The status and distribution of Kittlitz's Murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris) in northern Alaska

We summarize information on the status, distribution and abundance of Kittlitz’s Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostris in northern Alaska, an area for which little information is available. Nine, and possibly 11, nests of Kittlitz’s Murrelets have been found in northern Alaska; a substantial amount of potential nesting habitat appears to be unoccupied, especially in and near inner Norton and Kotzebue sounds. There are extensive records (museum, sight, photographic, aerial-survey and at-sea) of Kittlitz’s Murrelets in the eastern Chukchi Sea from Cape Prince of Wales to Point Barrow and two recent records from the Beaufort Sea. The population of Kittlitz’s Murrelet in northern Alaska was an estimated 450 birds during the breeding season (AprilAugust) and 8500 birds in the post-breeding season (SeptemberOctober), although 95% CIs for the latter estimate were large. There was no overlap, however, in CIs between the breeding and post-breeding seasons, indicating that a large number of murrelets move into the region during the latter period. At sea, the species was found over the shelf of the Chukchi Sea during a 7-month period from mid-April to mid- or late October, with the highest densities occurring within 50 km of shore. There was strong evidence from at-sea data for seasonal variation in abundance (highest densities in SeptemberOctober), but there was no evidence for population change between the periods 19701999 and 20002009 during either the breeding or post-breeding seasons. Information presented here indicates that the Kittlitz’s Murrelet is widespread and fairly common at times in the Chukchi Sea but is rare and casual (not annual) in the Beaufort Sea.

Day, R. H., A. E. Gall, A. K. Prichard, et. al. 2011. The status and distribution of Kittlitz's Murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris) in northern Alaska. Marine Ornithology 39: 47–57.

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