Saturday, November 23, 2014 Rare Bird Alert: Purple Finch!

Seward, Alaska

Another blue-gray day, the clouds weary of their heavy burden and glad to release it. After yet another downpour, the curtains parted to let a shred of blue sky peek through. Parked at Ava’s, birding from the car, I spotted a smaller bird in a nearby cottonwood with the chunky PINE GROSBEAKS and one ROBIN. She was busy feeding off something on the cottonwood buds.

I fired off a series of shots to study closely at home. As I suspected, PURPLE FINCH! She (or first year male) has a broad white eyebrow, dark cheek patch and white stripe below, no eye ring, and white undertail without any streaks.

This species has been seen in Seward before, several years ago, but is not a regular. Its winter range is supposed to be in southern BC down along the Pacific coast to Mexico. I have records for January 25, 2006 Ava’s, April 12, 2007 Ava’s, and January 1, 2008 AVTEC.

The species is listed as “rare” in the 2014 Checklist of Alaska Birds, “Annual or possibly annual in small numbers; most such species occur at the perimeter of Alaska, in season; a few are scarce residents.”

I hope she hangs around!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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