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.

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Page 158 of 211

V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R S 3 / 4 469 A L A S K A M. L. Ward, D. Welk, Wings (J. L. Dunn et al.), N. Warnock, J. & H. West, M. van der Zwee. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– SUMMER –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– F ollowing a mild and early spring season, summer 2015 generated above-average high temperatures with stable conditions through the period. Many local communities broke records for total numbers of summer days over 70º F. The fire season was prolific and ranked third highest in fires and acres burned in the state's history. Indeed, wood - peckers had moved into the large burn north of Wasilla by August. Mild, storm-free weather seemingly supported early and successful nest - ing conditions, and passerine singing seemed to fall off early. Southbound shorebird migrants trickled down on schedule but with few no - table concentrations. Although the Gulf of Alaska continued to show above-average sea surface temperatures, interesting seabirds were not reported this season. WATERFOWL THROUGH GULLS Late were single Tundra Bean-Geese at St. Paul Island 7-8 & 10-13 Jun (St. Paul Tour). Save for the usual scattered reports of late migrant geese and rarer Aythya in Southeast, it was oth - erwise a quiet summer for waterfowl. A female Barrow's Goldeneye with young at Ratz Pass on Prince of Wales Island 14 Jun (ph. KRL) pro - vided a first nest record for that large offshore island in Southeast. The species has only re - cently been documented breeding in Southeast from Revillagigedo and Mitkof Island. Very rare for the Bering Sea was a Barrow's Gold - eneye that spent the entire season at St. Paul Island (St. Paul Tour). The Pribilofs' tenth Arctic Loon was at St. Paul Island 31 May–19 Jun (St. Paul Tour). Long considered overdue for inland South- central Alaska, an ad. Yellow-billed Loon flew by Anchorage's Point Woronzof 18 Jun (EF), 2 unusual Dark-eyed Juncos, an early bird 23 May (BM) and an extralimital oreganus type de - scribed from 5 Jun (BL). A male Bobolink at Ketchikan 22 May (ph. JHL, AWP, SCH) provided the earliest of the now five Alaska records. Two separate Yellow- headed Blackbirds showed synchronously this spring in Southeast, including males at Ketchikan 21 May (ph. DW) and offshore at Thorne Bay on Prince of Wales Island 22 May (fide AWP). Although the species breeds in British Columbia, there are just 23 prior state records. Quite early for the nw. coast, where very rare, and beyond its normal taiga range was a female Rusty Blackbird at Shishmaref 27 Apr (KS). Another waif female Rusty reached Unalaska 27-30 Mar (ph. SG), a first confirmed for the Aleutian chain following a report from 17 Mar 1991 at Adak. The final reports of An - chorage's dynamic Purple Finch and Cassin's Finch duo that spent most of the winter to - gether at a downtown feeder came 15 Apr (LB) and 1 Apr (RP), respectively. Unalaska's long- staying Eurasian Siskin was last reported in its favored spruce perches 1 May (SG). One of the seasons few strong storms dropped an Orien - tal Greenfinch at Shemya Island 26 May (DS); the species continues to be found occasionally usually in late May in the w. Aleutians. As with many of the rarer Asian species, reports have decreased with the end of Attu birding. Three Evening Grosbeaks that wintered around Ket - chikan were last observed 13 Apr (JW, HW). Hawfinches blanketed the cen.-w. Aleutians this season, highlighted by one at Atka 14 May (ph. SH) and peak counts of 8 each at Shemya Island 23 May (DS) and Adak 14-25 May (FH, BH). Another Hawfinch was found on St. Paul Island 29 May (St. Paul Tour). Observers: B. A. Agler, T. Allard, J. F. Baichtal, G. S. Baluss, L. Barber, R. & S. Berns, A. Bow - man, M. Burcham, L. K. & T. A. Burke, R. M. Corcoran, A. C. Courtney, D. Crowson, L. H. DeCicco , B. H. Demerjian, W. E. Donaldson, N. K. Drumheller, J. L. Dunn, D. D. Gibson, E. Fernandez, C. E. Furbish, C. P. F. Goff, M. R. Goff, S. Golodoff, C. A. Griswold, F. Haas, B. Haas, N. R. Hajdukovich, S. Hall, S. C. Heinl (Southeast), I. Helmericks, C. Irrigoo, W. Keys, J. F. Koerner, A. J. Lang (South-coastal Alaska), B. Legasse, P. E. Lehman, J. D. Levison, J. H. Lewis, R. A. MacIntosh, D. K. MacPhail, C. Mannix, B. Moe, W. Moorhead, P. H. Norwood, B. B. Paige, L. Rizzuto-Phillips, A. W. Piston (Southeast), R. Prentki, K. M. Ripley, P. A. Rose, C. L. Ross, C. Sartor, R. L. Scher, S. Schuette, P. Scully, M. K, Schwan, S. K. Shaw, D. Shirley, D. W. Sonneborn, St. Paul Tour (S. Schuette et al.), K. Stenak, T. Stevenson, K. Stolzfus, G. P. Streveler, C. P. Suzie, T. Tobish, G. B. van Vliet, Red-eyed Vireo at Ketchikan 31 May (ph. SCH, ph. JHL), that site's third ever and a new early arrival record for the Region. High counts of 50 Black-billed Magpies at Gustavus 18 Mar (NKD) and 35 near Haines 27 Mar (ACC) typi - fied the species' late winter departure sequence in n. Southeast, where they do not nest. A mag - pie at Wrangell 16 Mar (CLR, WM) was casual there. An early and out-of-range Barn Swal - low showed at Anchorage 17 May (RP), where there are occasional spring sightings. Given the several storms that transited the Aleutians- Bering Sea zone, it was surprising that only one Siberian Rubythroat was reported, at St. Paul Island 29-30 May (St. Paul Tour). Of the typi - cal scattered few Mountain Bluebird migrants from Southeast, high numbers were gener - ated at Skagway, with peak counts of 18 and 33 birds from 11 & 24 Apr, respectively (TA, CEF). A male Mountain Bluebird up the Glenn Hwy. near Sheep Mountain 12 May (HKD) fur - nished one of few South-coastal spring records. Very early and rare offshore was the Swainson's Thrush at Gambell 24 May (ph. CI), that out - post's sixth ever. While the Hermit Thrush at Ketchikan 13 Apr (AWP, SCH) established a new local record arrival by three days, at least one at Kodiak 9-11 Mar (WED, ph. RAM) was certainly a bird that had wintered in the Region. The season's only Eyebrowed Thrush reports included singles at Adak 26-27 May (FH, BH) and St. Paul Island 24-31 May (St. Paul Tour). The Varied Thrush at Gambell 2-10 May (CI) was probably record early. A Gray Catbird at Gustavus 19-20 May (ph. BBP, NKD) became the earliest of the now 10 or so Alaska reports, all of which have fallen between Jun and Oct. It was an off year for warbler rarities save for the Palm Warbler at Sitka 15 Apr (ph. CPFG); given the mild winter, this bird could have survived somewhere in Southeast follow - ing a fall arrival. There is only one other spring record for Southeast, another mid-Apr bird from Petersburg. Most of the Region's breeding warblers included very early to nearly record- early first observations mostly from Southeast sites. Of those, the Townsend's Warbler at Ket - chikan 12 Apr (AWP, SCH) tied the local early date. The Townsend's Warbler that wintered at Kodiak, where there are a few winter reports, was last noted there 12 Mar (RAM). A puge - tensis White-crowned Sparrow at Ketchikan 27 Mar (AWP, SCH), a subspecies only recently confirmed in the Region, was thought to have likely wintered. Two singing birds found on territories near the Ketchikan Airport 2 May were then followed by 5 in song, with a nearby female, 16 May (SCH). Two Dark-eyed Juncos at Shishmaref 21 Apr (KS) were very early for that part of the Region, where they are first seen normally about 10 May. Barrow produced A European Golden-Plover at St. Paul Island 24 June 2015 was Alaska's second ever, following a winter record from Ketchikan. This image shows the classic whitish underwing and breast edge pattern for this species. Photograph by Cory Gregory.

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