Pelagic habitats include the open ocean. Birds that spend time in the pelagic zone must be able to withstand the salt water, wind and waves–and some do for years at a time. True pelagic species are really birds of the sea that only return to land to breed and raise young.
One of the better known pelagic birds is the Laysan Albatross, which breeds almost exclusively on the Hawaiian islands but roams the nutrient rich waters of the Pacific to feed. Pelagic birds also include shearwaters, petrels, boobies, tropicbirds and other oceanic wanderers.
Human activities pose threats to birds even in the remote open ocean. Seabirds are among the most threatened group of birds globally. While some of the causative factors are found on the birds’ terrestrial nesting grounds, other problems come from oil spills, climate change driven changes to prey availability, fishing nets and an overabundance of plastic pollution. Plastic pollution is an increasingly critical, global issue for pelagic birds. Plastics remain in the ocean waters for years, breaking into small pieces, and are ingested by birds who perceive plastic as prey.
Other Habitats Our Birds Need
Arctic and Subarctic Tundra
Alaska has vast expanses of arctic and subalpine tundra characterized by low temperatures, permafrost, and a short growing season.
Alaska’s boreal forest spans most of interior Alaska. It is a mosaic of evergreens, deciduous trees and shrubs that create a patchwork of ecosystems across the landscape.
Coastal Dunes and Beaches
Coastal dunes and beach communities face a dynamic, harsh environment that requires plants to have unique survival mechanisms.
Conifer forests, including our magnificent temperate rainforests, dominate the Pacific Northwest from California to southeast Alaska.
Estuaries occur where freshwater rivers meet the salt waters of the ocean. They are one of most biologically rich habitats on Earth, thanks to the mixing of nutrients from both the land and sea.
Freshwater wetlands are the hallmark of the Pacific Americas Flyway. Wetlands are subject to periodic flooding and are further characterized by their soil type, hydrology and vegetation.
Hawaiian Montane Forest
‘Ohi’a and in some areas koa trees dominate the canopy of the lush cloud forests found on the higher elevations of Kaua’i, Maui, Hawai’i, O’ahu, and Moloka’i.
Hawaii’s freshwater wetlands support the Ae’o, or Hawaiian Stilt, and five other species of endemic, endangered waterbirds.
Intertidal Rocky Shorelines
Rocky shorelines along the North Pacific coastline occupy the region between high and low tide. They may be rocky cliffs, boulder rubble, wave-pounded shelves, or sheltered rocky shores.
Oak and Prairie
Oak and prairie ecosystems support a unique suite of specialized birds. They are home to a handful of imperiled species such as Streaked Horned Lark and Oregon Vesper Sparrow.
An atoll is a coral reef island, or islets. They are are characteristically ring-shaped with a central lagoon, and sometimes a central island.
Riparian corridors occur along rivers and streams and across floodplains and terraces. Healthy riparian systems have a dense plant cover that provides shade, predator protection, food, and nesting habitat for resident and migratory birds.