Monday, October 17, 2016 Siskins, Harrier, and Hummer

Seward, Alaska

It blew and stormed all night, leaving about a ½” of snow in town, 3-4” out of town, and icy roads. The overnight low was 31º, with scattered squalls of snow then rain as the temp bounced up and down all day to an eventual high of 40º. The dark, snow-filled clouds turned noon into twilight.

New this morning, along with the snow, were about 60 PINE SISKINS mobbing the spruce cones at the tops of the trees. I heard a VARIED THRUSH, and two PACIFIC WRENS scolding.

Around noon in a snow squall at the head of the bay, I watched a RAVEN, calling as it flew. They are always up to something, just like the Magpies. Suddenly, a NORTHERN HARRIER appeared out of the snow, its white rump resembling a snow patch. The larger Raven gave chase, but the Harrier turned the tables, and after a brief skirmish involving a mid-air collision followed by another chase, the Raven broke off, croaking. The Harrier continued to fly through the thick snowfall, hunting for voles in the beach rye grass. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a Northern Harrier here; this is a very late migrator.

When I returned home at 4:15 pm, I found a note that the hummer was seen feeding at 1:40 pm! What a tough little guy to survive the wind, rain, and snow over the past 24 hours; torpor wins! I plucked a lamp from my houseplants and rigged it up outside by the feeder to provide a little warmth. Then I cut a small spruce bough to hang above it for possible shelter.

Not 5 minutes after putting away the ladder, there he was! A fine male ANNA’S! I was so pleased that he was not frightened away by the sudden appearance of the light and branches. I’ll keep it going, and maybe add a heat lamp a la Keys, (thanks for the tip!) if he is still here when it gets really cold. I know he’s a goner, but it sure is incredible to see a hummer this time of year. Ava reported her male Anna’s is still there too, two late records for Seward.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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