Saturday, September 28, 2013 Spruce Grouse and Trumpeter Swans

Seward, Alaska

This morning just after dawn at 8 am, I flushed a SPRUCE GROUSE off the gravel lot near my house and up into a spruce tree. I finished the morning walk and returned with my camera to find it in the same place. What a considerate bird to wait for me!

I watched it walk slowly along the branch, gobbling spruce needles. It was hard to tell which needles were preferred, but the bird seemed to be selective and did not strip any branchlet clean. I wonder how much nutrition is in spruce needles compared to the nearby Mt Ash berries and the spruce cones that feed so many other species.

The grouse was a beautifully patterned brown, tan, and white ball; I guess its tough diet works. As I left it calmly enjoying breakfast, a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK shot across the sky, chasing STELLER'S JAYS, and generally announcing its presence and the start of a new day. The fat little grouse did not seem alarmed in the least; I hope its camouflage serves it well.

Later in the afternoon, I checked for the pair of TRUMPETER SWANS that have graced the wetlands at Mile 1 Nash Road all summer without nesting. They were still there, busily preening their angelic luminous white feathers, standing companionably together on a partially submerged log.

Such long, flexible, sinuous necks! One majestic swan reared up and beat its impressive, powerful wings back and forth, getting all the feathers aligned just right. They both looked fit and healthy, capable of undertaking a long and treacherous migration south any day. 

May they return next spring and find conditions better for nesting and raising a fine family.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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