2017 BERNERS BAY CRUISES
APRIL 29 & MAY 13
Society will sponsor two 2017 cruises to Berners Bay this
year. On Saturday, April 29th at 8:30 a.m and May
13th at 8:30 a.m. All vessels depart Statters Harbor
below DeHarts. Boarding begins 15 minutes prior to
Steller sea lions, harbor seals, bald eagles, humpback
whale, and tens of thousands of gulls are just some of the
species observed around this time each year.
Tickets for the 4-hour cruise are available at Hearthside
Books beginning April 1.
Students $40 (includes UAS), Children under 12 $25 (must be
accompanied by adult).
Audubon Spring Bird Walks
April 29, Saturday, No Bird Walk
Join Juneau Audubon
this Saturday on the
Berners Bay cruise. 8:15 AM. Tickets available at
Volunteer naturalists will be on board: Heidi Pearson, UAS professor - marine mammals; Laurie Craig - ranger extraordinaire; Christina Mounce - fisheries expert; Amy Courtney - bird guide
time for the Spring Migration: Beginning Birding
Dates: April 6, 13, 20, 27 (4 classes)
Time: 7:00 to 8:30pm
Location: Mendenhall River Community School, Library - 9001
Mendenhall Loop Rd. (back loop)
Class Fee: $30.00
for an adult oriented class through Community Schools.
Expect a great deal of fun!
Tree Swallow Nest Box
Construction and Update
By Brenda Wright
Last year we put 40 tree swallow boxes up around Juneau
and were happy to find we had 15 successful nests. This year
we decided to spend a little more money and find out how
many nest boxes could be built for ~$300.
After putting some information in our Raven newsletter, a
person contacted me from the Juneau Community Charter
School. The middle school students were looking for a
construction project for February and March. I was very
happy to supply them with most of the wood and hardware. The
students seemed to enjoy this project and with the help of
some parents, they were able to build 24 new nest boxes.
I can’t thank them all enough for completing this
May, there will be an update on where all the boxes have
been placed in 2017.
Volunteers are needed to monitor the boxes. Please contact
JAS Supporting Bird Research and
by Gwen Baluss
organization JAS has historically been focused on
environmental education and
in Southeast Alaska, with a focus on birds and wildlife.
This is still true, but we also recognize the importance of
monitoring and research, especially of bird population for
both our migratory and resident species. Here are a few ways
Christmas Bird Count
– this is a long-standing, wide range count that Audubon
supports. The data from the CBC is now being used to see
how birds’ winter range, distribution and populations have
changed over time. Comparing this with climate data we can
see how some birds have shifted northwards in the winter.
Other citizen science efforts - we are always
encouraging our members to use eBird so their data can be
pooled with this great emerging database. Specifically, we
try to publicize special count events such as the Great
Backyard Bird Count, and the Global Big day. Even our field
trips are usually entered in to eBird and make for several
fairly consistent springtime “snap shots” of the bird life,
with plenty of skilled observers.
Swallow Nest Boxes – as a group aerial insectivores have
declined. It’s hard to believe, but the once common Barn
Swallow has dwindled to the point that the species is listed
as Threatened in Canada. Tree swallows face similar feeding
challenges to other insectivores. By getting a population
occupying boxes annually near Juneau we can initiate further
Arctic Tern Monitoring – New this year, JAS in
partnership with US Forest Service plans to sponsor an
Intern who will study and help protect Arctic Terns around
continental scale bird-banding studies – We donate up to
$500 annually to the Institute for Bird Populations. The IBP
maintains banding stations in both summer and winter
throughout North America as well as Central America and the
Caribbean. This is now a powerful large scale data set that
checks the pulse of many bird species population fluxes,
including some of our migratory songbirds.
more info see
Moose in Juneau: sometimes it’s not
so crazy to hope
I’ve hung my rain cap here in Juneau for most the time
since 1998. Something I always pondered is, where are the
moose? It didn’t seem fair that Gustavus and Petersburg
would have them, and Juneau didn’t. They were up the Taku
and Berners Rivers, but wouldn’t venture in between? I made
it a point to bring up my inquiry in conversations with
biologists, naturalists, and hunters. Sometimes the answer
was "lack of habitat". I never bought this one, as I looked
around at plenty of the plants that the browsers enjoy in
other parts of Southeast: willow, highbush cranberry, even
A more persuasive answer was simply "dispersal rate."
According to ADF&G reports, moose only started appearing in
Southeast Alaska in general in the early twentieth century.
The moose simply hadn’t found this habitat that, on geologic
terms, is new and still being uncovered as glaciers recede.
And the fact that other communities were colonized first had
to do with proximity to a direct river from interior
Alaska-- and some luck.
There had been a few sightings over the years around
Juneau though. I even saw the pellets of a cow that had been
reported at, of all places, Moose Lake. I eagerly awaited
the day when more moose would show up near the Juneau Road
Starting in fall 2013, I noticed tracks and browse around
Point Bridget State Park, apparently of a cow and at least
one calf. A Juneau Empire story reported sightings "out the
road" as well that fall. The following year, I found more
tracks and sign. But despite many hours
sneaking around in the rain, never saw even a glimpse.
Finally, in fall 2015, I had the incredible luck to see a
cow, a grown bull and small bull, all together near Cowee
And the excitement builds as recently there has been
solid evidence of a cow and bull in Mendenhall Valley; also,
a cow in the Thunder Mountain bowl and a young bull at Boy
Where did these moose come from? Perhaps some DNA work
will tell us in the years to come. It seems most likely that
the animals traveled from Berners Bay. That population there
was introduced in 1958 and 1960 with 17 and 11 animals
respectively, stock from the Mat-su Valleys. But of course,
wildlife dispersal is not always as one would assume.
Moose dispersed into Southeast Alaska from British
Columbia. The Anderson subspecies (Alces alces andersoni)
colonized different areas in a complex pattern, sometimes
established by only a few "founders", but with potential for
mixing with subsequent incursions of the larger interior
Alaska moose subspecies (Alces alces gigas),
especially in the Haines and Yakutat areas. (An interesting
write up about this can be found here:
What’s going to happen next? A handful of animals is
hardly a population yet, but at least we have the right
elements to spur the imagination. Juneau will be different
if moose become frequent denizens. I wonder about the human
and wildlife interactions. Will drivers learn to slow down
going out the road in the evenings? Will animals be shot by
poachers? How many loose dogs will be stomped if there is a
mom and calf roaming the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation area?
Nobody is more eager to see the moose
than I, but cringe the community might love the animals to
death: naming them, feeding them, approaching too close to
get photos. ("Romeo" the wolf comes to mind here). Either
way, it’s bound to make our fall walks around Juneau more
exciting for a while.
Photo by G. Baluss (taken with a zoom lens
while hiding, breathless, behind a log).
Moose at Cowee Creek, September 22, 2015.
Eagle Feather Collection
volunteers who collect eagle feathers under
the Juneau Audubon Society US Fish &
Wildlife Service permit. JAS has
received a new feather
The permits are
available by e-mail and
paper from Brenda
of our permits are good
for three years.
Contact Brenda at: email@example.com
ALASKA BIRD CONFERENCE
by Brenda Wright
Conference was held in Juneau, December
9-11, 2014. There were over 40 scientific
papers and 20 posters presented at the
conference. The conference drew more than
100 students, scientists, educators, and
researchers from across the state and the
Pacific coast. Included in the conference
sessions were climate change, breeding
ecology, disease/contaminants, foraging
ecology, movement ecology, and populations
If you go to the web page
you can see the full program and also get
the abstracts. A special fund raising
event by Juneau Audubon, Audubon Anchorage,
and ADF&G enabled us to film the keynote
speaker, Gerrit Vyn, for 360 North. If you
would like to see this presentation you can
enjoy it online at
(You may have to wait for an update on the
site, the presentation would not open for
thanks to the local organizing committee:
Anne Sutton, Kelly Nesvacil, Mike Goldstein,
and Brenda Wright. The scientific committee
reviewed all the abstract submissions and
made the schedule of talks, ring leaders
were John Pearce, Julie Hagelin, Abby
Powell, Debbi Nigro, and Steve Lewis. And
also a special thank you to the sponsors for
the donations of time, money, and effort: US
Forest Service, ADF&G, Audubon Alaska, North
Pacific Research Board, Pacific Coast Joint
Venture, Ducks Unlimited, ABR, Inc., Juneau
Audubon Society, and St. Hubert Research
History of Juneau Trails: A Watershed
By Richard Carstensen
Richard Carstensen’s gorgeous new book explores the
natural history of the Juneau trail system.
It makes a great gift, and for only a
limited time your purchase will directly
support Discovery Southeast and Audubon.
History of Juneau Trails will be
available in stores in 2014, but is
available now for a limited time as a
fundraiser directly from Discovery
Southeast. The price is $24.00.
To order directly from
Discovery Southeast on-line
click here. Use the code “Audubon”
and profits from your purchase will be split
between Audubon and Discovery Southeast.
A treat for any outdoor enthusiast. Buy it
now to support Audubon and Discovery