Wednesday, November 15, 2017 Cedar Waxwing and Robins

Seward, Alaska

The CEDAR WAXWING juvenile seems to really like the Mt Ash berries in the mid-400-block of Second Avenue. Birders have been very pleased to find it nabbing the tasty, frozen fruit and tossing it down in one gulp like the nearby dozen ROBINS.

PINE GROSBEAKS, in contrast, like to give each berry a workout, squeezing out the juice and discarding the pulp. This particular tree has a lot of berries remaining and so hopefully the little Waxwing will stick around.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter







Monday, November 13, 2017 Cedar Waxwing!

Seward, Alaska

In the twilight, about a half hour before dawn at 9 am, I glanced over at a small, nearby Mt Ash tree. Three birds clung to the wind-shaken branches, watching me. Two were PINE GROSBEAKS. The other smaller bird had a crest and a light belly: an immature CEDAR WAXWING! A few waxy, yellow-tipped tail feathers glowed in the dim light; the tail looked very stubby, barely extending beyond primaries.

Looking back at my records, Seward hasn’t had a Cedar Waxwing since September 11, 2013, with scattered sightings since 2005.

Nearby Mt Ash trees had a few PINE GROSBEAKS and four ROBINS. Yesterday I counted 12 Robins in the same tree.

Many Mt Ash trees are already completely stripped of berries, concentrating the Pine Grosbeaks, Robins, and other fruit-lovers including the Cedar Waxwing. It will be interesting to see how long this one stays.

I also found an adult WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW and a first winter GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW. I’m still looking for a Chipping Sparrow first reported by Toby Burke on Wednesday, November 8. Who knows what else this incessant, belligerent wind has blown in from afar?

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter






Sunday, November 12, 2017 Swan Update

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 8:51 am, sunset 4:35 pm for a total daylight of 7 hours and 44 minutes. Tomorrow will be 4 minutes and 48 seconds shorter.

Mostly clear with a fierce north wind that threatens to blow the town into the bay or at least everything that it can wrench loose and set free. The sun felt faintly warm out of the wind; temps ranged from a low of 22 to a high of 37 with cooler temperatures forecast for tomorrow and snow showers by next weekend.

Despite the cold and howling winds, the Seward electric crew has been working hard on getting the underground power lines installed. It’s a big job that is greatly appreciated.

It’s also a tense race against time with the resident TRUMPETER SWAN family flying over these killer wires almost daily. The buffeting winds and unmarked power and cable lines over Dairy Hill rachet up the chances for yet another disaster any day until the lines are removed.

As noted previously, one of the three cygnets hit the lines over Dairy Hill on Sunday, October 29th. The case was badly bungled; I read recently in the Police Log that the beloved cygnet was treated as road kill. I am outraged that the police called the next person on the salvage list and let that person pick it up.

This species is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and requires a permit to be collected or handled. Neither the ASLC Wildlife Response Team or the Electric Department was contacted as required by federal law. I hope this never happens again!

On Tuesday, November 7, I saw two adult Trumpeter Swans at the Lagoon; no cygnets. I have no idea if the cygnets were somehow separated or if these two are another pair. Very mysterious and troubling. I walked the Boardwalk under the power line looking for bodies, but fortunately found none.

On Wednesday, November 8, at 10:20 am, Toby Burke and his family watched the Swan family of 2 adults and 2 cygnets fly from the Lagoon over the wires crossing above Dairy Hill Lane. He reported that the family barely cleared the lines, and one parent struck the lines and fell about 35’.

“The heavy bird landed with a resounding thud, flat on its breast and belly. The bird eventually made it back on its feet and slowly walked back to the Lagoon where it returned alone to the water, still stunned. Miraculously, there did not appear to be any damage to the bird’s wings and if we had not just witnessed the accident we would have never suspected what had just happened. I can hardly believe the bird survived the collision and fall.”

I happened along around noon without yet knowing what had happened. I found one Swan, most likely the bruised and battered parent who could not yet fly to rejoin its family. I did not see any obvious injuries; the Swan stood in the shallow water at one point and preened, but did not stretch its wings. I wondered where the family was…

I did not find any Swans on Thursday, November 9.

On Friday, November 10, I was greatly saddened to see only one parent, but relieved to see the two cygnets. I looked for the missing parent along the shoreline and along the Boardwalk but did not find it. I also checked Preacher Pond which was still open, without success. It could have died of its injuries at the Lagoon; tried to fly and got killed; or flew somewhere to recover. I’m not very hopeful.

Saturday, November 11, no Swans found.

Today, Sunday, November 12, I found three adult TRUMPETER SWANS feeding near the eelgrass beds by Afognak Beach. My heart leapt! Could it be Daddy’s Girl and her parents???

I also found the parent Swan and two cygnets back feeding at the Lagoon. The electric crew was busy working on the underground conduits and wires. I hope this will be done soon!

Happy/sad Birding,
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter
















Thursday, November 9, 2017 No Great Grays but a surprise instead

Seward, Alaska

Reports of possible GREAT GRAY OWLS hooting in Forest Acres for the past few nights finally lured me out last night to listen. I drove around the quiet neighborhood for about 45 minutes at a suspiciously slow speed with the windows open, the chilly wind whistling through the car. After a concerned neighbor walked up to my parked car to ask what I was doing, (Oh, yes. Owling. Ah hmm, very interesting. Hot spot. Nutcase but harmless) I decided this was not my night.

On my way home, I stopped to check the north end of the Lagoon for Swan silhouettes in the dark, backlit by the bright lights of the businesses across the way. To my amazement, I instead saw a solitary, long-legged, long-necked, long-billed bird standing motionless in the salmon stream. A GREAT BLUE HERON! It’s always such a surprise to find one of these elusive, secretive birds. I watched as it almost imperceptibly shifted into the shadowy blackness and disappeared.

Feeling richly rewarded despite my failure to hear the Great Grays, I drove home. I’ll try again when the wind blows itself away.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter