Rookery Falls, Passage Canal

Rookery Falls, Passage Canal

by | Mar 30, 2019

Rookery Falls is located on the northern shore of Passage Canal, about 1.2 miles (1.9 km) northwest of Whittier, Alaska. The waterfall is about 200 feet (61 m) high and drains a small lake perched above the cliffs. A large rookery adjacent to the falls has about 6,000 breeding Black Legged Kittiwakes, in addition to Glaucous-winged Gulls and Pigeon Guillemots. This is one of the largest kittiwake colonies in Alaska and is accessible by boat.

Passage Canal is a fjord on the northeast coast of the Kenai Peninsula that trends northeast for 14 miles (22.5 km) from Whittier to the south end of Port Wells. Passage Canal was named in 1794 by Captain George Vancouver, presumably because the fjord leads to an ancient trail over Portage Pass connecting Prince William Sound with Cook Inlet. The trail was historically used by Alaska Natives, Russian fur traders, and early settlers. Currently, the mountain pass is used as a migratory route for birds and for recreational hiking.

The Black Legged Kittiwake is a small gull that nests on narrow cliff ledges on offshore islands or inaccessible areas of the coastal mainland. Often the ledges are barely wide enough to fit a nest. The adult and chicks must sit on the nest facing the cliff with their tails hanging off the edge. Nests are composed of seaweed, grass, feathers, and mud to cement them together. Kittiwakes are colonial nesters and colonies may vary from a few nests to many thousands. Frequently, nests are so close together that they are literally touching. In Alaska, Black Legged Kittiwakes nest from Point Hope on the Chukchi Sea, in the Aleutian Islands, and east throughout south coastal Alaska, Prince William Sound, the Gulf of Alaska, and into Southeast Alaska. Read more here and here. Explore more of Rookery Falls and Passage Canal here:

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