Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Additions to the avifauna of St Matthew Island, Bering Sea

January 1, 2004

St. Matthew Island (60°24' N, 172°42' W) is located in the north-central Bering Sea and is renowned for its distinctive Beringian flora and fauna. Because of its central position between the coasts of Russia and Alaska, St. Matthew Island and its nearby satellites, Hall and Pinnacle islands, support a mixture of Palearctic and Nearctic avifaunas. Of special interest to North American ornithologists are the numerous Eurasian bird species that visit the islands each spring and fall. Winker et al. (2002) published the first comprehensive summary of bird records for the 125 species detected on St. Matthew Island from 1899 to 1997. Because of its remote location, however, St. Matthew Island is seldom visited, and the island's avifauna remains poorly described.

As part of an island-wide systematic survey for Rock Sandpipers (Calidris ptilocnemis) and McKay's Buntings (Plectrophenax hyperboreus), our crew of five ornithologists was present on St. Matthew Island from 25 May to 9 July 2003. In this paper we provide information for 11 bird species seen for the first time on St. Matthew Island. Phylogenetic sequence and nomenclature follow the American Ornithologists' Union (1998, 2000) and Banks et al. (2002, 2003, 2004). An annotated species list with details of observation is on file at the University of Alaska Museum, Fairbank.