North American Birds

VOLUME 69 NO2 2016

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

Issue link: http://nab.aba.org/i/705084

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V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R 2 281 A L A S K A are not unusual as late lingerers in the s. half of the Region through Nov but are otherwise rare. In Southeast, where rare in winter, single Mountain Bluebirds were located at Ketchikan 18 Dec–3 Jan (ph. JHL, GZ et al.), Sitka 7 Dec+ (ph. MRG), and Gustavus 28 Dec (JSO, KSO). The latter two established first local winter sea - son records. The season's latest Hermit Thrushes were at Ketchikan through 6 Dec (SCH) and at Sitka 29 Dec–9 Jan (MRG, EVP). The only no - table American Robin report was a waif well w. of known regular winter sites, at Bethel 17 Dec (KM). A long-staying Northern Mockingbird at Sitka was last noted 3 Jan (fide MRG); there are now more than 20 Alaska records of mocking - birds. American Pipits had an above-average winter presence, with a single on the Homer Spit 18 Jan (AJL), where casual at this season, a flock of 15 at Wrangell 1-2 Dec (BHD), and one at Sitka 11 Dec+ (m.ob.). One or 2 in Dec are the norm in most winters. Three warbler spe - cies were recorded this winter, an above-average showing. Two Orange-crowned Warblers, first noted in fall at Unalaska, remained in the area through Dec and one hung on through the end of the period (ph. SG). These are the first winter records for the Aleutians, where the species is casual. A late Orange-crowned was at Sitka 17- 19 Dec (ph. MRG), and 2 hung around Juneau 28 Dec–6 Jan (ACC) and 7 Dec–10 Feb (GBV et al.). There are about a dozen true winter season records for the state. Extralimital Townsend's Warblers lingered at unusual sites, one each at Unalaska's productive Strawberry Hill spruce grove 28-30 Dec (SG), where casual in fall, and at Kodiak 1 Jan–1 Feb (ph. RAM, WED), where also casual. Wilson's Warblers were at Homer 12 Dec (MK), Kodiak 1 Dec (RAM, MAM), and again at Kodiak 10 Jan–6 Feb (ph. RMC). A male Spotted Towhee first encountered at Thorne Bay on Prince of Wales Island 30 Nov remained there through 6 Feb (ph. JFB); nine of the now 14 Alaska records come from the Juneau area in fall and winter. It was a banner winter for Chipping Sparrow, a species typically absent from the Region in winter. Exceptionally rare for South-central Alaska was one at Anchor - age in Nov that resurfaced 25 Jan–16 Feb (EF, at a Wrangell feeder 1-31 Dec (ph. BHD, ph. JDL, JWM). Alaska's two prior records are from fall in Southeast. A Western Screech-Owl was found on the Seward C.B.C. 27 Dec (m.ob.), where occasional on late winter territories at the w. end of the species' range. Presumably the same Long-eared Owl reported from Nov from the Juneau golf course was relocated 14 Dec (ph. DKM, ph. MWS, GBV, LAL et al.), where it remained through 9 Jan. This marks the Re - gion's eleventh or twelfth record; most records are from fall in Southeast. A Short-eared Owl at Kodiak 16 Jan (RAM) made the season's lone notable report. Anna's Hummingbirds contin - ued the recent trend of overwintering in small numbers in Southeast. More significant was a lone male at a Cordova feeder 20 Dec+ (MB, ph. AJL). On 8 Jan, Goff checked a Rufous Hum - mingbird report from a Sitka feeder and was shocked to find an ad. male (ph. MRG), which represented Alaska's first true winter record. Al - though there are single documented records of Rufous in Nov and Dec, most winter reports of Rufous after Oct turn out to be Anna's, which have increased dramatically in Southeast in the past five years. Single Red-breasted Sapsuckers at Seward 5-6 Dec GK, CT, KT, EY) and at Gus - tavus 4 & 7 Feb (ph. NKD, PB) were the most notable of the scattered few winter reports. The season's only Northern Flicker observations came from unusual localities, including one on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus 20 Dec (ph. JP), a first Interior winter find, and another around w. Anchorage neighborhoods 6 Dec–mid Jan (PS, NW, LF et al.). An American Kestrel spent the season at Juneau (ph. MWS, m.ob.), and another found at Sitka 8 Jan (PHN) was present there for several weeks. The species is casual in winter in Southeast. PASSERINES Still recognized as a casual winter visitor, 4 Horned Larks were located at Gustavus 15 Dec, with 2 there 22 Jan and 3 on 20 Feb (NKD), and a single spent the full season at Sitka (m.ob.). Among the several resident passerines found to be finally rebounding at Kodiak from a devas - tating cold winter of 2011-2012, Black-capped Chickadees seemed most impressive. The 14 Dec C.B.C. tally of 500 far exceeded the area's 42-year previous high count of 358. C.B.C. counts there also documented significant re - bounds in Pacific Wren and Golden-crowned Kinglet. The 14 Dec Palmer C.B.C. established a record-high count of 62 Red-breasted Nut - hatches (RW). The species reaches its n. limits in the Matanuska Valley s. of the Talkeetna Moun - tains foothills. Up to 10 Ruby-crowned King- lets scattered around the Kodiak road system mostly through early Jan (RAM) was considered a strong winter showing there. Ruby-crowneds around Kodiak 21 Dec (RAM) and a new winter peak count of 27 at Bartlett Cove 14 Dec (SLN, GPS). Following the Nov accounts from Peters - burg and Wrangell, a single Cattle Egret on the Mainland near Wrangell 30 Dec (DC, fide BHD) could have been one of those individuals. The Palmer area's C.B.C. produced a record-high 170 Bald Eagles 14 Dec (RW). This count circle is situated near the n. extreme of the species' winter distribution where there are several late salmon runs and occasionally large numbers of road-killed moose. Single Northern Harriers at Unalaska 28-30 Dec (ph. SG) and in Southeast at Gustavus from fall through 15 Feb (NKD) were the season's only reports. Three or more Sharp-shinned Hawks hung around Unalaska, where very rare, all season (SG). An imm. Har - lan's Hawk spent the season through 19 Feb at Juneau (GBV, m.ob.). Red-tailed Hawks are rare winter visitors in Southeast, where there are only three prior winter sightings for Harlan's. Ameri - can Coot reports included singles at Homer 5-23 Dec (MR, ph, AJL), where previously unrecord - ed after Oct, at Sitka all season (MRG, MLW), and at Ketchikan (m.ob.). Given the mild season, it was a surprisingly uneventful winter for lingering shorebirds. Most significant was a wintering Killdeer at Seward 26 Dec–21 Feb (EF, AB, m.ob.), casual at this season from North Gulf sites, 2 Spot - ted Sandpipers at Sitka 13 Dec, one of which stayed through the season (RC, m.ob.), and a hardy Greater Yellowlegs in Kodiak's Old Har - bor 7 Feb (ph. RB), which was certainly the same bird noted in late Nov there. Eurasian Collared-Doves appear to be in - creasing at some Southeast sites, illustrated by high counts of 10 at Haines 31 Jan (MD), 28 at Gustavus 11 Dec (NKD), and 21 at a Yakutat feeder 3-4 Jan (ph. GI). More signifi - cant were 1-2 in Delta Junction in the Interior 26 Dec (CB) and 18 Jan (DC), where 1-2 had been seen earlier in the year. One of the win - ter's rarest birds was a White-winged Dove This Long-eared Owl was likely the same bird originally ob- served in November 2014 at the Juneau golf course. The bird was relocated 14 (here 19) December and stayed through 9 January 2015. All but one of Alaska's dozen records are from the Southeast. Photograph by M. W. Schwan. This adult male Rufous Hummingbird was first identified at a feeder 8 January 2015 in Sitka, Alaska, furnishing the first true midwinter record for the state, through there are two prior post-October records, both from the Southeast. Photograph by Matt R. Goff.

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