Wednesday, April 17, 2024 Cranes!

Seward, Alaska


Sunrise 6:33 am, sunset 9:22 pm, for a total day length of 14 hours and 48 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 24 seconds longer.


April weather has been mostly abysmal, cold, snowy, wet and windy just like winter but with more daylight. Even the few sunny days were cold and windy. Temps today ranged from an overnight low of 26 with a high of 38, wind ESE 3-15 mph with gusts to 35, and a chance of snow showers. There is hope for slightly warmer temps this week, and more rain to melt away the remaining considerable amount of snow.


On my walk around the block last night in the dusky-dark tail end of civil twilight at 10 pm, I heard a familiar bugling cry that stopped me dead in my tracks. Scanning through the scudding clouds, I finally found a magnificent, lop-sided V of about 200 SANDHILL CRANES, flying high along the mountains, heading north. They didn’t vocalize much, just a “Keep going?”, “Roger that!” but even the brief conversations sent a thrill through me. Spring on the wings of Cranes!


Many ducks arrived overnight as well. The mostly thawed pond at the head of the bay and tidelands were teeming with hungry MALLARDS, NORTHERN PINTAILS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, GADWALL, and AMERICAN WIGEON. Three strikingly handsome drake EURASIAN WIGEON with dark rufous heads and buffy foreheads paddled about, possibly with their hens, but it was hard to differentiate them from the Americans.


Two WILSON’S SNIPE flushed from the sodden vegetation, perfectly camouflaged, and dashed away with surprising speed into the distance.


A female NORTHERN HARRIER hunted for voles; yesterday I watched a male and female flying a circuit around the snow-free fields.


A RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD was reported today at Mile 7. I washed my hummer feeder and made a batch of sugar water: 2 cups boiled water plus ½ cup granulated sugar, no food coloring. As soon as it’s cool, I’ll swap out the sunflower seed feeder. 


Though the RED CROSSBILLS, occasional WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, and loads of PINE SISKINS have been feeding voraciously, the action seems to finally be tapering off today. It’s time to clean up the mess of hulls and lost seeds before the bears emerge, and focus on Spring.


Happy Birding!

Carol Griswold 

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter



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