Thursday, January 14, 2016 First N. Shrike and Black Scoter

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:48 am, sunset 4:25 pm for a total daylight of 6 hours and 37 minutes. Tomorrow will be 3 minutes and 47 seconds longer.

Yesterday’s scant 1” of new snow repainted the spring-like canvas back to wintery wonderland more appropriate for January. The temps remained rather mild with a low of 27 and a high of 35, with a light wind from the north.
Tomorrow is forecast to be about the same, with slightly warmer temps and snow showers for the big Polar Bear Jump on Saturday.

The SKY was clear this morning! Hurrah! First time in a long time without rain or clouds. Just before 10 am, I saw bright Jupiter shining to the west by Lowell Mountain. The approaching sun had already dimmed Mercury, Venus, Saturn, and Mars.

Highlights of today were the first NORTHERN SHRIKE spotted in a bare cottonwood, flashing through the highway fringes of Forest Acres. I also found a First-of-year single drake BLACK SCOTER accompanied by 3 hen SURF SCOTERS south of the harbor uplands. It was also great to find six BUFFLEHEAD females in a small raft. 

Five BARROW’S GOLDENEYES snacked near the Sheffler Creek outlet. A single COMMON MURRE paddled past, as oblivious as ever. There aren’t many left alive, so it was doing pretty well just being there. I haven’t seen any new dead Murres on the beaches either. I think the wreck is over, not because suddenly there is food, but because most of them tragically died.

Alaska Public Media hosted a very interesting program on January 8, “What’s causing Alaska’s sea bird die-off?” Listen online at

As this easy Murre-in-the-‘frig food source disappears, Bald Eagles will have to switch to other fare including other sea birds. Those numbers seem low as well, though not documented by beach mortality. This will be interesting to follow.

Back at the busy feeders, more and more PINE SISKINS are showing up. I had about 40 today. Also JUNCOS, including a striking OREGON JUNCO male, a stream of grab ‘n go BLACK-CAPPED and CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES, aggressive RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, a few GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES gleaning fallen suet and seeds, a shy BROWN CREEPER, a smattering of PINE GROSBEAKS, a SONG SPARROW, and a very dominant STELLER’S JAY, screeching loudly to clear the whole area.

On January 12, Alaska News Nightly aired an interview with Todd Eskelin  “A century of bird data informs modern surveying on the Kenai.” Good job, Todd!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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