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    Gates Of The Arctic

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

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  • Emergency Sheep Hunting Closure in Units 23 & 26(A)

    All sheep seasons in Game Management Units 23 and 26(A) for all resident and nonresident hunters are closed due to severe decline in sheep numbers in the contiguous populations of the De Long and Schwatka Mountains. More »

Common Loon

Common loon

Common loon

The Common Loon (Gavia immer)

This bird has come to symbolize the vast, pure, undiminished, unspoiled wildness of the North Country. Threatened by pollution, habitat loss and nest disturbance, the common loon has vanished from many of its former nesting areas. Freshwater lakes throughout the boreal forests of northern Canada and Alaska provide vital breeding grounds for common loons that spend their winters along the east and west coasts of North America as far south as Mexico.

 
Distribution map for Common loons

Common loon:  breeding range (blue) and wintering range (orange)

from Birds of North America online, Cornell University

A pair of loons admired by watchers on the California coast may in fact spend their summers raising young on a lake in Gates of the Arctic National Park.

Fossils reveal that loons have been on earth about 70 million years, making them one of the most ancient bird families. Mammoths, mastodons, and saber toothed tigers heard the loon’s voice ringing out over ice age Alaska.

Koyukon Indian people who live in the remote boreal forest country of northern Alaska have shared their world with dodzina—the common loon—for countless thousands of years; they know the loon intimately, not only as a physical presence but also as a powerful spiritual being.

 

Did You Know?

A snowy Mount Igikpak on a sunny day.

At 8510 feet, Mount Igikpak, at the headwaters of the Noatak River, is the highest peak in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.