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Evidence of Emperor Geese breeding in Russia and staging in Alaska

January 1, 1995

Emperor Geese (Chen canagica) breed primarily on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska (Eisenhauer and Kirkpatrick 1977), but a small, poorly quantified proportion of the world's population is known to breed in the Russia Far East (Kistchinski 1976, 1988, Portenko 1981). Eisenhauer and Kirkpatrick (1977) stated that 80 to 90% of all Emperor Geese breed on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, and current estimates for numbers of breeding pairs in this area are 20,000 to 25,000 (R. A. Stehn, National Biological Service, Anchorage, Alaska, unpubl. data). In Russia, Emperor Geese are distributed primarily along the north coast of the Chukotka Peninsula between Kolyuchin Bay and Cape Shmidt, and in the Anadyr Lowlands along the coast of Anadyr Bay (Fig. 1; Kistchinski 1988, Kondratyev 1992, 1993), Kistchinski (1976) noted that up to 80% of these geese are nonbreeding birds. Recent aerial surveys of Emperor Goose habitats along the eastern coast of Russia indicated a minimum of 3,000 to 5,000 geese, although very few were on nests or with young, and only 127 total broods were seen during these surveys (J. I. Hodges, Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Juneau, Alaska, unpubl. data) It is not known if these two continental distributions of breeding Emperor Geese commingle and use similar areas during migration and for winter. Aerial surveys of the Alaska Peninsula during spring and fall indicate that lagoons on the northern coast are the primary staging areas for this species, and it is presumed that virtually all Emperor Geese use the Alaska Peninsula during migration (Petersen and Gill 1982). Emperor Geese winter throughout the Aleutian and Kommandorsky islands (Byrd et al., 1974). In the late fall, geese arrive in the western and eastern Aleutian Islands before arriving in the central Aleutians, thus suggesting that geese may be coming to this wintering area from both continents (G. V. Byrd pers, comm.). Speculations of previous investigators that Emperor Geese breeding in Russia use the Alaska Peninsula for staging (Eisenhauer and Kirkpatrick 1977, A. Krechmar pers. comm.) have not been confirmed. Here we report observations of two geese banded as juveniles in Russia and observed on the Alaska Peninsula during their first fall migration.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1995
Title Evidence of Emperor Geese breeding in Russia and staging in Alaska
DOI 10.2307/4089035
Authors Joel A. Schmutz, Alexander V. Kondratyev
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title The Auk
Index ID 70185154
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center

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