Tuesday, August 23, 2016 Anna's and Rufous Hummingbirds

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 6:32 am, sunset 9:26 pm, for a total daylight of 14 hours and 53 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 21 seconds shorter. Today's high was 57º with a mild south wind.

August may go down as the wettest ever with torrential rains, flood advisories, and only 2 sunny days so far. The forecast, however, calls for sun for the last 5 days of this month, with highs reaching 68º, (can that be?) so we shall see!

Today was cloudy and windy but fortunately the rain mostly held off. It was a pleasure to watch two very active HUMMINGBIRDS at Ava’s Place. A RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD sipped on the nectar of the bright nasturtiums sheltered under the porch, and fed at the nearby feeders.

Or tried to feed. The male ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD has adopted Ava’s Place over this past week, and now feels very territorial about it. Only slightly larger than the Rufous, he dominated the yard, driving away the Rufous Hummer, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS, and PINE SISKINS. I even saw the tiny but fearless hummer chase after a giant HAIRY WOODPECKER, but I suspect it was leaving anyway.

Afterwards, he sat on a branch, and preened, while still alertly watching for invaders, obviously quite satisfied with himself and his world. It was so interesting to see that looonnnng bill try to reach higher and higher up, his neck stretching up as well. When it just proved too long, he used his minute foot to reach around his head. It was fun to actually see his four toes, three in front, one behind. Hummingbird feet are so hard to see, some people believed they didn't have any!

At times, the Anna’s appeared drab and dark, until he shifted and the sun burst forth in spectacular day-glow colors from his head and throat. The blazing feathers looked like polished metallic scales. On, off, on, off. It was mesmerizing to watch.

Quite content, he then sat and sang in a thin, slightly buzzy voice. I felt so honored to be in the audience. It will be interesting to see how long he stays, and if he becomes another Anna’s to try to overwinter. Meanwhile, what a treat to watch this fearless wonder!

Other birds of note today:
A GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW and a very young SONG SPARROW popped up on Ava’s porch to pick through the sunflower seeds dropped by other birds.

Resident TRUMPETER SWAN family of 9 feeding at Nash Rd wetland
2-3 VARIED THRUSHES singing like a teakettle this morning
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK along Lowell Point Road
RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, a few, still along the shore between the Founders’ Monument and Lowell Point

And this past week:
August 18: One each SNIPE, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, MERLIN, and a HORNED GREBE changing to winter plumage, and several SAVANNAH SPARROWS at the tidelands. Three reports in town of hummingbirds, possibly Anna’s. One reporter noted that her Rufous Hummingbirds are always gone by July 9th.

August 20: LINCOLN’S SPARROW at tidelands. 11:30 pm on a clear night (one of two so far in August) a GREAT HORNED OWL softly hooted from Mt Marathon mountainside, likely tricked by the fall photoperiod.

August 21: six DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS roosted on the pilings across from B Street, the most I’ve seen this fall. Three GREATER YELLOWLEGS, and two GREAT BLUE HERONS at the tidelands.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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