Kvichak Bay is located at the head of the much larger Bristol Bay and encompasses lands from Etolin Point near Nushagak Bay east and south to about 35 km south of the village of Knickknack (Cape Chichagof). The bay is fed by the Kvichak and Naknek rivers and several other smaller drainages. About 530 km of intertidal habitat fringes the bay mostly unvegetated mud-and sandflats. Areas especially attractive to shorebirds in autumn occur south of Knickknack off Johnston Hill; from Naknek north to Libbville; throughout Halfmoon Bay. At low tide extensive intertidal habitat occurs throughout upper Kvichak Bay, but its use by shorebirds has never been determined.

Ornithological Summary

This site is an important spring staging and autumn staging and molting area for waterfowl similar to Nushagak Bay. Both bays open into larger Bristol Bay and offshore area between them is also important for waterfowl.

Shorebird use of the bay is known from only a few assessments, most during autumn surveys of waterfowl when up to 10,000 small sandpipers were recorded (Gill & Conant 1979; Gill & King 1980; Gill 1981). In September 1997, the area was surveyed specifically for shorebirds during which 44,856 total birds were recorded (Gill & Sarvis unpubl.) Of these 41,187 were small sandpipers (mostly Dunlin), but large numbers of Black-bellied Plovers (1,218) Pacific Golden plovers (1,705), unidentified large plovers (527), and greater Yellowlegs (308) were recorded.

Kvichak Bay is also recognized as being of Regional Importance by the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN).

Total shorebirds: 1997; >44,000; A4iii.

Seaduck/goose survey 1980-2001.

West Sandp: Spr/sum
Dunlin: Spr/sum/aut
Rck Sandp: Spr/win
Blk-bel Plov: sum/aut
Pac Gol Plov: Sum/aut
Whimbrel: Sum
Lst. Sandp: Sum
Rd-neck Phal: Sum
Grtr Yellow: sum/aut
Bar-tld Godwit: Aut
Shrp-tld Sandp: aut/win
Cm Snipe: win?

Conservation Issues

Oil drilling and extraction could take place in the Bering Sea.

Fishing boats and gear disturb birds at times.

Private land adjacent to the bay may be developed for tourism or village sites in the future; this could change currents that maintain the mud flats or could create pollution.

Vessel traffic in the bay could result in oil or fuel spills. Traffic includes fishing vessels, supply barges, and freighters. Global warming may already be starting to change food resources of seabirds, due to effects on river and marine currents, which will change seabird prey populations and their availability.

Habitat

Shingle spits/sandspits (0.2 km2), Intertidal mud/sandflats and beach (186 km2), Estuary, Inshore bay, Saltmarshes (211 km2), Humid & mesic grass/forbs, Moss-sedge-cottongrass lowland, Wooded tundra, Coastal lowland rivers and river beds, and Coastal dwarf shrub mat

Land Use

Urban/industrial/transport Freight vessels supply towns and villages on the bay and on rivers that flow into it; vessels also carry fish from the fish processors to markets elsewhere.

Fisheries/aquaculture. Intensive commercial fishing for salmon in June and July: both drift-gillnetting in the lower bay, and set-gillnetting on intertidal flats throughout the bay.

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.