This in from Carol.
Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report
Thursday, June 8, 2011
Sunrise 4:36 am, sunset 11:18 pm, length of day 18 hours, 42 minutes. Tomorrow will be 2 minutes and 0 seconds longer, an ever-diminishing increase as the sun races to the Summer Solstice.
Weather: "Mostly cloudy with isolated showers" seems to be the default weather forecast for June so far with temperatures in the upper 40s to low 50s interspersed with surprise blue-sky cameo appearances. In contrast to the usual gray skies, greens of every hue dominate the landscape from the ground to the treetops. Mayday trees (aka Bird Cherry) and many shrubs such as red elderberry and high bush cranberry are flowering, starting the process of producing fruit for the birds. Sunny yellow dandelions, the cheerful invasive, are already going to seed, attracting hungry PINE SISKINS.
June 7th: The STELLER'S JAY babies are still in the nest, quiet as rocks until the dog barked and then they all sounded off, begging loudly. CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES gleaned insects that were busily chewing holes in the new leaves, for their nestlings. Ava reported HAIRY WOODPECKER dads bringing their first fledged babies to visit her feeders. As each baby subsequently fledges, he will introduce it to her suet feeders while mom attends to the nestlings. A VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW peeked out of a nest box. DOWNY WOODPECKERS, SONG SPARROW pair, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, PINE GROSBEAKS, and a bright VARIED THRUSH visited while I watched. A curious PINE SISKIN tried to land on my slippery camera while many others squabbled over the Niger seed sock. A dazzling RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD male zoomed into the yard, but did not linger.
Down at the pilings just south of the harbor uplands, I counted over 30 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS. The lucky ones sat on the pilings, preening and looking nonchalant, while the others futilely attempted to land, then overshot the mark and splashed into the water. Many appear to be this year's young with a lighter buffy neck and upper breast and darker belly. The breeding adults still sport their fancy white eyebrow plumes.
June 8th: While taking the good dog around the block for the morning walk, I heard an intriguing new bird song. It was not the usual ORANGE-CROWNED, YELLOW, TOWNSEND'S, or YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, all of whom were singing. This was a dry, flat, almost insect-like song. I finally managed to find a male BLACKPOLL WARBLER, singing in the thick willows. Perky black beret, white cheeks, streaky brown back, white wing bars, white belly, and golden legs and feet; he's a very handsome warbler. First time in the 'hood!
A VARIED THRUSH family of at least three fledglings hopped along the ground together near Second Lake. They flew fairly well so have probably been practicing for a week or so as their wings and tail feathers grow in. A pair of very determined BALD EAGLES chased a pathetic, squawking RAVEN overhead through the trees. I wonder what in the world precipitated that huge expenditure of energy? Also heard TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS, and the haunting forest flute of the HERMIT THRUSH.
DIPPER babies have started to fledge. They are round as a ball, all gray with stubby little wings and tails and big feet. Unlike other harried, unkempt parents, the sleek dipper parents seem perfectly groomed, elegant and relaxed. After countless trips to catch macro invertebrates and small fish to stuff into their babies' huge gaping yellow throats, they take time to sing a sweet little song of joy before dashing off once more. Some birds just have class.
NORTHWESTERN CROW babies are also starting to fledge. The babies have delightful blue eyes. While waiting for food service, they peck inquisitively at nearby bark, lichens, and leaves, wondering just where mom and dad find that delicious food. Watch out for their protective parents who will try to keep you away from their nests and fledglings.
June 9th: Hoards of shrieking BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES, MEW GULLS, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, and ARCTIC TERNS feasted on salmon smolt dashing down to the ocean from their natal streams and lakes and hooligan running up to spawn. BALD EAGLES lined the streamsides like combat fishermen, scattering the gulls into frenzied snow flurries upon takeoff. The sheer numbers of seabirds molting a few feathers each created four distinct white-feathered tide lines at the beach, something I've never noticed before.
LINCOLN'S, SAVANNAH, and SONG SPARROWS picked between the feathers and wrack for tidbits, then sang lustily from the tops of nearby driftwood or grass stems. A pair of SPOTTED SANDPIPERS bobbed along the edge of a stream, very handsome with a black-tipped golden bill, sporty white eye-line stripe, and brown back. The matching brown spots on the bright white front looked lovingly hand painted with a brush. Check for their distinctive white notch just in front of the wing.
Keep those hummer feeders cleaned and filled. No red food coloring is necessary and may harm them. Watch for fledglings of all species in this very special time of year.
Seward Sporadic Bird Report reporter