BCR 3 - Arctic Plains and Mountains

Aleutian Islands BCR mapThis region includes low-lying, coastal tundra and drier uplands of the Arctic mountains across the entire northern edge of North America. Because of thick and continuous permafrost, surface water dominates the landscape (20-50% of the coastal plain). Freezing and thawing form a patterned mosaic of polygonal ridges and ponds and many rivers bisect the plain and flow into the Arctic Ocean. The ocean surface is generally frozen 9 to 10 months a year, and the ice pack is never far from shore. Because of the wetness, waterfowl and shorebirds dominate the avian community and passerines are scarce. The most abundant breeding birds on the coastal plain include Northern Pintail, King Eider, Oldsquaw, American Golden-Plover, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, and Lapland Longspur. Several Old World species, including the Arctic Warbler and Bluethroat, penetrate the region from the west. Taiga passerines such as Gray-cheeked Thrush and Yellow Warbler reach the region along drainage systems, and raptors including Gyrfalcon and Rough-legged Hawk nest commonly along major rivers. Few bird species winter in the region.

ABC-designated Globally Important Bird Areas in this BCR

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Northern Alaska Coast, including the National Petroleum Reserve