Solving A Biological Puzzle On Middleton Island

Picture a giant chicken coop in the middle of a treeless island in the Gulf of Alaska. But the coop is really an old concrete Air Force radar tower. And instead of chickens, it holds Black-Legged Kittiwakes. With a few tweaks, this dilapidated building has become one of the best outdoor bird observation platforms in the world. Federal biologist Scott Hatch has spent the last 15 years taking advantage of it. And he’s uncovered a fascinating puzzle that could offer clues into the aging process.

Part One: Download Audio (MP3)

On Middleton Island in the Gulf of Alaska a biologist from the United States Geological Survey is studying a colony of Black-Legged Kittiwakes. Scott Hatch calls kittiwakes the “white lab rats of the seabird world” because they’re so common and easy to study. But these birds are anything but boring.

Part Two: Download Audio (MP3)

Slideshow by Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Photos courtesy of USGS/Voice of USGS biologist Scott Hatch

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Annie Feidt is the Managing Editor for Alaska's Energy Desk, a collaboration between Alaska Public Media in Anchorage, KTOO Public Media in Juneau and KUCB in Unalaska. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace. Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49th state just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon. afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie

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