Friday, July 17, 2015 Townsend's Warblers

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 5:04 am, sunset 11:02 pm for a total day length of 17 hours and 58 minutes. Tomorrow will be 3 minutes and 57 seconds shorter.

A huge storm system rumbled across the north Pacific over the past several days, sending cloud scouts at first and then the heavies with rain ranging from fine mist to downpour, accompanied at times with strong wind. The low 50s temperature felt mild, not chilly. Miraculously, some blue sky appeared this afternoon, and the forecast, gasp! is for THREE sunny days with temps in the low 70s starting SUNday. Thanks to the rain, everything is green, green, green as the summer surges onward.

Adult and fledgling ROBINS and VARIED THRUSHES have been feasting on green, and now almost ripe, red Red Elderberries. The bushes, like willows and Mt Ash, are bird magnets: valuable, low maintenance native plants ideal for wildlife landscaping. Every time I pass a loaded bush, the birds, young and old rocket out.

Many people are reporting that their RUFOUS HUMMINGIBIRDS have departed. I still have at least one, and will keep the feeders clean and full for another week or more. BTW, I really like my new Audubon glass hummingbird feeder. It has a large opening that is easy to clean, 4 ports, bee guards, and perches. It is heavy, but that only means hanging it with a strong cord.

Many Tree and Violet-green swallows have fledged and are now swooping about finding their own food. My neighbor’s VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS, who spurned my made-to-specs swallow boxes for one of several old vent holes in the soffit, are still feeding their hungry babies.

Today at the Post Office, I heard incessant, insistent twittering from a nearby young spruce. The whole tree seemed alive. I paused and found a fledgling TOWNSEND’S WARBLER sitting on a branch, demanding food service. The frazzled mom soon appeared, bearing a long-legged crane fly, and stuffed the body down the baby’s throat. The legs, like thin wires, stuck out, but eventually disappeared as well. The baby then sat, as if transfixed, as the wiggling crane fly settled deeper and deeper. That must be quite the sensation! Meanwhile, the parent was long gone, dashing about, gleaning insects from the spruce branches, rushing to fill orders from the other twittering, invisible fledglings.

It was amusing to watch the one visible fledgling. She (yellow, not black, throat) was in that awkward, intermediate, adolescent stage. Fluffy baby feathers stuck out all over, stiff pinfeathers poked through, ready to unfurl, and bright new feathers spoke of her future striking pattern and beauty. While she waited for food service, she tried preening out those itchy old feathers and stretched her tiny new wings. One more step towards independence, and many more to go. (E.g. where does food come from?)

People walked past on their way to the PO and back to their vehicles, apparently oblivious to these bright yellow and black bits of the tropics, racing against time, the weather, predators, and chance. If you can, take time to smell the roses AND look for the source of that tiny racket in the trees. Soon they will be gone, but the memories will sustain you all winter.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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