Volume 44, No. 2
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Key words: Kittlitz's Murrelet, Brachyramphus brevirostris, density and abundance, freshwater resources, Bristol Bay, Alaska
Kittlitz's Murrelets Brachyramphus brevirostris are seabirds endemic to the North Pacific and Bering Sea. A pilot survey in August 2013 confirmed their presence on a freshwater glacial lake in the Bristol Bay region of southwestern Alaska. We carried out a more comprehensive survey in 2014 during the late nesting and early post-nesting periods, covering three lakes in the Wood River lake system, largely within Wood–Tikchik State Park, as well as Togiak Lake within Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. Kittlitz's Murrelet presence was confirmed on Lakes Aleknagik and Nerka, with a peak of 66 birds on Lake Aleknagik on 4 August. Distance sampling was employed on Lake Aleknagik during replicate surveys. Maximal abundance (95% confidence intervals) was estimated at 253 birds (100–644). No hatching-year birds were observed; however, one adult was observed holding a fish in its bill, which may indicate nearby nesting activity. These findings warrant further research, given the sensitivity of this species and its novel use of freshwater resources, an aspect of Kittlitz's Murrelet life history that had not previously been reported in the literature.
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Walsh, P. 2013. Kittlitz's Murrelet survey: draft memorandum for record. Dillingham, AK: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.