in sufficient numbers to perpetuate itself. In spite of 
occasional poaching, in 1936 we found substantial sea otter popu- 
lations in several places throughout the Aleutian chain, and we 
made a conservative estimate of at least 2,000. Most heartening 
of all, they were extending their range, not only in the Aleutians, 
but also along Alaska Peninsula. However, on our last visit to 
Sanak Islands the sea otters had not reappeared, although at one 
time this area was one of the best sea otter hunting territories 
(since our visit, five sea otters have been seen). 

The range of the sea otter raises a puzzling point. There 
seems to be a difference of opinion as to the distance that the sea 
otter will venture from land. It is generally believed, and observa- 
tions bear this out, that sea otters normally will live close to 
shore where they find their food in comparatively shallow water. 
Yet, there are reports of sea otters being seen far out at sea. 
On our expeditions, we never saw any of these animals far from 
land. However, at one time sea otters were numerous in the 
Pribilof Islands, and they must have made a long sea journey to 
reach these islands. After World War II, it was found that sea 
otters had increased still more and had extended their range. 



286 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61 , FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Littlejohn (1916) believed that sea otters live on squids when 
far from land. He did not think that the otter could dive deeper 
than 60 fathoms, and because its normal sea-bottom diet was not 
available, it ate squid. 

Sea Otter Hunting 

At the height of the commercial exploitation of the sea otter, 
a number of hunting methods were used. The Russians utilized 
the skilled Aleuts for this purpose. The various methods have 
often been described, and the subject will be only briefly men- 
tioned here. 

One method was to spear the animal from the native boat. Sev- 
eral boats would surround the animal and keep it diving repeat- 
edly until it was exhausted. In the meantime, spears were thrown 
until the animal was dead or helpless. Later, when the rifle was 
used, three boats would surround the otter, according to Little- 
john (1916). Here, too, the object was to keep the otter diving 
quickly, to prevent a long dive, until someone could manage an 
effective shot. 

A dead sea otter will float, which insures recovery of an animal 
killed by any type of weapon. It is reported, also, that sea otters 
were sometimes clubbed to death on reefs or rocky shores, where 
they had taken refuge from severe storms. At such times, the 
noise of the wind and surf would drown out any sound of ap- 
proach by the hunter. Littlejohn (Hall 1945, p. 90) has described 
how natives would creep around on the rocks during dark nights, 
feel for the otters, then club them on the head. 

Nets also were used. These nets were set in favorable loca- 
tions frequented by sea otters, and, according to Littlejohn, they 
were very effective. 

The encouragement of natives to secure sea otter skins on a 
large scale, promiscuous hunting by whites (who outfitted ships 
for that purpose) , combined with pelagic sealing, produced a large 
and profitable fur harvest for many years. 

Sea Otter Management 

The return of the sea otter in satisfactory numbers, at a time 
when we are being made conscious of wildlife management, makes 
the subject especially pertinent. In the case of the sea otter, the 
first step in management was to provide protection, and to en- 
courage spread to all of its ancestral range. This process is now 
under way. From what we know of the food habits of the sea 
otter, the food supply should be ample to support a large popu- 
lation without artificial manipulation. 

Apparently, the Russians are experimenting with, and study- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 287 

ing, the sea otter of the Commander Islands (May 1943), and 
it i's said that the Japanese have been managing the sea otters 
of the Kurile Islands on a commercial basis. The southern sea 
otter is increasing along the California coast. All in all, this 
interesting animal has already regained much of its lost range, 
and it can be assumed that it has attained a lasting place in the 
American fauna. 



Family CANIDAE 

Vulpes fulva: Red Fox 

Vulpes fuiva o/ascens/s 

Aleut, Morzhovoi Bay: Ikowukh (Wetmore) 

From vocabulary compiled by R. H. Geoghegan at Valdez in 1903: 
Ukhaching 

Russian: Lee-see-sha (Buxton) 

Russian, Siberia; See-way-doos-ka (cross fox) 

The red fox is plentiful throughout the Alaska Peninsula and is 
found on the eastern Aleutian Islands. Unimak Island, in particu- 
lar, has a large fox population, and the species occurs also on 
Akun, Unalaska, Umnak, Chuginadak, Amlia, Adak, Kanaga, 
and Sanak Islands. Foxes occur on Dolgoi, which was utilized 
for commercial fox propagation — it is possible that the fox origi- 
nated here in that fashion. Great Sitkin, also, was said to have 
had some red foxes. Those on Amlia and Adak Islands are the 
silver-gray color phase. 

Kellogg (1936) found bones of the red fox to be one of the 
most abundant mammal remains in Aleut middens on Kodiak 
Island. 

The westward expansion of the red fox, in its various color 
phases, on the Aleutian chain is uncertain, but it certainly must 
have occupied the easternmost group of islands. General histori- 
cal accounts give us a few clues. In his "History of Alaska, 
1730-1885," Bancroft (p. 120) states that in 1758 Glottof started 
for the Aleutians, and wintered at Bering Island. The following 
summer, he arrived at an unknown island, probably Umnak. 
where he remained* for 3 years. He returned with a cargo of 
furs, including the black foxes from the Aleutian Islands. The 
shipment included 11 sea otters, 280 sea otter tails, 1,002 black 
foxes, 1,100 cross foxes, 400 red foxes, 22 walrus tusks, and 58 
blue foxes. 

Again (p. 154), Bancroft remarks, "In 1764, when the first 
black fox skins had been forwarded to the empress, gold medals 



288 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

were awarded to the merchants Orekhof , Kulkof; Shapkin, Panof , 
and Nikoforof." He says, "Ocheredin's share of the proceeds was 
600 sea otters, 756 black foxes, 1230 red foxes; and with this 
rich cargo he arrived at Okhotsk on the 24th of July 1770." 
These skins were obtained from Akutan, Unalaska, or adjacent 
islands. 

There are other passages worthy of record. On page 123, Ban- 
croft states that the ships Gavril and Vladimir combined forces 
in 1760 and hunted Umnak, Sitkin, Atka, and Seguam, where 
they obtained about 900 sea otters, 400 foxes of various kinds, and 
432 pounds of walrus tusks. 

On page 153 of Bancroft's account, we find reference to a 1766 
expedition by Solovief, during which he obtained 500 black foxes. 

Bancroft (p. 169) further states that — 

Shiloff, Orekhof, and Lapin, in July of the same year (1770), fitted out 
once more the old ship Sv Pavel at Okhotsk, and dispatched her to the 
islands under command of the notorious Solovief. By this time the Aleuts 
were evidently thoroughly subjugated, as the man who had slaughtered 
their brethren by hundreds during his former visit passed four additional 
years in safety among them, and then returned with an exceedingly 
valuable cargo of 1,900 sea otters, 1,493 black, 2,115 cross, and 1,275 red 
foxes. He claims to have reached the Alaskan Peninsula, and describes 
Unimak and adjoining islands. 

The wording of this passage would lead us to believe that 
Solovief did not go far east of Unimak. If that is true, he un- 
doubtedly obtained his foxes among the eastern islands, the 
group designated as the Fox Islands, from Unimak to Umnak 
inclusive. In all of these early cargoes of fox furs, there is an 
amazingly high percentage of black and cross color phases — these 
two phases greatly outnumbering the normal red color phase. 
There had not been time for artificial development of such strains 
on so great a scale, and there is no record of such breeding activi- 
ties at that time. Therefore, it is evident that in the eastern 
Aleutian district a natural concentration of the melanistic type 
of the red fox had taken place, comparable to a similar develop- 
ment of the Arctic fox in the western Aleutians, Commanders, 
and Pribilofs. This may prove to be a significant biological phe- 
nomenon, when the active factors become understood. 

It is probable that the dark color phases occurred also on 
Alaska Peninsula, and it is almost certain that excessive killing 
of these darker kinds, on a selective basis because of their greater 
value, has served to bring the population back to a practically 
ype, the red phase. The silver fox persists on Amlia 
Island, but this island has been leased and the foxes are con- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 289 

trolled artificially. We can no longer find the dark kinds in any 
numbers on Unalaska, where they were first found. 

The following table shows the proportions of these color phases 
in the cargoes of three ships. The records of other cargoes are 
not used here because they appear to have been of a selective 
nature, not comparable for this purpose. For example, some 
cargoes showed only black fox, and some cargoes showed no cross 
fox. 



Command- 
er of 
expedition 


Name 

of 
ship 


Year 

of 
return 


Species of foxes obtained 


Black fox 


Cross fox 


Red fox 




Number 


Percent 


Number 


Percent 


Number 


Percent 


Glottof 
Solovief 
(No record) 


(No record). 
(No record). 
Sv Andrei... 
Sv Prokop — 


1761 

1774 

1773 


1,002 

1,493 

996 

20 


40 

30.6 

33.1 


1,100 

2,115 

1,419 

40 


44 

43.3 

47.2 


400 

1,275 

593 


16 

26.1 

19.7 


(No record). 


(Xo record). 
















34.6 




44.8 




20.6 















At the time of these expeditions, the red fox probably had not 
reached as far west as Kanaga (where a few have been present 
in recent years). It is difficult to evaluate the present distribu- 
tion because of the extensive commercial manipulation of the 
Aleutian fauna. We can be confident, however, that the red fox 
originally occupied the so-called Fox Islands, as far west as 
Umnak at least; it may have occurred as far as the Andreanofs, 
much farther west. Though Bancroft, writing a general history 
of Alaska, was not specific in mentioning the Aleutian fauna, he 
did make some helpful observations. His generalization on fur 
bearers at least gives us helpful indications : 

The distribution of fur-bearing animals during the last century was of 
course very much the same as now, with the exception that foxes of all 
kinds came almost exclusively from the islands. The stone-foxes — blue, 
white, and gray — were most numerous on the western islands of the Aleutian 
chain and on the Pribilof group. Black and silver-gray foxes, then very 
valuable, were first obtained from Unalaska by the Shilof and Lapin 
Company and at once brought into fashion at St. Petersburg by means 
of a judicious presentation to the empress. 

This passage confirms the general conclusion that blue foxes 
were confined to the western islands and red foxes (with their 
color phases) were limited to the eastern islands. 

Turner (1886) reported the red fox "as far west as Umnak." 
Speaking of the cross and silver fox, he said that they occur in 
"All of Alaska, except the extreme western Aleutian Islands." 



290 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 6 1 , FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 
Food Habits 

In the summer of 1925, I had an opportunity to frequently ob- 
serve foxes on Unimak Island and Alaska Peninsula. They were 
found on some of the sand islands at Izembek Bay — it is probable 
that they reached these islands by traveling over the ice during 
the winter. They spent much time on the beaches of these is- 
lands, where they dug for clams which they located by scent. 
They also picked up crabs at low tide and ate codfish or other 
carrion thrown up on the beach. 

On Unimak Island, Unalaska, and some other localities, rodents 
become important in the diet and the foxes spend more time 
inland. 

In 1911, Wetmore examined a den in the Morzhovoi Bay region, 
where he noted fragments of ptarmigan and ground squirrels. 
He also noted that foxes came down to the beach at Thin Point 
to feed on the many stranded flounders. 

'Beals and Longworth (field report, 1941) found red foxes to be 
well distributed over Unimak Island, but noted that they were 
concentrated in the coastal areas, where they could feed on the 
beaches. "Sandfleas were present in unbelievable numbers under 
boulders and in rotting kelp. Scores of droppings were composed 
almost entirely of these little fellows. The valley floors were 
littered with mounds and tunnels made by small rodents and here 
again we found fox droppings showing only hair and bones of 
rodents. We found hundreds of instances where nesting burrows 
had been torn out and the inhabitants eaten." 

They also found ptarmigan to be unusually abundant, observ- 
ing flocks of 300 to 400 birds, and they remarked: "Fox-eaten 
ptarmigan were found often enought to indicate them as having 
an important place in his diet." 

The contents of 57 red fox droppings from Dolgoi Island were 
found to contain the following items, listed in number of occur- 
rences : 

Item Number Percent 

Microtus 38 52 

Bird 16 21.9 

Beach fleas (Crustacea) 6* 8.2 

Sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus drobachiensis) 4* 5.4 

Mussel (Mytilus sp.) 2* 2.7 

Heavy cloth 2 2.7 

Brown paper 2 2.7 

Hair seal (Phoca sp.) 1 1.3 

Small fish 1 1.3 

Large bone 1 1.3 

* Such forms are listed as times occurring, rather than as actual number of individuals. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 291 

At least two of the birds represented here were of sparrow 
size and may have been captured, but the others were larger birds 
and (since we found no bird colonies on this island) probably 
were carrion washed up on the beach. One dropping contained 
100 percent sea urchin, three others contained 100 percent beach 
fleas. 

The contents of 25 red fox droppings from Unalaska Island, 
based on number of items, were as follows : 

Item Number Percent 

Citellus 16 48.5 

Microtus 9 27.3 

Dicrostonyx 2 6 

Bird 6 18.2 

In this case, rodents furnish the bulk of the food. The droppings 
were collected in summer. It is interesting to note that on 
Chuginadak, on Amlia, and probably on the sand islands in Izem- 
bek Bay, there are no rodents and the red fox evidently adapts 
itself to beach combing. 

General Habits 

There is no doubt that the life history of the Alaskan red fox 
follows a normal pattern, but there are certain unusual traits. 
One of these unusual traits is the remarkable tameness of cer- 
tain "wild" foxes. Frequently, I approached quite close to a fox 
as it went about its usual business without giving me much atten- 
tion. A most unusual incident occurred on Operl Island, at Izem- 
bek Bay, in the summer of 1925. A red fox that was hunting on 
the beach allowed me to approach with the camera to within 5 
feet. The animal had fed well on the beach, judging by the con- 
tour of its body. When the tide came in, the animal left the beach 
and wandered into the sand dunes, where it eventually lay down 
to rest. It closed its eyes and went to sleep while I photographed 
it within a distance of 6 or 8 feet. The animal was still sleeping 
when I departed. 

Local trappers assured me that foxes lose this extreme tame- 
ness on the approach of winter. 

On another occasion, Stevenson and I came upon a group of 
five beach-feeding red foxes that exhibited more normal traits, 
particularly an aversion to swimming. They were at the tip of a 
narrow sand spit that was separated from the main beach by 
a narrow channel of water. This was an ideal situation for a 
picture, assuming that they would hesitate to swim the channel. 

We quickly reached the base of the sand spit and, dividing the 



NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

width equally between us, we walked slowly toward the foxes, 
camera ready. The foxes immediately sensed that they were 
trapped and acted at once. One after the other, three of them 
chose to race past us, rather than to swim a distance of 7 or 8 
yards to the main beach. At high speed, a fox charged straight 
at us and passed within 5 or 6 feet. There was hardly time to 
change film before another fox, frantic because it was cornered, 
came rushing past us in the same manner, and the third fox 
followed the other two. Meanwhile, the remaining foxes swam 
across the lane of water and reached the main beach. 

Management 

On Unimak Island, there is an annual limit to the trapper's 
take — each legal trapper is allowed a maximum of 50 red foxes 
for the trapping season. This appears to be a satisfactory ar- 
rangement, and the fox population has not been unduly depleted. 
Even on the Alaska Peninsula, where no bag limit is in effect, the 
fox population has remained fairly stable. The same is true of 
Umnak. There were reports that the status of the red fox on 
Unalaska was not so favorable; however, fox signs were quite 
common when we visited there in 1936 and 1937. 

On other Aleutian Islands to the westward, red foxes are han- 
dled as private property and are either harvested at intervals, 
as on Amlia, or are being eliminated in favor of blue foxes. 

Alopex lagopus: Blue Fox 

Attu: Mis-si-sircli Chir-ri-ech 

Mis-si-si Kon-uch (white fox) 
From vocabulary compiled at Valdez by R. H. Geoghegan: Aikagukh 
Morzhovoi Bay: Ikowkookmah (Wetmore) 
Russian, Siberia: Gcl-o-ba pee-seez-(a) (Buxton) 

Pee-seetz-(a), "white fox" (Buxton) 

The original distribution of the Arctic fox in the Aleutians is 
difficult to determine because of the fact that foxes have been 
placed on many of the islands for commercial breeding. The 
Chief of Attu Village insisted that the blue fox had been intro- 
duced in the Aleutians by man. Remington Kellogg, who ex- 
amined many bones from old village sites excavated by the late 

v v 

Ales Hrdlicka, reported that no fox bones appeared in material 
from the Aleutians, though he found them in midden material 
from Kodiak. 

Certain historical records counteract this evidence. Ivan Petroff 
(1884) , speaking of Atka Island, stated "even the blue fox (Vulpes 
lagopus), now confined to but few localities throughout Alaska, 
is still found here." Concerning Attu, he said, "On account of 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 293 

the scanty supply of sea otters the natives have turned their 
attention to the protection and preservation of the blue fox, and 
of these they now kill about 200 annually, with every prospect 
of increasing their stock in hand." Again, he says: 'The blue 
fox exists now on several of the Aleutian Islands, where it was 
found by the first discoverers in 1741." He mentions that traders 
reported the presence of blue foxes to a limited extent at Ugashik, 
on Alaska Peninsula. 

However, Petroff's records may be doubted, because he says 
that the red fox is "everywhere" on all the Aleutians, as far as 
Attu, on the Pribilofs, and on the Shumagins, and he also states 
that the brown bear is present on the Shumagins. 

There is historical evidence that originally there were blue foxes 
on at least a part of the Aleutian chain, as well as on the Com- 
mander Islands. It is a well-known fact, first reported by Steller, 
that, when Bering and his crew were wrecked on Bering Island 
on their return from Alaska in 1741, Bering Island was well popu- 
lated with foxes. Speaking of this island, Bancroft (1886, p. 88) 
says, "The only animals visible on land were the pestsi or Arctic 
foxes, exceedingly bold and rapacious. They fell upon the car- 
casses and devoured them almost before the survivors could 
make preparations for their burial. It seemed to be impossible to 
frighten them away." Again (p. 112), he says, "This vessel was 
named the Yeremy and carried the castaways to Kamchatka in 
the autumn of 1752, with a cargo of 820 sea otters, 1,900 blue 
foxes, and 7,000 fur seals, all collected on the island upon which 
they were wrecked." A footnote explains that this island probably 
was one of the Commander Group. 

Bancroft continues (p. 100), "Besides Bering Island, Bassof 
also visited Copper Island, and collected 1,600 sea otters, 2,000 
fur seals, and 2,000 blue Arctic foxes. From this trip Bassof 
returned on the 31st of July 1746." 

Such commercial records show that the Commander Islands 
were heavily populated with blue foxes in early times. Barabash- 
Nikiforov (1938, p. 424) points out that Alopex lagopus bering- 
ensis Merriam is the form on Bering Island and Alopex I. semenovi 
Ognev on Copper Island; and that the latter is the larger and 
darker of the two forms. 

Historical records also point to the presence of blue foxes on 
the Near Islands of the Aleutian Chain. Early Russian expedi- 
tions obtained profitable cargoes of furs from these western is- 
lands. Bancroft (1886) furnishes several pertinent passages. 
On page 112 he says, "During the same year, 1749, the mer- 



294 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

chants Rybinskoi and Tyrin sent out the Shitrika Sv loam to the 
Near Islands, the vessel returning in August 1752 with 700 sea 
otters and 700 blue foxes." 

On page 118, he refers to Attu Island when he says, "After 
living on this island in peace with the natives for over a year, 
Tolstykh departed with 5,360 sea otters and 1,190 blue foxes, 
and reached Kamchatka in the autumn of 1758." 

Again, this historian reports (p. 155), "The Vladimir, owned 
by Krassilnikof and commanded by Soposhnikof, sailed in 1766, 
and returned from the Near Islands with 1,400 sea otters, 2,000 
fur seals, and 1,050 blue foxes." 

Dall (1870, p. 499) stated that blue foxes had been intro- 










Figure 43. — Blue fox. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 295 

duced for commercial purposes on most of the islands by the 
Russian-American Company. He adds that the earliest visitors 
to the Aleutians found "tame" foxes on the larger islands and 
assumed they had originally been placed there by man. However, 
with due consideration of the well-known "tameness" of the Arctic 
fox in all its range, including Greenland, the lack of wildness is 
no indication of any degree of domestication. 

Elliott (1897, p. 180) wrote that blue foxes were introduced on 
Attu "many years ago." The above records, however, furnish 
good evidence to the contrary. 

At present, there is no evidence that blue foxes occupied the 
eastern Aleutians. From available records it is reasonable to 
conclude that blue foxes originally occupied only the Near Is- 
lands of the Aleutian chain. Even today, the next island eastward, 
Buldir, has no foxes and apparently has never had them. It is 
one of the few islands on which geese are able to nest unmolested 
by foxes. Evidence is lacking that blue foxes occupied any islands 
east of Buldir. 

It is possible that the blue foxes of the Near Islands originally 
were derived from the Commander Group. Ice floes from more 
northern latitudes could have drifted down, at rare intervals, to 
provide the necessary bridge or ferry — red foxes have been known 
to reach the Pribilofs over the ice, and a crossing to the Aleutians 
could easily be made. 

The Arctic fox, apparently chiefly of the white color phase, 
occurs rather sparingly on the Alaska Peninsula. Osgood (1904) 
reported — 

Straggling individuals of the Arctic fox are not infrequently found as far 
south as the north shore of the Alaska Peninsula, doubtless having 
followed the pack ice in winter. One was killed by fishermen near Igagik 
in the spring of 1902. They are also said to be found in the Togiak district 
and very rarely at Nushagak. 

In 1911, Wetmore wrote (of the Morzhovoi Bay region), 
"One white fox is reported to have been killed on the Bering Sea 
side here in the winter of 1908. It is supposed to have come down 
on the ice in winter. No others were known." 

I found no evidence of Arctic fox at the western end of Alaska 
Peninsula in 1925, but in 1936 I was informed by a resident at 
Port Molier that there were some white foxes about 60 miles 
northeast of that place in 1914. In 1936, the late Alexis Yatch- 
meneff, who had been chief of one of the Aleut villages, said 
that before the Russians came there were red, cross, and silver 
foxes on Unalaska but there were no white or blue foxes. 



296 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Kellogg (1936) found no bones of the Arctic fox in the midden 
material from Kodiak Island, though the red fox was abundantly 
represented. Probably this fox never ranged on the more rugged 
Pacific side of Alaska Peninsula. 

It appears, then, that the Arctic fox, mostly in its blue color 
phase, reached the westernmost Aleutians from the Commander 
Islands, while the Alaskan continental form straggled out, at 
least part way, on Alaska Peninsula. 

Food Habits 

The leasing of islands for the purpose of raising blue foxes has 
a direct influence on the native fauna, therefore particular at- 
tention has been given to the food habits of the blue fox in the 
Aleutians. Accordingly, we made every effort to learn what 
constituted the fox food on each island. This was accomplished 
by the only two methods possible — observation and the analysis 
of droppings. Such studies were made on about 40 islands, though 
data from a few of these were meager. Table 1 presents the 
food habits data obtained on 22 islands, from the contents of 
more than 1,800 blue fox droppings. While a much greater num- 
ber would be desirable from any given island for a complete pic- 
ture of the food habits pattern in percentages, the data here 
presented agree closely with our field observations and furnish 
an accurate statement of the food that is available and utilized 
by the blue fox in the Aleutians. 

It had been assumed by lessees operating in the Aleutians that 
sea urchins were the most important food item, supplemented by 
birds and beach drift. We found that sea urchins, though ac- 
ceptable, do not rank in importance with amphipods (tiny crus- 
taceans commonly referred to as beach fleas). Crustaceans were 
found in 26.1 percent of the droppings studied, and sea urchins 
were found in 2.1 percent (see table 2). 

Beach fleas appear to be the most commonly available food 
item. They swarm on the beaches, where windrows of dead kelp 
furnish a favorite habitat. They lurk under bits of wood, or 
under anything else that may lie on the sand and preserve the 
required moist shelter underneath. It is easy for a fox to pick 
up a full meal of sand fleas; on the other hand, sea urchins must 
be picked up at low tide and in limited areas on exposed reefs or 
other favorable spots. An island with extensive beaches, either 
sand or gravel, is favorable for foxes. An island with a rocky 
shore, and with few or no beaches, is not satisfactory; here, the 
foxes must rely on sea birds, as long as the bird colonies last. 
Throughout the Aleutians, life is concentrated pretty much along 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 297 

the shoreline, and there are few land birds. The sea birds depend 
on the ocean for food and generally are found at, or near, the 
shores. The life-giving tides are the principal source of food. 
There are no native rodents west of Umnak, but ground squirrels 
have been placed on Kavalga for fox food, and rats accidentally 
were introduced on Rat Island in early days. Foxes feed on both 
of these animals, 

On Rat Island, 28.8 percent of fox droppings contained rats, 
and about 40 percent contained beach fleas. Rat Island has ex- 
tensive beaches, and most of the rats are confined to the beaches 
because of the nature and distribution of the vegetation. 

Rats have also been introduced on Atka and are eaten by foxes, 
but our data for that island are too meager for tabulation. On 
Unalga Island, in the Fox Islands group, blue foxes were feeding 
on field mice, but these rodents are not available on most of the 
Aleutians. 

A stranded whale, or a dead seal or sea lion, often becomes an 
important item of fox food. We witnessed a whale being eaten on 
Yunaska Island, but a whale on the beach of Kanaga was hardly 
touched — this was explained by the caretaker who stated that 
most of the foxes were on the other side of the island. 

The importance of birds in the blue fox diet is evident in the 
tabulation. In the Aleutians as a whole, they furnish 57.8 per- 
cent of the food, though the percentage varies on different islands, 
depending on availability. Land birds are relatively unimpor- 
tant. They are hard to capture and do not gather in large groups. 
But the concentrated colonies of petrels, auklets, and related 
species furnish rich hunting grounds. In addition to the droppings 
tabulated in table 1, for Kasatochi Island, we found a single 
fox cache under a rock that contained 65 crested auklets, 37 least 
auklets, 1 whiskered auklet, 1 parakeet auklet, and 1 pigeon 
guillemot, and there were more birds farther back under the 
rock. On Bobrof Island, we found remains of 103 petrels, 6 
tufted puffins, 4 least auklets, and 1 pigeon guillemot. On Semi- 
sopochnoi, we listed remains found at dens as follows : 107 least 
auklets, 18 crested auklets, 3 tufted puffins, 1 horned puffin, 1 
murre, and 7 fork-tailed petrels. 

Necessarily, insects are a minor item in the diet, yet it is in- 
teresting to note that of the 10 droppings from Kiska Island that 
contained larvae of Noctuidae, one dropping consisted of 50 per- 
cent, another 75 percent, of these caterpillars. 

There is an interesting item from Kagamil Island. Two drop- 
pings contained skin from Aleut mummies. When we examined 



298 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 





\matignak 

(21 
droppings) 


1«1<>X 

JO 


CO* 
































Cfl 










NM 






CI 
















N 




saouajjnooo 

JO 

JoqainN 


COCN 




t- i 
















CO I 






i— i 






-H i-H 




rl 1 














i-H 




CO 

5 2 g 

O o 


jeiox 
jo 


■* 






IN 1 

,— 1 














' CO 






^ 




OICOCO* 

CD CO CO GO 
CO ^-1 ^H 


CNCN 


CM 

r-i 










XT 




saouojjnooo 

JO 

jaquinjsi 


rt 






ec 














H IO 
CO 






i— i 




CO Oi 00 CO 

go co ^r 


COCO 


CO 










i— | 




M ti 

ti (3 

a o 


11310 J, 
JO 


iracN 

a> i-h 
1 " 




no* 

f) HO 




00 ■* 
CM5CN 


















CN 

r-i 




CN 






















8 


saouojjnooo 

jo 

jaqmnN 


1 "• 




05,-I^Ji I 




COCN 


















>-l 




'"' 


















slands, 1936 and 19 
urrences of each sp 


,1 "a 

8oga 

co a o 
o - 

CO fl 


unoj, 

jo II 
iuaaja<i 








o> 
















GO 
CO 






co tt -*j« r-- 

CO * '<N 




CN 

?— i 




















— | 


saouojjnooo 
jo 

jaquin^ 


1 








CN 
















00 






to 




CO 

CO 




















*r*s 
CO 

bo 
♦J. H 

cvS-'g- 

W^P, 

o 

T3 


l^oj, 

jo 
quoojaj 


1 rt » 

OrH 

1 * 




CO 






r* 






















CN 
CN 




IO 












IT-- 








saouajjnooo 

JO 

jaquinN 


cocm 

IO 




00 






^ 






















CO 




CN 












^H 






-T 


gs, Aleutian I 
number of occ 


CO 

_. be 

■^-*co P, 
"i ■- *" P. 
Mco o 

*o 


l^ioj, 

jo 

■juoojad 


COCM 

r4o 

r-l CO 




•9" 








o 
n 






"J" 

IO 


_; pH rH t^ 


CO 

GO 

i— I 




CN 








C7i 










saouajjnooo 

JO 

joquinjst 


1 CD CO 




m 








o\ 






CO 


1— i I— I .— ( ^ 


o 




■* 








f— 1 












CO 

5t£ig< 
op, 
w o 

r-l 

■a 


ICJOJ, 

jo 
juoojaj 


1 

1 
1 


•* 




































o 




id 

CN 






















in blue-fox droppin 
ns percent of total 


saouajjnooo 

jo 

jaquin>j 


| 


i-t 








































t~ 






















CO 

13 _, a 
.a ^ .s 

2Sp. 

s- 


IBJOJ, 
JO 

uioojaj 


CN »0 IO IO IO IO 
CNCN -3" 






IO 


■* 


CM 

iO 


1—1 


^> 


to* 
cooi 














IO 


i— 1 






CO 


saouajjnooo 

JO 

jaquin^ 


lOCDHHl-H 
O CO 






r-l 


o 


CO 
1 r-i 


M 


M 


OCO 














^ 


<N 






CI 


-a 


JO 

luaojaj 


IO 

00 rH 
CO 




























HrtrtH 




00 






CD 

i-H 












r-l 

r-l 


1 g 


saouajjnooo | .* ^ 
jo || « 
jaqiun>j 




CO 
























i l— I i— 1 f— 1 l— 1 




CO 






i— I 












1 1^ 




CO 

"SS'P. 
bx.^^ o, 

< 8 

id 


ICJOJ, II CM 

JO I oin 

5uaoja<i *° 


'CO 








iO 






GO CO IH 




>o 

CN 


iO 




















CM 




saauajjnaao || oo«. 
jo | a 
jaquin^ 


)-H tD 








CO 






CO CO CN 
ICO 


CO 


T}l ^H 


!i-HN 




















<* 


as 


CO 

be 

«i- p, 
< w a 
^ o 


JO ,H '" 1 
5U30J3J 




CN IM^i ^ 


f— 1 






l<* 

1 — 1 






i-H 




rH 






















i ~ > 


rt 


C3 x 


saouajjnooo |l « ,-. 

JO rt ^ 

JoqiunN 




CNCNCOCO 


M 






en 






1—1 




i—t 






















|- rt 


i i-< 








CI 

c 

c 

C 

E 

-a 


i 
) 


it 


1 u 

1 < 

]*C 
1 p 

1 - 

i F. 
i 7 

j c 


1 
I 

1 

\u 

. C 

I ~ 

c 
= 

a 


I 

E 


a 


c 

1 

E 

1 

C 


E 
- 

z 


I 

'PC 


CI 

a 
C 

P 


' c 

1 -Z 
1 c 

: 

t> 
r 

1 

.^ 

iC 


1 

1 

1 
) 

1 

'<■£ 

s 


'1 
i t. 

1 4- 

i a 
i E 

'- 
i o 

:'- 

h 

3f= 


1 

c 
> < 


I 
) 

!« 

t 
c 

E 

— 

E 


1 (- 
■ c 

1 4- 

s 

ij 


E 

2 
1 


c 
ft 




*- 

3 

V 

4 

3 


-•- 
t 

— 

c 
c 

'J 


3 
j - 

• S 

ia! 

: P- 


J. 
- 

1 

c 


« 

E 
5 

ci 



c 


1 -1- 

i a 
1 

1 

s 

< 


, E 

( E 
: z 


■ 

E 

e 
J 


5 

t; 

a 

t 
E 

— 

i 
c 




) a 
>^ 



'Z 

4- 

5 
1 

C 


!l 

5 

!i 

E 

iE 


! 1 

E 
J 


i 
j 

- E 

c. 

la 


c 

i 
- 
i 

1 


1*6 

, r> 

: ^ 

- CD 

cc 

! C 
El 

- a 
"C 

ra 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 299 



■ c^( ■ r-i i -" i iOtiiC4i 


If-HI I^H lC< l I t* i ll-t 1 


i i i i^T^^ | v* j j j i i j j i p j j j i | 


iiiii— li— ti— 1.— III.— Iiiiiiiiti.— Iitiit 




100 l^H 1 ! ~H ! 


Io i i 


I I ■ 1 I I I |C4 I ■ I ■ I I ■ I i I I i I ■ I I i 


iCOt*- '00r^C^t~»O 1 

iiiiiiiiiao'ioo'ci't-iiiiiiiiii 

i ic* ii 


i i i i i-i ^H iaO~HCO»-iC^ i i i i i i i i i 

■ ■■■>■■■■ •— ■ ICO I I I I I I I I I 


!oj ! 


• i i i i i i i i 1 1— i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i 


N |||N 11)11 Ml j|| N N| Mi 




1 iO 1 HOiO 1 *C i 00 IO I -<J* IO I »o I »o "* I 

1 II . CI CI ll-H .C^ Ir-HIIIII 


i ?-* 1 IHH li-H I ^i t— i— 1 I CO i-» I *** y-< iiHPS 1 I I I I 


1 1 1 ICO 1 1 1 1 Ifr- 1 1 i 00 iOiii 

1 1 1 ItH 1 1 1 1 1-^5 1 1 lid IH 1 • 1 

1 1 1 I 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 T-t 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 III 


! 1 1 ! ,-1 i ! ! co ! i © i i i i i i i »-i i 


I I i I I I I i I I I i io IO I i I 

IrH t I ! 1 1 I Id 1 1 1 1 * I 1 1 1 I 1 ! * ! 1 1 


>C4 I 1 1 1 1 1 IT* 1 1 I 1 . I 1 | 1 1 | |i-4 | I 1 

I 1 I 1 I I I 1 1 I I I t_, i i I I I I i ill 
1 1 1 1 1 i I 1 1 1 1 1 *j 1 1 ■ 1 1 1 1 ill 


I i— I tji i— i Ol O i ~* 100 i i i i i i i i I i i h* i i I I 


I i-H CO h* CS *f ii-i ICO I i i I i ih i i i i 

1 1 1 i-H 1 1 1 1 1 1 I 1 I 1 1 till 


Black oystercatcher 

Aleutian sandpiper 

Ptarmigan 

Snow bunting 

Aleutian song sparrow 

Aleutian rosy finch 

Alaska longspur.. 

Aleutian winter wren 

Bird egg 

Fish 

Blue-fox hair 

Sea otter. 

Rat (Rattus sp.) 

Hair seal. 

Pebbles.. 

Sand 

Mud 

Paper 

Cloth 

Gummy substance 

Crowberry... 

Cranberry 

Grass. 

Kelp... 

Moss 

Human skin (mummy) 



300 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 



■s 

3 
C 

o 
O 



GO 

o> 

T3 
S 

e 

to 

GO 



«0 

s 

8 



e 

HO 

s 



03 

s 
"8. 

© 

o 
«*^ 

<» 

3 



to 



"8 

© 
© 



I-} 

5? 



Uliaga 

(132 

droppings) 


1'UOX 

JO 

lueojoj 


m 1 I 
cn i i 


ltd 










t~co 

i-H 




1 1 

1 1 

1 1 

1 1 


coo 


ItDcD 




CO 




CN 












IN 


saouojjnooo 

JO 

j u|umN 


■* 1 ] 


1 rH 1 
1 ^H 1 








CN CO i 

i-H CN i 


1 1 CO t-H 
i ICT> 
i i 
1 I 


1 i-H i-H I 


^ I 


CN I 










1 i ICO 


Kagamil 

(103 

droppings) 


IBIOX 

JO 

lirauad 


OO I 
^hCN 1 


1 1 1 
1 i-H 1 


o 








1 n 

t^ 1 


'hNIN 


iCONNWHHH 1 


« in i 


H 1 llO 


saouajjnooo 

JO 

jaqumjsi 


OCN 
CN m 1 


IcN 1 
I CN 1 










f—i 1 


-t CS rf< ■* 


i h. iO «tj< cD W N tN i 


i-H t-l 1 


CO I iOI 


Carlisle 

(12 

droppings) 


l^ox 

JO 

lUOOJOJ 


CO t~- 1 


1 1- 1 
iCN 1 










CO ' 




coo 


tt> i 




















iCO 


saouojjnooo 

jo 

joquinjs[ 


r-tN I 


loO 1 










i-4 1 




-HCO 


iCN i 




















1 1 1 1— 1 


Herbert 

(25 

droppings) 


jo 

5U30J8J 


t-4 ^H 


Ico 1 

ICN 1 










r- 1 1 




CN I 




r-cN-«< 














iCN 


saouajjnooo 

JO 

jaqmnN 


CO r- 


lo c 










CD ! 




1-1 i 




CO rH CN 














i 1 liH 


Amukta 

(114 

droppings) 


t^jox 

JO 

■juaojad 


to 1 


liO 1 
l-*ji I 


X) 




















o 








o 






l-t)< 

IcN 


saouajjnooo 

JO 

jaqumN 


I-H 1 


|-H< 1 

UN I 


■O 








OS 1 












" 








^H 






I I itH 


Kasatochi 

(46 
droppings) 


l^iox 

JO 

■raaojaj 


coo 


l rH < 


N 






CO rH 1 




CN 1 




CN 










| | | H 


saouajjnooo | 
jo 
joqiunN 


CN cn 
iH 


1 I-H I 


•O 






IC i-H I 




CN I 


i CM i-H tJ< CO 

ICO »-H 


CN 










II 1 l-H 


c3 , 
1 
P 


IE10X t~ 1 

jo - | 
^uoojaj | 


Ico i 


M 








CD ! 






CN • 


i-^ 
1 iH 




CN 




CN 








iCN 


saouajjnooo 

JO 

joqiunN 


00 i 


lo i 


^H 








CO I 






1-1 


i !>• 




rt 




1-1 








1 1 l rt 


■o 1 

< 


Vnoj, 
jo 

■juaojaj 


CM 


iTf h- CN 






U5CN 1 










CN 






?-H 


I I ICN 


saouajjnooo 

jo 

jaquinN 


■* r- cn 

CN 


it* t~ CN 






iocn 1 










CN 






i-H 


IcN 


Bobrof 

(220 

droppings) 


F^oj, 

jo 
^uaojaj 


1 i-H 
) i- 

1 -*- 










.00 1 

+H 1 




T"CN 


!os CN <N t* 


.CO . . . 

+J +H -fH +H 


1 1 IcN 


saouajjnooo 

JO 

jaquinM 


I'* IN 


i i-( I 








CN-* 1 

CO I 




CNiO 

i-H 


i iO iO iO OS 
I CM «-H 


CN OCNi-H i-H 
i-H 


1 1 1 ITS 


Kanaga 

(15 

droppings) 


11350X 

jo 
juaojaj 


i i 


i r-- i 

1 l"H 1 




































OJ iCOCO IO00 


saouajjnooo 

JO 

jaquinM 


I | ; 


lo I 




































CO li-Hi-H IcNO 


Ilak 

(64 

droppings) 


JO 

luaojoj 




I lO I 

loi 1 


00 














t* 1 


ll> 

i i—l 






CN 










100 

led 


saouajjnooo || ao ih 
jo | "* rt 
jaquinN 


1 i-H l 


i-H 














CN 1 


lo 

tCS 






CO 










1 i 100 






•a 1 

O i 

.£•» 
*«. 
a a/ 


1 CO 

1 - 

I'o 

03 „ 

1 £ c 
|S5 
I 1 " «■ 

2 8 g 


] 

t/. 

T 


! 1 

Cl 
1 o 
1 s 

i 
if 

i c 

5c 


i ! 
1 \ 

3 1 

J 1 
! [ 

3 i 
5 1 

5 JJ 

- E* 

35p 


i i'q 

1 | c 

' 13 

! -*- 
c 

; ;2 

1 ' Cl 

1 1 

' 1 c 

'J ^ 

; o t 

); h c 

5PC 


3 

5 

3 

1 
> 

1 

go 


1 a 

1 u 
1 -t- 

1 1 
; ~ 

it 

! fl 

11 

3 c 
J ft 


1 

o 


! u 

i c 

sil 

Bo 

gi 


:£ 
1 1- 

i - 

:-: 
- a 
! - 

II 


d 

i 
1 

u 

. o 


1 4- 

; c 
jo 

— 4- 

— -J 


c 

3 

B 
) 

1 

s 

1 

!f 
IP 


*- 


5 
_ 

is 

" c 

1 


e 

s 

c 

.1 


s 

c 
'5 

4 


! *. 

■ ■- 

>1 

1 - 

ii 

3 4- 

ii 

! c 


E 

a 

C 

E 
c 

C 

5 


J 

■ - 

: c 


t 

X 

c 
b 

c 

'' 
I 

I 

>i 


i 

3 

s 

3 c 

>,i 

t : 

S3 

j c 
* e 

5P 


< 

IS 

it 

: C 

Hft 


Harlequin duck 

Scaup duck 

European teal 

Unidentified bird „ 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 301 



iCCcOtf) i ^O 



.-iCS^C^C^t-i— c* 



&' 



CO ICO i iO i<£> CO 



— (— 

C c . ^° 

to ' a a " u S ? , 






1.5 cj. 



iu O CJ r, , 



>>>> 



a 






302 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Table 2. — Summary: Food items in blue-fox droppings, 
Aleutian Islands, 1936 and 1937 





Occurrences 


Food item 


Number 


Percent of total 


Invertebrates: 


653 

53 

30 

3 

45 


26.1 




2.1 




1.1 




.1 




1.75 




784 


31.3 


Birds: 


396 

9 

158 

15 

13 

17 

604 

4 

12 
4 
7 
7 
4 

56 
59 
83 


15.8 




.35 




6.3 




.6 




.5 




.7 




24.1 




.1 


Gulls and kittiwakes 


.4 




.1 




.2 


Shorebirds . 


.2 


Ptarmigan . 


.1 


Small land birds. 


2.2 


Bird eggs -- 


2.3 


Unidentified birds 


3.3 






Total 


1,448 


57.8 


Fish 


70 


2.7 


Mammals: 
Blue fox .... 


37 
3 

38 
5 
2 


1.4 


Seaotter 


.1 


Rat 


1.5 


Hair seal 


.2 


Human skin (mummy) 


.08 






Total 


85 


3.3 


Vegetation 


86 
28 


3.4 


Miscellaneous (mud, pebbles, paper) 


1.1 


Grand total 


2,501 


100 







a cave filled with mummies (which are now in the U. S. National 
Museum) , we discovered that blue foxes had torn some of these 
apart, literally limb from limb, and had made themselves 
thoroughly at home in the mummy cave. Obviously, blue foxes 
find human flesh tasty, either fresh or dried. The tabulations 
also indicate cannibalism. Presumably, most of the foxes that 
were eaten were carrion. 

Disposition and Habits 

The Arctic fox is known to be tame and unafraid in the pres- 
ence of man, not at all like the red fox. Steller has given a vivid 
account of the reactions of blue foxes to Bering's shipwrecked 
crew. They were exceedingly bold, and on some occasions they 
would begin nibbling on exposed parts of a person if he were ly- 
ing where a fox could get at him. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 303 

An interesting experience on Rat Island illustrates the sur- 
prising behaviour of these animals at times. To quote from my 
field notes — 

I sat down to rest on a ridge. Through the tall grass I could see two adult 
foxes and a well-grown young in the draw below me. I was sharpening my 
pencil and one of the foxes evidently caught the motion of my hand, and 
saw my head and shoulders. The young fox disappeared and one of the 
old foxes came charging straight up the slope. To my amazement it came 
all the way, ran up to me, poked me in the aim, apparently with bared teeth 
for it was a sharp sensation, then ran off a little distance. Immediately, 
the other fox started up the hill in the same manner. But at this point, 
I quickly stood up and waved it back. Both foxes then stood at a little 
distance and barked at me. 

The blue fox is a clever hunter. According to the Aleuts, some- 
times a fox will catch an emperor goose when it is asleep and has 
its head tucked under its wing. On occasion, too, a fox will 
stand on a point of rock where ducks are diving and, when a 
cluck is rising in the water nearby, the fox will jump in and 
seize it while it is still below the surface. The Aleuts added that 
the blue fox will jump in the water and seize salmon. Incidently, 
Homer Jewell, a member of our party, said that he had known of 
several dogs in southeastern Alaska that would seize salmon in 
the water. 

Blue foxes readily swim from one island to another when the 
distance is not great; sometimes they will attempt this where 
there are strong tidal currents and are carried off to sea and 
lost. Foxes also can climb moderate cliffs with ease. Occasionally, 
one will even leap across a chasm and down to the top of a pin- 
nacle where ducks are nesting, then clamber down the pinnacle, 
and swim back to shore. 

Foxes have learned to take every possible advantage over birds, 
and the birds must nest on sheer cliffs or inaccessible offshore 
rocks to be entirely safe. 

Birds vs. Blue-Fox Industry 

Possibly, there are areas where bird colonies are so huge that 
the Arctic fox has made only an insignificant reduction in the 
number of birds. In the Aleutian Islands, there are some large 
bird colonies, and the foxes take their toll. In some instances, 
this has not as yet made a great difference, but, in many other 
instances, great changes have taken place. On some of the smaller 
islands the birds have been almost eliminated, and on many is- 
lands such birds as eider ducks have ceased to nest, except on a 
few offshore pinnacles where they can find protection. The 
cackling goose and lesser Canada goose have become so scarce 



304 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

that it is somewhat doubtful whether they can survive in the Aleu- 
tians. If the migration to these islands should cease, these species 
would disappear from the Aleutian fauna. Certain rare species, 
too, are threatened. The whiskered auklet is not abundant, and 
the Cassin's auklet has become very scarce. 

No native rodents occur on most of the islands, hence there is 
no food for foxes except for the birds and invertebrates, and the 
drift on the beaches. Many of the islands are small, and the fox 
populations are under commercial management, which necessarily 
strives for the greatest possible fox numbers. Many of the is- 
lands have rocky shores with a minimum stretch of beach where 
foxes can feed. These are some of the factors that cause a special 
hazard to the Aleutian bird colonies. 

Cams lupus: Wolf 
Canis lupus pambasileus 

Aleut: Alixgikh (Geoghegan) 
Russian: Volk (Buxton) 

The wolf has ranged the entire length of the Alaska Peninsula, 
and is referred to by Osgood (1904, p. 40) . He found tracks near 
Lake Clark and around the portage between Chulitna River and 
Swan Lake, and he was told of wolves occurring on Alaska Penin- 
sula. Turner (1886, p. 208) reports it as being present on Unimak 
Island, stating that it reached this island over ice that sometimes 
jams into False Pass. Nelson (1887, p. 238) quotes Veniaminoff 
to the effect that wolves were resident on Unimak Island and that 
two were killed on Akun Island in 1830 — this is the farthest west 
that they have been reported. 

In 1911, Wetmore saw tracks of wolves in the King Cove re- 
gion. In 1925, I obtained further information on wolf distri- 
bution in that western district. Donald H. Stevenson, at that 
time resident fur warden there, reported that six wolves were 
killed on Unimak Island in 1912. He had unverified reports that 
the last ones were killed in 1914. It was learned that two wolves 
were killed in the winter of 1918 at the west end of Alaska Pen- 
insula. This had been a hard winter, the two wolves were poor, 
and their fur was greasy, showing that they had been living off a 
whale carcass. Griggs (1922, p. 315) found wolf tracks at Mount 
Katmai in 1916, and he mentions reports of wolf packs in former 
years. 

In 1936, wolves were reported to be plentiful on Mulchatna 
River, in the Lake Clark region, and in the Nanwhyenuk Lake 
and Naknek Lake country, but there were no recent reports of 
wolves westward along the Peninsula. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 305 

Family FELIDAE 

Lynx canadensis: Canada Lynx 
Lynx canadensis mollipilosus 

Osgood (1904, p. 39) reported that lynx were scarce at the 
base of the Alaska Peninsula, according to the natives, though 
in 1901 (p. 67) he recorded that lynxes were fairly common 
in the Cook Inlet region. Griggs (1922, p. 315) stated that trap- 
pers had reported the capture of lynxes within the Katmai Na- 
tional Monument. 

In 1911, Wetmore wrote — 

The lynx is not common in the region around King's Cove, but a few are 
reported every year. It has been known from the region around Cold Bay 
for as far back as the trappers could remember, but has come into the 
region west of Nelson's Lagoon, on the Bering Sea side, within the last 
4 or 5 years. Its food is reported to be the Arctic Hare. 

Thus, it is evident that the lynx has occurred far out on the 
Alaska Peninsula, beyond all timbered areas. It is not reported 
from the Kodiak-Afognak group, where varying hares were 
introduced only recently. 



Family OTARIIDAE 
Eumetopias jubata: S+eller Sea Lion 

Attu: Kdv-rch 

Atka: Kow'-uhh 

Aleut (dialect?) : Qa'hwax (Jochelson) 

Khawakh (Geoghegan) 
Russian: Sivutcha (Steller) 

Sea lions are found throughout all of southwestern Alaska, ex- 
tending to Attu Island, where we saw some at its westernmost 
point, Cape Wrangell. There were colonies, numbering from 40 
or 50 to several hundred individuals, at such places as Amak 
Island, Bogoslof (the outstanding herd), Carlisle, Yunaska, 
Chagulak, Amukta, Segula, Semisopochnoi, Ilak, and Buldir. 
Bogoslof has by far the largest and most spectacular herd — so 
outstanding that it deserves special consideration as an object of 
particular scientific, as well as popular, interest. In 1938, Scheffer 
estimated 800 sea lions were on Bogoslof. 

The Aleuts use the skin of the sea lion for leather, and find 
the flesh very palatable. On one occasion, I ate the flesh of a 
young sea lion and found that it was decidedly acceptable. 



306 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Callorhinus ursinus: Northern Fur Seal 

Attu: Hla-koo-yach 

Laku'dax (Jochelson) 
Aleut (dialect?) : Lakukh (Geoghegan) 
Russian: Kot (Steller) 

The fur seal migrates to and from the Pribilof Islands by way 
of various passes throughout the Aleutian chain, and, at such 
times, they may be found, well offshore, south of Alaska Penin- 
sula. 

In 1925, I was told of some unusual overland movements of 
these seals near the western end of Alaska Peninsula. At that 
time, Nick Kristensen, a local trapper at False Pass, stated that 
fur seals in fall migration had been observed going up Nelson 
Lagoon, then crossing overland to the Pacific. Stevenson, a reli- 
able observer, related that several people had reported fur seals 
going overland from the Bering Sea side, across the narrow 
strip into Morzhovoi Bay, and that they had crossed the sandspit 
at St. Catherine Cove as well as the sandspit at Village Cove 
on the opposite mainland. 

In regard to overland movements of seals, it is interesting to 
recall Bailey's notation of a report of an Eskimo at Cape Prince 
of Wales to the effect that spotted seals and ribbon seals had 
migrated overland out of lagoons to reach open water to the south, 
because of ice conditions in the lagoons. In this instance, they 
crossed high country, and traveled several miles a day. 

There appeared to be a general understanding among the Aleuts 
that fur seals hauled out on Buldir Island in the past, and some 
of the natives insisted that they bred there. These stories came 
from natives of Attu as well as Atka. In 1937, Bill Dirks, a 
brother of the chief of Atka Village, insisted that fur seals were 
on Buldir. He told me that he had landed there years ago and 
had killed some for their furs. He was confident that these seals 
would still be hauling out on Buldir. 

At this point, it is of interest to quote a short note from 
Scheffer, who wrote under date of January 28, 1942, that — 

In a collection of notes bequeathed to us by G. Dallas Hanna there appears 
a card with the following statement: "August 1 [1902] — Judge and Lembkey 
shown a pup fur seal taken by the officers of the Manning this summer on 
Bowldir Island." The statement was attributed to the official log of St. Paul 
Island, Alaska. 

In American Field (1902, vol. 53, p. 198), there is a report of 
"recent news" from Washington, D. C, to the effect that Captain 
Charles H. McLellan, commanding the U. S. Revenue Cutter 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 307 

Manhattan had reported to Captain Shoemaker of the Revenue 
Cutter Service the discovery of a new fur seal rookery in the 
Aleutian Islands, on "Bouldyer Island." It was stated that Lieu- 
tenant Berthodd had approached the herd closely enough to ob- 
serve that none of the seals had been branded. 

In 1938, Scheffer was told by Bill Dirks, of Atka, that his father 
lived on Buldir Island for a month in 1900 and had killed several 
fur seals there. He also said that A. C. Goss visited the north- 
west end of Buldir in 1920 and had reported the presence of fur 
seals and sea lions. 

We tried to find fur seals on Buldir, but we found only a sea 
lion rookery on a beach of an offshore islet. However, we were 
unable to make a landing. When I mentioned this sea lion rookery 
to the chief at Atka, he was not surprised. He stated that he 
knew of the presence of sea lions there, and he added that the fur 
seals would be there too. 

In spite of our negative findings, all the evidence seems to show 
that, at one time, the fur seal was to some extent a resident as well 
as a migrant in the Aleutians. 



Family PHOCIDAE 

Phoca vltulina: Harbor Seal 
Phoca yitulina richardii 
Attu: Ish'-u-gich 
Atka: Ish'-u 
Aleut (dialect?) : Isv.kh (Geoghegan) 

Hisook (Wetmore, at Morzhovoi Bay) 
Ishooik (Osgood). 
Russian, Siberia (Gichiga) : Ola (Buxton) 
Russian, lkhotsk, Ayan, Pengina, and Marcova: Largha (Buxton) 

It is interesting to note that Nelson (1887, p. 262) gives Ish-6- 
gik as the Eskimo name for the ringed seal (Pusa hispida), which 
is extremely rare, or absent, in the Aleutians, and is not distin- 
guished from Phoca vitulina by the Aleuts. 

The harbor seal occurs all along the southern Alaskan coast, 
and throughout the length of the Aleutians. We did not find it to 
be particularly abundant, but we sighted single animals or small 
groups here and there. In 1925, it was rather common along the 
Bering Sea side of Alaska Peninsula. 

In his revision of the Genus Phoca, Doutt (1942, p. 120) identi- 
fied specimens of this race from Alaska Peninsula between Katmai 
and Kanatak and between Portage Bay and Becharof Lake, from 
Izembek Bay, Nagai Island in the Shumagins, from Kagamil 



308 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Island, and from Adak Island. He gave the range of this form 
as the "American side of the North Pacific Ocean." Obviously, 
this is the seal of the Aleutian district, but there is a possibility 
that the more western form, P. v. largha, may occur near the 
western islands. 

These seals will enter fresh water. Osgood (1904, p. 49) men- 
tions reports of a spotted seal living in the fresh waters of Lake 
Iliamna, and he says that most of those killed were taken either 
near the outlet of the lake or in Kvichak River, "which seems to 
indicate that the animals whether distinct or not, go back and 
forth from Bristol Bay to Lake Iliamna." 

Among the Aleutian Islands, seals were usually found in the 
kelp beds, but they do not always seek such a habitat. I had a 
fine opportunity to study these animals in the spring and sum- 
mer of 1925, at Unimak Island and at the west end of Alaska 
Peninsula. They were very common at that time. They hauled 
out on the boulders of the reef at Amagat Island and basked on 
the kelp-covered boulders near the beaches of Amak Island. In 
Urilia Bay, they hauled out on the sand along the entrance to 
Rosenberg Lagoon, and in Izembek Bay they hauled out on 
shoals and sandbars at low tide. A small sand island in the 
channel between Operl and Neumann Islands was a favorite 
hauling-out place. 

Seals pick a resting place that provides ready escape, always 
near deep water. If the ebbing tide recedes from a boulder on 
which a seal is resting, the animal will move to another rock, 
nearer to deeper water. When navigating the shallow Izembek 
Bay with our whaleboat, we could steer a deep-water course by 
noting the location of resting seals. 

Mothers and pups appear to be very affectionate, swimming 
near each other and occasionally touching noses. A little one 
would try to climb to its mother's perch on a rock. After a while, 
the mother might lazily roll into the water to join it; later, both 
might be able to clamber out on the same perch. 

On June 17, a young seal was taken for a specimen — the stom- 
ach was filled with milk. On July 10, Stevenson and I each ob- 
served a pup nursing. 

We found a number of deserted pups, probably those whose 
mothers had been killed. A deserted pup had been picked up at 
False Pass in May. On June 16, I found a pup on Neumann 
Island, at the edge of the grass far from water, since the tide had 
ebbed. A dead pup lay on a hauling place on a small sand island. 
A very lean pup was found on Glen Island on June 30 ; when we 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 309 

approached, it hurriedly scrambled into the sea. We noted a dead 
pup on this island on July 27. On June 17, a pup was swimming 
near the beach calling for its mother. We answered its call, and 
it responded several times by coming out on the sand at our feet, 
but it retreated hastily when it learned its mistake, and finally 
it swam out to sea. The pups have a plaintive, moaning call, 
which is quickly identified by the mother. The adults have a 
lower and more raucous voice. 

On July 27, a partially blind seal swam near the beach at Glen 
Island. One eye was white, and the other was partly white. It 
could see me only when it faced me squarely. 

On June 17, it was noticed that the seals were shedding their 
hair. Old hair was found in their beds, where they had been 
basking on the beach. At this time, some were a dirty yellowish 
color; some were mixed, partly light and partly dark; and others 
were all dark. Evidently, these color variations were stages of 
pelage change. 

On June 24, 1937, a female seal was taken for a specimen at 
Khvostof Island, and her pup was kept alive for a time. Part 
of the navel cord was still attached, and it was evident that the 
pup was recently born. It had the typical dark, spotted coat of 
this species of seal. The mother weighed 220 pounds. 

As one would expect, the seal was much prized by the Aleuts, 
and was used for food and for other purposes. Wetmore, writ- 
ing of Unalaska and neighboring islands in 1911, stated that "The 
hide is used for various purposes and oil is tried out of the blub- 
ber. The gut is split and dried and used for many purposes. It 
is sold in the store like cloth at about 15 cents a yard." 

Pusa hispida: Ringed Seal 

Russian (Siberia): Ak'-ec-pah (Buxton). 

Turner (1886, p. 206) implies that this seal occurs in the 
Aleutians, but from his casual statement it is obvious that he 
had no specimens to support his opinion. Nelson (1887, p. 262) 
does not mention any locality farther south than St. Michael, 
but there is a specimen in the National Museum (No. 227077) 
that was obtained near Chogiung, Bristol Bay, by Hanna in 1913. 
This is a seal of the ice floes and would not be expected to occur 
regularly in the Aleutian district. Stragglers may have come that 
far at times in winter with southward-drifting ice. 

Pagophilus groenlandicus: Harp Seal 

This is another seal whose reported presence in the Aleutians 
must be seriously doubted. Turner (1886, p. 206) gives as its 



o 



10 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 



range: "All the Arctic shore, Bering Sea, and the Aleutian Is- 
lands." There is no evidence of its presence in the Aleutians. 
Allen (1880, p. 641) refers to Pallas and Steller as recording it 
from Kamchatka, and he says that Tcmminck mentions having 
examined three skins obtained at Sitka. On Temminck's record, 
Nelson (1887, p. 263) expresses serious doubt: "considering 
that we have no subsequent record of its capture in that now 
well-known region, and that it is unknown from the Aleutian 
Islands and is of such extreme rarity in Bering Sea, that record 
can be safely considered as more than doubtful." 

I agree with Nelson's opinion without any hesitation. In fact, 
Doutt (1942, p. 90), considering the complete lack of specimens 
from the western Arctic and Bering Sea, has some doubt about 
it being circumpolar in distribution, although Nelson described 
the skin of a young individual from Cape Prince of Wales, and 
described several individuals that were seen at close range in 
the pack ice near Wrangel and Herald Islands. 

Histriophoca fasciata: Ribbon Seal 

Russian: Kre-lat-ah and Mandar-ka (Buxton) 

This is a rare and little-known seal, but apparently it is quite 
migratory, and there is a possibility that it has been found among 
the Aleutian Islands. Allen (1880, p. 681) refers to Pallas as 
recording the range as far south as the Kurile Islands, and re- 
fers to Von Schrenck as stating that Wosnessenski obtained 
specimens that had been killed on the east coast of Kamchatka. 
Allen also states that Von Schrenck had seen skins of these seals 
that had been killed on the southern coast of the Sea of Okhotsk. 
Allen further states that Dall had obtained specimens from Cape 
Romanzoff, and he quotes Scammon as follows: "It is found 
upon the coast of Alaska, bordering the Behring Sea, and the 
natives of Ounalaska recognize it as an occasional visitor to the 
Aleutian Islands." 

Erignathus barbatus: Bearded Seal 
Erignathus barbatus nauticus 

Russian, (Siberia) : Nerpah 

Russian, Kamchatka and Marcona: Lock-tock (Buxton) 

Nelson (1887, p. 260) says— 

The Bearded Seal is rather common along the Alaskan coast of Bering 
Sea south to Bristol Bay, but it is not found on the Aleutian Islands nor 
about the Fur-Seal group, except possibly as a winter visitor with the ice- 
pack about the latter islands. On the coast south of Cape Vancouver they 
are far less common than north of that point. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 311 

Osgood (1904, p. 47) obtained a skull of this seal from the 
natives near his camp on Ugagik River. The animal had been 
killed there on October 3, 1902. 

On May 23, 1936, in Bristol Bay, Captain Sellevold, who was in 
command of our ship the Brown Bear, reported that he saw a seal 
that "dived like a fur seal," that is, sliding over head first, with 
humped back, but that it had a "white streak" on its face. It is 
true that this is the diving habit of the bearded seal, and the 
so-called "white streak" may have been the appearance of the long 
whiskers of this seal. 

A skull is in the National Museum (No. 260363) that was ob- 
tained from Kodiak Island by Ales Hrdlicka. 

Bill Dirks, Atka Chief, said that in the winter of 1935-36 two 
strange large seals arrived at Atka Island on ice floes after a 
period of northerly winds. It is probable that these were bearded 
seals, for the natives were familiar with their own common harbor 
seals. 

Family ODOBENIDAE 

Odobenus rosmarus: Walrus 
Odobenus rosmarus divergens 

Aleut (dialect?) : Amgadakh (Geoghegan) 
Amagadookh (Wetmore) 

Russian: Morsjec (Elliot) 

The walrus was never known south of Alaska Peninsula or the 
Aleutian Islands in any numbers. Elliott (1882, p. 98) wrote — 

no walrus are found south of the Aleutian Islands ; still, not more than 
45 or 50 years ago, small gatherings of these animals were killed here 
and there on the islands between Kodiak and Oonimak Pass; the greatest 
aggregate of them, south of Bering straits, will always be found in the 
estuaries of Bristol bay and on the north side of the peninsula. 

On October 9, 1923, Walker wrote, "One individual was killed 
in the fall of 1921 or spring of 1922 at the head of Cold Bay 
(north of Deer Island), on the south side of the Alaska Penin- 
sula." 

Apparently, there was even a more southerly distribution in 
primitive times. Golder (1922, p. 292) quotes from the journal 
of Chirikov's vessel, the St. Paul, under date of July 16, 1741, the 
locality being near Cape Addington in southeastern Alaska: "Ob- 
served many ducks and gulls of different species, also sea ani- 
mals — whales, sea lions and walrus." 

The same author (p. 295) quotes again for July 23, 1741, 
somewhere in or near Lisianski Strait : "At the eleventh hour a 



312 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

walrus swam past our ship." And again (p. 298), for August 1, 
1741, near Cape Elizabeth, the southwestern point of Kenai Pen- 
insula : "A walrus dived near the ship." 

If we may accept these early records, and they appear to be 
authentic, in primitive times the walrus must have ranged at 
least as far south and east as Prince of Wales Island in south- 
eastern Alaska, possibly farther. It should be noted that this is 
actually not farther south than the north shore of Unimak Is- 
land. However, if there had been large herds in southeastern 
Alaska, surely some of them would have survived long enough to 
have been more generally recorded. It is reasonable to conclude 
that walruses occurring south and east of Alaska Peninsula were 
only in small groups and that they represented the southern fringe 
of their distribution. 

The Aleutian Islands west of Unimak are not properly in the 
walrus range, but Turner (1886, p. 207) records a 2-year-old male 
killed at Attu Island in September 1880. 

In 1938, Scheffer recorded the following statement by Pete 
Olson, of Unalaska Island: 

I went to Anderson Bay near Makushin with my power dory and towed 
a walrus up on the beach. It had been killed by natives, was two or three 
years old, and had a body about two thirds as long as my twenty foot 
dory. The walrus was beached and the natives took some meat. A doctor 
on the Coast Guard boat "Haida" took the head, cleaned off the meat, and 
saved the skull. This happened in the late fall of 1926 or 1927. 

Such records represent strays. 

Walruses feed on clams on the ocean floor, therefore we would 
not expect to find optimum habitat in the deep waters that are 
so prevalent in the western Aleutians. On the other hand, we 
know that walruses existed in great numbers in Bering Sea, 
whose shallow waters afford favorable feeding grounds. It is 
significant that Bristol Bay, whose shallow waters and mud and 
sand bottom were the home of great numbers of walruses in 
earlier days, now has very few. 

Several places on the north side of Alaska Peninsula were 
visited by great numbers of walruses, though early accounts do 
not always specify precise localities. It is obvious that the 
"south side of Bristol Bay" harbored large walrus herds. Local 
residents indicated that the vicinity of Ugashik had one or more 
hauling-out places. 

Osgood (1904, p. 49) reported in 1902 that— 

A very limited number of walruses still occur about some of the small 
islands in Togiak Bay west of Nushagak, and on the north coast of the 
Alaska Peninsula in the vicinity of the native village of Unangashik. Large 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 313 

quantities of walrus bones, witnesses of bygone slaughters, are to be found 
at various points along the peninsula. One such place was reported by 
the fishermen of Igigik, who had recently found it while on a hunting trip 
near there. From their accounts, the remains must be in great quantities. 

Great numbers of walruses are known to have been killed at 
Port Moller. In 1911, Wetmore reported that a few walruses 
were still to be found on "Walrus Island", in Izembek Bay, near 
the west end of Alaska Peninsula. In 1925, when I visited Izembek 
Bay, parts of walrus skulls were found on Hazen Point and on 
the ocean beaches of the Kudiakof Islands. These are a string 
of sand islands that extend across the mouth of Izembek Bay. 
About 14 miles offshore at this place is isolated Amak Island, 
which has a long boulder beach thickly strewn with old walrus 
bones. Assuredly, at one time this was a much-used resting place 
for these animals. 

In 1936, the late Alexis Yetchmenef, Aleut chief then residing 
at Unalaska, said that in 1880 to 1883, during his visit at his 
old home in Morzhovoi Village, walruses were numerous on the 
north side of Unimak Island and were found in St. Catherine 
Cove. On one occasion, while hunting on Unimak Island, he saw 
40 or 50 walruses leaving the island. For 2 years they were 
plentiful there. Then, in 1898 or 1899, some white men "did a 
lot of shooting there," and the chief believed that the walrus left 
for that reason. Unimak Island undoubtedly marks the western- 
most point in this area that is reached by the walrus in any num- 
bers, because it also marks the western end of suitable habitat. 

In 1887, E. W. Nelson (1887, p. 270) said, "Today it is safe to 
say that the number of these animals in existence is not over 
50 percent of the number living ten years ago, and a heavy annual 
decrease is still going on." 

In a letter dated March 4, 1921, C. L. Andrews wrote to E. W. 
Nelson, at that time Chief of the U. S. Biological Survey — 

The walrus should be looked after. They are increasing, and are again 
coming to the Alaska Peninsula in small numbers where they, in Russian 
days, were by thousands. But the skin and ivory hunters will again wipe 
them off the waters if nothing is done to stop it. If handled properly 
an industry of at least a million dollars a year could be perpetuated in their 
skins, oil, and ivory. I can't get the record of the amount brought down 
for the last 8 or 10 years, the customs do not give it, but I know of 2800 
skins being in Seattle about 4 years ago, and the "Belvedere" was lost in 
the Arctic "walrusing" last year. 

An occasional walrus is still seen in the vicinity of Nunivak 
Island, but the herds that Elliott thought would be "preserved in- 
definitely" are gone from Bristol Bay and Alaska Peninsula. 
Moreover, there is no assurance, with modern transportation 



314 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

and with modern firearms in the hands of the natives, that the 
northern herds will survive. Eskimos still kill walruses for food 
and clothing. But with the use of firearms about 50 percent of 
the animals sink and are lost. Today the walrus poses an im- 
portant conservation problem. 



Family SCIURIDAE 

Marmota caligata: Hoary Marmot 
Marmota caligata caligata 

Russian, Siberia: Tar-bah-gan (Buxton) 

Howell (1915, p. 58) gives the distribution of the marmot as 
including much of southern and interior Alaska, Kenai Peninsula, 
and Alaska Peninsula as far west as the Port Moller region. 
Allen (1904, p. 278) records a marmot taken at "Muller Bay." 
The type locality is Bristol Bay. They do not occur in the Kodiak- 
Afognak Islands. 

Captain Cook (1842, p. 358), writing at Unalaska, states that 
foxes and weasels were the only quadrupeds seen, but he adds 
that he was told that there were hares, and the "marmottas" men- 
tioned by Krasheninikoff in October, 1778. This statement probably 
refers to the general region of Unalaska, and if the "marmottas" 
are referable to "marmot," as used later, it is important to note 
that this name was often applied to the ground squirrel, Citellus. 
Marmot Island obviously was named for the ground squirrel. 
There are no records of marmots west of Port Moller. 

Citellus parryii: Ground Squirrel 
Citellus parryii ablusus 

Aleut (dialect?) :Andnuchgh (Osgood) 

Russian, (Morzhovoi Bay) : Everaskha (Wetmore) 

Russian, Siberia: Ov-rdhs-ka (Buxton) 

The type locality of this ground squirrel is Nushagak, and it 
inhabits the entire length of Alaska Peninsula and Unimak Is- 
land.. The ground squirrels from the Barren Islands, between 
Kenai Peninsula and Afognak Island, also are this form, instead 
of kodiacensis. These ground squirrels were introduced on Una- 
laska Island by Samuel Applegate, of the U. S. Signal Service, 
and they became plentiful in their new home. Osgood (1904, 
p. 31) states that Applegate obtained the ground squirrels at 
Nushagak. In 1936, Chief Alexis Yetchmeneff told us much the 
same story, giving the date of the introduction as 1896 or 1897, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 315 

but he thought that they had come from Unimak Island or 
Morzhovoi Bay. The chief was a little uncertain about the precise 
locality, and Osgood's statement was very definite, so it is likely 
that they came from Nushagak. In any case, it is the same 
subspecies. 

According to Bill Dirks, chief of Atka Village, 10 or 12 ground 
squirrels were brought from Unalaska by Nick Bolshanin and 
were liberated on Kavalga Island, in 1920, where they increased 
in number. These two introductions, on Unalaska and Kavalga 
Islands, were the only ones that we learned about. 

It is obvious that ground squirrels are able to cross narrow 
channels of water to reach adjacent islands. In 1925, I was 
informed that a ground squirrel had been seen swimming across 
a bay in Isanotski Strait. It came to a net, ran along on the floats 
for a distance, then swam on again. 

When I arrived at King Cove on April 25, 1925, the ground 
squirrels were active, though it was not known how much earlier 
they had been out. On May 2, on Unimak Island, it was noted 
that they were sluggish and not much in evidence, which prob- 
ably was due to the cold, disagreeable weather that prevailed at 
that time. Beals and Longworth, in 1941, saw the first ground 
squirrels on April 15. A trapper, Nick Kristensen, declared that 
occasionally he had seen ground squirrel tracks in January, pre- 
sumably in warm spells of weather, but that he had dug them out 
in winter and found them fully dormant. Osgood (1904, p. 32) 
said "The animals were more or less active at Cold Bay as late 
as October 18, although comparatively cold weather was prevail- 
ing." 

On May 25, 1925, on a plateau near Aghileen Pinnacles, I dis- 
covered that ground squirrels had burrowed up through the snow 
from their place of hibernation, and were living on this snowfield, 
sometimes wandering far from the burrow. 

On June 3, a ground squirrel was observed pulling a big mouth- 
ful of grass into a den, no doubt for a nest for the young. Others 
were similarly engaged on subsequent days — the last observation 
being on June 8. 

Though the food of the ground squirrel is chiefly vegetation, 
they will eat animal matter. Several came to my camp on Alaska 
Peninsula to nibble at the fat on a bear hide stretched out to dry. 
The stomach of a specimen taken on Unimak Island May 8, 1925, 
examined by the Food Habits Research Section of the U. S. Bio- 
logical Survey, contained the following items: 



316 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

21 caterpillars and lepidopterous pupae, 60 percent; 1 tipulid larva and 6 
Bib io larvae, 4 percent; 2 beetles (Cryobius sp.) ; 1 ichneumonid and a 
spider, trace; 2 berries (Vaccinium sp.) 2 percent; a few leaves of Empetrum 
nigrum and other vegetable matter, 34 percent. 

In 1937, Scheffer noted that on Kavalga Island the ground 
squirrels were cutting out the basal parts of Anernone narcissi- 
flora and Ligusticum above the roots. In 1938, on Unalaska Is- 
land, he noted again that ground squirrels were eating out the 
center of basal parts of stems of the anemone, and he found 
wilted tops and outer layers of stems near the burrows. 

On Kavalga Island, the blue foxes feed to some extent on 
ground squirrels, and on Alaska Peninsula the Alaska brown 
bears dig them out of their burrows. 

Citellus parryii nebulicola 

This form occupies the Shumagin Islands, and was observed on 
Nagai, Simeonof, and Koniuji Islands in this group. 

Citellus kodiacensis: Ground Squirrel 

Howell (1938, p. 103) considered this form distinct enough to 
be a full species. Its range is confined to Kodiak Island. 

There is a peculiar circumstance connected with this species. 
Howell refers to Osgood's statement that the ground squirrels of 
Kodiak Island were introduced from North Semidi Island (Os- 
good obtained this information from a native). Petroff (1884, 
p. 139) states that "The animal [ground squirrel] does not exist 
on the island of Kodiak, but abounds on some of the smaller is- 
lands." And again, 1936, Petellin, of Afognak, informed us that 
ground squirrels occur on Chirikof and Semidi Islands and on 
Marmot Island, but none are on Kodiak or Afognak Islands. Yet, 
Howell records 45 specimens from Kodiak Island. There is a 
confusion here that should be cleared up when an opportunity 
is offered. During our short visits on Kodiak and Afognak Is- 
lands, in 1936 and 1937, we did not see the ground squirrel, but, 
in 1938, Scheffer obtained two specimens at KodiaJ 

Tamiasciurus hudsonicus: Red Squirrel 
Tamiasciurus hudsonicus kenaiensis 

Osgood (1904, p. 30) expressed the distribution of red squirrels 
very well when he said — 

Red squirrels were found sparingly in the timbered regions. . . . This scarcity 
of red squirrels is doubtless because they reach the extreme western limit 
of their range in this region. Specimens were taken at the following localities : 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 317 

Nogheling Portage, Lake Clark (near head), mouth of Chulitna River, Neek- 
ahweena Lake, south fork Chulitna River, Kakhtul River (near Malchatna 
junction). Howell gives the range of this form as reaching as far east as 
Yakutat. 

It is to be expected that red squirrels range as far as the ever- 
green forest at the base of Alaska Peninsula. Presumably, this 
animal does not occur on Kodiak or Afognak Islands. 



Family CASTORIDAE 

Casfor canadensis: Beaver 
Castor canadensis canadensis 

Beavers are known to occur in the Bristol Bay region, and they 
are trapped there. McKay obtained a specimen at Kokwok on 
December 17, 1881. Osgood (1904, p. 32) found evidence of 
beaver at various points in the wooded region about the base of 
Alaska Peninsula. A. G. Maddren obtained a skull at Becharof 
Lake in October 1903. But the designation of the range of beaver 
in this country must await further field work. 

Kellogg (1936, p. 37) found beaver bones in native midden re- 
mains from Kodiak Island. This would suggest that beavers oc- 
cupied Kodiak Island at one time, though it is possible that these 
beaver remains might have been brought there by natives. At 
any rate, beavers were introduced on Kodiak Island in 1925 by 
the Alaska Game Commission. In 1936, we found them to be 
well established there. In 1938, Scheffer noted heavy utilization 
of Sitka spruce by beavers in a pond near Kodiak; "Several 
hundred stumps 1-6 inches in diameter were seen around the 
shore. Peeled and unpeeled spruce sticks were used in the dam and 
lodge — We noted some utilization of willow and Veratrum. . . . 
The Salmonberry, though abundant, was apparently not utilized." 



Family CRICETIDAE 

Synaptomys borealis: Lemming Mouse 
Synaptomys borealis dalli 

This mouse is confined to the basal parts of the Alaska Penin- 
sula, and eastward. In Fish and Wildlife Service collections there 
are specimens from Lake Clark, Lake Iliamna, Chulitna River, 
Lake Aleknagik, and Kokwok, on Nushagak River. 



318 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Lemmus trimucronatus: Lemming 
Lemmus trimucronatus minusculus 

As might be expected, this mouse ventures out a considerable 
distance on Alaska Peninsula. Its range is roughly shown by the 
following specimens in the Fish and Wildlife Service collection : 1 
from Chogiung, 11 from Kakhtul, 24 from Kakhtul River, 20 from 
Chulitna River, 2 from Kokwok River, 2 from Kokwok, on 
Nushagak River, 6 from Nushagak, and 5 from Chignik Bay. 
The last mentioned show that further collecting will undoubtedly 
show a greater distribution on the more westerly part of the 
Peninsula. 

Dicrostonyx groenlandicus: Collared Lemming 
Dicrostonyx groenlandicus rubricatus 

Lemmings that, for the present, are referred to this subspecies 
are found throughout the length of Alaska Peninsula and Unimak 
Island. The few specimens we have from the western part of 
Alaska Peninsula and Unimak Island do not entirely agree in 
color with the typical rubricatus coloration. 

These specimens suggest a strong tendency toward the gray 
pelage of stevensoni from Umnak Island. But in view of the 
variations in the characters of this lemming, and the small num- 
ber of specimens at hand, it is difficult to state the relationships 
of the lemmings in this interesting region. 

In 1925, when I visited the west end of Alaska Peninsula and 
Unimak Island, an attempt was made to collect a good series of 
specimens, but the lemmings were scarce that year and only four 
were obtained on Unimak Island. They had their burrows on the 
higher tundra and among the lava beds. 

Dicrostonyx groenlandicus unalascensis 

The lemming from Unalaska Island was described in 1900 on 
the basis of skulls taken from owl pellets, and for a long time we 
knew nothing of its external characters. Many attempts had 
been made to trap specimens, and during our brief stops at 
Unalaska in 1936 and 1937 we tried to obtain some, but without 
result. We did find remains of these mice, however, in red fox 
droppings. 

In 1931, Gilmore succeeded in trapping two specimens on Una- 
laska Island, and he has described them in detail (1933, p. 257). 
Apparently, this form, like the one on Umnak Island, does not 
acquire a white winter coat. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 319 

Dicrostonyx groenlandicus stevensoni 

This lemming, described by Nelson in 1929, is similar to D. g. 
unalascensis in that it is grayer in coloration than rubricatus, 
and does not become white in winter. It is quite common on 
Umnak Island, but no lemmings or other native mice are found 
farther west in the Aleutians. 

In 1937, we were informed by Mr. Stacey, owner of the domestic 
sheep on Umnak Island, that about 1927, as nearly as he could 
remember, lemmings became abundant. "Millions," he said, and 
"so hard on the grass" that he feared they would "run him out of 
the sheep business." The following year the lemmings were 
scarce. 

The dates were a little uncertain, but apparently it was about 
that time that a Captain Nelson, passing by Umnak Island, came 
upon big "schools" of lemmings out at sea. 

A news account in the "Seward Gateway," dated April 18, 1932, 
possibly refers to this same incident, and may fix the date more 
accurately : 

Trappers on Umnak Island, in the Aleutian group, report the recent migra- 
tion of millions of lemmings from the island. It is said the lemmings 
traveled in immense multitudes, in a straight line to the seashore, ap- 
parently in obedience to some blind mechanical impulse of nature. 

During the migration they moved onward in parallel columns. One trapper 
could not induce them to deviate from the straight line. The remarkable 
migration terminated in Bering Sea and ended in the drowning of all that 
survived the rough journey down from the higher regions of Umnak Island. 

In his interesting book, "Fifty Years below Zero," Charles 
Brower mentions a striking lemming migration (1943, p. 123). 
It occurred in the latter part of May 1888, near Point Barrow. 
The lemmings came from the southeast, at first a few bands, then 
in "solid masses," until the "whole land was black with them." 
"The main body, moving seaward on a 10-mile front, took 4 days 
to pass the station. They kept on over the sea ice, finally leaping 
into the water and swimming offshore until drowned." 

These are striking examples of lemming migrations entering 
the sea, in the historic manner of those of Norway. It illustrates 
an innate tendency of this rodent group as a whole, shared by 
the lemmings of Point Barrow (which turn white in winter), 
and their grayer and southernmost relatives of Umnak Island. 

In the spring of 1924 I observed numbers of mice of the genus 
Lemmus in the edge of the shore ice at Hooper Bay, in the Yukon 
Delta region. Some of these were wet. Though no actual migra- 
tion was noted, nor any massed concentrations, the circumstances 



320 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

suggested that this lemming may have in some degree the tendency 
that is so strong in Dicrostonyx. 

Clethrionomys rutilus: Red-backed Mouse 
Clethrionomys rutilus dawsoni 

The wide-ranging red-backed mouse is found practically 
throughout the whole length of the Alaska Peninsula, for Wet- 
more obtained a specimen at Frosty Peak, which is not far from 
the west tip of the peninsula. Furthermore, in 1925, I was in- 
formed that in the general vicinity of False Pass there was a 
"red" mouse, whose description accurately fitted that of Clethri- 
onomys. No evidence of its presence on Unimak Island was 
obtained. 

Microfus oeconomus: Meadow Mouse 
Microtus oeconomus kadiacensis 

Osgood (1904, p. 34) discussed the specimens from the base of 
the Alaska Peninsula, and remarked that — 

All of these seem to be more similar to kadiacensis than to typical operarius, 
though to a slight extent they partake of the characters of each. From 
the examination of a very large series of both it appears that in color 
operarius and kadiacensis are absolutely alike, and that in cranial characters 
they are very closely related. 

After careful and painstaking study of this material, it seems 
best to assign M. o. kadiacensis to Kodiak Island exclusively. It 
is indeed only slightly differentiated, but it may be recognized. 
It is possible that age has something to do with the character of 
the skulls from Kodiak, but they appear less robust than those 
of M. oeconomus opera?~ius. The nasals are slightly different in 
shape, and the incisive foramen in skulls of kadiacensis tend to be 
a little shorter and wider. 

Microtus oeconomus operarius 

Aleut (dialect?) : Asookitah (Wetmore) 

Meadow mice inhabiting the Bering Sea coast, including Bristol 
Bay, the Alaska Peninsula, and Unimak Island, appear to be re- 
ferable to operarius. Those found on Unimak Island do not ap- 
pear to be quite typical, but the differences are so slight (if 
they really exist in comparable specimens) that there seems to be 
no sound basis for separating them. 

Four specimens of meadow mice were obtained on Sanak Is- 
land. Curiously enough, these could hardly be said to differ from 
the mice on Unimak Island and the Peninsula, though they are 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 321 

more isolated than popofensis of the Shumagin group. The feet 
and tail of those from Sanak are dark (as on the Peninsula) ; 
the feet and tail are darker than on unalascensis and duskier than 
on kadiacensis, the latter being essentially browner. On the whole, 
this small series from Sanak Island cannot be differentiated 
from operarius, and should be included in that form. 

Meadow mice were abundant on Dolgoi Island in 1937, but none 
were trapped, and they were plentiful on Sanak Island, where 
they are known as "gophers." In 1936, they were extremely 
abundant at Cape Pankof, Unimak Island, but they were exceed- 
ingly scarce on other parts of the same island. Some signs of 
mice were seen on Ushagat Island, in the Barren Island group, 
but no specimens were obtained. 

In 1911, Wetmore found meadow mice to be scarce in the 
places he visited at the west end of Alaska Peninsula. In 1925, I 
found meadow mice to be fairly common on Unimak Island, but 
I found them to be scarce on the mainland and almost unknown 
in some localities. Specimens were obtained by finding limited 
colonies here and there. These mice preferred grassy locations, 
in contrast with the lemmings' choice of the mossy tundra, yet 
an occasional group could be found on the mossy tundra living 
in a stray patch of grass. In general, they were common about 
lagoons and the grassy lowlands, and could be found among lava 
rocks, particularly about the edge of rock masses, where grass 
generally occurs. These mice were fond of the beaches and the 
sand dunes, where the principal vegetation is the coarse wild 
rye (Elymus). In grassy places, where the snow had recently 
melted, the winter runways were conspicuous. The mice had a 
liking for the banks of little gullies, where they had numerous 
burrows — quite often, there were single burrows, at least there 
was a single entrance with a little pile of excavated dirt. In the 
sand dunes, the mice run about without well-defined runways; 
they have routes of travel among the coarse grass stems, as 
shown by their tracks, but the shifting sand prevents establish- 
ment of permanent paths. 

On May 17, 1925, at St. Catherine Cove, several food caches 
were found in the sand dunes, just out of reach of the tide. A 
small external opening led into a tunnel that slanted downward 
about 1 foot beneath the surface, to the stored food. In one case, 
the cache consisted of about 17,560 seeds of beach sandwort, 
Honckenya peploides, together with dried stems and fragments 
of fruit capsules, and 403 large seeds of a composite, as well as 
a trace of Elymus (bits of stem and leaves and fruit) . In another 
cache, 2 feet distant, there were only undetermined roots — both 



322 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

caches totaled about half a peck. The shifting sands must have 
covered those openings repeatedly, therefore the mouse undoubt- 
edly found the spot by a sense of location and scent. 

At Urilia Bay, we found another cache that was made up of 
bases of stems of undetermined plants and roots. 

Microtus oeconomus popofensis 

This is another slightly differentiated form, occupying the 
Shumagin Islands. Specimens have been obtained on Popof and 
Unga Islands. This mouse is, of course, very similar to operarius, 
but the skull appears to have a more slender rostrum, with a 
little longer and definitely wider incisive foramen. Judging from 
specimens at hand, the underparts of popofensis are more tawny 
than in the specimens from the mainland. 

In 1936, these mice were extremely abundant at one place on 
Unga Island, near a bird colony. The ground was honeycombed 
with burrows, and mice were seen running about occasionally. 

They are known in the Shumagins as well as on Sanak Island, 
as "gophers," while shrews are called "mice." 

Microtus oeconomus amakensis 

Strangely enough, this form, which has the most restricted 
range, is one of the best defined. The skull differs from all other 
mice in this species, particularly in the occipital region — the 
flat occipital surface contrasts with the convex surface in the 
other forms. In this feature, the skull of amakensis suggests the 
appearance of skull of M. o. kamtschaticus, though the series of 
the latter is small and not entirely comparable. Also, the incisive 
foramen of amakensis is short and blunt, contrasting with the 
attenuated foramina in other forms. The feet and top of tail are 
paler than in the other forms. 

It is puzzling that this form, which is confined to small Amak 
Island located only 14 miles north of the coast of Alaska Penin- 
sula, is more distinct than the mice on other islands that are 
equally as far, or farther, from the mainland. It is possible that 
unfavorable transportation aspects have tended to isolate this 
island, thus emphasizing a distinct form. 

In 1925, when I visited Amak Island, meadow mice were 
extremely abundant. Runways were everywhere, in the grass, 
underground, under driftwood, among old whale bones on the 
beach, as well as among the lava rocks and moss on the higher 
portions of the island. When walking over the low ground, we 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 323 

often broke through into a maze of underground burrows. When 
setting traps, I could hear the traps snapping a short distance 
behind, as the mice were already being caught. Many of those 
caught were young mice, and there was a remarkable pre- 
ponderance of females. 

Several mice were infested with ticks, Ixodes angustus, some- 
times three or four on one mouse. Many others were covered 
with mites, a gamasid, probably Haeogamasus sp. 

There were numerous beetles in the mouse runways, some of 
which fed on the trapped mice. One of these was the common 
carrion beetle, Necrophorus sp., and two others, Nebria sp. and 
Scaphinotus marginatus, were obtained there, though these latter 
were not seen feeding. Dung beetles, Aphodius sp., and rove 
beetles gathered at the anus of dead mice, attracted by the 
traces of dung. 

Such an aggregation of more or less parasitic invertebrates in a 
dense mouse population could be an important element in the 
cyclic behavior of these rodents. 

At the time of this heavy peak population on Amak Island, 
both lemmings and meadow mice were scarce on Alaska Penin- 
sula. And none of the beetles, mentioned above, were noticed 
that summer, either on Alaska Peninsula or on Unimak Island. 

Microtus oeconomus unalascensis 

This form is more readily distinguished from M. o. operarius 
than most of the other subspecies. The skull shows wider nasals, 
the convexity of the occipital plane is greater, and apparently it 
is a somewhat larger animal. 

This mouse occupies Unalaska Island, and a specimen from 
nearby Unalga Island is referable to this form. There is no 
knowledge concerning its presence on Akutan and Akun Islands, 
nor on other smaller islands in that vicinity. Meadow mice ap- 
parently are not found on Umnak Island; at least, we obtained 
only lemmings when we trapped there. Therefore, Unalaska may 
be the westernmost point reached by Microtus in the Aleutians. 

On Unalaska Island, in 1936, I found meadow mice in the 
characteristic grassy meadow habitat, just as on Alaska Peninsula 
and Unimak Island. And, in 1925, Stevenson stated that in times 
of heavy mouse population on Unalaska Island, numerous beetles 
had ruined mouse specimens in the traps, just as they did on 
Amak Island. 



324 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

M/cro/us pennsylvanicus: Meadow Mouse 
Microtus pennsylvanicus drummondii 

This form of meadow mouse barely enters the area here under 
discussion. There are specimens in the Fish and Wildlife Service 
collection from Lake Clark, Kakhtul River, and Nushagak. 
Probably, the Drummond meadow mouse does not range much 
farther west than the base of Alaska Peninsula. 

Ondatra zibethicus: Muskrat 
Ondatra zibethicus zalophus 

Muskrats are common in the Bristol Bay region and the eastern 
part of Alaska Peninsula. Specimens have been taken in many 
localities of this area, including one as far west as Ugashik, which 
was obtained by C. L. McKay in 1881. There is a series of 
specimens in the Fish and Wildlife Service collection from 
Becharof Lake, including the type. In 1925, I was told by resi- 
dents of False Pass that muskrats are not found farther west than 
Port Moller, the implication being that they do occur in that 
locality. This is not supported by specimens at present. 

Stevenson reported that L. A. Levigne, "a few years ago" (be- 
fore 1920), brought some muskrats to Unalaska and turned 
them loose in a fresh-water pond near Captain's Harbor. "They 
were observed the next spring but have not been seen since, may 
have starved, or possibly have migrated to some other location." 

About 1925, the Alaska Game Commission introduced musk- 
rats on the Kodiak-Afognak group of islands, and they have 
become established. Scheffer obtained three specimens on Afognak 
Island in 1938. 

Apparently there are no muskrats on Nunivak Island, in Bering 
Sea, and the distribution here recorded suggests that muskrats 
require a habitat that is associated with vegetation found in, or 
near, forested areas. They do not thrive on islands or other areas 
where the vegetation is low to the ground. 



Family MURIDAE 

Mus musculus: House Mouse 
Mus musculus domesticus 

Presumably, the house mouse has been introduced in most of 
the settlements of southwestern Alaska, and we made no particu- 
lar effort to study its distribution. In the Aleutian Islands proper, 
where native rodents are nearly always absent, exotic introduc- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 325 

tions have a peculiar interest, because of possible adaptation to a 
rodent-free environment. We do not have specific information for 
Unalaska Island, where presumably the house mouse must have 
been introduced in the settlemsnt. In the western, rodent-free is- 
lands we took pains to study this question and found a single rec- 
ord — on Kiska Island. In the summer of 1937, signs of mice were 
found in a cabin on Kiska Island and many traps were set. A sin- 
gle house mouse was caught, possibly the only one on the island, 
though since the occupation of the Aleutians by military forces 
it is to be expected that mice and rats have been brought to this 
and other islands. 

The mouse from Kiska evidently came from Seattle in freight 
shipments. It proved to be Mus musculus domesticus, rather than 
a form from the Asiatic side. Schwartz and Schwartz (1943, p. 66) 
have shown that the West European house mouse, from which 
our American commensal mice were derived, is M. m. domesticus, 
and not M. m. musculus as heretofore assumed. 

Rattus norvegicus: House Rat 

Russian: Krisi 

Rats were introduced in the Aleutian Islands during the 
Russian occupation. Rat Island had received its name from the 
Russians as early as 1790, hence the rats must have arrived at an 
earlier date. Rats also are found at Unalaska and at Atka. 
At Atka Village, the rats were very troublesome. The natives could 
not raise gardens at Atka because of these pests, so they crossed 
over to rat-free Amlia Island and planted their gardens. The 
rats have managed to cross over to the little islands in Nazan 
Bay, and they may soon invade Amlia Island (if they have not 
already done so since the military occupation of that island). 
Rats are reported from Kiska by G. A. Amman (correspondence) . 
They were not there before World War II. It is probable that 
rats have been introduced to Attu, Amchitka, and Adak as a 
result of military operations. 

In addition to Atka Village, rats have become feral on both 
Atka and Rat Islands. On Atka Island, we found their runways 
in the heavy grass, and we saw cut plant stems, which were much 
like those of Microius, but longer. Burrows were found in some 
places. In the spring, we found large areas where the rats had 
dug up the bulbs of Fritillaria camschatcensis, and Scheffer found 
that the rats had eaten the basal parts of the stems of Anemone 



326 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

narcissiflora, much in the manner of ground squirrels on Unalaska 
and Kavalga Islands. 

On Rat Island, these rodents were confined to the beaches in, 
or near, the fringe of heavy vegetation. They found a convenient 
refuge among the boulders on the beach and proved to be 
extremely wary. The interior of this island supports a very short 
type of vegetation, not at all suitable for cover — hence the choice 
of the shoreline by the rats. 

To what extent blue foxes prey on rats is not certain. These 
rodents are extremely wary and alert, and the foxes may not find 
them easy hunting. Bald eagles get an occasional one, but rats 
had tunneled into the peatlike foundations of two eagle's nests on 
rock pinnacles on Rat Island and were living there below while 
the eagles were raising their young. 

On one occasion, a short-eared owl had appeared at Atka 
Island, far out of the range of native rodents, and it was promptly 
shot. When we found the remains about a year later, in 1936, we 
were able to determine that the stomach contained parts of a rat. 



Family ZAPODIDAE 

Zapus hudsonius: Jumping Mouse 
Zapus hudsonius alascensis 

Jumping mice occur throughout the length of Alaska Peninsula. 
There are specimens from Lake Aleknagik, Chulitna River, Lake 
Clark, Lake Iliamna, Kokwok, Nushagak, Chignik, Frosty Peak, 
and Izembek Bay. 

I obtained a male specimen at Izembek Bay on June 23, 1925, in 
the grass at the edge of a pond. At that time, I learned that 
jumping mice are found on Unimak Island. Several people had 
observed them there; 1 man, in the course of some excavatidn 
work, caught 4 of them. Harry Wilson, on Ikatan Peninsula, had 
one of these mice in a tin can, but when I arrived there a few days 
later, the mouse had escaped. In 1941, Beals and Longworth 
reported that Nick Kristensen had found one of these mice at his 
house at False Pass, where several others had drowned in a shal- 
low dug well, and Arthur Neuman had reported them as being 
plentiful about Ikatan Village several years previously. In these 
instances, though no specimens were obtained, the mouse is 
easily identified, and there is no reason to doubt the reports. 
Therefore, we may conclude that Unimak Island is occupied by 
Zapus. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 327 

Family ERETHIZONTIDAE 

Erethizon dorsafum: American Porcupine 
Erethizon dorsafum myops 

Morzhovoi Bay: Noon (Wetmore) 

Porcupines are found along the entire length of the Alaska 
Peninsula. Osgood (1904, p. 38) suggested that their fondness 
for the aments and young leaves of the alders may cause them to 
wander some distance beyond the forest proper. In fact, recent 
records prove that some of them live several hundreds of miles 
beyond the forest. At Izembek Bay, in 1925, I found alder 
cuttings that had been made by porcupines in winter. Evidently, 
in the summer they were living on green herbaceous plants. 

In 1911, near Frosty Peak, Wetmore observed that a porcupine 
had shuffled along the beach for more than 2 miles before turning 
inland, evidently nosing around bunches of kelp. 

So far as we know, the porcupine is not found on Unimak 
Island. 

Family OCHOTONIDAE 

Ochotona collaris: Collared Pika 

Apparently, pikas are rare at the base of Alaska Peninsula, 
though True (1886, p. 221) quotes from McKay's notebook: 
"Said to be very plentiful in the mountains. The Indians in their 
vicinity have a superstitious dread about killing them, and can 
not be hired to do so." 

McKay obtained two specimens in the Chigmit Mountains. We 
have no other specimens from this region. 

Family LEPORIDAE 

Lepus americanus: Varying Hare 
Lepus americanus dalli 

Osgood (1904, p. 39) found these hares to be abundant about 
Lake Clark and along Chulitna River. Specimens have been taken 
at Nushagak, Lake Aleknagik, Ekwok, and Kakwok River. They 
probably do not range far beyond the timbered areas. 

Varying hares were introduced to the Kodiak-Afognak Islands 
by the Alaska Game Commission and are now established there. 
The introduced stock was obtained from territory along the 
Alaska Railroad on the mainland. 



328 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Lepus othus: Arctic Hare 
Lepus othus poadromus 

Russian: Zaisch (Buxton) 

Siberian (Chukchi?), Okhotsk, Gichiga, Marcova: Oo-skon (Buxton) 

Arctic hares are found throughout the Alaska Peninsula and 
Bristol Bay region (which is the principal range). So far as we 
know, none are found on Unimak Island. There is a specimen 
in the Fish and Wildlife Service collection, which is understood to 
have been collected by Kleinschmidt on June 9, 1913, on Popof 

Island which is rather surprising. We have no information of 

its presence on the Shumagins. 

In 1936, we found abundant signs of Arctic hares at Snag Point, 
near Nushagak, and learned that they live in the alder thickets. 
In 1925, I observed them at the west end of Alaska Peninsula 
and obtained a specimen. There, too, they inhabited the thickets, 
and in summer, when the vegetation was leafed out, they were 
next to impossible to see, but they came out of the thickets in 
the evenings to feed. 



Family CERVIDAE 

Cervus canadensis: Elk (Wapiti) 
Cervus canadensis roosevelti 

The wapiti is not indigenous to Alaska, but it was introduced on 
the Kodiak-Afognak Island group. At present, the animals are 
mostly on Afognak Island, though individuals have crossed over 
to Whale Island and Derenof Island. The original animals were 
obtained from the Olympic Mountains in Washington. These elk 
appear to be thriving in their new environment. 

Odocoileus hemionus: Black-tailed Deer 

Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis 

The Sitka black-tailed deer was introduced on Long Island, a 
rather small island not far from Kodiak. This deer became 
extremely abundant before 1935, then it began to die. A. W. 
Bennett, who uses the island for fur farming, found many car- 
casses, and he noted that raccoons, which he had placed on the 
island, also were dying during that period. The surviving deer 
were very poor. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 329 

Alces alces: Moose 
Alces alces gigas 

Russian: Los (Buxton) 

Moose are found throughout the basal part of Alaska Penin- 
sula, where Osgood and others noted their presence in the wooded 
regions. Griggs (1922, p. 314) found them in the Katmai 
Region. Osgood (1904, p. 29) wrote: 

Moose are scatteringly distributed on the Alaska Peninsula and extend 
farther west than has been generally supposed. In a native's camp on the 
Ugaguk River I saw fresh meat and pieces of the skin of a moose which was 
killed about October 1 on the upper waters of the King Salmon River, a 
northeastern tributary of the Ugaguk. One of our guides, from Igagik, said 
that he killed two small moose near the Ugashik Lakes in the fall of 1901. 
During the spring of 1903 A. G. Maddren received reports that nearly 
20 moose were killed by natives in the vicinity of the Naknek River. A 
moose was said to have been killed several years before as far west as 
Port Moller, but no confirmation of the report could be obtained. 

It is not surprising to find moose beyond the limits of coniferous 
forest, for this happens in many parts of their range. Stragglers 
could easily find their way as far west as Port Moller. 

Rangifer arcticus: Barren Ground Caribou 
Rangifer arcticus granti 

Atka: Itkayech (Saur) 
Unalaska: Ithayok (Saur) 
Morzhovoi Bay: Ikthinkh (Wetmore) 

Grant caribou range throughout the Alaska Peninsula and 
Unimak Island. It is said that they were on Unga Island, in the 
Shumagins, in considerable numbers at one time (Allen 1902, p. 
127), and caribou were reported on Deer Island. In July 1925, 
I found a caribou skeleton on Amak Island, 12 or 14 miles north of 
Alaska Peninsula. The bones were very old, partly buried in 
moss and other vegetation. Part of an antler from another 
individual also was unearthed. Kellogg (1936, p. 37) found cari- 
bou bones in midden material from old village sites on Kodiak 
Island. In primitive times, it is evident that caribou were more 
plentiful on Alaska Peninsula and Unimak Island and "over- 
flowed" to other islands, possibly to more islands than is shown 
by these meager records. 

Jochelson (1925, p. 36) found a "reindeer" antler spoon in a 
village midden on Umnak Island. This spoon, or the antler, may 
possibly have come from Unimak Island in trade. 

As reported elsewhere (Murie 1935, p. 59), caribou of Alaska 
Peninsula were at one time more closely associated with main- 



330 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

land herds by way of the Bristol Bay region. This is suggested 
by Osgood (1904, p. 28) who mentions particularly the Lake 
Clark and Lake Iliamna district as caribou country. Johnson 
(1886, p. 65) saw them on the tundra near Nushagak in April 
1886, and McKay had obtained specimens there in 1882. 

The field reports and conversations of Donald Stevenson, fur 
warden in the Aleutians from 1920 to 1925, revealed great fluctua- 
tions in the numbers of caribou on Unimak Island. In the early 
eighties and nineties, there was much caribou hunting by sea 
otter hunters, with the result that caribou were greatly reduced in 
numbers about 1894. When only a few hundred remained, hunt- 
ing decreased and, as caribou were more plentiful on the penin- 
sula at that time, annual migrations brought an influx of new 
stock which raised the herd to "full carrying capacity" of the 
island by 1905. 

Stevenson said that no large migrations across Isanotski Strait 
have taken place since 1908. A few crossed since then, in both 
directions, but the last known crossing was made by 46 caribou 
that passed over near St. Catherine Cove in December 1916. He 
said that the caribou began to decline in numbers after 1908, but 
that they had been increasing again more recently (as of 1925). 
At that time (1925), he had made a tentative estimate of 7,000 
to 10,000 animals. After my season's work, I accepted the lesser 
figure as the more probable one. 

On Unimak Island, Urilia Bay seemed to be one of the favored 
caribou habitats. On April 29, we saw more than 40 caribou on 
the grass flats around the lagoon, and, a few days later, 51 were 
counted from one point. During this period the caribou subsisted 
chiefly on dead vegetation, except for Heracleum lanatum and 
Coelopleurum gmelini, two robust plants that were just appearing 
in green rosettes — these plants were eagerly eaten by the caribou. 

Winters often are stormy and disagreeable on Unimak, and 
Stevenson suggested that a series of severe winters might have 
been one cause of caribou fluctuations. In 1925, there were 
reports of finding many dead caribou, and I found a number of 
skeletons. In one instance, the animal (a bull) obviously had 
died in a resting attitude. On May 8, I found a diseased yearling 
bull that was blind in both eyes. 

As there has been public concern in recent years about the 
increase of wolves, it is important to note that wolves were scarce 
during the periods of decline of caribou on Unimak Island in 
those earlier years, and at the time that so many caribou died, 
in 1925, there were no wolves. Obviously, much additional in- 
vestigation is necessary for an understanding of the caribou. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS ANl'« :.;ASKA PENINSULA 331 

In 1925, we had estimated that there were about 5,000 caribou 
on Alaska Peninsula, which was a decline in numbers since earlier 
times. Wolves were not a problem at that time. Speaking at the 
Alaska Science Conference at Washington, D. C, on November 
10, 1950, on "Predator Control Problems in Alaska," Dorr D. 
Green reported that "The Alaska Peninsula, which once supported 
hundreds of thousands of caribou, has a herd that is now reduced 
to about 2,500 animals, of which 2,000 are probably reindeer- 
caribou hybrids." 

In a letter of January 1959, David L. Spencer, supervisor of 
Kenai National Moose Range, wrote me concerning caribou on 
Unimak Island: 

For a long time there were none, but about 3 years ago we found 14 
during a rather incomplete survey. Last winter Jones and Burkholder 
estimated 150 on the island. . . . Apparently there is a movement back and 
forth over False Pass at the end of the Peninsula. We do know this occurs, 
as it has been witnessed. 

The population of caribou at the end of the Alaska Peninsula has for a 
long time been low but appears to be building up somewhat now. . . . 5,000 
animals would be a rather rough current estimate of the entire Peninsula 
herd. 

Whatever the actual numbers in early times, the fact that today 
the caribou have interbred so extensively with the domesticated 
reindeer spells the doom of Rangifer arcticus granti as a sub- 
species, perhaps as a wild game animal. 

Rangifer sp.: Reindeer 

Russian: O-ldin (Buxton) 

Reindeer herds have been introduced in the Bristol Bay region, 
and, in more recent years, they have been placed on Alaska Penin- 
sula. When one considers the scarcity of lichens, and the in- 
evitable hybridization with reindeer, it becomes obvious that the 
native caribou undoubtedly will be supplanted. 

Many years ago, reindeer had been placed on Umnak Island. 
They were not serving any useful purpose and were finally sold 
by the Federal Government to the owners of domestic sheep on the 
island. The sheep owners wished to kill off the reindeer because 
they competed for forage with the sheep. However, the reindeer 
had not been entirely eliminated as late as 1937, and we were 
informed that the principal use being made of them was as fox 
bait in trapping operations. 

Reindeer also had been placed on Atka Island. As long as these 
animals remained close to the village, the Aleuts utilized them, but 



532 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

when the reindeer moved to more-distant parts of the island, the 
natives lost interest. 

The Government teacher would sometimes organize an ex- 
pedition to procure reindeer meat, but, on the whole, the Aleuts 
preferred fishing. 

According to the Government teacher stationed on Atka Island 
in 1937, some of the reindeer appeared to be diseased and very- 
poor. Some had "pus in the joints" and some had lesions above 
the hoofs. 

It must be concluded that reindeer have proven to be a failure 
in the Aleutian district and that, while they are able to subsist 
to some extent, the forage in this area is not suitable for intensive 
reindeer raising. 

Family BOVIDAE 

Ovis dalli: Dall Sheep (White Sheep) 
Ovis dalli dalli 

Russian: Dee-ke bar-an "Wild Sheep" (Buxton) 

Osgood (1904, p. 30) says- 
White sheep are found in small numbers in the mountains between Lake 
Clark and Cook Inlet, and are probably more or less continuously distributed 
from there northward along the Alaska Range. They are not reported 
from the mountains near Iliamna Bay, so it is probable that they do not 
occur farther west than the vicinity of Lake Clark. 

There are two specimens in the National Museum obtained by 
McKay from the Chigmit Mountains (which proves to be an in- 
definite locality designation, meaning somewhere in the mountains 
back from Nushagak) . 

Family HYDRODAMAUDAE 
Hydrodamalis gigas: Steller Sea Cow 

Russian: Morskaia kcrova (Steller) 

Our knowledge of the sea cow depends mainly on the account 
of Steller, wiio, in the disastrous winter when Bering's expedition 
was wrecked on Bering Island after discovery of Alaska in 1741, 
had ample opportunity to study this animal at first hand. The 
sea cow furnished food for Bering's party, as well as for other 
expeditions that used the Commander Islands as a starting point 
for Alaska. It was exterminated by 1768. 

There has always been a question whether this animal had 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 333 

ever occupied the Aleutian Islands. Stejneger (1883, p. 84) 
said Wosnessenski had obtained a rib of a sea cow from Attu 
Island, and, in conversation, Stejneger expressed the belief that 
sea cow remains might be found on Agattu Island. 

Goode et al. (1884, p. 136), wrote as follows concerning this 
find : 

Wosnessenski found a rib of the animal on Attu, the last island of the 
archipelago, but as Brandt suggests, it may have been derived from a 
Rhytina washed thither by the waves. Mr. Lucien Turner kindly informed 
me that an aged Aleut woman stated that Rhytina had been seen at Attu 
by her father, but such testimony is, perhaps, not altogether satisfactory. 

Thus, we have some evidence that the sea cow may have oc- 
curred on the westernmost Aleutian Islands, and it would be 
extremely interesting to have identification of bones from old 
Aleut village sites. To date, studies of such midden material have 
not revealed the presence of sea cow remains, and, on the whole, 
it is likely that this animal never inhabited these islands except 
as an accidental straggler. 



Family BALAENIDAE 
Eubalaena sieboldii: Pacific Right Whale 

Aleut (Umnak?): Kuldmax (Jochelson) 

This whale ranged in the Aleutian waters in former times, but 
since whales of all kinds have been destroyed so extensively, some 
species have become exceedingly rare, and the right whale is 
seldom, if ever, seen any more. Osgood (1904, p. 27) mentions 
a stranded whale between Kanatak and Wide Bay in 1902, which 
he tentatively assumed to be the right whale. True (1904, p. 270) 
quotes Pechuel to the effect that a right whale was killed near 
the Aleutians. Birkeland (1926, p. 26) stated that he knows of 
only two right whales that were killed at the Akutan whaling 
station, dating from about 1914 (he has a photograph of one of 
the two whales mentioned). We saw none of this species on our 
expeditions to the Aleutians. 

Balaena mysticetus: Bowhead Whale 

Aleut (Umnak?) : Ugamdxcax' (Jochelson) 

Essentially, this is an Arctic whale that came into Bering Sea 
and visited the Kuril and Aleutian Islands, but it has become rare 
in the Aleutians. We obtained no certain records of it during 
our visits. 



534 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Family ESCHRICHTIDAE 

Eschrichtius glaucus: Gray Whale 

The gray whale is known to range northward through Bering 
Sea, but we did not identify this species on any of our trips. 
It should be explained that no one in our party felt himself ex- 
pert enough to identify many of the whales that were seen. The 
Captain and some of the ship's crew had had some experience 
with whales, but they were unable to identify many that were 
seen. Under such circumstances, our observations were exceed- 
ingly sketchy, except for the more-easily identified species. Turner 
(1886, p. 200) reported seeing several gray whales in Unimak 
Pass in June 1878. 

Family BALAENOPTERIDAE 
Balaenoptera physalus: Finback Whale 

Aleut: Chi kakh' lukh (Turner was uncertain about the application of this 

name.) 

The finback is still present in considerable numbers in the 
Aleutians, though it is not as plentiful now as in the past. We 
saw several and they were being taken in 1937 at the whaling 
station on Akutan Island. At the latter place, we obtained data 
on several fetuses that had been collected by S. Halvorsen, who 
had been stationed there by the Coast Guard. This data follows : 

Finback fetus, female, collected June 9, 1937, latitude 53° 25', longitude 
164° 39'. The fetus was 4 feet long; the mother was 67 feet long. 

Finback fetus, female, collected June 10, 1937, latitude 53° 22', longitude 
166° 30'. The fetus was 3 feet 4 inches long; the mother was 60 feet long. 

Finback fetus, male, collected July 28, 1937, latitude 54° 06', longitude 
166° 45'. This fetus was 16.7 inches long; the mother was 67 feet long. 

Balaenoptera borealis: Sei Whale 

The sei whale was observed at various times among the Aleutian 
Islands; identification was made by Captain Sellevold. It was 
recorded various times at Segula and Atka Islands and in Unimak 
Pass, and at Atka Island a whale spent most of a day cruising 
about in the harbor and often came near the ship. A few motion 
pictures of it were obtained. 

On September 3, 1938, Scheffer recorded 2 sei whales near the 
ship in Umnak Pass, and later in the day, he noted 3 more. 

In 1937, the United States Bureau of Fisheries reported the 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 335 

capture of a sei whale among 376 whales taken in Alaska that 
year. 

Sibbaldus musculus: Blue Whale 

We did not definitely identify a blue whale on our trip. On 
July 14, 1937, Captain Sellevold believed a number of whales 
seen spouting near Unalaska were blue whales. A number of this 
species were taken by the Akutan whaling station that summer, 
and we were given the head of a fetus for a specimen. 

Megaptera novaeangliae: Humpback Whale 

Aleut (dialect?) : Chi thukh (Turner was uncertain about the application 

of this name.) 

Humpback whales were seen at various times. In 1937, we 
recorded 1 at Agattu Island, 1 at Semichi, at least 4 (possibly 
more) at Kiska, and 3 at Amchitka. Sometimes this whale would 
dive straight down in shallow water, practically stand on its 
head, then fall over with a resounding splash of its flukes. This 
action was seen often. 



Family PHYSETERIDAE 

Physeter catodon Sperm Whale 
Aleut (dialect?) : Agthd gik (Turner) 

Sperm whales were very scarce. One was definitely identified 
near Kiska Island on June 3, 1937, and they were being taken at 
the Akutan whaling station. Sperm whales are not difficult to 
identify, and we felt that most of our identifications were ac- 
curate. 

Family DELPHINIDAE 

Grampus recti pinna: Pacific Killer Whale 

Attu: A'-ga-ghi-ach 
Atka: Ah-ga-loh 

Ah'-ga-luch 
Aleut (dialect?) : Ag-lyuk (Turner) 

In the Atka dialect, the name is very similar to that of the ful- 
mar. The difference appears to be one of syllable length, or 
stress, which was not possible to record satisfactorily. 

The killer whale of the Aleutian district clearly shows the 
white elongated spot posterior to the eye and the gray patch 
posterior to the dorsal fin. These marks were noted on every 



336 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

killer whale that we saw closely enough for identification. It is 
of interest to note Turner's remarks on the killers (1886, p. 198) : 

The Aleuts speak of the killer as Ag-lyuk; and, to another species, which 
they recognize, they give the name Um-gu-likh. I have seen what I believe 
to be 2 species, and perhaps 3 species, of the so-called "killers," swimming 
together, all moving in the same direction. 

Dall (1870, p. 579) lists two killers for Alaska, Orca ater, and 
Orca rectipinna. We did not obtain the impression of more than 
one kind of killer whale, but our observations could not be con- 
clusive on that point. 

The killer whale is common along Alaska Peninsula and 
throughout the Aleutians. We found a dead one on Agattu Island. 
We generally saw them in small groups, or alone, but as many as 
25 in a school were recorded. The most common number for 
a group was three. Ernest P. Walker (unpublished notes) has 
recorded some large schools of killer whales. On September 16, 
1913, in Icy Straits, he saw a school of 500 or more; on July 19, 
1915, near Port Armstrong he saw another school of about 300. 
He quotes Captain Louis L. Lowe to the effect that he had seen 
schools of 400 to 1,500 off the southwestern end of Kodiak Island, 
and, in April 1922, he saw a school of about 1,000 off Ugak 
Island near the Kodiak coast. "They were apparently headed 
northward and were no doubt keeping close company with the 
fur seals." 

Again, Walker says — 

Captain Haynes says that on only one occasion has he seen a large school 
of killers or thrashers. This was early in June near Unimak Island, where 
he encountered a remarkable assemblage of various whales, seals, and other 
life feeding and many killers were present. There was a great deal of 
fighting accompanied by leaping. 

Turner (1886, p. 198) reported seeing as many as 150 at one 
time, in the Aleutians. 

Such large aggregation suggest a migration, and, as Walker 
says, they probably are rare occurrences. 

We frequently found killer whales cruising along the borders 
of kelp beds. On one occasion, a killer passed directly under our 
dory — a rather disconcerting experience. We obtained no direct 
evidence of their food habits, but Turner saw a killer whale kill 
a nearly full-grown sea lion at Bogoslof Island, and, at Tigalda 
Island, he watched two killers attacking a large finback whale. 
He had also seen them following schools of smelt, which suggests a 
diet including fish. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 337 

Globicephala scammonii: Pacific Blackfish 

Our information on this dolphin is very meager. Dall (1869, 
p. 333) reported it in Bering Sea, and Osgood {1901, p. 25) re- 
ported it in the Queen Charlotte Islands. We found no evidence of 
its presence in the Aleutians. 

Lissodelphis borealis: Right-whale Porpoise 

This species is rather vaguely listed as ranging into Bering Sea. 
Turner mentioned it briefly in his report on the Aleutians, and he 
mentioned native names for some porpoises which he was unable 
to identify, but he had no positive information to offer on this 
form. I have been unable to find precise information for the 
Aleutian district. 

Lagenorhynchus obliquidens: Pacific Striped Porpoise 

Aleut (dialect?) : A-ga-makh'-chikh (Turner) 

Turner (1886, p. 197) reported that he saw a number of 
dolphins sporting about the ship at Amchitka Island, and he 
described them thus : 

These creatures were only about eight or nine feet in length and had 
numerous markings, stripes, or bars, along the sides and throat. These 
markings were two or three inches wide and of a sulphur-yellow color, 
while the back and sides were bluish-black. 

Two or three persons on the vessel declared they had seen the same 
species in the waters of the Japan coast, and gave the name Japan Dolphins 
to those seen near Amchitka. I do not know to what species they should be 
referred. 

We saw none of these dolphins in the Aleutian area, but 
Turner's description suggests the striped dolphin. 

Phocoena vomerina: Pacific Harbor Porpoise 

Aleut (dialect?) : A-ld gikh (Turner) 
Russian: Svinka (Turner) 

Osgood (1904, p. 27) records two skulls obtained at Kanatak 
by Maddren in the fall of 1903. Preble and McAtee record a num- 
ber of specimens from the Pribilof Islands. True (in Jordan 1899, 
p. 353) reported — 

A few bones of a small porpoise, apparently of this species, were picked 
up at St. Paul June 3, 1890, and two small schools were seen in the harbor 
at Unalaska May 20 and 21, the same year. A specimen of this species 
was obtained by Mr. Charles H. Townsend at Captain's Harbor, Unalaska, 
August 17, 1895. 

Turner (1886, p. 200) stated that he saw these porpoises in the 



338 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Aleutians and near Kocliak, and he said that they were common 
in Captains Harbor, at Unalaska, where they came up close 
to the wharf. He stated that two were caught on hooks baited 
for codfish. 

On May 23, 1937, among the Shumagin Islands, we saw 2 
of these porpoises near our ship, and, on August 13, 1937, 3 were 
seen in the harbor at Atka Island. 

Phocoenoides dalli: Dall Porpoise 

The type locality for Dall porpoise is near Adak Island, but 
we did not find them plentiful in the Aleutians. On July 20, 1936, 
a school of these porpoises was playing about the ship, between 
Kasatochi and Atka Islands, and a few were seen in the Aleutians 
in 1937. On August 8, 1938, Scheffer recorded two porpoises north 
of Yunaska Island. We found them to be much more plentiful in 
the waters of southeastern Alaska. Walker (unpublished notes) 
likewise found them scarce in southwestern Alaska, and, during 
a 3-month cruise in the summer of 1922, in a small boat between 
Juneau and Unalaska, he saw these porpoises only once. He 
wrote that Captain T. S. Haynes did not recall having seen dalli 
in Bering Sea and said they are not plentiful along Alaska 
Peninsula. 

Walker found that one male weighed 199 pounds, and he 
measured the length of four specimens as follows : male, 1,760 
mm.; female, 1,575 mm.; female, 1,817 mm.; and another (sex 
unknown), 1,880 mm. 

The stomach of one of Walker's specimens contained only the 
flesh and beaks of squids. One contained mainly squid, with a 
trace of fish; one contained squid and a few bones of fish; and 
another contained a few squid beaks and at least V2 pound of 
small fish. 

Family MONODONTIDAE 
Delphinapterus leucas: White Whale (Beluga) 

Aleut (dialect?) : Hd-thakh (Turner) 
Russian: Bi-loo-hah (Buxton) 

We saw no white whales on any of our expeditions. Osgood 
(1904, p. 27) wrote: 

White whales or belugas often came into the mouth of the Nushagak River or 
the neighboring small bays in pursuit of salmon, on which it is said to feed 
quite extensively . . . Belugas are said to occur also on the south side of the 
peninsula, about the mouth of Cook Inlet. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 339 

Kellogg (1936) found bones of this whale in midden material 
from ancient village sites on Kodiak Island. 



Family ZIPHIIDAE 

Berardius bairdii: Baird Beaked Whale 

This species is generally spoken of as ranging in Bering Sea, 
and Turner mentions it tentatively for the Aleutian Islands. We 
did not obtain evidence of its presence in the Aleutians, nor for 
the waters of southwest Alaska. 

Mesoplodon stejnegeri: Stejneger Beaked Whale 

This rare whale was described from Bering Island, and it 
could be expected to occur in the Aleutians. The Ziphiidae have 
seldom been observed, and we have very little information about 
them. 

Ziphius cavirostris: Cuvier Beaked Whale 

This is another whale that may occur in the Aleutian district, 
but we did not identify any. True (1910, p. 2) lists a specimen 
found in Kiska Harbor in September 1904. Walker (unpublished 
notes) mentions descriptions of whales by Captain Earling taken 
off the southeast Alaskan coast, which suggest both Berardius 
bairdii and Ziphius cavirostris. The Aleuts of Attu Island assured 
me that there were "many other" whales in the Aleutians, but 
the difficulty of describing the different species to the Aleuts 
precluded any satisfactory listing of names. 

On several occasions, we found remains of unknown whales on 
beaches. Further work is necessary to clarify whale distribution 
in the Aleutian Islands. 



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1, 2, 3, pp. 1-23, 184-205, 351-367. 

1928. An unusual migration of the spotted and ribbon seals. Jour. 
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1930. The pintails of northwestern Alaska. Condor, vol. 32, No. 5, pp. 
264-265. 



342 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

1931. Specimens from Point Barrow, Alaska. Condor, vol. 33, No. 2, p. 
78. 

1932. Additional records from Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska. Condor, 
vol. 34, No. 1, p. 47. 

1933. The Baikal teal from King Island, Alaska. Auk, vol. 50, No. 1, 
p. 97. 

1934. Additional records for the Barrow region, Arctic Alaska. Condor, 
vol. 36, No. 4, p. 169. 

1943. Birds of Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska. Proceed. Colorado Mu- 
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Baird, S. P. 

1869. On additions to the bird fauna of North America, made by the 
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Bancroft, Hubert Howe. 

1886. History of Alaska, 1730-1885. San Francisco. 

Barabash-Nikiforov, I. I. 

1935. The sea otters of the Commander Islands. Jour. Mammalogy, 
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1937. Taxonomic observations on white whales. Jour. Mammalogy 
vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 507-509. 

1938. Mammals of the Commander Islands and the surrounding sea. 
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Barrett-Hamilton, G. E. H. 

1897. Remarks on the Pacific walrus. Proceed. Zoological Society 
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Bartsch, P., and H. A. Rehder. 

1939. Two new marine shells from the Aleutian Islands. Nautilus, 
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Bean, Tarleton H. 

1882. Notes on birds collected during the summer of 1880 in Alaska 

and Siberia. Proceed. U. S. National Museum, pp. 144-173. 
1889. Birds, bears, and fishes. Forest and Stream, vol. 33, pp. 348-368. 
1891. The pike family (in two parts). Forest and Stream, vol. 36, pp. 
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1941. Additional data concerning the subspecific status of the cor- 
morants of Great Salt Lake. Condor, vol. 43, No. 6, pp. 286-289. 

Bendire, Charles. 

1895. Notes on the ancient murrelet (Synthliboramphus antiquus) , 
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Benson, Seth B., and Thomas C. Groody. 

1942. Notes on the Dall porpoise. Jour. Mammalogy, vol. 23, No. 1, 
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Bent, Arthur Cleveland. 

1912. Notes on birds observed during a brief visit to the Aleutian 

Islands and Bering Sea in 1911. Smithsonian Misc. Collections, vol. 

56, No. 32. 
1919. Life histories of North American diving birds. U. S. National 

Museum Bull. 107. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 343 

1921. Life histories of North American gulls and terns. U. S. National 
Museum Bull. 113. 

1922. Life histories of North American petrels and pelicans and their 
allies. U. S. National Museum Bull. 121. 

1923. Life histories of North American wildfowl order Anseres (Part 
I). U. S. National Museum Bull. 126. 

1925. Life histories of North American wildfowl order Anseres (Part 
II). U. S. National Museum Bull. 130. 

1926. Life histories of North American marsh birds. U. S. National 
Museum Bull. 135. 

1927. Life histories of North American shore birds order Limicolae 
(Part I). U. S. National Museum Bull. 142. 

1929. Life histories of North American . shore birds order Limicolae 

(Part II). U. S. National Museum Bull. 146. 
1932. Life histories of North American gallinaceous birds. U. S. 

National Museum Bull. 162. 

1937. Life histories of North American birds of prey order Falcon- 
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1938. Life histories of North American birds of prey order Falcon- 
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170. 

Bent, Silas. 

1857. The Japanese gulf stream. Bull. American Geographical Society, 
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BlRKELAND, KNUT B. 

1926. The whalers of Akutan. Yale University Press, New Haven, 
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Bishop, Louis B. 

1900a. Birds of the Yukon region, with notes on other species. In 

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Washington, D. C. 
1900b. Descriptions of three new birds from Alaska. Auk, vol. 17, No. 

2, pp. 113-120. 
1905. The gray sea-eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) in British Columbia. 

Auk, vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 79-80. 
1915. Description of a new race of Savannah sparrow and suggestions 

on some California birds. Condor, vol. 17, No. 5, pp. 185-189. 
1927a. The status of the Point Barrow gull. Condor, vol. 29, No. 4, 

pp. 204-205. 
1927b. The plumages of certain gulls. Condor, vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 

201-202. 

Bishop, S. E. 

1904. The cold-current system of the Pacific, and source of the Pacific 
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Bolin, Rolf L. 

1938. Reappearance of the southern sea otter along the California 
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Bond, R. M. 

1949. Characteristics of the gyrfalcons from the Bering Sea area. 
Condor, vol. 51, No. 5, pp. 228-229. 



344 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Rone, Scott C. 

1922. Annual report of Governor of Alaska on the Alaska game law, 
1921. U. S. Department Agriculture Circ. 225. 
Bretherton, Bernard J. 

1896. Kodiak Island, a contribution to the avifauna of Alaska. Oregon 
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Broch, Hjalmar. 

1936. Some zoogeographical problems of the northern Pacific. Science 
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Brodkorb, Pierce. 

1933. Remarks on the genus Limnodromus Wied. Proceed. Biological 
Soc. Washington, vol. 46, pp. 123-128. 

Brooks, Alfred H. 

1906. The geography and geology of Alaska. U. S. Geological Survey 
Professional Paper 45. 

Brooks, Allan. 

1922. Notes on the American pine grosbeaks with a description of a 

new subspecies. Condor, vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 86-88. 
1926. Notes on the status of the Peale falcon. Condor, vol. 28, No. 2, 
pp. 77-79. 
Brooks, S. C. 

1934. Oceanic currents and the migration of pelagic birds. Condor, 
vol. 36, No. 5, pp. 185-190. 

Brooks, W. Sprague. 

1915. Notes on birds from east Siberia and arctic Alaska. Bull. 
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Byers, H. R. 

1934. Air masses of the North Pacific. Bull. Scripps Institute Ocea- 
nography Technology, ser. 3, pp. 311-353. 
Cahalane, Victor H. 

1943. Notes on the birds of the Kodiak-Afognak Island group. Auk, 
vol. 60, No. 4, pp. 536-541. 

1944. Birds of the Katmai Region, Alaska. Auk, vol. 61, No. 3, pp. 
351-375. 

Cahn, Alvin R. 

1947. Notes on the birds of the Dutch Harbor Area of the Aleutian 
Islands. Condor, vol. 49, No. 2, pp. 78-82. 
Capps, Stephen R. 

1934. Notes on the geology of the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian 
Islands. U. S. Geological Survey, Bulletin 857-D, pp. 141-153. 
Carver, W. H. 

1928. Notes from St. George's Island, Alaska. Murrelet, vol. 9, No. 3, 
pp. 63-65. 

1929. More observations from St. George's Island, Alaska. Murrelet, 
vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 15-17. 

Chapman, Frank M. 

1902. List of birds collected in Alaska by the Andrew J. Stone Expedi- 
tion of 1901. Bull. American Museum Natural History, vol. 16, pp. 
231-247. 

1904. A common loon at Seldovia, June 30, 1903. Bull. American 
Museum Natural History, vol. 20. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 345 

Chase, Earl, and Ralph Donahue. 

1944. Report from the services. Pvt. Donahue finds plenty of life in 
the barren Aleutians. Animal Kingdom, vol. 47, No. 1, pp. 11-13. 

Chinard, Gilbert. 

1937. Le Voyage de La Perouse sur les Cotes de I' Alaska et de la 
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Clark, Austin H. 

1887. The Pacific walrus fishery. In The fisheries and fishery industries 

of the United States, 1887, Sec. 5, Part 2, pp. 311-318. 
1907. Eighteen new species and one new genus of birds from eastern 
Asia and the Aleutian Islands. Proceed. U. S. National Museum, 
vol. 32, pp. 467-475. 
1910. The birds collected and observed during the cruise of the United 
States Fisheries Steamer "Albatross" in the North Pacific Ocean, and 
in the Bering, Okhotsk, Japan, and Eastern Seas, from April to 
December, 1906. Proceed. U. S. National Museum, vol. 38, pp. 25-74. 
Collins, Grenold. 

1940. Habits of the Pacific walrus. Jour. Mammalogy, vol. 21, No. 2, 
pp. 138-144. 

Collins, Henry B., Jr., Austin H. Clark, and Egbert H. Walker. 

1945. The Aleutian Islands: Their people and natural history. 
Smithsonian Institute War Background Studies 21, Pub. 3775. 

Conover, H. B. 

1941. A study of the dowitchers. Auk, vol. 58, No. 3, pp. 376-380. 

1943. Races of the knot (Calidris canutus). Condor, vol. 45, No. 6, pp. 
226-228. 

1944. The North Pacific allies of the purple sandpiper. Zoological Ser., 
Field Museum Natural History, vol. 29, No. 11, pp. 169-179. 

1945a. Notes on some American shorebirds. Condor, vol. 47, No. 5, 

pp. 211-214. 
1945b. The breeding golden plover of Alaska. Auk, vol. 62, No. 4, pp. 
568-574. 
Cook, James. 

1842. Voyages of Captain James Cook. Vol. II (Home Library), Burt 
Press. 
Cook, J. A. 

1926. Pursuing the whale; a quarter-century of whaling in the Arctic. 
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1915. The yellow-billed loon; a problem in migration. Condor, vol. 
17, No. 6, pp. 213-214. 
Corney, Peter. 

1821. Voyages in Northern Pacific in 1813-18. Honolulu, 1896. (Re- 
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Cottam, Clarence, and Phoebe Knappen. 

1939. Food of some uncommon North American birds. Auk, vol. 56, 
No. 2, pp. 138-169. 
Couturier, Marcel A. J. 

1954. L'Ours Brun. Grenoble ^France. 
Cowan, I. McT. 

1939. The sharp-headed finner whale of the eastern Pacific. Jour. 
Mammalogy, vol. 20, pp. 215-225. 



346 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 6 1 , FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Crabb, Edward D. 

1922. The Sykes Alaskan Expedition of the University of Oklahoma 
of 1021. Pi-oceed. Oklahoma Academy Science, vol. 2, pp. 60-65. 

1923. A note on the economic status of the bald eagle in Alaska. Auk, 
vol. 40, No. 3, pp. 419-423. 

Dall, William H. 

1869. Note on the "blowing" of whales. American Naturalist, vol. 3, 

pp. 333-334. 

1870. Alaska and its resources. Boston, Mass. 

1873. Notes on the avifauna of the Aleutian Islands, from Unalaska, 
eastward. Proceed. California Academy Sciences, vol. 5. 

1874. Notes on the avifauna of the Aleutian Islands, especially those 
west of Unalaska. Proceed. California Academy Sciences, vol. 5, 
pp. 270-281. 

1875. Alaskan mummies. American Naturalist, vol. 9, pp. 435-438. 

1876. On the marine faunal regions of the North Pacific: An intro- 
ductory note to the report on Alaskan hydroids, by S. F. Clark. 
Proceed. Academy Sciences Philadelphia, vol. 3, No. 28, pp. 205-208. 

1920. The Pliocene and Pleistocene fossils from the Arctic coast of 
Alaska and the auriferous beaches of Nome, Norton Sound, Alaska. 
U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 125-C, pp. 23-37. 
Dall, William H., and H. M. Bannister. 

1869. List of the birds of Alaska, with biographical notes. Trans. 
Chicago Academy Science, vol. I, pp. 267-310. 
Davis, William B. 

1944. Geographic variation in brown lemmings (genus Lemmus) . 
Murrelet, vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 19-25. 

Deignan, H. G. 

1951. The genus Cuculus in North America, a reconsideration. Condor, 
vol. 53, No. 3, pp. 154-155. 

Delacour, Jean, and Ernst Mayr. 

1945. The family Anatidae. Wilson Bulletin, vol. 57, No. 1, pp. 3-55. 

Dice, Lee R. 

1922. Biotic areas and ecologic habitats as units for the statement of 
animal and plant distribution. Science, vol. 55, No. 1422, p. 104. 

1923. Life zones and mammalian distribution. Jour. Mammalogy, vol. 
4, No. 1, pp. 39-47. 

1932. A preliminary classification of the major terrestrial ecologic 
communities of Michigan, exclusive of Isle Royale. Papers Michigan 
Academy Science, Arts and Letters, vol. 16, pp. 217-239. 

Dixon, Joseph. 

1916. Migration of the yellow-billed loon. Auk, vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 

370-376. 
1938. Fauna of the National Parks of the United States. Birds and 
Mammals of Mount McKinley National Park. U. S. National Park 
Service Fauna Ser. 3. 
Duvall, Allen J. 

1945. Distribution and taxonomy of the black-capped chickadees of 
North America. Auk, vol. 62, No. 1, pp. 49-69. 
Dwight, Jonathan, Jr. 

1904. The exaltation of the sub-species. Auk, vol. 21, pp. 64-68. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 347 

1906. Status and plumages of the white-winged gulls of the genus 
Larus. Auk, vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 25-43. 

1919. Reasons for discarding a proposed race of the glaucous gull 
(Larus hyperboreus). Auk, vol. 36, No. 2, pp. 242-248. 

1925. The gulls (Laridae) of the world; their plumages, moults, vari- 
ations, relationships, and distribution. Bull. American Museum Nat- 
ural History, vol. 52, pp. 63-401. 
Einarson, Arthur S. 

1922. Alaska Notes. Murrelet, vol. 3, No. 3, p. 4. 
Elliot, Daniel Giraud. 

1896. Descriptions of an apparently new species and sub-species of 
ptarmigan from the Aleutian Islands. Auk, vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 24-29. 

1901. A synopsis of the mammals of North America and the adjacent 
seas. Pubs. Field Columbian Museum Zoological Ser., vol. 2. 

1903. Description of an apparently new subspecies of marten from 
the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Field Museum Natural History, Zool. 
Ser. 1903, pp. 151-173. Chicago. 

Elliott, Henry W. 

1897. Our Arctic province. Scribner's Sons, 1886. 
Evermann, Barton Warren. 

1913. Eighteen species of birds new to the Pribilof Islands, including 
four new to North America. Auk, vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 15-18. 

1921. The Ano Nuevo Steller sea lion rookery. Jour. Mammalogy, vol. 
2, No. 1. 

1922. Why not save the marine mammals of the Pacific? Pan-Pacific 
Union Bull. 34, pp. 12-16. 

Eyerdam, Walter J. 

1933. Sea otters in the Aleutian Islands. Jour. Mammalogy, vol. 14, 

No. 1. 
1936a. Notes on birds collected or observed during the summer of 1932 
in the eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Murrelet, vol. 17, Nos. 
2-3, pp. 48-52. 
1936b. Mammal remains from an Aleut Stone Age village. Jour. 
Mammalogy, vol. 17, No. 1. 
Figgins, J. D. 

1904. Field notes on the birds and mammals of the Cook's Inlet region 
of Alaska. Abstracts of Proceed. Linnean Society New York, Nos. 
15-16, pp. 15-39. 

Findley, James S. 

1955. Speciation of the wandering shrew. University of Kansas Pub- 
lications vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 1-68. 
Finley, William L. 

1927. Camera hunting in the Northland. Nature, vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 
72-78. 
Fisher, A. K. 

1900. The occurrence of Steller's eider (Eniconnetta stelleri) in the 
Gulf of St. Lawrence. Auk, vol. 17, No. 1, p. 65. 
Fisher, Edna M. 

1939. Habits of the southern sea otter. Jour. Mammalogy, vol. 20, No. 

1, pp. 21-36. 
1940a. A sea otter with gastric perforations. Jour. Mammalogy, vol. 
21, No. 3, pp. 357-359. 



348 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

1940b. Early life of a sea-otter pup. Jour. Mammalogy, vol. 21, No. 

2, pp. 132-137. 
1941a. Notes on the teeth of the sea otter. Jour. Mammalogy, vol. 22, 

No. 4, pp. 428-433. 
1941b. Prices of sea-otter pelts. California Fish and Game, vol. 27, No. 

4, pp. 261-265. 
Foerste, A. F. 

1931. Ancient life in the Arctic. Ohio Jour. Science, vol. 31, pp. 243- 

254. 
Ford, Edward R. 

1936. Kittlitz's murrelet breeding at Wales, Alaska. Auk, vol. 53, 

No. 2, pp. 214-215. 
Forest and Stream. 

1893. The sea otter and the Aleuts. Vol. 40, No. 6, p. 111. 
Friedmann, Herbert. 

1933a. The Chinese cormorant on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Condor, 

vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 30-31. 
1933b. Notes on some birds of Goodnews Bay, Alaska. Condor, vol. 35, 

No. 6, pp. 239-240. 
1934a. The Mongolian plover and other birds at Goodnews Bay, Alaska. 

Condor, vol. 36, No. 2, p. 89. 
1934b. Bird bones from old Eskimo ruins in Alaska. Jour. Washington 

Academy Science, vol. 24, No. 5. 
1934c. The Siberian rough-legged hawk in Alaska. Condor, vol. 36, 

No. 6, p. 246. 

1935. The birds of Kodiak Island, Alaska. Bull. Chicago Academy 
Science, vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 13-54. 

1936. Notes on Alaskan birds. Condor, vol. 38, No. 4, p. 173. 

1937. Bird bones from archeological sites in Alaska. Jour. Washington 
Academy Science, vol. 27, No. 10. 

Gabrielson, Ira N. 

1940. America's greatest bird concentrations. Bird Lore, vol. 42, No. 
6, pp. 496-506. 

1941. America's greatest bird concentrations, Part 2. Audubon Maga- 
zine, vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 15-23. 

1943. Additional bird records from Alaska. Auk, vol. 60, No. 4, p. 604. 

1944. Some Alaskan notes. Auk, vol. 61, Nos. 1-2, pp. 105-130, 270-287. 
Gabrielson, Ira N., and Frederick C. Lincoln. 

1949. A new race of ptarmigan in Alaska. Proceed. Biological Society 

Washington, vol. 62, pp. 175-176. 
1951a. Post-mortem color change in bird specimens. Condor, vol. 53, 

No. 6, pp. 298-299. 
1951b. A new race of ptarmigan from Alaska. Proceed. Biological 

Society Washington, vol. 64, pp. 63-64. 
1951c. The races of song sparrows in Alaska. Condor, vol. 53, No. 5, 

pp. 250-255. 
1951d. A new Alaskan race of the winter wren. Proceed. Biological 

Society Washington, vol. 64, pp. 73-74. 
1959. Birds of Alaska. Wildlife Mgmt. Inst., Washington. 922 pp. 
Geist, Otto William. 

1939. Sea birds found far inland in Alaska. Condor, vol. 41, No. 2, 

pp. 68-70. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 349 

Gianini, Charles A. 

1917. Some Alaska Peninsula bird notes. Auk, vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 394- 
402. 

Gilbert, Charles H. 

1922. Kamchatka sea eagle at Kodiak, Alaska. Condor, vol. 24, No. 2, 
p. 66. 
Gilmore, Raymond M. 

1933. Notes on the Unalaska collared lemming. Jour. Mammalogy, 

vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 257-258. 
1946. Arctic mammalogy. In A program of desirable scientific in- 
vestigations in Arctic North America. Arctic Institute of North 
America Bull. 1. 
G older, F. A. 

1922. Bering's voyages and an account of the efforts of the Russians 
to determine the relation of Asia and America. American Geographic 
Society, vols. 1 (1922) and 2 (1925) New York, N. Y. 
Goldman, Edward A. 

1935. New American mustelids of Martes, Gulo, Lutra. Proceed. Bio- 
logical Society Washington, vol. 48, p. 180. 

1936. A new otter from Kamchatka. Jour. Mammalogy, vol. 17, No. 2. 

Goode, George Brown, and others. 

1884. The fisheries and fishery industries of the United States, sec. 1, 
part 1. 47th Cong., 1st Sess., Senate, Misc. Doc. 124. Washington. 

Griggs, Robert Fiske. 

1922. The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. National Geographic 

Society, vol. 15, No. 1, 341 pp. 
1934a. The problem of Arctic vegetation. Jour. Washington Academy 

Science, vol. 24, No. 4, pp. 153-175. 
1934b. Growth of liverworts from Katmai in nitrogen-free media. 

American Jour. Botany, vol. 21, pp. 265-277. 
1934c. The edge of the forest in Alaska and the reasons for its position. 

Ecology, vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 80-96. 
1936. The vegetation of the Katmai district. Ecology, vol. 17, No. 2, 

pp. 380-417. 
1938. Timberlines in the northern Rocky Mountains. Ecology, vol. 19, 

No. 4, pp. 548-564. 
1946. The timberlines of northern America and their interpretation. 

Ecology, vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 275-289. 

Grinnell, Joseph. 

1900. Birds of the Kotzebue Sound Region, Alaska. Pacific Coast 
Avifauna, No. 1, pp. 1-80. 

1901a. Record of Alaskan birds in the collection of Leland Stanford 
University. Condor, vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 19-23. 

1901b. The proper name for the Kodiak Savannah sparrow. Condor, 
vol. 3, p. 85. 

1901c. Two races of the varied thrush. Auk, vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 142- 
145. 

1902. The western barn swallow. Condor, vol. 4, No. 3, p. 71. 

1909. Birds and mammals of the 1907 Alexander expedition to South- 
eastern Alaska. University California Publ. Zoology, vol. 5, No. 2, 
p. 1. 



350 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

1910a. Miscellaneous records from Alaska. Condor, vol. 12, No. 1, 

pp. 41-43. 
1910b. Birds of the 1908 Alexander Alaska expedition. University 

California Publ. Zoology, vol. 5, pp. 381-428. 
1920. The existence of sea birds a relatively safe one. Condor, vol. 22, 

No. 3, pp. 101-103. 

1938. Ocean waifs and what they mean for distribution. Condor, vol. 
40, No. 6, pp. 242-245. 

1939. Proposed shifts of names in Passerculus — a protest. Condor, 
vol. 41, No. 3, pp. 112-119. 

Grinnell, Joseph, and Frederick H. Test. 

1939. Geographic variation in the fork-tailed petrel. Condor, vol. 41, 
No. 4, pp. 170-172. 
Guberlet, Mrs. M. 

1936. Animals of the seashore. 412 pp. Metropolitan Press, Portland, 
Ore. 
Hall, E. Raymond. 

1929. Mammals collected by C. D. Brower at Point Barrow, Alaska. 
University California Publ. Zoology, vol. 30, No. 4. 

1936. Mustelid mammals from the Pleistocene of North America. Car- 
negie Inst. Washington Publ. 473, pp. 41-119. 

1945a. Chase Littiejohn, 1854-1943: Observations by Littlejohn on 
hunting sea otters. Jour. Mammalogy, vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 89-91. 

1945b. Four new ermines from the Pacific Northwest. Jour. Mam- 
malogy, vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 75-85. 

1957. Vernacular names for North American mammals north of 
Mexico. U. Kans. Museum Nat. Hist., Misc. Pub. 14. 16 pp. 
Hanna, G. Dallas. 

1917. The summer birds of the St. Matthew Island bird reservation. 
Auk, vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 403-410. 

1919. Additions to the avifauna of the Pribilof Islands, Alaska, includ- 
ing species new to North America. Jour. Washington Academy Sci- 
ence, vol. 9, No. 6, pp. 176-177. 

1920a. Additions to the avifauna of the Pribilof Islands, Alaska, in- 
cluding four specjes new to North America. Auk, vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 
248-254. 

1920b. Mammals of the St. Matthew Islands, Bering Sea. Jour. Mam- 
malogy, vol. 1, No. 3. 

1921. The Pribilof sandpiper. Condor, vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 50-57. 

1922. The Aleutian rosy finch. Condor, vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 88-91. 
1923a. Random notes on Alaska snow buntings. Condor, vol. 25, No. 

2, pp. 60-65. 

1923b. Rare mammals of the Pribilof Islands, Alaska. Jour. Mam- 
malogy, vol. 4, No. 4. 

1924. Sperm whales of St. George Island, Bering Sea. Jour. Mam- 
malogy, vol. 5, No. 1. 

1940. Siberian peregrine falcon in North America. Condor, vol. 42, 
No. 3, pp. 166-167. 
Hartert, Ernst. 

1910-22. Die Vogel der palaarktischen Fauna. Systematische Uber- 
sicht der in Europa, Nord-Asien und der Mittelmeerregion vorkom- 
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Berlin, Germany. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 351 

1915. Notes on falcons. Novitates Zoologicae, vol. 22, pp. 167-185. 
London. 

1920. The birds of the Commander Islands. Novitates Zoologicae, vol. 
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Hartlaub, G. 

1883. Beitrag zur Ornithologie von Alaska. Jour, fur Ornithologie, 
vol. 31, pp. 257-286. 

Hatter, James. 

1949. The status of moose in North America. Trans. 14th North 
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Heath, Harold. 

1920. The nesting habits of the Alaska wren. Condor, vol. 22, No. 2, 
pp. 49-55. 
Heller, Edmund. 

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354 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

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356 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

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358 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

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FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 359 

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360 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

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1939. Organisms collected from whales in the Aleutian Islands. Mur- 
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1942b. Further records of the Dall porpoise in California. Jour. 
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1943. Fish bites bird. Nature Magazine, vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 41-42. 

1949. The Dall porpoise, Phocoenoides dalli, in Alaska. Jour. Mam- 
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1935. Some marine biotic communities of the Pacific Coast of North 
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FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 361 

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NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

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FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 363 

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364 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

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INVERTEBRATES AND FISHES 
COLLECTED IN THE ALEUTIANS 

1936-38 

By Victor B. Scheffer, Biologist 



Introduction 



In the expeditions to the Aleutian Islands conducted by the 
Fish and Wildlife Service from 1936 to 1938, chief emphasis was 
placed on investigations of birds and mammals. Limited studies 
were made of the lesser forms of animal life that inhabit the sub- 
arctic waters of the Northeast Pacific and the Bering Sea and 
that live on the shores and slopes of the islands. With relation 
to the birds and the mammals, the myriad lesser organisms may 
collectively be termed the "supporting fauna." 

One must actually visit the northern seas to realize the abun- 
dance of small animal life in the water and along the shore — 
abundance not of kinds but of numbers. From the deck of a ship, 
it is often possible to see swarms of reddish microcrustaceans 
drifting along on the surface of the water in such profusion that 
they impart a reddish cast to the water. At night, the churn 
of the ship's propeller sometimes turns up a glowing wake as it 
brings countless bodies of luminescent organisms to the surface. 
These organisms are recovered in the stomachs and crops of 
auklets and petrels. Where the ocean currents cause an upwell- 
ing of water rich in plankton, shearwaters and fulmars flock to 
the scene and baleen whales soon appear. On one occasion, at 
Unimak Pass, it was estimated that the surface of the ocean for 
15 square miles was covered with feeding shearwaters, each sepa- 
rated from its neighbor by 10 or 20 feet. If the carcass of a 
bird or fish, weighing about 5 pounds, is lowered to the bottom 
of the sea and hauled up on the following day, the bones usually 
will have been picked clean by small amphipod crustaceans. 

On certain of the Aleutian beaches that are covered with flat, 
shingly rocks the size of a man's hand, it is possible to uncover 
as much as a half pint of amphipod crustaceans or sand fleas hid- 
ing beneath a single rock. Such organisms, on islands with ex- 

365 



366 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

tensive beaches, are often the main source of food of the blue fox. 
In certain quiet waters it is possible to look down from a row 
boat and see a green carpet of sea urchins covering the floor 
of the ocean. These animals make up the largest single item 
in the diet of the sea otter. More specific information on the food 
relations of Aleutian organisms will be presented, but some indi- 
cation has here been given of the importance of the invertebrates 
and fishes in the teeming, complex fauna of the northern seas. 

Specimens of invertebrates and fishes were collected at every 
opportunity, but the time made available for this phase of the 
work was very limited, therefore the collection is not complete. 
In includes, however, 255 species, or subspecies, of invertebrates 
and 48 species, or subspecies, of fishes, representing many of the 
forms that are encountered in the Aleutian area. Two new genera 
and six new species have been described to date on the basis of 
material in the collection, and many other species have had 
their ranges extended. 

With the exceptions noted, all of the specimens collected by 
members of the Aleutian expeditions have been identified by staff 
members of the United States National Museum or by collaborat- 
ing agencies. The indispensable help of the following persons 
is gratefully acknowledged: Paul Bartsch, S. S. Berry, H. B. 
Bigelow, Austin H. Clark, Wesley R. Coe, J. E. Cornwall, Irving 
Fox, Theodore C. Frye, C. T. Greene, David G. Hall, Melville H. 
Hatch, Trevor Kincaid, J. T. Lucker, J. 0. Maloney, J. Percy 
Moore, E. W. Price, Harald A. Render, Clarence Shoemaker, 
Waldo L. Schmitt, Leonard P. Schultz, Alan Stone, William Ran- 
dolph Taylor, Margaret E. Van Winkle, Arthur Welander, and 
C. B. Wilson. 

In the following pages, notes are presented on the inverte- 
brates and fishes that were most commonly observed or, because 
of some special relationship to the birds and mammals, attracted 
the attention of members of the 1936-38 party. Some of the 
conspicuous marine algae are also discussed briefly. There is 
no attempt in this report to list all of the species of organisms 
collected, because, in the first place, such an array would be only 
an approach to a complete check list of the organisms of the 
Aleutian Islands. In the second place, a complete list of the species 
collected in 1936-38 would serve no useful purpose, because the 
specimen records, field data, and (in most cases) the specimens 
are already in the hands of specialists who have published, or 
will publish, on any material of outstanding value. It is hoped 
that the present report will be of interest to future workers in 
the Aleutian Islands National Wildlife Refuge. 



Marine Algae 



Samples of the commoner seaweeds found in the Aleutian Is- 
lands were identified by T. C. Frye. The genus Alaria (the most 
abundant) is found in shoal water along the entire archipelago. 

Its long, brown, leathery fronds are a nuisance in small-boat 
navigation. The thallus is 4 to 8 inches wide with a bladderlike 
midrib that is Y-z to 1 inch wide. This midrib remains floating 
after the sides of the thallus have decomposed and washed away. 
Masses of Alarm are seen floating detached at sea and piled on 
the beaches after the first of August. 

Laminaria has a similar structure, but the fronds are wider 
(as much as 2 feet) and the plant has the general appearance of 
a slick leather apron. 

Nereocystis, the common bull-whip kelp of the Pacific Coast, 
has a long, hollow, floating stem increasing in diameter to a 
bulb at the free end. Very common along the mainland, this plant 
is observed only rarely west of the Alaska Peninsula. At King 
Cove, east end of the Peninsula, Nereocystis is definitely the domi- 
nant kelp as compared with Alaria to the westward. Nereocys- 
tis, in all cases a single plant drifting at sea or washed up dead 
en the beach, was seen on the following Islands : Unalaska, East 
Semichi, Atka, Ogliuga, and Amchitka. 

Fucus is common along the beach; locally it is called "popweed" 
from the sound made by the bursting of the bladders when they 
are trod upon (fig. 1). 

The bright-green sheets of sea lettuce, Viva, are on every beach. 

Spongomorpha has the texture and appearance of coarse green 
moss and grows attached to rocks. On spray-covered rocks, the 
cylindrical floats of Halosaccion occur in clumps suggestive of the 
local name "dead man's fingers". 

Cystophyllum is a brown seaweed that occasionally washes up 
on the beach. It has a mass of fine branches covered with small 
brown bladders, each of which is the size and shape of a grain of 
wheat. 

Thallasiophyllum is easily distinguished by its wide brown 
fronds covered with holes like a colander. 

A number of lime-secreting marine algae, locally called corals, 

367 



368 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 




Figure 1. — Fucus, a brown seaweed common along the beaches of the Aleu- 
tian Islands. Rat Island, June 29, 1937. 




Figure 2. — Calcareous algae of the Lithothamnion group commonly attach to 
the holdfasts of kelp and are stranded during storms. Ogliuga Island, August 
4, 1937. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 369 

are conspicuous on the Aleutian beaches (fig. 2). Members of 
the Lithothamnion group form chalk-white crusts around the 
rhizoids of kelps, these crusts being later washed up on the beach 
in windrows. Corallina grows in branched tufts on the rocks, 
looks like an ornamental coral, and is wine colored to dirty white. 
Its stalks are commonly found attached to pebbles brought up 
by dredging. 

A list, accompanied by brief field notes, of 40 species of marine 
algae collected in the Aleutian Islands has been published by 
Okamura (1933), who stated that "the Aleutian algae are al- 
most equally dispersed westward to Japan, and eastward to 
California." 

(The vascular plant Zostera, or eel grass, an important water- 
fowl food, was observed growing in a lagoon on Vsevidof Island, 
near Umnak Island, but it was not seen farther west.) 



Marine Invertebrates 



SPONGES 

The vase sponge, Esperiopsis quatsinoensis, is common through- 
out the islands. It washes up on the beach and eventually bleaches 
out to a creamy-white color. In size and general shape, it re- 
sembles a flattened ice cream cone. A large specimen from 
Aiktak Island measured 28 centimeters from base to lip and was 
30 centimeters wide. 

COELENTERATES 

HYDROIDS 

Abietinaria filicula is a small hydroid about 5 centimeters 
long, resembling a feather. It is often washed up in tangles of 
seaweed. 

Another hydroid, Thuaria robusta, has been collected in sea 
otter scats. 

JELLYFISHES 

The common crystal jellyfish of the West Coast (Aequorea 
aequorea) is observed almost daily after the first of July in the 
Aleutian Islands. It is a transparent, lens-shaped medusa that, 
at first glance, appears to have no organized structure, but closer 
scrutiny will show a delicate central manubrium and a fringe of 
fine tentacles. The body mass is firmer than that of the large red 
jellyfishes and may be turned over readily in the hand. A few 
specimens reach a diameter of 150 millimeters. 

Aurelia aurita is transparent, but it has a conspicuous struc- 
ture in the center — a set of four yellowish-brown gonads arranged 
like the leaves of a four-leafed clover. Of the two species, Aequorea 
appears much more frequently during the summer. 

Cyanea capillata is one of the large, trailing, red jellyfishes 
frequently seen from July to September, especially in the calmer 
bays. The rim of the medusa is divided into eight pairs of short 
lobes, or a total of 16 lobes. Each lobe has a medial notch about 

370 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 371 

3 centimeters deep. Muscle fibrils can be seen extending into 
these lobes in bundles of 12 or more. 

A number of small medusae were collected in plankton hauls, 
including Aegina, Hybocodon, Mitrocoma? , Rathkea, Sarsia, and 
Stomotoca. 

FLATWORMS 

A monogenetic fluke, Entobdella hippoglossi, was collected 
from the skin of a halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) off Nikolski, 
Umnak Island, on August 30, 1938. (See also Annelid Worms.) 

ROUNDWORMS 

Sperm whales (Physeter catodon) brought to the Akutan whal- 
ing station are, without exception, infested with intestinal worms. 
According to Coast Guard Inspector A. Van De Venter the baleen 
whales are commonly infested as well. Anisakis physeteris was 
collected from the intestine of sperm whales here (Scheffer 1939) . 

Contracaecum clavatum is a thready white worm found in 
masses in the stomach of nearly every cod (Gadus macrocephalus) 
examined in Aleutian waters. A single specimen of Cystidicoki 
sp. was also collected in the cod. Porrocaecum decipiens was 
found encysted in larval stage in the mesenteries of the cod. 

An undetermined species (larval) of Porrocaecum was taken 
from the stomach of a sea otter. 

NEMERTEAN WORMS 

Paranemertes peregrina is a long, thready worm found in the 
tidal zone under rocks; it is colored dark brown to purple above 
and white to yellow below. 

BRACHIOPODS 

Three specimens of a single species, Diestothyris frontalis, were 
collected. 

ANNELID WORMS 

Two leeches from the skin of fishes were collected : Ottoniobdella 
scorpii is a cream-colored worm, 25-50 millimeters long, com- 
monly found attached to the dorsal surface of the sculpin 
(Hemilepidotus). Platybdella quadrioculata was collected once, in 
the operculum of a cod (Gadus macrocephalus) . 

Many free-living worms doubtless are present in the sand and 
among the tide-pool rocks of the Aleutian beaches, but the col- 
lections of the present expedition have not been studied. A species 



372 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

of Nereis was found in small numbers in blue-fox droppings on 
Attu Island. 

A small, tan-colored earthworm was noticed on several occa- 
sions, well up in the grass of the islands. 



ECHINODERMS 
BRITTLE STARS 

Gorgonocephala eucnemis var. caryi, the basket star, has five 
arms which branch and rebranch profusely toward the periphery 
into a tangled mass of tendrils. The terminal branches writhe 
slowly in the living specimen and are tan in color. Specimens 
were snagged occasionally on codfish hooks. 

Ophiopholis acuteata is a small reddish species often streaked 
or mottled with lighter colors. It was collected on three islands. 

Ophiura sarsii is grayish or tan. It was collected on three is- 
lands. 

STARFISHES 

Two specimens of Aleutiaster schefferi, a small stubby six- 
rayed starfish were taken; 1 on Attu Island and 1 on Amchitka, 
in both cases by dredging. They formed the basis of a new genus 
and species (Clark 1939). The family Ganeriidae, to which 
Aleutiaster was assigned, hitherto included 4 genera in the Ant- 
arctic and 2 in the West Indies. "It is especially interesting, 
therefore, to find a member of this family in the North Pacific." 
The topotype has a radius of only 5 millimeters. 

Two species of Henricia were collected. H. leviuscula, taken 
only once, was noted l as purple above and tan beneath. H. 
sanguinolenta form tumida, taken on five islands was noted as 
red. The latter is a slender, five-rayed "blood star" with a radius 
of about 20-30 millimeters. In a tide pool on Umnak Island it 
was associated with other starfishes of the same size, but with 
six-rays (Leptasterias). 

The only large species of starfish in the Aleutian Islands, ac- 
cording to A. H. Clark, is Asterias amur.ensis (fig. 3). A speci- 
men taken at Unalaska was wine-colored above, crossed by white 
channels and spots, and was light tan below. A pronounced 
light radial streak on the dorsal surface of each ray extended 
from a pentagonal hub at the center. The limp, floppy attitude 
of this starfish is quite different from the rigidness of the com- 
mon mainland Pisaster. 

Four species of Leptasterias were collected, L. alaskensis most 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 373 







Figure 3. — The only large 5-rayed starfish of the Aleutian Islands, Asterias 
amurensis. This species is about 1 foot in diameter. Unalaska, August 18, 
1937. 



frequently (on six islands). These are slender, six-rayed star- 
fishes, noted as dark green, gray, tan, or purplish red. 

No other Pacific Coast form resembles the 20-rayed starfish, 
Pycnopodia helianthoidcs (fig. 4). Specimens were taken at King 
Cove, 35 miles east of Unimak Island, but not in the Aleutian 
Islands proper. No doubt it occurs at the east end, at least, of the 
chain. 



SEA URCHINS 

Strongylocentrotus drobachienms, the green sea urchin, is one 
of the most common inshore animals of the Aleutian Islands 
(fig. 5). In many places it is possible to look down from a boat 
through the clear water and see thousands of individuals side by 
side in a submarine garden of green. It occurs on rocky bottoms 
more frequently than on sand. Several specimens dredged from 
deep water (30 fathoms) off Sanak Island were a faded brown in 
color. Sea urchin spines are so predominant in the refuse heaps 



374 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61 , FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

of ancient Aleut villages that the middens are grayish in color. 
Sea urchins are eaten by the present-day natives. A small child 
was seen sucking the brown contents of one at Nikolski. The 
shell was cracked open and the orange part (gonad and liver) 
was eaten with the fingers. Sea urchins do not seem to be par- 
ticularly palatable to fish. For example, in 20 cod stomachs ex- 
amined at Chuginadak Island, only 1 small urchin was found. 
The occurrence of sea urchin remains in sea-otter, blue-fox, and 
sea-gull droppings has been mentioned elsewhere. 

According to Clark, no other species of Strongylocentrotus oc- 
cur in the Aleutians. A fisherman stated that he had seen the 
large purple S. franciscanus at Sitka, Alaska, but he had not seen 
it in the Aleutians. 

The sand dollar, or sea biscuit, Echinarachnius parma, is thinly 
scattered along the Aleutians. Dead shells were seen or collected 
on the beaches of seven islands. Clark says that this is the only 
species of sand dollar in the Aleutians. 




Figure 4. — Twenty-rayed starfish, Pycnopodia helianthoides. 

September 9, 1938. 



King Cove, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 375 




Figure 5. — Green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus drobachiensis, ventral or 

oral view. Rat Island, June 30, 1937. 

SEA CUCUMBERS 

The sea cucumber, Cucumaria populifer, was collected at Kiska 
Island and was observed at other places in the archipelago. 



CRUSTACEANS 



COPEPODS 



Eighteen species of copepods were identified in marine-plankton 
collections. Concerning Acartia pacifica. Dr. Wilson states (in 
correspondence), that — 

This species was established by Steuer in 1915 with figures of the fifth legs 
of the two sexes and a statement of the size but with no description. These 
are the first to be reported since that date and the species is much in need of 
a detailed description. 

The predominant species, judging from the number of collec- 
tions in which it appears, is Eucalanus clongatus. 

Several parasitic copepods were collected, Lepeophtheirus 



376 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

parviventris, on a cod at Tanaga Island, and L. salmonis, on a 
humpback salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), also at Tanaga Is- 
land. 

A species of PenneUa occasionally is recovered from whales at 
Akutan Island. Inspector Van De Venter at the whaling station 
said that no specimens were seen in 1938 and only one was seen 
in 1937. 

BARNACLES 

Ordinary rock barnacles are common throughout the Aleutians 
(fig. 6) . Balanus crenatus was collected by dredge at Atka Island. 

Two interesting species of barnacles attach to the skin of the 
humpback whale (Megaptera nqvaeangliae) in the North Pacific 
(Scheffer, 1939). Coronula diadema is a white, hard barnacle 
that attaches to the skin, and Conchoderma auritum is a fleshy, 
elongated species that attaches, in turn, to Coronula (fig. 7). A 
fisherman said that Coronula is also found, though rarely, on the 
lower jaw of the sperm whale (Physeter catodon) just below the 
teeth. Two employees of the whaling station said that they had 
seen barnacles only on the humpback. 




%t 





Figure 6. — Rock barnacles, Balanus sp., in tidal zone. 

July 10, 1937. 



Unalaska Island, 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 377 




Figure 7. — Two species of barnacles collected from the skin of a humpback 
whale. The dark stalks of Conchoderma auritum attach to the white plates 
of Coronula diadema. Akutan Island, August 6, 1938. 



Lepas, the goose barnacle, was collected at Otter Cove, Unimak 
Island, after a severe storm in September, 1937. Many tons of 
seaweeds were washed up on the beach, and Lepas was observed 
attached near the rhizoids of the brown kelp, Nereocystis. Lepas 
was not seen west of Unimak Island. 



AMPHIPODS 

Several genera of marine amphipods were collected: Gam- 
marus, Odius, Opisa, Orchestia, Orchestoidea, and Melita. 



378 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Orchcstia traskiana was the most commonly observed species 
living under the shelter of stranded seaweed or rocks through- 
out the Aleutians. The principal food of this crustacean 
seems to be decaying seaweed, of which there is a limitless sup- 
ply; it also eats decaying fish, shellfish, sea birds, and mammals 
cast up from the sea. Orchestia is often found associated with 
the isopod Lygia pallasi and carabid beetles. 

Beach fleas are of more than passing interest for, in spite of 
their small size, they may form the major item of food for the 
blue fox. As a general rule, on islands where sea birds are plenti- 
ful the fox droppings contain mostly feathers and few or no beach 
fleas. Where birds are not available, however, the droppings are 
characteristically whitish in color and are composed of the 
chitinous exoskeletons of beach fleas and isopods, together with 
traces of other beach organisms. 

Paracyamus boopis (fig. 8) occurs on the skin of the humpback 




Figure 8. — Parasitic amphipod, Paracyamus boopis, from skin of humpback 
whale. Akutan Island, August 6, 1938. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 379 

whale (Scheffer 1939). Known at the Akutan whaling station 
as a "whale louse," this amphipod clings tenaciously to the skin 
of the whale around the genital opening and, to a certain extent, 
over the entire body. When pried loose, it immediately seizes the 
collector's fingers with sickle-shaped claws. 

ISOPODS 

The isopods or sea slaters commonly are found clinging to clamp 
rocks in the tidal zone. A few species are parasitic on fish. 

Exosphaeroma oregonensis is common throughout the islands, 
not only in the tidal zone but also in brackish pools some distance 
from the sea. In Nikolski Lake, on Umnak Island, this isopod 
was living in water that had, to the taste, no perceptible salt 
content. The animal curls up into a round ball when disturbed. 

Idothea ochotensis, a large, dark species, was taken only once, 
in Chichagof Harbor, Attu Island. 

Lygia pattasi is 1 of the 2 most common isopods ; it is flat, lead- 
gray or blackish brown, with a broadly oval outline. It is found 
on, or under, damp stones, and it was found from the mainland 
to Attu Island. It has been taken from fox droppings. 

Idothea ivosnessenskii also is abundant. It is somewhat more 
slender than Lygia and occupies a similar habitat. 

Mesidotea, Munna, and Synidotea were each collected once. 

Rocinela belliceps is a flesh-colored isopod about 25 millimeters 
long, with a suffusion of reddish and brown, paler on the ventral 
side; eyes are black. It attaches to the body, fins, or operculum 
of the cod throughout the Aleutian Islands. 

SHRIMPS 

Shrimps of many species are found in dredge hauls or are re- 
covered from the stomachs of cod, sculpins, and halibut. In the 
1936-38 collections, Argis, Crago, Pandalus, Spirontocaris, Leb- 
beus, Eualus, and Heptacarpus are represented. Crago alasken- 
sis and Spirontocaris dalli are represented from more collecting 
stations than any other species. 

HERMIT CRABS 

Six species of Pagurus are represented in the collections, of 
which P. hi rsutius cuius is by far the most common. Hermit crabs 
are found everywhere along the beaches, in shells of periwinkles 
or larger molluscs. 



380 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 




Figure 9. — Common crab, Cancer magister, taken by trawling at a depth of 
15-20 fathoms. Petersburg-, Alaska, September 17, 1937. 




Figure 10. — King- crab, Paralithodes sp., taken by trawling at a depth of 
15-20 fathoms. Petersburg, Alaska, September 17, 1937. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 381 

ANOMURAN CRABS 

Dermaturus mandti was taken at three localities, and Oedi- 
gnathus inermis and Placentron wosnessenskii each at one lo- 
cality. 

OTHER CRABS 

Cancer magister, the large edible crab of commercial impor- 
tance on the Pacific coast, was taken as far west as Tanaga Is- 
land, and it probably occurs still farther west (fig. 9). Cancer 
oregonensis is distinguished from the preceding species by its 
hairy walking legs. Chionoecetes, Erimacrus, Hyas, Oregonia, 
Paralithodes, Pugettia, and Telmessus are also represented in 
the 1936-38 collection. Paralithodes camtschatica was taken for 
food in the Bay of Islands by the ship's crew (fig. 10) . It is one of 
the huge king crabs for which the Japanese have fished in re- 
cent years in Aleutian waters. It seems to be restricted to certain 
localities or to certain water conditions, for it was not found in 
dredge hauls made at other stations along the islands. 

MOLLUSKS 
BIVALVES 

The species of marine mollusks in the North Pacific are num- 
bered by the hundreds. Only a few of the more conspicuous and 
more readily obtainable species are represented in the 1936-38 
collections. 

Bankia setacea, one of the shipworms or teredos, possibly may 
be present, although only the calcareous tubes in driftwood were 
collected (Unimak Island). 

Three members of the family Cardiidae were collected. 
Clinocardium nuttalli, the giant cockle, is rather common and is 
used for food by the natives. In digging the mollusk, a two-tined 
potato fork bent like a hoe is raked through sand until it strikes 
a solid object. It is said that the flesh makes good chowder, com- 
parable in sweetness to that of the razor clam. 

Chlamys islandica, the scallop or pecten, was found in sea-otter 
droppings and on the beaches of Ogliuga and Vsevidof islands. 
Some shells are white, others are pinkish both inside and out. 

Two species of Liocyma were collected, one of which was hith- 
erto undescribed (Bartsch and Render 1939). Liocyma is a com- 
mon small white clam about 25 millimeters long; oval with fine 
concentric rings ; occasionally greenish when living. It was noted 
also on tideflats of the Alaska mainland. 



382 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

Five species of Macoma were collected. 

Two small mussels, Musculus discors and M. vernicosus, were 
collected. Each is about 10 to 15 millimeters long, and is reddish 
brown or tan. The latter has a shining, varnished surface. 

The mud clam or gaper, Mya truncata, was collected once, at 
Unalaska. 

The larger, abundant mussels are of two kinds. Mytilus edulis, 
the edible or blue mussel, is smooth and regular and is purplish 
blue to black in color with a bluish nacre (fig. 11). The umbo is 
apical, unlike that of the horse mussel. The edible mussel is used 
for food by the natives and is said to be best when there is a roll 
of snow-white fat on either side of the body. When yellow and 
lean, the flesh is unpalatable. Volsella modiolus, the horse mussel, 
can be distinguished from the former by its larger, thicker shell 
and by the presence of a brown periostracum. The umbo is never 
at the apex, and the nacre is gray. The horse mussel usually grows 
solitary or in clusters of a few, while the edible mussel may cover 
the rocks in an area many feet in diameter. Both attach to rocks 
by a thready byssus, but the horse mussel usually is partly buried 
in sand. (A third large mussel, Mytilus calif ornicus , was collected 
only once — at a depth of 30 fathoms off Sanak Island.) 



If TSBT^ 



r i 







Figure 11. — Edible or blue mussels, Mytilus edulis, in tidal zone. Unalaska 

Island, July 10, 1937. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 383 

The rock oyster, or jingle, Pododesmus macrochisma, is fairly 
common throughout the Aleutian chain. It is especially abundant 
near the Peninsula. The rock oyster can not usually be collected 
between tide lines, but its empty shells are strewn along the beach 
where they have been cast up from shallow water. The oysters 
grow solitary or in clusters (seldom more than four), on rocks 
just below low tide and never are buried in the sand. The at- 
tached valve is perforated by a conspicuous hole. The oysters are 
eaten by natives who fry the reddish flesh in butter. 

Protothaca staminea is a small cocklelike clam with concentric 
ridges more conspicuous than the radiating lines. 

The butter clam, Saxidomus giganteus, has a thick white shell, 
glossy within and chalky outside, with the growth lines not pro- 
nounced. It is used as food by whites and natives. 

The razor clam, Siliqua patula, was collected only at Atka and 
Unimak islands. The flesh is considered by local natives to have 
a finer taste than that of any other mollusk. It is difficult to 
gather any number of the clams, however, because they grow in 
fairly deep water, and the tides in the Aleutians do not fall low 
enough to expose the beds. It is possible to dig these light-shelled 
clams by backing a power boat up to the beach, throwing out 
two anchors astern, and letting the wash of the propeller lift the 
clams out of the sand. A native of Unalaska stated that they 
used to be abundant in front of the village. 

Spisula poly ny ma is widespread among the islands. It is a 
rather large bivalve with brown periostracum and acute dorsal 
angle. 

SNAILS AND SEA SLUGS 

Five species of limpets, Acmaea, were collected (fig. 12). Lim- 
pets are very common throughout the Aleutian Islands, in pools 
or clinging to wet rocks above low tide. The only species found 
in sea-otter and blue-fox droppings was A. digitalis. A. pelta was 
collected most often (at 10 stations) and is the largest of the 
Aleutian limpets, reaching a diameter of 5 centimeters. A. mitra 
is a strongly peaked species. A. scutum was collected at seven 
stations. 

An odd, tiny snail Anabathron muriei was described from speci- 
mens found in sea-otter droppings (Bartsch and Render, 1939). 

Eight species of Buccinum were collected. 

Fusitriton oregonensis was the only large, cornucopialike snail 
that was collected ; it has a length of about 5 centimeters, and is 



384 



NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 



olive colored and hairy. Beringius kennicotti is similar in shape 
but is slightly smaller and is not hairy. 

Three species of periwinkles, Littorina, were collected (fig. 13). 
The periwinkles are characteristic animals of the tidal zone. They 
are able to withstand drying for a long time, and they crawl well 
above the waterline to rocks and seaweed where they cling in 
clusters that often number in the hundreds. The periwinkle is 
edible, but the flesh is not particularly tasty. Picking out the small 
fragments of meat becomes tiresome, like eating sunflower seeds. 
L. sitkana was by far the most abundant species (at nine stations) . 
On Amlia Island the empty shells of this species served as homes 
for small hermit crabs (Pagurus hirsutiusculus) . The species 
was also found in sea-otter scats. 

Five species of Margarites were collected, most of them smooth, 
globular, white snails. 

Four species of Nucella were collected. Nucella lamellosa 
forms collarlike egg cases of cemented sand, often washed 
up on the beach. 

A single sea slug, or nudibranch, Diaulula sandiegensis, was 
collected. Other species are reported from the Aleutians. Diaulula 
was taken by dredge from sandy bottoms at Attu and Tanaga. 




Figure 12. — Limpets, Acmaea sp., clinging to rocks in the tidal zone. 

Unalaska, July 10, 1937. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 385 




Figure 13. — Periwinkles, Littorina sp., clinging to rocks in the tidal zone. 

Unalaska, July 27, 1937. 



CHITONS 

Murie picked up a fragment of the giant chiton, Amicula stelleri 
on Amchitka Island, The species is brick red, as large as 10 by 20 
centimeters, and has a leathery girdle completely covering the 
eight dorsal plates. 

Katharina tunicata is fairly common. Many individuals were 
noted at Umnak Island in shallow tidal pools and at Amlia Island 
on a rocky, kelp-covered ledge. The body is black and leathery, 
with a row of eight plates down the back. Its local name "bidarka" 
is also applied to the skin boat of the Aleuts. The natives prepare 
the chiton for eating by boiling it in sea water for 10 minutes, then 
peeling off the skin, scales, and viscera and soaking in fresh 
water. The general color of the live chiton is dark brown with 
brown and tan plates. 

Mopalia ciliata wosnessenskii is a small chiton about 25 milli- 
meters long that is pink on the dorsal surface. Its fringed edges 
have given it the name of mossy or hairy chiton. It was collected 
at three stations. 

Schizoplax brandti and ToniceUa ruber were collected in sea- 
otter droppings, and, in addition, 24 specimens of Schizoplax 
brandti were collected on the rocks of Herbert Island. 



386 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

DEVILFISHES 

Two cephalopods were observed. A- large devilfish, Octopus 
apolhjon, was taken at Nikolski Village, Umnak Island, in a beach- 
seine drag for salmon. The water here was not more than 10 feet 
deep at the mouth of a small stream. The ship's cook fried a steak 
of white meat from the dome of the devilfish and we found it more 
tender than we anticipated. The natives usually boil the head 
steaks before frying, and they boil the tentacles before eating. 
S. Halvorsen, Coast Guard inspector at the Akutan whaling sta- 
tion, stated that the stomach of a sperm whale killed in 1937 con- 
tained 16 devilfish, presumably of this species. The natives are 
said to take good-sized specimens in Nazan Bay, Atka Island, al- 
though we were able to get only two small ones here. 

A squid, Rossia pacifica, was found on the beach at Unimak Is- 
land after a storm in September. The color of the dead specimen 
was white, peppered with fine brown spots. Kenneth Newell, 
who is familiar with the "ink-fish" of Puget Sound said that he 
had never seen one in the Aleutian Islands. S. Halvorsen, however, 
reported that they were common in the stomachs of sperm whales 
brought into the Akutan whaling station. Possibly the species 
does not range much farther west than the Alaska Peninsula. 



Fresh-Water Invertebrates 



The Aleutian Islands are dotted with shallow pools. In only 
a few cases are the pools larger than 5 or 10 acres, and most of 
them are depressions only a few feet across. Standing on a hill- 
side on Agattu Island, and looking over an expanse of about 2 by 
5 miles, we estimated that there were 200 pools in sight. 

In 1937, collections of fresh-water organisms were made in 24 
lakes scattered along the Aleutian chain. Crustaceans were col- 
lected with a plankton net; mollusks and aquatic insects were 
collected by hand. (A discussion of the insects is presented later 
in the section devoted to land invertebrates.) 

The pools and lakes may be classed loosely in three groups, ac- 
cording to their size and the amount of vascular plant life present, 
as follows : 

Type 1: Small, clear pools (fig. 14). Shallow; vegetation absent 



rrlfa'rrtui - 



* 




Figure 14. — A fresh-water pool of type 1 (small and clear). Attu Island, 

August 17, 1938. 

387 



388 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

or, if present, consisting- of sparse patches of emergent Hippuris 
and Car ex; bottom consisting of clean volcanic sand or occasional 
silt. This type is by far the most abundant. Many of the clean 
pools do not support plankton because they overflow and are 
flushed out by each rain. The water in type 1 pools usually is 
slightly tea-colored, like that of sphagnum bog pools on the main- 
land. We discovered that it was possible to determine whether a 
pool contained enough plankton to warrant taking a haul by 
looking for aquatic bugs and beetles. A pool highly productive 
of plankton is generally well populated with aquatic insects. The 
clear pools are characterized by the presence of Diaptomus, often 
in such numbers that a tow over a course of 300 feet may net a 
haul of 50 cubic centimeters of these red-bodied crustaceans. One 
such haul on Sanak Island consisted almost entirely of Diaptomus 
shoshone var. wardi, D. ashlandi, and D. eiseni. Cyclops serrulatus 
is also commonly present in type 1 pools. 




Figure 15. — A fresh-water pool of type 2 (small and weedy). Atka Island, 

August 13, 1937. 



Type 2: Small, weedy pools (fig. 15). Shallow depressions in 
the tundra, 50-100 feet in diameter, with oozy silt bottoms. This 
type is not common. Hulten (1937) concludes that the vegetation 
in Aleutian lakes is so sparse that real associations are hardly 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 389 

formed: "The few aquatic plants, such as Potamogeton perfolia- 
tum, Myriophyllum spicatum, Sparganium hyperboreum, and 
Ranunculus tricophyUiis , Hippuris vulgaris and Isoetes Braunii 
maritima, usually occur single or in patches." We found that the 
dominant organism in plankton of type 2 pools is Chydorus 
sphaericus. Amphipods are usually present in the weeds. 




Figure 16. — A fresh-water pool of type 3 (large and barren), about 0.2 x 1.5 
miles. Semisopochnoi Island, August 23, 1938. 



Type 3: Large, barren lakes (fig. 16). Scant vegetation around 
shore ; clean sand and rubble bottom ; windswept. The largest 
examples are about 2 miles long. Only about 10 of the 75 islands 
have lakes of this type. The temperature of the water in three 
lakes at least 1 mile long was measured in August and was found 
to be 56° F., 57° F., and 58° F. respectively. The plankton is 
uniformly sparse; in fact, hauls made in the lake at Unalaska 
Village in June and July were discarded for lack of a discernible 
catch. Again, in a lake measuring 1 by 2 miles, on Unimak Island, 
a haul was made in late August with negative results. 

The surface temperature of fresh-water bodies in the Aleutian 
Islands fluctuates greatly from day to day because of the shallow- 
ness of the water and the open surroundings (see table, p. 390). 
The lowest temperature recorded was 44° F. on September 10; 



390 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

cold wind was blowing at the time. The highest temperature re- 
corded was 66° F. on July 22, after one of the rare days of full 
sunshine. 

Mean surface temperature of the water of Aleutian Island 
pools and lakes, 1937-38 



Month 


Number of observations 


Mean temperature (°F.) 




2 

6 

33 

4 


56.5 


July 


58.6 


August 


55.8 


September 


51.2 


Mean.. 


45 


65.8 







The fresh-water plankton crustaceans have been identified by 
Trevor Kincaid, of the University of Washington. His remarks 
on the material are as follows : 

Very little is known regarding the fresh-water plankton of Alaska, and 
this is particularly true of the region including the Aleutian Islands which is 
practically a blank in so far as records are concerned. 

The writer has been assembling plankton from various parts of Alaska 
with a view to determining the geographic distribution of the species oc- 
curring in the fresh water bodies in that territory, and to discovering what 
relation exists between the fauna of Asia and that of Alaska and of North 
America in general. It is becoming clear that this relationship is much 
closer than has been suspected. 

In the genus of fresh-water copepods Diaptomus it has been supposed 
that no species was common to both continents, but we now find several 
species of this group ranging across Europe and Asia into Alaska, while 
at least one species having a wide range over western North America has 
been reported from a lake in Siberia. 

The series of tows brought back by the expedition from the Aleutian Is- 
lands was regarded as particularly important since the archipelago forms 
a series of natural stepping stones extending from the Siberian region to 
the Alaskan Peninsula and southward, and as one might expect to find 
here the collection extends the known westerly range of several American 
species, and expands the easterly range of at least one Asiatic form. 

Diaptomxis ashlandi was originally described from Wisconsin and is 
known to be widely distributed over the northern portion of the Pacific 
Coast. It appears in tows taken on the islands of Sanak and Unalaska. 
Diaptomus shoshone var. ivardi was first reported from Spokane, Washing- 
ton and has since been reported from the Island of St. Paul in the Pribilofs. 
It appears in a tow taken on Sanak Island. Diaptomus eiseni was described 
from California, but has since appeared in collections taken at widely sepa- 
rated localities of the Pacific Coast. It has been reported from a lake in 
Siberia. A single specimen was found in a tow taken on Sanak Island. 
Arctodiaptomus kurilensis was recently described from the Kurile Islands 
by Kiefer. It appears in a tow taken on the islands Kanaga, Tanaga and 
Atka which lie near the middle of the Aleutian chain. 

The cyclopoid copepods found in the collection are, as might be expected, 
species already known to be common to both continents, or as in the case of 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 391 

Cyclops serrulatus, with a cosmopolitan distribution. The same is true of most 
of the Cladocera, the majority of which are common to Europe, Asia and 
America. However, even in the case of widely distributed forms it is 
interesting to determine their existence as part of the local fresh-water 
fauna." 

Trevor Kincaid has recently (1953) published a report which 
mentions the 1937-38 Aleutian collection of plankton crustaceans. 

CRUSTACEANS 

CLADOCERANS 

Daphnia pulex (de Geer) 

Daphnia longispina (0. F. Miiller). 

Bosmina obtusirostris Sars 

Macrothrix hirsuticornis Norman and Brady 

Alona rectanguki Sars 

Pleuroxus denticulatus Birge 

Chydorus sphaericus (0. F. Miiller) 

Chydorus latus Sars 

Alonella nana (Baird) 

COPEPODS 

Eurytemora affinis Poppe 
Arctodiaptomus kurilensis Kiefer 
Diaptomus ashlandi Marsh 
Diaptomus shoshone var. ivardi Pearse 
Diaptomus eiseni Lilljeborg 
Cyclops (Acanthocy clops) viridis Jurine 
Cyclops (Cyclops) strenuus Fischer 
Cyclops (Eucyclops) serrulatus Fischer 

OSTRACODS 
Cyclocypris sp. 

MOLLUSKS 

Eleven species of mollusks were collected from fresh-water 
pools and lakes. All of them were small bivalves or snails found 
clinging to submerged vegetation or in the bottom mud ; none were 
as large as the fresh-water mussels of the mainland. A full list 
of the species collected is as follows : 

Fossaria truncatula, Gyraulus deflectus, Menetus opercularius 
planulatus, Pisidium abditum?, Pisidium liljeborgi, Pisidium 
ovum?, Retinella binneyana pellucida, Sphaerium tenue, Stagni- 
cola atkaensis (9 out of 12 were infested with trematode rediae), 
Stagnicola randolphi, Stagnicola yukonensis atlinensis. 



Land Invertebrates 



MOLLUSKS 

Two land snails and one slug were collected in the Aleutian 
Islands, all of them at Unalaska. Haplotrema sportella is a dark 
greenish-yellow snail collected in damp grass on a hillside, Septem- 
ber 6, 1938. Vespericoia, columbiawa, collected at the same time 
and place, is light horn-colored and is slightly more globular than 
Haplotrema. Prophysaon andersoni is a common slug around Un- 
alaska Village. 

BEETLES 

As might be anticipated in a treeless, windblown region, the 
insect fauna is poor. The most commonly observed insects are 
small flies breeding under decaying seaweed along the beach, 
under damp stones, and in shallow pools. Pools also may contain 
bugs, caddisflies, true flies, and collembola. No butterflies were 
observed though a tan moth was not uncommon. Bumblebees were 
occasionally seen in the flower fields. No grasshoppers or crickets 
were noted. 

Hatch (1938) has previously reported on a collection of 27 
species of beetles taken on the islands in 1937. Of these 27 species, 
8 had not apparently been recorded previously from the Aleutian 
Islands, and 11 had their distribution extended westward by the 
1937 records. A discussion of the importance and habitat re- 
lations of certain of the species listed by Hatch follows. 

Scaphionotus marginatus is a large, iridescent ground beetle 
that is known (elsewhere) to feed on snails. (Snails and slugs 
were collected on Unalaska Island.) Several species of Nebria 
were collected on the mouldering debris of Aleut middens. 

Three species of Hydroporus, minute beetles about 3 millimeters 
long, are common in fresh-water pools. Agabus is an aquatic beetle 
about 6 millimeters long. Ilybius is an aquatic form about 8 milli- 
meters long, dark in color, with four small orange spots on the 
wing covers. Colymbetes is the commonest large beetle (about 12 
millimeters long) observed in fresh-water pools. A single specimen 
of a very large beetle, 30 millimeters long, was taken on Sanak 
Island, the first record of this Dytiscus from the islands. Gyrinus, 

392 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 393 

the whirligig beetle, apparently is present on all of the islands. 

Of the carrion-feeding beetles, Nebria, a small brown form, is 
fairly common in rotting kelp. Catops is the smallest beetle (about 
3 millimeters long) observed on the islands. Specimens of a large 
(25 millimeters) black staphylinid were collected under a decom- 
posing sea lion at Attu Village. 

Eurystethes, whose habitat is on rocks by the sea, was collected 
once on Amchitka Island and once on Ogliuga Island, both times in 
sea-otter droppings. 

Several click beetles, Ludius, and weevils, Lophalophus, were 
collected. A click beetle, Cryptohypnus littoralis (not reported by 
Hatch), was found by Cecil Williams in droppings of a blue fox 
on Attu Island. 

BIRD LICE 

A small series of biting bird lice (Mallophaga) was collected 
from the slender-billed shearwater, Puffinus tenairostris, at Rat 
Island and at Unimak Island. The following determinations were 
made by the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, U. S. 
Department of Agriculture : 

Esthiopterum diversum, Giebelia mirabilis, Ancistrona sp., 
Menopon sp., and species of Analgesidae. 

DIPTERA 

The following species of true flies were identified in the 1936- 
38 collections: 

Bibio variabilis, Calliphora vomitoria, Chironomus hyperboreus, 
Cynomia hirta, Dilophus tibialis, Empis sp., Platychirus sp., Pro- 
tophormis tcrranovae, Scatophaga sp., Syrphus sp. 

SPIDERS 

Only two kinds were commonly observed, Pardosa and Cybaeus, 
both of which were medium-sized, dark-bodied spiders collected 
on mats of damp lichens and low vegetation. A single specimen 
(female) of a huge, milk-white Aranea sp. was collected near its 
orb web on a low bush at Unalaska. 

Cybaeus reticulatus was collected on eight islands. Members 
of this family (Agelenidae) spin sheet-like webs, usually in the 
form of a funnel with a tubular retreat. 

Four wolf spiders (family Lycosidae) were collected. Members 
of this group do not spin webs and are commonly found running 
over damp fields. Lycosa sp. was taken once. Pardosa tarsalis 
was taken on six islands. Pirata piratica was taken once. The 



394 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

latter species is said to live in the vicinity of water, upon which it 
runs freely, and beneath which it dives when alarmed. Tarentula 
o.qirilonaris was newly described by Fox (1940) from specimens 
taken on Attu Island. 

A tick, whose identity is not known to us, apparently is abundant 
on Bogoslof Island at certain seasons. According to Morris (1937, 
p. 952), 

The murres were pestered with a tick about the size and appearance of a 
small wood tick. These became especially numerous on the second week in 
August. As many as 100 were picked off the inner walls of the tent each 
day for a week. Several got on members of the party but only one tick 
drew blood. 

We recall picking lead-gray ticks from the body of a bird killed 
somewhere at sea in the Aleutian Islands, but the specimens have 
been mislaid. 



Fish 



es 



Forty-eight species of fish were collected in the Aleutian Islands 
proper. These were identified by Dr. Leonard P. Schultz, and two 
of them were described by him as being new (1939). The fol- 
lowing list, alphabetically arranged, includes remarks on the 
noteworthy species only. A few descriptive notes in quotation 
marks from Evermann and Goldsborough (1907) are included. 

Alepisaui°us ferox, the lancet fish, is a fearsome species with 
large, glassy eyes and an array of needle-sharp teeth. The only 
specimen taken was one that had been caught in a crevice of 
rock between tide levels on Amchitka Island, where it had been 
badly eroded. (Murie also saw a beach-worn specimen in 1936.) 
The body was about 2 feet long and scarcely larger in diameter 
than a broom handle. Schultz says that there is only one species 
of Alepisaurus in the North Pacific and that the usual length is 
4 to 5 feet. 

Ammodytes tobianus personatus is very common along the 
beaches and was often taken in large numbers with the seine ; it is 
a bright silvery little fish that is called locally ''needlefish". Ever- 
mann and Goldsborough (1907) say, "they quickly bury them- 
selves in the sand when disturbed. . . more delicious little fish 
probably do not exist. They are usually prepared by rolling in 
fine cornmeal or cracker crumbs and frying in butter." 

Aspicottus bison is one of the smaller sculpins reaching a length 
of about 10 inches. (See Hemilepidotus.) 

Atheresthes stomias, one of the flounders, is called locally 
"turbot." It swims with its right side up. 

Bathymaster signatus, a beautiful little fish, was taken once in 
the Bay of Waterfalls, Adak Island. It is reddish-brown with 
blue-green spots ; also it has a blue line along base of ventral fin, 
a reddish line adjoining, and then another blue line near tips of 
fin rays. 

Chiropsis decagrammus. Only small specimens of this greenling, 
or rock trout, were taken, at Unimak Island. 

Clupea pallasi. Pedler, agent of the Alaska Commercial Co. 
at Unalaska, told us of the herring industry near Unlaska and 
Dutch Harbor. In 1938, the first run was from June 26 to July 27, 

395 



396 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

and the second run, much smaller, was from August 26 to Septem- 
ber 6. The run varies greatly in size from year to year. In 1938, 
there were 165 tons of bloaters and 2,000 barrels (250 pounds to 
a barrel) of gibbed herring prepared at Dutch Harbor. The 
gibbed, or Scotch-cured, herring are cleaned and are salted only 
once. All herring are taken by gill nets near Dutch Harbor. 
Gibbed herring sold in Seattle for about $15 a barrel. 

Cyclopteridae, the members of which family are commonly 
known as lumpsuckers, are characterized by a round sucking disk 
on the ventral surface of the body. By this means they attach 
to rocks and sometimes to kelp in the region of wave action along- 
shore. They are able to attach or release themselves almost 
instantly. The only adult taken was found on the beach in poor 
condition. The larvae of Elephantichthys copeianus? were taken 
at two dredge stations. These were handsome little fish about 25 
millimeters long, tan colored with pale-blue "spectacles" between 
the eyes. 




Figure 17. — Alaska cod, Gadus macrocephalus, False Pass, August 5, 1938. 

Gadus macrocephalus, the common Alaska cod, was taken with 
hook and line at nearly every anchorage (fig. 17). In deep water 
near Atka Island on August 10 the ship's crew caught more than 
80 fish in half a day. Most of them were later salted down. All 
specimens taken during the summer were wormy, although not 
unfit for eating. Stomach contents from three localities contained 
masses of the nematode Contracaecum clavatum. In one stomach, 
a female Cystidicola sp. was found. The mesenteries of the cod 
were usually knotted with masses of cysts of the nematode Porro- 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 397 

caecum decipiens — this worm also was taken from the stomach of 
an adult hair seal on Khwostof Island. External parasites of the 
cod included a copepod, Lepeophtheirus parviventris, an isopod, 
Rocinela belliceps, and a leech, Platybdella quacbnoculata. 

Stomach contents of cod were examined from time to time, 
partly out of curiosity and partly to recover specimens of in- 
vertebrates for the general collection. Common items in the diet 
included large amphipods (often half a pint or more in a single 
stomach) , shrimp, octopus or squid beaks, sea urchins, snails, 
clams, crabs, and many small fishes. Near Chuginadak Island, on 
August 21, the head of an adult cormorant Phlacrocorax sp. was 
found in a cod stomach. Off Ogliuga Island, on August 12, the 
entire body, considerably softened, of a parakeet auklet (Cy- 
clorrhynchus psittacula) was recovered (Scheffer 1943). 

Gasterosteus aculeatus aculeatus, the three-spined stickleback, 
was taken on three islands in fresh-water pools. G. a. microcephalus 
was taken on four islands, also in fresh-water pools or streams. 
Both races of aculeatus may be found in both salt and fresh water, 
but the resident salt-water form is more heavily plated and is 
given the subspecific name aculeatus, while the resident fresh- 
water form is given the name microcephalus. In fresh water, all 
but four or five plates near the head are eventually lost. 

In some places, as on Kavalga Island, sticklebacks occur in ponds 
on plateaus isolated from the sea and now inaccessible to fish. It 
is our opinion that the fish gained access to such ponds before the 
outlet streams became steep. 

In several cases, sticklebacks were noted heavily infested with 




Figure 18. — Red sculpin, Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus; color: red and brown. 

Kagamil Island, August 29, 1938. 



398 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

tapeworms, which filled the body cavity to the extent that the 
fish had a pot-bellied appearance. (See also Pungitius, the many- 
spined stickleback.) 

Gymnocanthus pistilhger is a bullhead, or cottoid, of interest 
because it was found in a sea-otter scat on Ogliuga Island. There 
are many species of cottoids in the shoal water and tide pools of 
the Aleutian Islands. 







Figure 19. — Irish lord, Hemilepidotus jordani; color: dirty olive and black. 

Kiska Island, August 19, 1938. 



Two species of Hemilepidotus are very common in the islands. 
H. hemilepidotus, the red sculpin, is brick red to brown in color 
(fig. 18) ; H. jordani, the Irish Lord, is a dirty, olivaceous brown 
with irregular dark bars (fig. 19). Sculpins are bottom feeders 
with an amazing capacity to swallow large objects. When caught 
with hook and line, it is often necessary to dissect the fish to re- 
cover the hook. When the boat was at anchor, sculpins were soon 
attracted to the spot by garbage thrown overboard from the 
galley. Among other items found in sculpin stomachs, we have 
noted a match box, a boiled potato, a good-sized chicken leg, and 
the entire carcass of small bird specimens discarded from the 
skinning room. Invertebrates seem to make up most of the natural 
diet: brittle stars, snails, clams, crabs, shrimps, amphipods, and 
many others. 

Color notes were taken of a specimen of H. hemilepidotus from 
Kagamil Island: red, mottled with brown, belly is white with 
chocolate spots; color fades rapidly. A specimen from Vsevidof 
Island : head appears as though bright-red paint had been poured 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 399 

over it ; a few red splotches on body ; general body color is light 
brown and red ; belly is light with small chocolate specks ; a dark- 
colored stripe runs along each side near dorsal line, and a dark 
horizontal stripe runs across each eyeball. 

Color of a specimen of H. jordani from Kiska Island : dirty olive 
with several short, vertical, irregular dark bars near the dorsal 
line ; lips are yellow ; belly is light. 

Hippoglossus stenolepis, the halibut, is fished on certain banks, 
but it may be encountered anywhere among the islands (fig. 20). 
It is the largest of the flounders and is said to reach a weight of 
almost 400 pounds. We took a 100-pound fish off Bogoslof Island 
in the deeper waters that it frequents. The halibut swims with its 
right side up. 

Lebius superciliosus, the pogie, greenfish, or red rock trout, was 
taken on seven islands (fig. 21). Color notes on one specimen: 
general ground color of skin is black with greenish cast, covered 




Figure 20. — Halibut, Hippoglossus stenolepis, weighing approximately 100 
pounds. Bogoslof Island, August 31, 1938. 



400 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 




Figure 21. — Pogie, Lebius superciliosus. The flesh may be vivid green or 

white. Attu Island, August 16, 1938. 



with irregular spots of light tan. Inside of mouth and under jaw is 
light green; flesh and viscera are green. Another specimen: 
back and sides are brownish olive mottled with black, and are 
spotted with bluish green; under-parts are yellowish; flesh is 
white. On many specimens, the skin is a rich dark red, almost 
matching the fronds of kelp, among which the fish swim. The vivid 
green flesh of the majority of specimens is a startling sight to a 
person seeing it for the first time. Dr. L. P. Schultz says that the 
presence, or absence, of green color throughout the flesh is not, 
to the best of his knowledge, a sex character. The flesh color is 
sometimes more of a blue than a green. O. J. Murie reports that 
the fish comes up to the shallow water along the beach at night 
and makes a popping noise like kelp bladders exploding. The fish 
was found in nests of the bald eagle on several occasions, suggest- 
ing that it is a shoal-water species. 

Lepidopsetta bilineata, was called "flounder" on one occasion 
and "sole" on another, by the same fisherman. It swims with its 
right side up. Evermann and Goldsborough (1907) state that 
the flounder is widely distributed and that it takes the hook 
readily. 

Myoxocephalus polyacanthocephalus was taken on four islands. 
This is said to be a large sculpin, but we have no field notes on it. 

All five species of Northeast Pacific salmon were collected in the 
Aleutians, the humpback and the silver salmon were found most 
frequently : 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 401 




Figure 22. — Pink or humpback salmon, Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, breeding 
male. Amchitka Island, August 22, 1938. 

Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, the humpback, or pink salmon is 
said by Evermann and Goldsborough to be the most common 
species in Alaska (fig. 22). Some of our specimens were adults, 
and others were fingerlings caught on hook and line in streams. 
A parasitic copepod, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, was collected from 
the back of a humpback salmon on Tanaga Island. 

Oncorhynchus keta, the dog, or chum salmon, was collected only 
once — on Atka Island. The natives had constructed a crude fish 
trap at the outlet to Korovin Lake. On August 13, the silver salmon 
were running and there were also a few dog salmon in the trap. 
These were not recognized by the natives as dog salmon, but 
were termed "winter salmon" and were given an Aleut name 
slightly different from that of the silver. Four specimens ex- 
amined were males with apparently mature testes but without the 
external hump that is characteristic of the breeding fish. 

Oncorhynchus kisutch, the silver salmon, was collected on 
five islands. 

Oncorhynchus nerka, the sockeye, or red salmon, was running 
into a lake on Attu Island in early June 1937 (figs. 23 and 24). 
The species runs only into streams that have lakes somewhere in 
the headwaters. 

Oncorhynchus tschawytscha, known as the king, spring, or 
Chinook salmon, was collected only in the fingerling stage. The 
adults frequent deep, or offshore waters, occasionally reaching a 
size of 100 pounds. They are taken by trolling. 

Oxycottus acuticeps is of the many species of tide-pool bullheads. 



402 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 




Figure 23. — Native boy netting sockeye salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka. Attu 

Island, August 17, 1938. 




Figure 24. — Red or sockeye salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka, taken in gill nets 
by Attu Island natives and dried for winter food. June 8, 1937. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 403 

It is a bizarre little fish, colored bright grass green over the entire 
body, matching the sea lettuce (Ulva) among which it lives. The 
webs of the fins are transparent, with yellow at the base. There is 
a little silver color on the jaws; otherwise, the body is uniformly 
green. Another bullhead, Oligocottus, is also commonly green. 

Phallocottus obtusus, a cottoid taken on Igitkin Island, was the 
basis for the description of a new species and genus by Schultz 
(1939). 

Pallasina barbata, a sea poacher, is a very slender fish with a 
long sturgeon-like snout. Specimens about 5 inches long were 
taken in a seine haul in the surf at Umnak Island. 

Pholis laetas is one of the many blennies that inhabit the tide 
pools. It is a small, smooth fish, shaped like a slender cigar; it is 
yellowish with a series of paired transverse black bands on the 
dorsal surface. 

Platichthys stellatus was taken only at Unimak Island. The 
starry flounder is said by Evermann and Goldsborough (1907) to 
be the most abundant and most widely-distributed flounder in 
Alaska. It has black spots along both dorsal and ventral fins, and 
is unlike other species in the North Pacific. It swims with its left 
side up. 







Figure 25. — Atka mackerel, Pleuro grammas monopterygius. Attu Island, 

August 16, 1938. 

Pleurogrammus monopterygius, the Atka or Attu mackerel, 
occurs along the Aleutian chain, but apparently it is most abundant 
near the west end (fig. 25). At the mouth of Chichagof Harbor, 
Attu Island, we were able to look down into the clear water and 
see dozens of Atka mackerel swimming among the kelp fronds. 



404 NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA 61, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 

The body is strikingly marked with broad bands of black and 
yellow. A number of specimens were taken by the crew by 
"jigging" (jerking a hook with an artificial lure up and down in 
the water) . Specimens were also found in nests of the bald eagle. 

Pungitius pungitius, the many-spined stickleback, was taken in 
fresh water pools on Afognak Island and the Semichi Islands, 
both localities east of the Aleutian Islands proper. 

Salmot William Gardner, employee at the salmon cannery 
at False Pass, told us that there are at least four streams on 
Umnak Island where steelhead trout run. No species of Salmo 
were collected in the Aleutian Islands by our party, and it is un- 
likely that any occur far from the Alaska mainland. Evermann and 
Goldsborough state that there are no records for rainbow trout 
(S. gairdneri) in any waters off, or north of, the Alaska Peninsula, 
and that there are no records for cutthroat trout (S. clarki) 
beyond Kodiak Island. However, there may be more recent records 
extending the range of these species. Salmonoid fmgerlings col- 
lected along the Aleutians by our party invariably were young 
salmon or Dolly Varden trout. 

Salvelinus malma spectabilis, the Dolly Varden trout, is abun- 
dant throughout the islands, both in fresh-water streams and in 
salt Avater near the mouths of the streams. Locally, it is regarded 
as an important predator on salmon eggs, but there is no con- 
clusive evidence to this effect. We found the flesh of the Dolly 
Varden to be quite tasty, although it was scorned by some mem- 
bers of the party. On Amchitka Island, July 19, 52 specimens 
were taken with a single haul of a small beach seine. An in- 
teresting landlocked form of Dolly Varden was observed at 
Unalaska. On August 17, Captain H. A. Searles presented us with 
six specimens taken with hook and line in Pyramid Creek above 
an impassable falls. This form is much smaller and less silvery 
than the sea-run form, but the body colors are more brilliant. The 
belly is bright orange, back of the ventral and anal fins it is 
scarlet, and the body spots are bright orange. 

On Attu Island, on August 17, the natives were removing dozens 
of large Dolly Vardens from gill nets set for red salmon, leaving 
them to rot on the lakeshore. Several odd-looking trout, said 
by the natives to be different "kinds" of trout, proved to be 
spectabilis. 

Sebastodes ciliatus. A few sea bass were taken with hook and 
line over the rail of the ship. The fish is not particularly common in 
the Aleutians. 



FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA 405 

Sigmistes smithi, a small cottoid, was described by Schultz 
(1939) from a collection made on Igitkin Island. 

Theragra chalco gramma chalcogramma, the Alaska pollack, or 
silver hake, was not observed in the islands, although it was 
discovered that a young specimen had been taken in a beach haul 
made on Igitkin Island (fig. 26). Adults were taken readily at 
Seward and Petersburg, on the mainland. 

Trichodon trichodon was taken several times among kelp. It is 
a small sand fish with an undershot jaw studded with fine, sharp 
teeth. Its odd appearance attracts immediate attention. 




FIGURE 26. — Silver hake or Alaska pollack, Theragra chalcogramma. Chignik, 

Alaska, September 14, 1938. 



Zaprora silenus. A specimen was taken by one of the ship's 
crew while he was fishing for Atka mackerel from a dory. The 
ungainly body so startled the man that his first impulse was to 
drop it back into the ocean. Another specimen, not recognized at 
the time, was observed off Umnak Island, hovering under a large 
orange jellyfish (Cijanca) at a depth of about 1 foot. It followed 
the shelter of the umbrella and the hanging tentacles. When the 
jellyfish was netted, the fish darted into the bell and was later 
found in the center. Color : belly is white, sides and back are olive 
gray ; from above, it appeared orange because of the reflected light 
from the Cyanea. The jellyfish was taken about Vi m ^ e offshore 
(Scheffer 1940). 



Literature Cited 



Bartsch, Paul, and H. A. Rehder. 

1939. Two new marine shells from the Aleutian Islands. Nautilus, vol. 
52, No. 4, pp. 110-112, pi. 8. 
Clark, Austin H. 

1939. A new genus of starfishes from the Aleutian Islands. Proceed. 
U. S. National Museum, vol. 86, No. 3061, pp. 597-600, pi. 57, figs. 1-4. 

Evermann, B. W., and E. L. Goldsborough. 

1907. The fishes of Alaska. U. S. Bur. Fisheries Doc. 624, vol. 26, pp. 
221-376, pis. 16-32. 
Fox, Irving. 

1940. Notes on Nearctic spiders chiefly on the family Theridiidae. 
Proceed. Biological Society Washington, vol. 53, pp. 39-46, figs. 1-3. 

Hatch, Melville H. 

1938. Report on the Coleoptera collected by Victor B. Scheffer on the 
Aleutian Islands in 1937. Pan-Pacific Entomology, vol. 14, No. 4, 
pp. 145-149. 

Hulten, Eric. 

1937. Flora of the Aleutian Islands. Bokforlags Aktiebolaget Thule. 
Stockholm, Sweden, 397 pp. 
Kincaid, Trevor. 

1953. A contribution to the taxonomy and distribution of the American 
fresh-water calanoid Crustacea. 73 pp., 5 pis. The Calliostoma Co., 
Seattle, Wash. 
Morris, George E. 

1937. Bogoslof Island. Proceed. U. S. Naval Institute, vol. 63, No. 413, 
pp. 950-952. 
Okamura, K. 

1933. On the algae from Alaska collected by Y. Kobayashi. Records 
of Oceanographic Works in Japan, vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 85-98, pis. 4-5. 
Scheffer, Victor B. 

1939. Organisms collected from whales in the Aleutian Islands. Mur- 
relet, vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 67-69, figs. 1-5. 

1940. Two recent records of Zaprora silenns Jordan from the Aleutian 
Islands. Copeia, No. 3, p. 203. 

1943. Fish bites bird. Nature Magazine, vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 41-42, 

4 figs. 
Schultz, Leonard P. 

1939. A new genus and two new species of cottoid fishes from the 

Aleutian Islands. Proceed. U. S. National Museum, vol. 85, No. 3038, 

pp. 187-191. 

■ftu. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1959 428776 



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