Refuge Notebook

Refuge Notebook: Keeping an eye on birds

Around this time of year I start to include a pair of binoculars in my checklist of essentials for heading out the door on a… Continue reading

 

Refuge Notebook: Migration is not canceled

A friend told me recently that March is her favorite month. What? Not May, when our birds of summer come home to nest? Nor June… Continue reading

 

Crested auklets are just one of 30 species of seabirds that we study, but theyղe one of the strangest with their otherworldy eyes, showgirl plumes and tangerine odor. The citrus odor may be important for repelling pests. (Photo by Michael Johns/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Introducing Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge

We’ve probably already met, but you didn’t realize it. We’re the other national wildlife refuge headquartered on the Kenai Peninsula. If you’ve taken a Kenai… Continue reading

 

Refuge Notebook: Birds of the World resource wows

Recently a friend asked me for information about spruce grouse. I am sure he saw the slight look of panic as I thought about what… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: Metabarcoding in our backyard

I like low key, low tech, cheap science. That is part of why I became an entomologist. I love that I can walk out the… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: I Think I Can Ski

Let us start with a riddle. There are 11 frogs sitting on a log. Five of the frogs decide to jump off the log. How… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: Ice fishing the Swanson River Road area lakes

Winter is my favorite season here on the Kenai Peninsula. Everything is slower, quieter. You can just sense that the energy is calmer than the… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: Completion of the Sterling Highway Improvements Project

As anyone visiting the Skilak Lake Wildlife Recreation Area or traveling between the Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage knows, construction has been underway on the Sterling… Continue reading

Former Refuge K9 Officer Rex will enjoy retirement as newcomer formerly known as Thomi takes up the job. (Photo by Rob Barto/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Refuge K9 officer receives new name

Who has ever poured over a list of possible baby names, highlighting favorites and writing them down for deliberation? Who has done the same for… Continue reading

Former Refuge K9 Officer Rex will enjoy retirement as newcomer formerly known as Thomi takes up the job. (Photo by Rob Barto/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Wildfire in Kenai Mountains tundra

Late last summer, as I waited in a line of traffic on the Sterling Highway to get through the Swan Lake Fire, smoke rose from… Continue reading

Refuge notebook: Wintering sparrows find their way to Kenai

A recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change highlighted some work by Dr. Kyle Horton and his colleagues, who figured out how to… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: Exploring agriculture of the Kenai, 1897-1898

On June 8, 1897, Dr. Walter H. Evans of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Benton Killin, a retired lawyer and regent of the Oregon… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: Tales of a wildlife biologist

In 1975, as a freshman in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin, I was required to take a weekly no-credit orientation seminar during my… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: Stories of refuge’s past and present

It is the time of year for reflection, where we look back at the year and express gratitude for the many good things that happened,… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: The Refuge Notebook passes millennium milestone

“Welcome to Refuge Notebook. This is day one, page one of a new weekly column devoted to life and happenings on the Kenai National Wildlife… Continue reading

An American red squirrel eating white spruce seeds. (Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS)

Refuge notebook: Squirrels are incredible

I recently took a family vacation to my home state of Minnesota to visit family and friends. We arrived in time to help rake up… Continue reading

An American red squirrel eating white spruce seeds. (Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS)

Refuge notebook: Taking the wild out of wildlife

I find this a little depressing. A 2018 study published by the National Academy of Sciences estimates that by weight, 70% of all birds on… Continue reading

Graduate student Sue Ives used this portable acrylic chamber with an infrared gas analyzer to measure carbon flow in a peatland on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo provided by the refuge)

Refuge notebook: Healthy peatlands store carbon and help salmon

After this last summer’s lightning, fires and long drought, it should be obvious that our local climate is becoming warmer and drier than longtime residents… Continue reading

Graduate student Sue Ives used this portable acrylic chamber with an infrared gas analyzer to measure carbon flow in a peatland on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo provided by the refuge)
A brave volunteer dressed up in a bat costume to help peers visualize the anatomy of a bat resulted in an unusual question. (Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge notebook: No silly questions

“Why don’t bats get dizzy from hanging upside down?” A second grade student at Tustumena Elementary School posed this excellent question to me. I stood… Continue reading

A brave volunteer dressed up in a bat costume to help peers visualize the anatomy of a bat resulted in an unusual question. (Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
This adult male Bobolink was singing and displaying in a distant field near Homer, Alaska. With the aid of a 500mm lens, astute birders documented the first occurrence of this species on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Sarah Dzielski)

Refuge Notebook: The Future of the Bobolink

June 23, 2019 started as almost every other day this summer. Hot, dry weather dominated from Hope to Seldovia. It was, however, unique in the… Continue reading

This adult male Bobolink was singing and displaying in a distant field near Homer, Alaska. With the aid of a 500mm lens, astute birders documented the first occurrence of this species on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Sarah Dzielski)