North American Birds

VOLUME 69 NO3 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/778845

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V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R S 3 / 4 467 Aleutians early in the season, starting with the earliest, one at Shemya 29 Apr, followed by a peak of 10 on 7 May and a late bird through 26 May (DS). Adak birders located 2-3 Smews 14-28 May (FH, BH). While the season's 7 Arctic Loons from Gambell seemed below normal there, decent reports came in from elsewhere. A lone bird at St. Paul Island 31 May (St. Paul Tour) rep - resented the tenth for the Pribilofs, while up to 3 were counted around Adak Island, where casual, 19-27 May (FH, BH), and another one to 3 hung around just offshore at Shemya 3-18 May (DS). The 25 Yellow-billed Loons noted from the ferry in Icy Strait 6 May (GBV, MWS, BBP) follow last spring's similar count from Glacier Bay and suggest this area of n. South - east is an important staging location for north- bound migrants moving toward High Arctic breeding areas. Two of the three Pied-billed Grebe reports in Southeast were early season records of likely wintering individuals, while the third, a single at Juneau 12-15 May (MWS et al.), was noteworthy as a migrant. Two imm. Short-tailed Albatrosses were seen 29 May off Cape St. Elias (PEL), where the species is rare but increasingly regular, mostly in the summer months. A Mottled Petrel was quite unusual some 100 km w. of the Fairweather Grounds in n. Southeast 28 May (PEL). Although the species is uncommon offshore in the e. North Pacific May through Oct, its status in the e. Gulf of Alaska is poorly known. After winter - ing in the Ketchikan area in above-average numbers, Brandt's Cormorants also lingered very late into the spring: there were many May sightings, including a high count of 6 on 9 May, and one through 20 May tied the local latest date (SCH). A dark-morph Harlan's Hawk carrying nest materials in Gustavus 27 Mar (NKD) was on the early end of nesting activity, even for South - east. This Interior nesting subspecies is a rare migrant and casual breeder at the periphery of its range in mainland n. Southeast, where it in - tergrades with other subspecies. Single Soras were at Juneau 10 & 16-25 May (GSB, PAR, BAA) and at Gustavus 14-19 May (NKD, BBP). rare, and another at Shemya Island 6 May (DS). At Adak, a single Tun - dra Bean-Goose hung around 18-21 May, then 3 were together there 22- 23 May and one remained until 24 May (FH, BH). Another Tundra was described at St. Paul Island 21- 27 May (St. Paul Tour). Photographic documenta - tion of all bean-geese is important given the dif - ficulty in identification. Three Greater White-front - ed Geese near Gustavus were extremely early 7 Apr (NKD). The species made an impressive push through Southeast, starting 20 Apr with the best counts of 400 near Juneau (GBV), 550 at Gustavus (NKD), and 2350 off Ketchikan the next day (SCH). Two Ross's Goose accounts came in, one each from Gustavus 14 May (BBP, NKD), which was a second local record, and from the North Slope near Kuparuk 27 May (IH), where the species is nearly annual, most - ly as scattered singles. MacIntosh described a banner year for Aleutian Cackling Geese at Ko - diak on their way farther w. 17-21 May, with 286 birds estimated in small groups (RAM). Still very rare in the Aleutians, at least one pair of Falcated Ducks hung around Shemya ponds 3-26 May (DS), the season's only report. Eurasian Wigeons were widely reported across Southeast this season, where northbound birds are rare but annual, with ones and twos found at four sites from 8 Apr through 24 May (m.ob.). Kodiak produced another Eurasian Teal 14 Apr (ph. RAM); a few have been found there in the past few decades. Noteworthy Aythya reports included birds from both east and west. The wintering Ring-necked Duck at Unalaska remained into Jun (SG); on the same lake, a male, then a female Tufted Duck were documented 12-23 Mar and 1 May, respective - ly (ph. SG). Another female Tufted was at Ko- diak 21 Mar (ph. RAM). These Tufteds e. of the species' normal winter and migrant areas in the cen. and w. Aleutians may represent individu - als that had wintered in South-coastal areas moving westward in spring. Eighteen Tufted Ducks was the season's high count at Shem - ya 11 May (DS). Two Lesser Scaup reported at Adak 26 May (FH, BH) added to the very few Aleutian spring reports. A Lesser Scaup on 13 May and a pair there 26-28 May were quite rare for St. Paul Island (St. Paul Tour). The female Steller's Eider near Anchorage 23 May (PS, m.ob.) added to the few reports there and was certainly moving northward from a Gulf coastal winter site. The male Barrow's Goldeneye at St. Paul Island 13-31 May (St. Paul Tour) made the Pribilofs' elev - enth record. Smews were prominent in the Thede Tobish –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– SPRING –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– F ollowing an early break-up season from an already mild, relatively low-snow winter, this spring produced continuing warm trends across the season. No doubt abet - ted by well-above-average sea surface tempera- tures in the Gulf of Alaska and relatively little storm activity, this season produced one of the earliest and warmest springs in years. Much of Southeast experienced record to near-record warm temperatures and, for the second half of the season, very dry conditions. Several low- pressure systems contributed to subsequent fallouts of Asian species in the Aleutians and Bering Sea islands, but early migrants were the main story across the Region this season. The overall early influx of migrants included many notable new arrival dates across most of the southern half of the Region. Observers also found a few significant waterbird concentra - tions beyond Southeast sites. With the above- average showing of semi-hardy species from the winter season, birders contributed many surprising last reports and departure dates. Most of these are yard birds that are dependent on feeders for survival but that mostly had left those sources by mid-March. One can only guess that these birds, which typically winter far to the south, respond to changing light and temperature cues and get the urge to move. WATERFOWL THROUGH RAILS Waterfowl highlights seemed subpar, likely in part because of mild conditions and wide open habitats early from Mar onward. A few early season storms brought decent numbers of Asian waterfowl to the periphery of the Region. Bean-geese showed well this spring, including a lone Taiga Bean-Goose at Gambell 31 May (Wings, Wilderness Bird Tours), where very Alaska These classic Tundra Bean-Geese were part of a push of the species at Adak Island, Alaska in spring 2015 (here 22 May). Photograph by Franklin Haas.

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