Thursday, October 27 2016 Cedar Waxwing and Anna’s

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:09 am, sunset 6:12 pm for a total day light of 9 hours and 3 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 16 seconds shorter.

It felt chilly this morning, but was just above freezing at 34º. A gray lid of clouds advanced over town but then retreated by mid-afternoon, allowing the golden sunlight to warm things up to a balmy 46º. The wind remained calm in most areas, which made a tremendous difference. Chance of rain and snow showers for the next week.

Yesterday, the hummer showed up at 9 am during a splendid pink sunrise. Yea! He survived another night! He was steady but flighty for about 30 minutes, refueling mid-air instead of perching. Then I didn’t see him for the rest of the day whenever I was home, nor at the usual end-of-the-day time slot from 5:45 to 6:30 pm when he tanks up for the night.

I contacted my friend by the Lagoon who saw an Anna’s at her feeder from 11:00 to about 11:45 am. She did not see him in the evening either. But maybe we are sharing the same hummer when it is not too cold or windy to travel. My other neighbor a block away had a hummer on Monday, unknown gender, and Ava still has her juvenile male. Interesting!

On the walk around the block, I enjoyed watching at least 12 VARIED THRUSHES feeding in the Mt Ash trees along my street, 5 JUNCOS gleaning around alders, heard several PACIFIC WRENS scolding and one singing, and saw PINE GROSBEAKS whistling from spruce tips. It was another great start to a new day.

Mid-afternoon, I finally found the male HOODED MERGANSER at the Stash and Store Pond, mile 3.5. By the time I turned around, he had vanished, leaving behind 2 COMMON MERGANSERS. He sure looked exactly like the beautiful male that has been overwintering here for the past several years.

While checking the feeder after “hummer bedtime”, I noticed that the yellow “flowers” on the new feeder were slowly dripping when the 60- watt bulb was shining up from beneath, even at 8” away. Maybe the heat loosened them too much. Now I know the first feeder was not defective. I think a saucer type feeder would be ideal for heating from below, but I can’t seem to find mine. Darn!

As the Anna’s didn’t really seem to like the lamp underneath, I moved it back to the side. I also adjusted the timer to come on for 30 minutes every couple hours during the night to make sure the solution did not get too cold. The temperatures have really warmed up since last week, so this may not be important, but it seemed worthwhile. I also removed the sock cozy to better monitor the sugar solution level.

Just at dusk, 7 ROBINS perched quietly in the neighbor’s cottonwood tree, silhouetted against the sky, and 4 VARIED THRUSHES sat in my Mt Ash. I thought I heard a WAXWING, but it was too dim to see. The “chirring” was a lovely bookend to the day.

This morning, I watched expectantly, full of hope and a bit of dread. 9 am and dawn. YES! So exciting! Again, he was flighty, but oddly, he was very interested in the red cap on the top of the feeder. He hovered at the bottom edge of the cap, and I couldn’t see what was so enticing. Were tiny insects stuck in some sugar water that collected there? Whatever it was, it was more interesting than the actual sugar water.

Below him, 4 VARIED THRUSHES hopped along, then 5 ROBINS, a PACIFIC WREN, and a SONG SPARROW. Busy dawn!

Mid-morning, I spent an hour or so outside, monitoring the hummer and the helistop across the street. A friend had been walking his dog at the airport in the dark at 6:45 am and surprised a brown bear sow with two cubs that was hunting voles. In an instant, she was upon him, and after a brief mauling to neutralize the perceived threat, left. He was able to call for help on his cell, and was taken to the local emergency room.

While I was waiting  to watch the transfer to the helicopter, the hummer sang his happy, buzzy song from the spruce tree. That made me smile! A PACIFIC WREN hopped up on the deck railing, checking me out. So little!

Then, I distinctly heard that Waxwing again. Yes! There it was sitting in a tangle of cottonwood branches. I watched and eventually it flew to another tangle of Mt Ash branches. At least the light was better and I was able to get some diagnostic photos of a juvenile CEDAR WAXWING. Two rare birds in my yard today!

The medevac helicopter arrived at 10:47 am to deliver him to the Anchorage hospital for further care. He waved at me as they trundled him to the helo. He’s a very brave and lucky man!

The day was bright and beautiful, not only for all the gifts I received, but because my dear friend was still in it. I look forward to his swift and complete recovery, and return home. Until then, there’s always that amazing Anna’s to anticipate at dawn.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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