How many Cassin's Finches are there???
- Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report
Sunrise 7:24 am, sunset 8:40 pm, length of day 13 hours, 16 minutes; tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 31 seconds longer.
Weather: March slammed the door this week and grudgingly stomped away, tossing fresh snow hither and yon followed by bright sun blinding the unaccustomed and unprepared. More mixed weather is forecast, with temperatures in the teens to 20s, but expect springy fickleness and hope for a little sunshine. Mt Redoubt blew again today but fortunately little ash resulted.
Today dawned bright, clear, and calm. All the usual birds arrived early to sing and feed, creating the usual happy ruckus, cleaning me out of sunflower seeds. I'm so glad I bought 40# last week as I'm almost out again! The REDPOLLS and SISKINS continue to snack on road gravel all over town; please slow down for these little guys. They've had a rough winter and have almost made it to spring.
At noon, the bay was so calm, I could hear and see the exhale of a humpback whale and watch its knobby forehead break the water, followed by its long dark back and tiny dorsal fin, feeding methodically offshore from the bike path in front of town. Two PIGEON GUILLEMOTS in their classy black and white breeding plumage swam very close to shore. Four RUSTY BLACKBIRDS, also quite striking in their deep, dark breeding plumage, rummaged around the bare ground beneath the cottonwoods. NW CROWS watched from the bare branches, multiplying from two to thirty in a trice when bread crumbs appeared, vanishing as quickly when the treat ended.
The experimental song of a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW sounded from a thicket of bare alder branches near a feeder on Ballaine. Six were reported here over the past few days along with a GRAY-CROWNED ROSY FINCH.
Later on in the afternoon, about 4:30 pm, I heard a finch near my house. Luckily, I was able to spot it with my binoculars and just about fell over. It was a male CASSIN'S FINCH in full breeding plumage!! He had a beautiful red crown, the large thick bill, and delicate rosy-red breast feathers merging to a lovely gray with hardly any streaking. As I peered at him, unbelieving, he stopped singing and craned his head this way and that to check me out too, before flying off. I ran home to get the camera but was unable to find him again. Please keep an eye out for this bright red male, and the streaky brown female. I just can't believe that there is only one bird; he would have had to molt mighty fast from his brown coat on Sunday to the red coat on Tuesday. Is it possible?
The red interior FOX SPARROW continues to serenade with his beautiful song, usually deep in a spruce; look for the reddish brown flash as he dashes from one spot to the next.
Joe and Robin reported a SHORT-EARED OWL at the salt marsh; I found the GREAT-BLUE HERON and a moose instead.
Sporadic Bird Report reporter