Izembek National Wildlife Refuge has a long history of banding the Steller’s eiders that arrive in the lagoon in the fall to molt (see molt phase below, breeding plumage above). In recent years, Izembek staff have worked with researchers at the Alaska SeaLife Center, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and other partners to better understand why these birds might be declining in Alaska. To do this, researchers characterize the habitat conditions of Izembek lagoon and the body condition of Steller’s eiders compared to data that were collected prior to the observed declines in eider numbers. Study results will be valuable in understanding lagoon conditions that also impact large numbers of migratory marine birds along the Pacific Flyways, habitat conditions for sea otters and other marine mammals, and environmental change in coastal lagoons rich with biological resources for local communities and fisheries. This project engages strong partnerships among researchers, resource managers, and local communities involved with coastal marine resources in the area.

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A large bird with brown feathers, white head, and yellow beak flies against a pale blue sky
The Migratory Bird Program works with partners to protect, restore and conserve bird populations and their habitats for the benefit of future generations by: ensuring long-term ecological sustainability of all migratory bird populations, increasing socioeconomic benefits derived from birds,...
A bright blue sky obstructed by fluffy white clouds reflected off of a stream shot from inside a kayak
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 570 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.


A sunset over Izembek Lagoon with a cloudy sky reflecting over the water
Alaska's Izembek National Wildlife Refuge lies between the highly productive waters of the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. The heart of the refuge is Izembek Lagoon, a coastal ecosystem that's home to one of the world's largest eelgrass (Zostera marina) beds. Hundreds of thousands of waterfowl,...
Black and white bird with long neck and yellow bill on the water
Alaska is home to more than 470 species of birds. Most are migratory birds for which the Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible under international treaties and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. While some of the birds stay in Alaska year-round, most migrate to Canada, Central America, South America...