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Lesson 1: Birds in Abundance – Must Do

Essential Question: Why do birds return to Alaska every spring in such large numbers?

Phenomenon:  The Yukon Delta is the home to one of the largest populations of geese in the world.


  • Explain why the Yukon Delta is a special place for birds.
  • Describe how the Yukon Delta affects world bird populations.


Read the information below and watch the video to learn more about why birds return to Alaska each spring in such large numbers. Answer these reflection questions as evidence of your learning.

  1. Why is the Yukon Delta one of the most important places for birds on Earth?
  2. Why are there so many different types of birds in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta?
  3. True or False, In Western Alaska, the density of breeding shorebirds is higher than any other place recorded in the world.
  4. Why is it so important to protect the bird populations in Alaska?

Tundra Wetlands near the Kuskokwim River

The Yukon Kuskokwim Delta supports one of the largest populations of geese in the world. Elders recall so many geese passing overhead, blocking out the sun and making a thundering noise. The ponds, lakes, streams and marshy coast is perfect habitat for raising young birds. Birds must eat a large amount of food in order to refuel from a long spring migration, raise their young, and prepare for fall migration. Alaska wetlands provide a rich source of food for migrating birds. The birds that arrive in the spring provide important food for Yupik communities.

“When long, hard winters emptied the people’s food caches too early, starvation loomed. Return of geese in April (Tengmiirvik) helped to save us. –Chuck Hunt, born & raised on the Y-K Delta “