St. Matthew Island and Hall Island are the most remote islands of the Bering Sea, nearly 210 miles from the nearest human habitation. Over the centuries, sheer distance has saved these islands from fur trapping, mining, oil drilling, airstrip building, and other human endeavors that left their mark on so many of the more accessible Aleutian Islands. During the Harriman Expedition in 1899, the islands gained the attention of Theodore Roosevelt, who included St. Matthew in a group of islands designated as America’s first wildlife refuges in 1909. Today these uninhabited islands not only offer vital breeding grounds for a multitude of murres, kittiwakes, cormorants, and other seabirds, they are also the sole breeding ground for McKay’s bunting. This snow-white bird is one of North America's rarest songbirds, with a population that is estimated at less than 6,000 individuals. Another noteworthy resident is the endemic St. Matthew singing vole. These adorable rodents are so-named for the high-pitched trill given as a warning call.
Search for both of these incredibly rare species on our upcoming Wild Alaska expedition!