Monday, January 5, 2015 Golden Eagle alert!

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:58 am, sunset 4:08 pm for a total day length of 6 hours and 9 minutes. Tomorrow will be 2 minutes and 41 seconds longer.
Clear skies permitted blue skies all day in the bright sunshine bookended by a delicate pink sunrise and sunset on the snowy mountains. 18ยบ with a light north wind made for a beautiful winter day. Forecast is for partly cloudy tomorrow and rising temperatures back to the mid 40s with mixed snow and rain by Thursday and Friday.

Young Bald Eagles are often mistaken for Golden Eagles here in Seward, but not this time!

I first spotted a large, all-brown eagle at the Lagoon on January 1st, feeding on a scrap of old salmon in the dead grass. I admired its beautiful brown eyes, and puzzled over its golden-brown cape and unusual dark bill with a bright gold base.

Today, Robin C. focused my attention on it where it perched high in a spruce in the horse corral. We debated the size and coloration of the bill and overall brown plumage, discussed the coastal location and probability of a golden eagle here at the coast eating salmon carcasses vs the more likely bald eagle, and finally compared eagle photos in two bird books. We were still not 100% convinced.

After several minutes, the eagle cooperatively flew past on its way to a spruce bordering the mostly frozen Lagoon. The distinctive white patches under the wings flashed; the white tail with a broad brown terminal band cinched the ID as a juvenile GOLDEN EAGLE. Now in flight, the head did look small and golden, and the tail long. Whoo-whoo! Imagine that!

A much more common BALD EAGLE juvenile conveniently flew past shortly afterwards, showing much more blotchy white under the wings, a large head and shorter tail.

Why this Golden Eagle landed here is unknowable, but meanwhile, it’s a delight to see.

The Trumpeter Swan family was not at the Lagoon today, but WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS flitted from spruce to alders to creek to drink and bathe, filling the air with their merry chattering. Robin C spotted the RUSTY BLACKBIRDS on the north side of the horse corral. Yesterday, Jonah L spotted a TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE on the west side of the Lagoon along Chamberlain Ave, and also a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW in the trimmed alders along the road. Good job, Jonah!

I finally found the WHITE-THROATED SPARROW today in a Mayday tree near a feeder off Bear Drive west of Safeway. It sounded just like a red squirrel chipping loudly on a single high note, and I almost dismissed it before I saw it calling from the tangle of branches.

The PURPLE FINCH was found at Ava’s yesterday with numerous PINE GROSBEAKS, two GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS, PINE SISKINS, and the usual DOWNY and HAIRY WOODPECKERS, NUTHATCHES, and BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES. One grosbeak was missing its long, notched tail, possibly after a narrow escape from a cat.

As the Mt Ash berries become more scarce, only 6 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS seem to be left in town, spotted yesterday on Bear Drive in the company of about 25 ROBINS, 2 VARIED THRUSHES, and one STARLING.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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