Sunday, July 10, 2016 Baby bird time

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 4:52 am, sunset 11:12 pm for a total day length of 18 hours and 20 minutes. Tomorrow will be 3 minutes and 19 seconds shorter.

With the warm weather in June and July, almost everything seems to be at least two weeks ahead of schedule. Salmonberries, blueberries, and nagoonberries are already ripe. Lupines are in seed, fireweed blossoms are opening closer and closer to the top. Everything is green, green, green.

I heard VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS saying what may have been good-bye yesterday afternoon. About 40 circled over my neighborhood, calling to each other in an urgent tone. Something important was definitely happening, and now it seems like they are gone. Poof! Bon voyage!

I haven’t seen any RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS at my feeder since the crazy activity and fireworks on the Fourth of July. Perhaps they have departed as well. Other reports would be of interest.

A ROBIN family with two spotty fledglings, and a cheeky young STELLER’S JAY enjoy my birdbath in this warm weather. Trickling water is irresistible. The ripening Elderberries are also a big attractant.

I heard a bonus RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET singing this afternoon, and a ROBIN and a VARIED THRUSH. Two PACIFIC WRENS sang the news about their territories along the Mt Marathon mountainside. Most birds are now silent, so these were a treat.

The resident TRUMPETER SWAN family is thriving at the mile one Nash Road wetlands. Sometimes they are completely hidden at the back, and sometimes they are right next to the road; it’s just luck to see them. Their white baby feathers are mostly gone and now they are sleek, gray juveniles with ever longer necks and wings.

At the tidelands, about 50 peeps, including at least one SEMI-PALMATED SANDPIPER, many LEAST SANDPIPERS, and a sprinkling of WESTERNS fed industriously along the shore. Upon approach, the Least peeps hunkered down and became as one with the surroundings like inconspicuous little rocks. They are masters of camouflage in their beach habitat.

Three SEMIPALMATED PLOVER chicks ran about like tennis balls on stilts, taught or by instinct to run like mad far away while the parent feigns distress. 

Fledgling SONG SPARROWS hopped and fluttered with one little tail feather sprouting out like Dr. Seuss’ Gertrude McFuzz. Invisible young SAVANNAH SPARROWS, hidden in the sedges, grasses, and lupines, chipped incessantly for food delivery from the harried parents. It’s amazing how they can find crane flies, moths, and other insects so quickly, and hold on to them while collecting even more.

A very protective pair of GREATER YELLOWLEGS guarded its family, bravely chasing off even the mighty BALD EAGLE flying past. Three juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS joined the peeps to feed themselves, apparently the product of an earlier hatch.

The ARCTIC TERNS, of course, are absent since the illegal and tragic egging in May. I have not seen any MEW GULL chicks yet, and wonder if any survived. A few ducks, a MALLARD and PINTAIL, dabbled with their ducklings in the pond, but it’s sadly quiet.

I talked to two visiting birders at Exit Glacier on Thursday afternoon. They had hiked up to the Cliffs on the Harding Icefield Trail and saw and heard an impressive number of species, including GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES, a possible TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE, and GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS. Apparently many birds were still singing higher up.

They recommended an interesting solution for bird strikes that consists of 1/8th inch nylon parachute cords installed on the outside of the window, spaced 4.25” apart. It is apparently very effective, and as the cords are not attached at the bottom, it is easy to wash the windows. Check it out at

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

1 comment:

  1. When I lived in Northern Arizona, The 4th of July was when Rufous Hummingbirds first showed up at my feeder. Males arrived, and left first, then females and juveniles. They were all gone by the first of October.