Springtime on Kodiak

Kodiak Bear Sow and Cub

I’m sitting next to the heater and looking out the window at a blizzard, so it seems strange to write a post about spring.  I know, though, that over the next few weeks, spring will unfold in this corner of the world, and springtime on Kodiak is spectacular.  It is, without question, my favorite time of the year.  True, the weather is much nicer in the summer, but nothing can compare to the awakening of nature that spring brings.

All I have to do is look out the front window or walk out into the yard to watch the breath-taking aerobatics of mating bald eagles.  On the beach, I can see raucous, funny black oystercatchers, squawking and strutting to protect their territories.  The black-legged kittiwakes arrived yesterday at their rookery in front of our home, and the Arctic terns should arrive in the next two weeks.  We will soon begin seeing horned and tufted puffins paddling through the water and launching their fat little bodies into the air for their short, awkward flights.  Of course bears will be leaving their dens, and before too long, we hopefully will catch a glimpse of a sow with tiny, newborn cubs.

Fin Whale near Kodiak Island

All of this is fantastic to see, but perhaps the most amazing displays of spring occur in the ocean.  As the sea temperature slowly rises, phytoplankton bloom, providing a food supply for spawning zooplankton. Soon, the ocean is full of these small crustaceans that provide a food, for everything from herring to whales.  Spring is also when adult herring return to the marshy heads of bays to spawn and lay their eggs on eel grass and other plants.  It seems as if overnight we begin seeing masses of zooplankton washed up on our beach and notice huge schools of herring in the bay, and following the herring and zooplankton are fin whales, humpbacks, and other whales, along with seals and sea lions.  Some years we even see Orcas chasing and feeding on the oil-rich herring.  There are days in the spring when the last sounds I hear before I fall asleep at night and the first sounds I hear when I awake in the morning are whales blowing.  Life doesn’t get much better than that.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to go into more detail about springtime on Kodiak Island.  How do eagles court and mate, and when will their chicks hatch?  What do bears do when they first come out of their dens?  When do the Sitka black-tailed deer give birth to their fawns, and when are red fox kits born?  I’ll also let you know about the whales and other wildlife we see and tell you a bit more about Arctic terns and some of the other birds in our neighborhood.  The snow is relentless today, but I’m certain spring is around the corner!

Please let me know if there is any particular Kodiak animal you would like me to cover.

6 thoughts on “Springtime on Kodiak

  1. What a great piece of writing! Makes one feel like they are actually in Kodiak. Very enjoyable reading and quite enlightening as well. Excellent.

    Now, what would interest me is actually the rituals/behaviors of the Bald Eagle. An example would be “talon clasping”. What does this behavior actually signify and does this happen quite often? Are there any other behaviors that stand out? Also, why are bald eagles found mostly in North America (Alaska and Canada being where a majority of them live if I’m not mistaken)?

    Living in Asia, those question might come as a surprise but I grew up in The States and am quite interested in nature and the life of people in rather isolated areas (not saying that the Kodiak Islands are one, mind you). So, having recently watched Discovery Channel’s “Alaska: The Last Frontier” just made me appreciate more people’s natural survival instincts and how nature in the end fends for itself.

    In any case, congratulations on a wonderful blog. Keep writing.

  2. About the Bald Eagle… Never mind… I found your blog just now on the Bald Eagle and it practically answers all my questions. Superb article. I guess I wasn’t thorough enough reading all the blogs. Thank you.

  3. Hi Rick and thank you for your kind words about my post. Sorry I’m so slow in answering, but I’m new at blogging, and I was somehow missing the comments. You’ve inspired me to write more about eagle behavior soon; although, the reasons behind many of their behaviors such as talon clasping and cartwheeling are only speculations. Bald eagles are only found in North America. It is the only species of eagle confined to the North American continent, and yes, you are correct, there is a northern and southern subspecies.. The southern subspecies is found south of 40 degrees north latitude, and the northern subspecies is found north of 40 degrees north latitude. Northern bald eagles are larger than southern eagles. For more information on bald eagles, check out this article I wrote: . Thanks again for visiting my blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *