Fox River Flats —
Critical Habitat Area
Fish and Wildlife
The flats serve as a major staging area for thousands of waterfowl and upwards of a million or more shorebirds that stop to rest and feed during migration. Western sandpipers are by far the most numerous shorebird, with dunlins and dowitchers also present. In the spring, Canada geese compete with grazing cattle for goose tongue and other newly emerged vegetation. In spring, summer, and fall, mallards, pintails, American wigeon, and green-winged teal can be found feeding in brackish ponds while scaup, scoter, goldeneye, and merganser feed in nearshore waters of the bay. Trumpeter swans are known to concentrate on the flats during migration. Gulls are usually present and, in the proper season, sparrows, warblers, and swallows can be glimpsed. Several bald eagle nests have been found in cottonwood trees along the edge of the flats.
Moose move down the valley from the hills during winter months concentrating along the edges of the flats to feed on willow. Black and brown bear, coyote, red fox, and wolves occasionally cross the flats in their search for food. Mink, ermine, muskrat, and river otter are also present. Lynx and wolverine are infrequent visitors. Resident snowshoe hares, voles, and shrews provide prey for the larger predators. Harbor seals haul out regularly on the tide flats. Small pods of beluga whale can be seen near the head of Kachemak Bay feeding on herring and "hooligan" (eulachon) in the spring and salmon in the summer.
Fox River, Sheep Creek, Bradley River, and Fox Creek, all anadromous fish streams, support coho, chum, and pink salmon. Sockeye salmon can be found in Fox River and Fox Creek. A few sockeye and Chinook salmon can be found in Bradley River. Dolly Varden are also known to be present in the streams.