Norton Bay is a large intertidal wetland complex at the head of Norton Sound. It is formed by the deltas of the Koyuk, Inglutalik, Akulik and Ungalik Rivers.

Ornithological Summary

Shorebird information for this area comes from two major studies, Sheilds and Payton (1978), and Woodby and Divoky (1983), each focusing on different but partially overlapping river deltas. Shields and Peyton's work was ground-based and occured on wetlands between the Inglutalik-Akulik rivers. Over a 2 square km area of tidal mudflats they conducted daily censuses of shorebirds between early July and late September, which allowed for an assesment of total numbers using the site. For example, duing peak occurrence of Dunlin, daily counts totaled 8,130 birds between 25 August and 12 September, Western Sandpipers totaled 4,405 during their peak occurrence between 8 August and 2 September; Semipalmated Sandpipers totaled 3,055 between 2 July and 20 August; Red-necked Phalaropes totaled 2,295 between 22 June and 13 July; while four other species (American Golden plover, Whimbrel, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, and Pectoral Sandpiper) totaled 5,000 between 10 August and 18 September. These figures combined represent a population of 23,500 birds. For species like Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers and American Golden-Plovers the numbers are probably conservative because birds may use the area for only a single tidal cycle before moving to sites farther north.

Woodby and Divoky (1983) used a combination of aerial and ground censuses to derive overall numbers of shorebirds using primarily the Koyuk River delta portion of this area. They identified this area as second only to the Stebbins wetlands as the most important shorebird nesting area in Norton Sound. Total nesting birds were estimated at 28,000, including 16,500 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 8,000 Red-necked Phalaropes, and 3,000 Dunlin. During the post-breeding period they estimated 18,000 shorebirds used the area, mostly Northern (Red-necked) Phalaropes (42%), Dunlin (31%), Western Sandpipers (8%), Semipalmated Sandpipers (3%), and unidentified small sandpipers (16%).

Until more recent data become available, however, this site is PENDING GLOBAL/CONTINENTAL review.

Total shorebirds: Breeding; 1983; 28,000; A4iii

Total shorebirds: non-breeding; 1978+1983; 41,500.

Conservation Issues

Potential for pollution associated with the transportation of petroleum products, and with silt and chemical byproducts of mining in adjacent areas, consumptive use through hunting, and loss of habitat due to population growth and village expansion.

Ownership

State of Alaska; Native (~45% of land area); Bureau of Land Management (~51% of land area).

Habitat

River deltas; intertidal mudflats; graminoid/sedge meadows.

Shoreline- 112 km
Vegetated intertidal- 109 km2
Unvegetated intertidal- 8 km2

Land Use

urban/industrial/tansport; hunting.

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