Meet the Corvids – Part 2: Jays and Magpie

The second installment of our “Meet the Corvids” was published in the Homer News on Thursday, April 14, 2018.  For a complete copy of the online version of the article go to: http://homernews.com/local-news/2018-04-12/year-bird-meet-corvids-part-ii

Black-billed Magpie – Photo by Robin Edwards
Gray Jay – Photo by Michelle Michaud
Juvenile Black-billed Magpie – Photo by Ronda McGhee
Steller’s Jay – Photo by Michelle Michaud

It’s A Great Day to Bird

 

Meet the Corvids – Part 1: Common Raven and Northwestern Crow

This article is Part One of a two part serves on the different corvids found in the Homer Area. Part Two: Jays and Magpie will be featured in the Homer News in April.

For a link to the article in the Homer News go to: http://www.homernews.com/outdoor-features/2018-03-29/year-bird-meet-corvids-part-1-common-raven-and-northwestern-crow

Common Raven (background) and Northwestern Crow (foreground). Photo by Randy Weisser

2017 Christmas Bird Count

The Homer Christmas Bird Count, held on December 16, had 27 volunteers in the field in 11 teams to cover the traditions 15-mile diameter count circle centered in Mud Bay at the base of the Homer Spit. The weather cooperated quite nicely with temperature mostly above freezing and little wind. A total of 65 species were documented with 8,648 individual birds. Total numbers of several species were slightly lower in compassion to the last few years. The most abundant birds were Mallard (2,2251), followed by the Rock Sandpiper (1,250). Nine species only had one individual seen throughout the day.

Two species were new to the count: Costa’s Hummingbird and Black-backed Woodpecker. The hummingbird was seen approximately 5 miles out East End Road at a hummingbird feeder. The black-backed woodpecker was seen with an American three-toed woodpecker at the northern end of the Calvin and Coyle Nature Trail below Mariner Drive, approximately Mile 1 East Road. This woodpecker is normally found in interior Alaska and is generally rare along the coast. The Costa’s hummingbird, typically seen in southern California and Arizona, is well outside it’s normal range.

Species number and total numbers were generally within the normal range over the past several years. Numbers of wintering American Robins and Bohemian Waxwings continue to be relatively high with 121 and 254 individuals respectively. Counts for finches, including the Common Redpoll (328), Pine Siskin (1,011), Pine Grosbeak (316), were also relatively high in comparison to past years. However, the White-winged and Red Crossbills were totally absent from this year’s count.

Bald Eagle and Northwestern Crow numbers were slightly down this year in comparison to the last five years. The lack of available supplemental food at the Homer Transfer facility in recent years may have been a factor in this decline.”

A big thank you to all the many volunteers and to the staff at Islands and Ocean for letting us use their wonderful facility and helping us out also with logistics during the day. And to Dave Erikson for coordinating our Count here now for the last 41 years!

 

Diamond Creek State Recreation Site

Diamond Creek is a great place to checkout songbirds, both along the road and on the trails.  There is a trail that starts at the end of the road and winds its way down the bluff to the beach.  Another trail, developed for mountain bikes, follows much of the road.  On the beach check Cook Inlet for pelagic birds and shorebirds.

Road to trailhead
Parking area and Trailhead (trail to beach)
Upper portion of trail to the beach
View from side trail

Directions:

Take the gravel road, located just west of the turnoff to Diamond Ridge Road.  There is a parking area approximately 0.2 miles down the road, located on the left.  Park here if you wish to walk the road, although there are other parking areas farther along the road.  At the end of the road (approximately 0.8 miles) is parking and the trailhead for the Diamond Creek trail winding down the bluff to the beach.  Please use caution when walking this trail. 

Birds Observed or Heard along the road and trails at Diamond Creek SRS:

  • Mallard
  • Green-winged teal
  • Harlequin Duck
  • American Wigeon
  • Eurasian Wigeon
  • Greater Scaup
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye
  • White-winged Scoter
  • Surf Scoter
  • Black Scoter
  • Red-breasted Merganser
  • Common Merganser
  • Trumpeter Swan
  • Red-necked Grebe
  • Horned Grebe
  • Pacific Loon
  • Common Loon
  • Yellow-billed Loon
  • Pelagic Cormorant
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Bald Eagle
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Northern Harrier
  • Merlin
  • Semi-palmated Plover
  • Surfbird
  • Wandering Tattler
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Western Sandpiper
  • Semi-palmated Sandpiper
  • Lesser Yellowleg
  • Wilson’s Snipe
  • Mew Gull
  • Glaucous-winged Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Black-legged Kittiwake
  • Arctic Tern
  • Pigeon Gullimot
  • Marbled Murrelet
  • Horned Puffin
  • Common Murre
  • Boreal Owl
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • American Dipper
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Common Raven
  • Northwestern Crow
  • Gray Jay
  • Black-billed Magpie
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Borean Chickadee
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Brown Creeper
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Varied Thrush
  • American Robin
  • Alder Flycatcher
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Townsend’s Warbler
  • Goldenc-crowned Sparrow
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Fox Sparrow
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Common Redpoll
  • Pine Siskin
  • White-winged Crossbill
  • Red Crossbill

 

IT’S A GREAT DAY TO BIRD

Eagle Lake and Jaeger Bog Birding Hotspots

Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake is great birding for songbirds. Mew Gulls and a Pacific Loon pair nests at the lake. Several shorebird species also nest here: Yellowleg and Wilson’s Snipe.  The Jaeger Bog hosts a nesting pair of dark morph Parasitic Jaegers.  Both locations are great for songbirds. Merlins and Northern Harrier can occasionally be spotted here.

Directions:

Eagle Lake: Drive approximately 18-19 miles out East End Road. Turn left on Basargin Road (aka Circle Lake Road), drive approximately 2.7 miles to the Y in the road. Go right. Drive another (approximate) 1.1miles. There will be a pull off on the side of the road. Park here. Walk down (northeast) the road about 100 feet or so. There will be a small trail on the left hand side of the road. This trail leads to the lake. The lake is less than ¼ mile off the road. Boots are necessary as this trail as it can be very wet and muddy.

Trail to Eagle Lake from Basargin Road

Jaeger Bog: Drive approximately 18-19 miles out East End Road. Turn left on Basargin Road (aka Circle Lake Road), drive approximately 2.7 miles to the Y in the road. Go left. Drive 0.5 miles. There may be a closed gate. If so, park off the road and walk approximately 0.5 miles. There will be a large bog on the left hand side of the road. If the gate is open drive up the hill and down to a small pull-out at the bottom of the hill and on the right hand side of the road. Scope the bog on the left for Dark Morph Parasitic Jaegers that nest here annually. A variety of songbirds can be found here as well.

Be aware. This is bear and moose country.

Bird Species Observed or Heard at Eagle Lake

  • Pacific Loon
  • Trumpeter Swan
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Mallard
  • Eurasian Widgeon
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Northern Pintail
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Red-necked Grebe
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Solitary Sandpiper
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Lesser Yellowleg
  • Greater Yellowleg
  • Wilson’s Snipe
  • Red-necked Phalarope
  • Mew Gull
  • Glaucous-winged Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Black-legged Kittiwake
  • Bonaparte’s Gull
  • Arctic Tern
  • Parasitic Jaeger
  • Bald Eagle
  • Merlin
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Common Raven
  • Black-blled Magpie
  • Gray Jay
  • Northwestern Crow
  • American-three-toed Woodpecker
  • Tree Swallow
  • Bank Swallow
  • Olive-sided Flycatcher
  • Hermit’s Thrush
  • American Robin
  • Swainson’s Thrush
  • Varied Thrush
  • Gray-checked Thrush
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Boreal Chickadee
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Fox Sparrow
  • Rusty Blackbird
  • White-winged Crossbill

Bird Species Seen or Heard at Jaeger Bog and surrounding area:

  • Parasitic Jaeger
  • Arctic Tern
  • Mew Gull
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Willow Ptarmigan
  • Northern Harrier
  • Bald Eagle
  • Wilson’s Snipe
  • Greater Yellowleg
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Gray-cheeked Thrush
  • Common Raven
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Fox Sparrow
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow
  • Common Redpoll

Check out ebird for the latest complete list of birds seen at this location:  http://ebird.org/ebird/ak/explore

It’s A Great Day to Bird

 

Anchor Point Beach – Birding Hotspot

Beach heading towards mouth of the Anchor River
Anchor River

The Anchor Point Beach is a good beach for migrating (spring and outbound) shorebirds.  Spring migration begins in late April and peak mid May (spring migration).  Outbound migration begins late June and you can find shorebirds into September, and occasionally October. 

The best place to see shorebirds is generally within 500 feet of the parking lot or at the mouth of the river, approximately 1.3 miles from the parking lot.  Shorebirds can also be observed along the Anchor River.  There is a road that parallels the river. 

In the day-use parking lot and campground, a variety of songbirds can be observed during the spring and summer. 

Seabirds can be observed on or flying over Cook Inlet.  Outbound migration (July-September) can bring an abundance of seabirds, including Sooty Shearwaters, Tufted and Horned Puffins, and Murrelets (Marbled and Kittletz). 

Be sure to also check out the wetlands next to the parking lot in the spring and fall for waterfowl and shorebirds. 

Be aware of the tides.  Tides in Alaska can be extreme at times.  It is always best to visit the beach during an outgoing tide.  Shorebirds are best observed when the tide is between 12-14 feet. 

Directions: 

From Homer take the Sterling Highway to Anchor Point.  Turn left on to the Old Sterling Highway (left), drive over the bridge, and take the first right (Anchor Point Road).  Drive this road to the end and park in the parking lot.  A $5.00 parking fee is charged. 

List of Bird Species Observed at Anchor Point Beach/Anchor River

Over 170 species have been observed at the parking long, along the Anchor River, over Cook Inlet, or along the beach at Anchor Point throughout the year. 

  • Mallard
  • American Widgeon
  • Eurasian Widgeon
  • Gadwall
  • Greater Scaup
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Long-tailed Duck
  • Red-Breasted Merganser
  • Common Merganser
  • Canvasback
  • Northern Pintail
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye
  • Harlequin Duck
  • Common Eider
  • Steller’s Eider
  • Bufflehead
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Surf Scoter
  • White-winged Scoter
  • Black Scoter
  • Canada Goose
  • Brandt
  • Greater-White Fronted Goose
  • Snow Goose
  • Cackling Goose
  • Trumpeter Swan
  • Red-necked Grebe
  • Horned Grebe
  • Pacific Loon
  • Common Loon
  • Red-throated Loon
  • Yellow-billed Loon
  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Buller’s Shearwater
  • Short-tailed Shearwater
  • Pelagic Cormorant
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Spruce Grouse
  • Ring-necked Pheasant
  • Short-eared Owl
  • Northern Harrier
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Golden Eagle
  • Bald Eagle
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Northern Goshawk
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Merlin
  • Osprey
  • Rough-legged Hawk
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • American Golden Plover
  • Pacific Golden Plover
  • Killdeer
  • Semi-palmated Plover
  • Whimbrel
  • Marbled Godwit
  • Hudsonian Godwit
  • Bar-tailed Godwit
  • Bristle-thighed Curlew
  • Greater Yellowleg
  • Lesser Yellowleg
  • Dunlin
  • Western Sandpiper
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Semi-palmated Sandpiper
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Rock Sandpiper
  • Buff-breasted Sandpiper 
  • Sanderling
  • Baird’s Sandpiper
  • Short-billed Dowitcher
  • Long-billed Dowitcher
  • Wandering Tattler
  • Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
  • Solitary Sandpiper
  • Red Knot
  • Black Turnstone
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Surfbird
  • Red Phalarope
  • Wilson’s Snipe
  • Black Oystercatcher
  • Pigeon Gullimot
  • Marbled Murrelet
  • Kittletz Murrelet
  • Ancient Murrelet
  • Common Murre
  • Horned Puffin
  • Tufted Puffin
  • Cassin’s Auklet
  • Rhinocerous Auklet
  • Parakeet Auklet
  • Parasitic Jaeger
  • Pomeraine Jaeger
  • Long-tailed Jaeger
  • Glaucous-winged Gull
  • Glaucous Gull
  • Mew Gull
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • Black-egged Kittiwake
  • Sabine’s Gull
  • Bonaparte’s Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Thayer’s Gull
  • Northern Fulmar
  • Arctic Tern
  • Aleutian Tern
  • Caspian Tern
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • American Three-toed Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • American Dipper
  • Common Raven
  • Northwestern Crow
  • Black-billed Magpie
  • Gray Jay
  • Steller’s Jay
  • Northern Shrike
  • American Robin
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Varied Thrush
  • Swainson’s Thrush
  • Tree Swallow
  • Bank Swallow
  • Violet-Green Swallow
  • Cliff Swallow
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Boreal Chickadee
  • Brown Creeper
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Rudy-crowned Kinglet
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Pacific Wren
  • Alder Flycatcher
  • Olive-sided Flycatcher
  • Western Wood-Pewee
  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Townsend’s Warbler
  • Song Sparrow
  • Fox Sparrow
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Lapland Longspur
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Snow Bunting
  • American Pipit
  • Eastern Yellow Wagtail
  • Rusty Blackbird
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Eurasian Starling
  • Eurasian Skylark
  • Horned Lark
  • Red Crossbill
  • White-winged Crossbill
  • Pine Siskin
  • Common Redpoll
  • Pine Grosbeak
  • Gray-crowned Rosy Finch

Check the latest ebird for a listing of sightings:  http://ebird.org/content/ak/

Rock Sandpiper
Reb-breasted Merganser and ducklings
Hatch Year Common Raven on boat trailer near parking lot

 

IT’S A GREAT DAY TO BIRD

Eveline State Recreation Area

Eveline State Recreation Site

This is a small, 80-acre state recreation site location out East End Road near McNeil Canyon.  The park offers several different summer trails (and winter ski/snowshoe trails, as well), with no trail longer than 1.25 miles.  During the summer there are a variety of wildflowers in the meadows and along the trails.  Not to be missed.

Trail Map
Boardwalk on Alpine Meadows Trail
View from Glacier View Trail

More than 45 bird species have been spotted in the park.  In the spring and summer, the best time to bird is during the morning hours.  Key breeding species include: Golden-crowned Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Alder Flycatcher, and Orange-crowned Warbler.

Remember this is bear and moose country.  Be Aware.  

Directions:

From East End Road in Homer drive approximately 13.5 miles to Alpine Meadows Road.  There will be a state park sign just before the road.  Turn left onto Alpine Meadows and drive approximately ½ mile to the park.  There is a small parking lot on the left-hand side of the road.

Bird List:

  • Bald Eagle
  • Merlin
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Northern Goshawk
  • Northern Hawk Owl
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Spruce Grouse
  • Willow Ptarmigan
  • Wilson’s Snipe
  • Lesser Yellowleg
  • Gray Jay
  • Black-billed Magpie
  • Common Raven
  • Steller’s Jay
  • Northern Shrike
  • Alder Flycatcher
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Boreal Chickadee
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Swainson’s Thrush
  • Gray-cheeked Thrush
  • American Robin
  • Varied Thrush
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Townsends Warbler (R)
  • Blackpoll Warbler (R)
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow
  • Fox Sparrow
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow (UC)
  • Lapland Longspur
  • Pine Grosbeak
  • White-winged Crossbill
  • Red Crossbill
  • Pine Siskin
  • Common Redpoll

Please note that many of these species are uncommon to rare.  Check the latest ebird for the most recent sightings:  http://ebird.org/content/ak/

Gray Jay
Hatch Year Varied Thrush
Orange-crowned Warbler

 

 

 

 

Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival – 2013 Big Spit Plus Challenge

The Kachemak Bay Birders would like to thank everyone who participated in, or donated prizes to, this year's (2013) Big Spit Plus Challenge during the 21st Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival.  The event could not have occurred without you.  This year's Big Spit Plus was expanded in time (2.5 days) and location (Stariski River South to Homer and East to Fox River Flats and trips on the waters of Kachemak Bay). 

Participanting teams and the number of birds observed

YOUTH

1st Place: Mr. Whitekeys and Friends found 80 species

            Grace, Damien, Eve, Atlas, and Max Burke

2nd Place: Birding Buntings found 55 species

            Nolan and Landon Bunting

FAMILY/MIXED GROUP

1st Place: Pedaling Plovers found 104 species

            Erick and Lori Paulsrud

2nd Place: Many Sparrows found 57 species

            Silas, Aurora and Anna Firth

Participation: Family Big Year found 41 species

            Mike, Jen, Katie and Rosie McCrudden

 

DONORS

Bay Excursions (Karl Stoltzfus)–discounts on trips out on the Bay

Gary Lyon–print

Kachemak Crane Watch?gift certificates to the Homer Book Store

Kachemak Bay Conservation Society?youth prizes and bags

Captain's Coffee?beverage coupons

Don Jose's?gift certificate for a meal

Cosmic Kitchen–gift certificate for a meal

Two Sisters–gift certificate for a meal

Fat Olive's–gift certificate for a meal

 

Thank you everyone

Bird Window Strikes

Over 270 species of birds in the United States and Canada have been documented striking windows, and each year millions of birds die from striking windows.

 

The Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania is working on project identifying bird window collisions and they would like you help. The college, however, is only looking for information on those birds not currently on their list of bird window strikes. The list of birds they have documented as striking windows is available on their website.

 

For more information on how to report a bird strike or for a list of birds already identified, check out their website: 

http://www.muhlenberg.edu/main/academics/biology//faculty/klem/ACO/GlassHome.htm

 

For more information on how to prevent window strikes go to the American Bird Conservancy's website: http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/collisions/glass.html where you can download their brochure on what you can do to prevent window strikes.

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