Cordova's Natural World Audio Guide

Explore the Wild World of the Copper River Delta. In this Audio Guide, you'll get to learn about carniverous plants, mushrooms that hunt their prey, and find out why Cordova is one of the best places in the world to see migrating shorebirds.

Show Map

Guide Segments

Sand­hill Cranes migrate through the Cop­per Riv­er Delta with a brief stop-over and rest at Hart­ney Bay in the spring and fall. Any­where along the paved road at Hart­ney Bay from the bridge to the end of the paved road is a great place to see these mag­nif­i­cent birds.

Many species of birds migrate each year, but do we real­ly know why? Do they migrate because of food scarci­ty or for breed­ing pur­pos­es? Learn about some of the pos­si­bil­i­ties. Hart­ney Bay in ear­ly May is dom­i­nat­ed by large flocks of var­i­ous shore birds as they head north to breed in Alaska.

Every year, mil­lions of shore­birds migrate from South Amer­i­ca into Alas­ka where they stop to rest and feed on the Cop­per Riv­er Delta mud flats at Hart­ney Bay. Locat­ed about 5 miles south of Cor­do­va near the end of Whit­shed Road, the mud­flats are host to thou­sands of West­ern Sand­piper dur­ing high tide dur­ing the first sev­er­al days of May each year. Addi­tion­al­ly, the Cop­per Riv­er Delta near Ala­ganik Slough is an excel­lent loca­tion to find…  ...more

Trees that are stressed due to weath­er, dis­ease or insects are more like­ly to pro­duce large growths called burls, or galls. Some artists will take these burls and make beau­ti­ful dec­o­ra­tive bowls out of them. If you want to see some great exam­ples of burls, hike along the Heney Ridge Trail. Approx­i­mate­ly 2 miles from the trail head and a few hun­dred yards after cross­ing the large log bridge, you will find an area where sev­er­al spruce trees on…  ...more

Those frag­ile crusty gray lichens, favorite food of Cari­bou and often found grow­ing on rocks in the dry­er and high­er areas around Cor­do­va and the Cop­per Riv­er Delta, are fas­ci­nat­ing crea­tures, actu­al­ly sym­bi­ot­ic fun­gi-algae. The area around the top of the rocky out­crops at the end of the trail on Heney Ridge is an excel­lent loca­tion to study these inter­est­ing organisms.

Learn about a unique inver­te­brate organ­ism that lives in all oceans of the world includ­ing areas around Cor­do­va and the Cop­per Riv­er Delta, the Tuni­cate! An excel­lent place to look for tuni­cates, or sea squirts” as they are com­mon­ly known, is on the edge of the docks just below water­line. The docks in the Cor­do­va boat har­bor have many species of these some­times col­or­ful but tiny organisms.

This pro­gram is part 1 of a 2 part pro­gram and looks at Eyak Lake, a prime salmon spawn­ing area locat­ed with­in the Cor­do­va city lim­its. Dur­ing the many years of Cordova’s his­to­ry, con­struc­tion and oth­er uses have affect­ed the drainage pat­terns and ero­sion of the lake affect­ing salmon spawn­ing habi­tat. Signs of lake ero­sion and habi­tat destruc­tion can be seen when dri­ving along Pow­er Creek Road and the Cop­per Riv­er High­way near Mavis Island.  ...more

Bats, though com­mon­ly thought of as elu­sive crea­tures, are reg­u­lar­ly seen around Cor­do­va in the sum­mer and fall and can be seen in the evening as they flit around catch­ing pesky mos­qui­toes and oth­er insects. The area around Skater’s Cab­in on Pow­er Creek Road and oth­er loca­tions along the road are good loca­tions to look for bats. And if you have a bat in your house, learn how to remove them with­out injury to the bat or the person.

A for­est isn’t just about the trees! The for­est floor is home to count­less tiny crit­ters, many of which have made unique adap­ta­tions to sur­vive in the for­est around Cor­do­va. Most any trail in and around Cor­do­va and the Cop­per Riv­er Delta will have an abun­dance of these tiny inhab­i­tants liv­ing in the for­est lit­ter and moss at your feet. The trail head start­ing at Skaters Cab­in on Lake Eyak will take hik­ers through dense for­est up to Crater Lake…  ...more

Bull kelp has made amaz­ing adap­ta­tions to sur­vive in the harsh Gulf of Alas­ka envi­ron­ment. It is one of the fastest grow­ing plants in the world, and can grow to 100 feet in length. It is found around deep­er water shore­lines and often washed up on beach­es after storms. The area close to Orca Can­nery is an excel­lent place to tide pool and look for sea­weeds, includ­ing bull kelp.

The Euro­pean Black Slug is a recent invad­er into Alas­ka and Cor­do­va. Find out how to deal with the black slimy pest and why it’s bad for native species and the res­i­dents in the area. They seem to be pro­lif­ic around hik­ing trails and on roads like Pow­er Creek Road.

While most peo­ple have prob­a­bly heard of brown and black bears, not every­one knows that in Alas­ka we also have white and blue bears! Black and brown bears can be found most any­where on the Cop­per Riv­er Delta with black bears pass­ing through Cor­do­va on a reg­u­lar basis. One of the best places to see black and brown bears is dur­ing the salmon spawn­ing sea­son on Pow­er Creek near the cul­verts under the road. Salmon spawn­ing along the road attracts…  ...more

Learn about the amaz­ing attrib­ut­es of the Bald Eagle and how they live. Eagles are found through­out most of South­cen­tral Alas­ka and are quite pro­lif­ic in and around Cor­do­va, espe­cial­ly the Cop­per Riv­er Delta. Bald Eagle nests can some­times be seen along the road while dri­ving to Childs Glac­i­er, 52 miles from Cor­do­va. They also con­gre­gate where spawn­ing salmon are found. The Pow­er Creek road area locat­ed just a few miles from Cor­do­va has…  ...more

In part 2, we will look at the pro­posed changes and restora­tion to var­i­ous loca­tions around Eyak Lake. The project includes replac­ing many inef­fi­cient cul­verts with fish friend­ly access cul­verts for spawn­ing salmon and a short bridge seg­ment near Mavis Island to improve sed­i­ment and tur­bid­i­ty for­ma­tion along the shore where salmon spawn. Signs of lake ero­sion and habi­tat destruc­tion can be seen when dri­ving along Pow­er Creek Road and the…  ...more

Sun­dews are amaz­ing car­niv­o­rous plants that live in poor soil con­di­tions and catch insects in an inge­nious way to sup­ple­ment their needs for nitro­gen and oth­er nutri­ents that the sur­round­ing soil lacks. Hik­ing in areas where the ground is wet and spongy or bog­gy, you will like­ly find the tiny car­niv­o­rous plants wait­ing for their next insect meal. Look for a small plant grow­ing close to the ground with bright red leaves the size of a pencil…  ...more

Fall time is beau­ti­ful any­where in Alas­ka, but the changes in the area around Cor­do­va and the Cop­per Riv­er Delta are tru­ly breath­tak­ing. Learn about the insect activ­i­ty that takes place in this sea­son with a detailed look at insect mim­ic­ry and a harm­less bee look-alike called the flower fly. These insects are usu­al­ly found in the autumn in areas with flow­er­ing plants includ­ing people’s gar­dens and yards and where ever flow­ers abound like…  ...more

Por­cu­pines, often mis­un­der­stood crea­tures, can be seen most any­where in the forests around Alas­ka includ­ing Cor­do­va and the Cop­per Riv­er Delta. In this seg­ment you will learn about the his­to­ry, habits and lifestyle of these inter­est­ing ani­mals. A good place to look for por­cu­pines is along the edge of side roads out on the Cop­per Riv­er High­way such as the Sheri­dan Glac­i­er Road.

There are many types of fun­gus and mush­rooms that can be found in the fall around Cor­do­va and the Cop­per Riv­er Delta, includ­ing one that actu­al­ly hunts it’s prey! Hik­ing in the fall along any trail around Cor­do­va or on the Cop­per Riv­er Delta will pro­duce many species of fun­gus and mush­rooms. Dri­ving to the end of Sheri­dan Road to the pic­nic area on the left side of the road is a great way to see many species.

The amaz­ing ice­worm can be found liv­ing on the sur­face of ice­bergs under very harsh con­di­tions. These worms live in such harsh envi­ron­ments that NASA is study­ing them to try to under­stand how life on oth­er worlds might adapt to seem­ing­ly unin­hab­it­able con­di­tions. The best place to find these tiny ani­mals is on the sur­face of ice and ice­bergs near Sheri­dan and Childs Glac­i­ers on the Cop­per Riv­er Delta. Bring your mag­ni­fy­ing glass!

Drag­on­flies, the offi­cial Alas­ka state insect, are often found around lakes and ponds hov­er­ing or perched on a long blade of grass at water’s edge. A great loca­tion to look for drag­on­flies is along the edge of the many ponds locat­ed along the Ala­ganik road on the way to the Ala­ganik Riv­er. Turn right at mile 17 on the Cop­per Riv­er High­way and trav­el for about 5 miles to the U.S. For­est Ser­vice board­walk, inter­pre­tive area and boat launching…  ...more

Every year, autumn brings us beau­ti­ful fall col­ors, but have you ever won­dered why the leaves turn yel­low and red? Learn why as you soak up the scenery on the way out to Childs Glac­i­er about 52 miles from Cor­do­va by grav­el road. Decid­u­ous trees like cot­ton­woods, alders and wil­lows will dis­play the bet­ter col­ors of fall.

Glac­i­ers aren’t just silent rivers of ice, slow­ly carv­ing their way through the land­scape. Glacial ice pro­duces a sound called bergy seltzer,” and a great place to hear it (and see a giant glac­i­er) is Childs Glac­i­er, locat­ed about 52 miles from Cordova.

Ever won­der why mos­qui­toes choose the meals they do? Maybe they always seem to pre­fer you over your friend. Find out why, and learn how to avoid get­ting bit­ten. Hik­ing almost any­where in Alas­ka in the spring, sum­mer and fall can pro­vide swarms of bit­ing mos­qui­toes. Areas where there is less stand­ing water and loca­tions with a good breeze will deter them from biting.