Monday, January 15, 2018 Chickadee Secret

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:47 am, sunset 4:29 pm for a total day length of 6 hours and 42 minutes.
Tomorrow will be 3 minutes and 53 seconds longer.

Spring-like temperatures and rain conspired to wipe out the last vestiges of snow these past several days, except for tiny remnant patches. Stubborn ice, however remains on streets and trails. After a week of clouds and precip, the sky cleared last night and Seward rejoiced in a warm, sunny day today with a high of 37 F.

100% chance of rain for Tuesday and most of Wednesday with winds to 13 mph. Keep those feeders filled; the birds really appreciate the fuel!

I only added 5 species to my 2018 list: a handsome male VARIED THRUSH,  one RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, a HAIRY WOODPECKER, Ava’s RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, still hanging in there, and one SHARP-SHINNED HAWK for a total of 43 species.

Yet, it was a thrill when first 3, then 5, then another 5, and more and more ROBINS for a total of 21 flew directly overhead on the dawn walk on Monday, January 8. On Wednesday, 13 Robins packed into a narrow strip of exposed grass along the sidewalk leading to the Post Office. COMMON REDPOLLS frisked the nearby alder cones for tiny seeds. Busy patrons walked past, apparently not even aware of this delightful sight.

On Friday and Saturday, while 100 mph winds pummeled the Barren Islands and a gigantic low roared across the Gulf of Alaska, Seward was spared the wind, protected by the surrounding mountains and barrier islands. BARROW’S GOLDENEYES and HARLEQUIN DUCKS rode the surf, curling and breaking along the shore, neatly diving at the last second as the frothing curl cascaded overhead.

A birder reported seeing the drake HOODED MERGANSER at Stash and Store Pond yesterday. Ava reported FOURTEEN TRUMPETER SWANS, including TWO pairs of adults with two cygnets (a new winter record) at a pond at the head of the bay today. Wow! My car is at the shop, otherwise I would have raced over to see that!

But the best bird experience was totally unexpected. Around 5 pm on Tuesday, just when twilight was seriously turning to night, I happened to be on the back deck. A Chickadee (Black-capped or Chestnut-backed, too dark to tell for sure) popped up and scolded first from the Mt Ash, then over by the elderberry bush. I wondered what was the matter? Then suddenly, the tiny bird flew up and into the empty swallow nest box mounted on a post at the end of the deck. A roosting box! How special! And I realized the problem was me! Oops!

The next evening, I made sure to be near the deck, but not too close before 5 pm. Sure enough, at 4:57 pm, here came the little sprite, almost a silhouette, and without any fanfare, zipped into the nest box. A minute later, another Chickadee materialized and it too, zipped into the box. I was so excited and pleased to think of these two little puffs keeping each other warm, side by side in the repurposed nest box.

The bigger mystery remains of where all the other birds sleep, but at least I figured out the secret of two!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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