2012 Seward Christmas Bird Count results

December 22, 2012 Seward CBC

The Seward Audubon CBC is over! Here's the draft final results:

52 Count Day species, 9 Count Week species, and 3358 birds in all,
compared to 2011 61 Count Day species, 6 Count Week species, and 2,461 birds in all.

Weather:  0 to 15ยบ, mostly calm for those on land, and overcast with brief afternoon snow flurries. The boat crew birded in seas to 3 feet with a north wind up to 17 mph. Overall, the lack of precipitation and minimal snow made conditions quite enjoyable for walking and biking despite the cold.

Twenty-five Field Counters, including two young birders, and three Boat Crew, birded the Seward Circle from 9ish to 4 pm while another six Feeder Counters kept vigil at their often lonely feeders. The Tonsina Trail Route was covered this year, as well as the Iditarod Trail, and 2 miles out on Exit Glacier Road with fat tire bikes.

The most common bird at 510, was the WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, found almost everywhere in amazing numbers. This species did not even make it on last year's count!

Several normally seen species such as the Long-tailed Duck, Scaup,  Northern Shrike, Varied Thrush, Gray-crowned Rosy-finch,  did not make the list at all. Many species had very low numbers. Also surprising was the low count, 4, of juvenile BALD EAGLES. The adults dined well all winter on starving Common Murres, raised healthy eaglets that successfully fledged. Where are they now? Incidentally, no murres were seen.

Many Feeder Counters, especially out of town, wondered where all the birds were, finding few to no birds this fall or winter.  The birds may have found enough natural food with the lack of snow cover and abundance of spruce cones and Mt Ash berries. One feeder watcher in town enjoyed a visit by a three adult BALD EAGLES. She captured a dramatic photo of an eagle swooping in as a NW CROW flew away like a bizarre shadow. Ava contributed the only AMERICAN TREE SPARROW at her feeder.

Despite the best efforts of the Lowell Point team, the two BRAMBLINGS proved elusive after showing the day before for Count Week. They did score on the only GREAT BLUE HERON, and a MERLIN. A remarkable 41 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS stayed in town, feeding on the ground under spruce trees.

The only kids participating in the Count on their usual route on Exit Glacier Road found the usual RAVENS, MAGPIES, and PINE GROSBEAKS and were impressed with a lone COMMON MERGANSER. Then just as they were preparing to leave,  a raptor, which they identified as a PEREGRINE, flashed across the road, chasing a flock of small birds, perhaps Redpolls or Siskins. The boys and mom watched in amazement as the falcon perched on a nearby snag above the car, plucking its dinner, feathers floating down like snowflakes. Now, THAT is a memorable moment!

Another unusual bird was a DUNLIN that erupted off the beach with 11 other unidentified shorebirds. Instead of flying off with them, it veered back and landed on the beach nearby. I shot several photos as it walked past. I wonder now if the others were also Dunlins. At least 5 were seen afterwards during Count Week. 38 ROCK SANDPIPERS were also counted in the same area on Count Day.


Special thanks to Captain Jim Herbert for donating the use of his aptly named Kingfisher III landing craft, fuel, maintenance, preparation, and time on short notice for the 13.5 mile ocean route. Tasha and Sadie meticulously counted the seabirds by gender, and nailed 417 BARROW'S GOLDENEYES, the second highest number.

Kudos to Wendy for encouraging her two young boys to explore nature and contribute to citizen science. Thanks to Kit and Robin for diligently scouting for birds throughout the Circle, far in advance of the Count, and to Janet who birded on her all-terrain handcycle with studded tires. Thanks to the four birders from out of town who came to help us. Many thanks to the folks who feed the birds and to everyone for their time, effort, and enthusiasm counting birds on a cold, overcast day.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward CBC Compiler

Photos will be posted soon.

Draft Final Count Species, Count Week species have no numbers

            3       Gadwall
         128      Mallard ­­­
           15      duck unknown species ­­­
            3       Black Scoter ­­­
            3       White-winged Scoter ­­­
         145      Surf Scoter ­­­
         105      Harlequin Duck ­­­
           34      Common Goldeneye ­­­
         480      Barrow’s Goldeneye ­­­
           29      Bufflehead ­­­
         139      Common Merganser ­­­
           25      Red-breasted Merganser­­­
                     Hooded Merganser
             6      Merganser, unknown species
                     Spruce Grouse ­­­
    ­­­         8      Common Loon
             3 ­­­     Yellow-billed Loon
            19     Horned Grebe ­­­
              2     Red-necked Grebe ­­­
            53     Pelagic  Cormorant ­­­
              1     Great Blue Heron ­­­
            35     Bald Eagle adult ­­­        
              4     Bald Eagle immature ­­­
              1     Hawk species unknown ­­­
                     Northern Goshawk ­­­
              1     Merlin
              1     Peregrine Falcon
              1     falcon, unknown species
                     Sharp-shinned Hawk
            38     Rock Sandpiper
              1     Dunlin
            11     shorebirds, unidentified species ­­­
              9     Mew Gull
                     Glaucous-winged x Herring Gull ­­­
           39      Glaucous-winged Gull­­­
             1      Pigeon Guillemot
             7      Marbled Murrelet ­­­
         124      Rock Pigeon
             1      Belted Kingfisher ­­­        
           10      Downy Woodpecker ­­­        
             6      Hairy Woodpecker ­­­ ­­
           42      Steller’s Jay             ­­­
           78      Black-billed Magpie ­­­ ­­­
          141     Northwestern Crow ­­­        
          115     Common Raven ­­­
            24     Black-capped Chickadee   ­­­ ­­­
            31     Chestnut-backed Chickadee
            10     Chickadee, unknown species ­­­ ­­
            32     Red-breasted Nuthatch­­­        
              2     Brown Creeper­­­
                     Pacific Wren ­­­
              2     American Dipper­­­
             37    Golden-crowned Kinglet­­­        
             18    American Robin­­­
                     Varied Thrush ­­­
             37    Bohemian Waxwing­­­
               1    American Tree Sparrow­­­
               1     Fox Sparrow ­­­
                      Song Sparrow ­­­
               1     White-crowned Sparrow
               1     Golden-crowned Sparrow­­­
             76     Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco
              41    Rusty Blackbirds
            510    White-winged Crossbill ­­­
            278    Pine Grosbeak ­­­
            278    Common Redpoll ­­­
              26     Pine Siskin
              25     songbirds, unidentified

Count Day total: 52 species
Count Week total: 9 species
Total number of birds on Count Day: 3358

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