2013 Seward Christmas Bird Count results

Seward, Alaska

Sunday, December 22, 2013
Sunrise 10:01 am, sunset 3:51 pm for a total length of day of 5 hours, 49 minutes. Temps ranged from 31 to 37, but the strong 15-22 mph north wind with gusts to 37 mph made eyes water and chilled the Field Counters. The sun peeked out of the overcast now and then as if to check on our progress, then the clouds returned with a token sporadic snow shower. The intrepid Boat Team battled 4-foot seas as they traveled their 24-mile grid across Resurrection Bay. Conditions were challenging!

22 Field Counters in 7 teams, and 10 Feeder Watchers found 60 species and counted 1922 birds. Three additional species were found during Count Week.

The highlights included two species listed as rare: the SWAMP SPARROW, which was initially found on December 12th and is the first documented record for Seward and the Kenai Peninsula, and the WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, first spotted on December 15th.

We were thrilled to find the first winter sighting of a KILLDEER, an unusual winter visitor for Seward and the Kenai Peninsula, and happy to refind the female BRAMBLING, which was first spotted on Thanksgiving Day, November 28th, and the male and female HOODED MERGANSERS.

Shorebirds included 3 SANDERLINGS, up from one spotted December 9th, and 26 ROCK SANDPIPERS first spotted December 8th, a more expected winter shorebird species. 

A single STARLING was unusual, fortunately. 5 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS were also unusual but welcome. Normally, these tiny songbirds migrate for the winter, leaving behind their hardier cousins, the GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS. 3 GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES arrived just in time for the Count.

Several species tallied only one bird, but are generally not common here in winter:

Other species tallied only 1 bird but are known to be here in greater numbers: GREAT BLUE HERON (3+), BROWN CREEPER (5+), PACIFIC WREN (3+), VARIED THRUSH (5+), BOHEMIAN WAXWING (30+). Only half the ROBINS (10) showed up for the Count. As for the 4 MEW GULLS, where did the other 200 hide during Count Week?

LOONS overall were very low in species and number with only COMMON LOONS (3) seen. PACIFIC LOONS had been seen before Count Week, and a single YELLOW-BILLED LOON was spotted after Count Week.

SNOW BUNTINGS, about 70, 2 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS, and 3 GADWALL shied away for Count Day but popped in for Count Week.

The five RED-FACED CORMORANTS made themselves scarce for Count Day and Week as well. 

PINE SISKIN, REDPOLL, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, and RED CROSSBILLS have yet to be reported this winter.


Species list:
1 American Wigeon, 77 Mallard, 37 Harlequin Duck, 71 Surf Scoter, 5 White-winged Scoter, 1 Black Scoter, 2 Long-tailed Duck, 3 Bufflehead, 73 Common Goldeneye, 364 Barrow's Goldeneye, 2 Hooded Merganser, 108 Common Merganser, 42 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Spruce Grouse, 3 Common Loon, 18 Horned Grebe, 7 Red-necked Grebe, 33 Pelagic Cormorant, 1 Great Blue Heron, 33 Bald Eagle, 1 Northern Goshawk, 1 Killdeer, 3 Sanderling, 26 Rock Sandpiper,  4 Mew Gull, 36 Glaucous-winged Gull, 1 Herring Gull, 12 Marbled Murrelet, 99 Rock Pigeon, 1 Belted Kingfisher, 7 Downy Woodpecker, 4 Hairy Woodpecker, 1 Northern Shrike, 18 Steller's Jay, 84 Black-billed Magpie, 228 Northwestern Crow, 180 Common Raven, 63 Black-capped Chickadee, 44 Chestnut-backed Chickadee, 26 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 1 Brown Creeper, 1 Pacific Wren, 4 American Dipper, 42 Golden-crowned Kinglet, 5 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 10 American Robin, 1 Varied Thrush, 1 European Starling, 1 Bohemian Waxwing, 8 American Tree Sparrow, 6 Fox Sparrow, 5 Song Sparrow, 1 White-crowned Sparrow, 2 Golden-crowned Sparrow, 1 White-throated Sparrow, 1 Swamp Sparrow, 61 Dark-eyed Junco, 3 Gray-crowned Rosy-finch, 1 Brambling, 25 Pine Grosbeak.

Many thanks to Captain Mike Brittain for providing his skills and the Dora, and the Boat Crew: Tasha DiMarzio, John Maniscalco, and Tuula Hollmen; the Tonsina Team: Tim Johnson, Michelle Keagle, and Ann Ghicadus; Lowell Point and Points North Team: Jim Herbert and Michael Mahmood; Town South Team: Kit and Janet Durnil, and Jonah Lindquist; Town North Team: Robin Collman, Kerry Martin, and Kristin Pelo; Beach Team: Carol Griswold, Marilyn Sutherland, Dan Crowson, and Egor Sturdy; Exit Glacier Team: Wendy, Cody, and Casey Bryden.

And many thanks to the Feeder Watchers: Judy Cabana, Tasha DiMarzio, Ava Eads, Duane and Sanna LeVan, Russ Maddox, John Maniscalco, Paul and Lynda Paquette, and Katy Turnbull.

In Memoriam: 67-year Seward resident Duane LeVan, age 87, died on December 28 after a short illness. He loved watching and feeding birds. Duane and his wife of 65 years, Sanna, always participated in the Seward Christmas Bird Count, and always found just about the only GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES in the area. A week before he died, he did indeed get the only Gray-crowned Rosy-finches for the Count. We miss you, Duane!

Happy Birding in 2014!
Carol Griswold
Seward CBC Compiler

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