Welcome to the most important waterfowl refuge in the world. This is the source, the pipeline that feeds the rest of the world the waterfowl we all enjoy.
At 19.5 million acres, Alaska’s Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge is the second largest wildlife refuge in the country and is about the size of the state of Maine.
It is also an area that the refuge’s Education Specialist, Brian McCaffery, says “supports some of the highest densities of breeding waterfowl in the world.”
This eight-minute video gives just a taste of the diversity of migratory birds that stage in this magnificent wilderness.
The first lands of the refuge were designated in 1909 by President Theodore Roosevelt. Subsequent parcels were added by other presidents over the rest of the century.
McCaffery declares, “During the breeding season it hosts birds from virtually all over the world. It’s a nexus, it’s a focus of international avian migration.”
A million geese nest there every year, along with “tens of thousands” pacific loons, tundra swans, sandhill cranes and more. One to two million ducks also use the refuge each year.
“We literally are funneling birds into almost all of the flyways of the world,” asserts McCaffery.
The birds are attracted to the region for at least a couple of reasons: One, there is an abundance of food to support breeding and raising young, and two, there is so much ideal habitat that is able to comfortably accommodate a plethora of waterfowl species in the breeding densities unique to each.
McCaffery concludes by emphasizing the global importance of the Yukon Delta Refuge to wildlife:
“If we don’t protect an area like this it’s like turning the faucet off. Turning down the pipeline. And suddenly, at the other end of the flyway people don’t have the opportunity to see and appreciate, and find wonder in the organisms that make up this planet.”