Horned Grebe in breeding plumage

Making Do with Waterfowl


There aren’t many songbirds, but WC was able to find a few ducks and grebes Saturday, although the numbers seem below average. Here are a few photos. Few Alaska waterfowl are more colorful in breeding plumage than the Horned Grebe. You can find a pair on most small ponds. Unlike many waterfowl, the male hangs…

Trumpeter Swans and Mt. Hayes

Spring Migration II


Trumpeter Swans circle to land in the farm fields southwest of Delta Junction, with Mt. Hayes (13,700 feet) in the background. The biggest bird in North America against the biggest mountain in the Central Alaska Range, on a lovely spring day. The honking of almost 100 Trumpeters and several hundred Canada Geese in the field…

Trumpeter Swans, Creamer's Refuge, April 19

Spring Migration Under Way


The Alaska Legislature is thrashing around like a rattlesnake with a broken spine, and just as dangerous. But WC has better news. Spring migration has (finally) arrived in Alaska. The Swans are at Creamer’s Field. WC will let the swans, as it were, speak for themselves. WC hopes you can get out and have a…

Marbled Godwit, Bolivar Peninsula, Texas

Bird Break


There’s been too much heavy stuff. The last three posts have been about corrupt politicians, addiction and despair. Time for a bird break. It’s still a while to spring migration in Interior Alaska, but we’ll have a look at some of the birds that are arriving, as you read this, on the Bolivar Flats Shorebird…

Cactus Wren in Jumping Cholla

Get ‘Em Where It’s Hot


There are rumors of Snow Buntings in North Pole, but WC hasn’t seen them yet. Snow Buntings are the first migratory bird to arrive in Interior Alaska, en route to their nesting territory on the North Slope. The severe early winter weather hammered our winter bird population, such as it is. Because there aren’t any…

Common Redpoll Male

The Very Common Redpoll


In most winters, the most common bird in Fairbanks is the Common Redpoll. The “poll” in “redpoll” means cap or top. Both males and females of this small finch have the characteristic reddish cap. Only the males have the reddish wash across the chest. During the winter, generally after Thanksgiving, large flocks of mixed Common…

Buff-tailed Coronet

Still More Hummingbirds


There are, after all, some 129 species of hummingbirds in Ecuador. There’s only one in Alaska, maybe two if you count Stewart/Hyder, at the southeastern tip of the state. And none at all in Interior Alaska. So WC hopes you will excuse a few more hummingbird photos. It’s pretty obvious where the Green Thorntail gets…

Red-headed Barbet Male

Bar Bet


Perhaps you could win a bar bet with the Barbet. It’s among the odder birds in Ecuador; a big-billed, fruit- and bug-eating, ridiculously colorful bird of the cloud forest. This particular specimen is a Red-headed Barbet, photographed at Tandayapa Lodge. They are cousins of the Woodpeckers and Toucans. The Red-headed Barbet is found from Costa…

Masked Flowerpiercer, Tandayapa Lodge, Ecuador

Another Way to the Nectar


Hummingbirds, with their wildly variable bills, are adapted to extract nectar from flowers, and in the process to transfer pollen between blossoms, like bees and other insects. But the endless diversity of birds has coughed up two genuses of birds that cheat. Flowerpiercers extract nectar from blossoms, too, but they go directly to the source,…