Sunday, December 8, 2019 Winter? Birds

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:47 am, sunset 3:54 pm for a total daylength of 6 hours and 6 minutes. Tomorrow will be 2 minutes and 17 seconds shorter. 

After a short week of seasonal temperatures in the mid-20s topped by a skim of real-on-the-ground snow, the thermometer shot up to 40 F, the snow and the Lagoon ice melted. The first of several big storms blew in with a strong south wind and heavy rain. Forecast for the next few days is more winter storms with temps to 45ยบ, ESE wind at 20-30 mph, and heavy rain, starting this evening.

With that in mind, this morning was a huge surprise: calm with clear skies (except for the clouds lurking to the south)! As I walked just after dawn, a PACIFIC WREN burst into song, albeit about half the length of a full song, but beautiful and unexpected. Another Wren piped up; seems like a lot of Wrens are still here so far.

Encouraged by the wan but uplifting sunshine, I headed to Ava’s where I had seen 2 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, an AMERICAN TREE SPARROW and two RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS on December 5. Two PINE GROSBEAKS had carefully juiced the red Mt Ash Berries, discarding the pulp, while the Waxwings tossed down whole black Mayday Tree berries.

I didn’t see the Tree Sparrow or Waxwings today, but one or two Kinglets zipped in to feed on the freshly resupplied suet. They are tiny, but quick as a warbler and chatty as an Anna’s Hummingbird; fun to watch and hard to photograph.

Two DOWNY WOODPECKERS, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, and BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES also feasted on the suet.  DARK-EYED JUNCOS hopped about on the ground gleaning seeds. A flock of about 50 PINE SISKINS flew in to feed on nearby alder seeds and an immature BALD EAGLE soared overhead. It’s always fun to see what’s at Ava’s Place.

Also this past week during the cold snap and brief snow, I counted 15 TRUMPETER SWANS, including the 3 cygnets of the resident Swan family at the head of the bay. What an amazing sound and sight! 

In town, a feeder-Mt Ash combo attracted 30+ ROBINS and one male VARIED THRUSH as bright as a pumpkin. 

A large flock of about 20 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS dined on successive spruce tree cones, and about 20 PINE GROSBEAKS visited Mt Ashes. So great to hear their sweet calls as they fed and flew. About 30 PINE SISKINS wheeled and swarmed like bees high above, scoping for feeders and alders.

As the familiar sound of rain returns, it will be interesting to see if any unusual birds blow in during these next winter storms like the SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER that flew over to Aaron Lang and landed at Lowell Point last weekend. Delivered!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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