27 May - 10 June 2000
by Jeffrey A. Hopkins
I had always wanted to visit Alaska, since it was one of the two states I had never been to (the other is Iowa). Now that I'd recently become a birder, it seemed like a good reason to go. I'd also spent only a limited amount of time birding west of the rockies (6 hours total), so I figured I'd be able to see some western species in addition to the Alaskan specialties. I wasn't disappointed.
Normally, I tend to be a fairly independent traveler, and don't usually go on organized tours. However, but I figured going on an organized tour might help get some of the rarities, so I signed up with Focus on Nature Tours trip to Nome and the Denali Highway. The rest of the trip I planned myself, doing most of my trip and hotel bookings in advance via the net.
I've used a convention I've seen in other trip reports. First sightings are capitalized, subsequent sightings are not unless there was something special or unusual about the second sighting. I've also noted birds which were lifer's for me with an asterisk.
Day 1 - 27 May '00
I arrived in Anchorage 2 hours late (at 1:30 AM), to find my rental car company's desk was closed. I took a taxi to my hotel, caught a few hours sleep before picking up my car and driving up to Denali NP. In the taxi back to the airport to get the car, I saw a BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE* - my first lifer of the trip.
Since I was already behind schedule due to having to pick up the car, I chose to blitz-drive to the park rather than do any birding along the way. However, within about an hour of the park, I started to see birds on some of the ponds, and saw shorebirds along the side of the road who would spook as I drove by, so I changed my mind and decided to stop occasionally. On the ponds that I did stop at, I found COMMON LOON, BUFFLEHEAD, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, CANADA GOOSE, and a few MEW GULLS*. I also saw an adult BALD EAGLE soaring overhead, as well as a RED-TAILED HAWK.
I arrived at the park at about noon and went straight to the Visitors Center to pay my park fee and pick up my bus ticket for the next day. There were a few YELLOW-RUMPED (MYRTLE) WARBLERS as well as more mew gulls around the Visitor's Center. I drove into the park, and once I got out of the "residential" section, I started hearing more birds. A stop at an overlook produced a singing WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, AMERICAN TREE SPARROW, and COMMON SNIPE winnowing overhead, as well as other farther off passerines that I couldn't see. Just as I was getting back into the car, two WILLOW PTARMIGAN* flew by. After zipping back-and-forth past me, one male stopped on the road near me and allowed some photos. The rest of the drive to the checkpoint proved uneventful in terms of birdlife, but did give good views of a herd of caribou and a couple of grizzlies down in the Savage River valley, just east of the checkpoint.
After stopping at the checkpoint (more mew gulls), I returned to the Savage River campground. A park staffer at the cabin there said spruce grouse were in the area, but I came up empty. I did find COMMON RAVEN, and heard a GREAT HORNED OWL hooting. At another spot on the way out, I found a group of AMERICAN ROBINS harassing a NORTHERN SHRIKE. Getting back to "civilization", I went for a hike on the Taiga Loop Trail near the hotel. This turned up DARK-EYED JUNCO, HERMIT THRUSH, and more yellow-rumpeds. An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was at the end of the trail near the railroad tracks. I started down the Horseshoe Lake trail just to the lake overlook. Down on the lake were AMERICAN WIGEON, MALLARDS, NORTHERN PINTAILS, and more gulls. I also found a BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE in the woods. Coming back to the main road, I found a crowd gathered where a cow moose had appeared on the railroad tracks with her two calves.
At this point I was a bit jet lagged, so I headed up to Healy and my hotel. Once in Healy, I noticed a sign to Otto Lake so I thought I'd give it a go. The first thing I noticed at the lake was a small black-capped bird on the water with some mew gulls. Thinking it would be my life arctic tern, I got out the scope. It was better than the tern. It was a SABINE'S GULL*! I also found many LESSER SCAUP, a LESSER YELLOWLEGS, and a pair of HORNED GREBES in breeding plumage.
Day 2 - 28 May '00
I rode the 8 AM bus into the park. Due to wet roads, they only went as far as Toklat River. As expected, the focus of the bus trip was mammals, but because there were several birders on board, we managed to sway the focus a bit.
We had a NORTHERN GOSHAWK fly over the bus just as we got moving, and had lots of willow ptarmigan just as we passed the checkpoint, including a male perched in an evergreen right beside the bus. Right after we came into the Teklanika Valley a large raptor crossed in front of the bus in a dive. After a bit of discussion, the several birders on the bus agreed it was a GYRFALCON*. It was snowing heavily at Polychrome Pass, and there were no birds to be found, although we had many Dall sheep, including a ewe with a lamb.
As we pulled in a Toklat River, the bus driver pointed out a WANDERING TATTLER* on the gravel bars. I got off and foillowed it a bit while everyone else sat on the bus and ate. After our quick lunch the bus turned back around. At Polychrome on the way out, it had stopped snowing, so the bus stopped at the top of the pass for views of a Dall ram on the downhill side of the bus. When we did, the driver noticed some professional nature photographers taking a picture of something uphill. It was a ROCK PTARMIGAN* on the hillside just above the roofline of the bus.
Wanting to do some more birding on the way out, I had the bus drop me off at Igloo Creek Campground. In the campground, I found more magpies, a family of GRAY JAYS, yellow-rumped and orange-crowned warblers, and a SWAINSON'S THRUSH, with many snipe overhead. There was also a GOLDEN EAGLE soaring near the mountain tops. I walked along the road toward the park entrance, without much more than a few tree and white-crowned sparrows.
By this time it began to drizzle, so I planned to get back on the first available bus. Not wanting to waste valuble birding time, I continued down the road to cover new territory. As I did, I flushed something in an evergreen beside the road. I walked to where it flew and found a male SPRUCE GROUSE* in a tree. Since this was a great bird, I stopped to photograph it. Big mistake! Just as I did, the bus drove by. This meant I would have another half-hour until the next bus (or so I thought). It was at this point that the clouds rolled in and it began to pour. The rain changed to sleet; then to mixed snow and rain; then to rain again. Since I had nowhere else to go, I continued to walk down the road, hoping for the bus to come by. It didn't. After an hour, I was drenched to the bone, and all I had for my misery was a lone BOREAL CHICKADEE that I couldn't get to sit still long enough to get a good look at.
After a while, an SUV and a ranger's car came up behind me, and just for a joke, I stuck my thumb out like I was hitch-hiking. They stopped! Since I was so drenched, the ranger driving the SUV offered me a ride to the next bus-stop, and I gladly accepted. Of course, when I arrived at the bus stop, it wasn't raining (It figures)! Twenty minutes later, the bus arrived, terribly behind schedule. Turns out the weather was even worse deeper in the park, and that delayed him. I got on the bus, rode it out to the Visitor's Center, hopped in my car, drove straight to Healy, and changed into dry clothes. After a quick stop at Otto Lake, where the only addition to the previous day's residents was a second SABINE'S GULL and a female BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, I called it a day.
Day 3 - 29 May '00
I got an early start, and drove a few miles up the Denali Highway since previous trip reports suggested the lake 8 miles from the parks highway might be good for trumpeter swans. I had a SONG SPARROW and another hermit thrush on the way. When I got to the lake, it was frozen over expect for a tiny patch of open water right near the road. While it didn't have trumpeters, it did have a pair of Barrow's goldeneye. Rather than risk my tires to search more frozen lakes, I turned around. A lake at about mile 5 from Cantwell, I had a good mix: three HARLEQUIN DUCKS, some mallards, some green-winged teal and lesser scaup, and a LINCOLN'S SPARROW singing at the top of a spruce tree. I then headed back to Anchorage to meet up with my tour.
This time I planned to make many stops as I wanted along the way. One of the first ponds I stopped at had a nice mix of shorebirds: AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER, PECTORAL SANDPIPER, and lesser yellowlegs. A second lake near Talkeetna held a pair of nesting RED-NECKED GREBES, an ARCTIC TERN*, and a BONAPARTE'S GULL. A NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH was calling from the trees across the road and snipe were flying overhead. Yellow-rumped warblers and hermit thrush were at every stop.
I arrived at my hotel, the West Coast International Inn, to find a birder in the parking lot trying to take a picture of a VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW on the wires. We exchanged some info on what was being seen, checked in, and then I headed to East Anchorage, to find a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER nest behind the Benny Benson School. After about an hour of looking, I was about to give up, when another birder drove by. She showed me exactly where the nest was (I don't know how I missed it), and we watched the female come out, feed a bit, and climb back in showing us her black back in the process. I next ran down to Potter Marsh to see what was there, but it was high tide and all I found were TREE SWALLOWS and mallards.
Some birders I found there suggested I try Hillside Park. As soon as I started up the trail off of Abbott Loop, I found my target: a singing TOWNSEND'S WARBLER*. I also had some more common birds. Another local birder I met in Hillside Park, gave me some tips on loons, in the neighborhood of my hotel, so I headed back in that direction with a stop at Westchester Lagoon. The lake there held more scaup, mew gulls, canada geese, and red-necked grebes. I drove along the roads next to the mud flats along the inlet and stopped to scope about twenty HUDSONIAN GODWITS and SANDERLINGS.
I went back to my hotel and birded Spenard Lake right next door, for target #2: a RED-THROATED LOON. I also had NORTHERN SHOVELER, PINTAILS, bufflehead, scaup, Bonaparte's gulls and some COMMON REDPOLLS in the trees. Since I still had some time until I needed to meet the tour, I made a quick run to Connors Lake, where I found target #3: PACIFIC LOON. I then met the tour leader, BJ Rose, his wife Betty Hart, and the other tour patron, Toby Topkin. Since BJ had no birding planned for the evening, I made one more run back to Westchester, where I added a few SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS and a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER. I grabbed a sub for dinner and collapsed.
Day 4 - 30 May '00
We had a mid-morning flight to Nome to catch, so BJ, Betty, and I ate a leisurely breakfast and discussed what we'd seen the night before. It turned out, they birded Spenard Lake after dinner and turned up a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER. I made a quick check of the lake after breakfast and found the scoter, and added a BELTED KINGFISHER as well as common redpolls and most of what was there the night before (except the loon).
Our flight to Nome went via Kotzebue (crossed the arctic circle!). As the plane landed at Kotzebue, we saw there were some pools beside the runways and taxiways. Once the Kotzebue passengers boarded, BJ and I both switched to window seats to try to see what was in the pool. We saw GREATER SCAUP and OLDSQUAW just across the tarmac. Unfortunately, as the plane taxied, the engines spooked all the birds in the pools, so all we got to see were their tails in flight.
We landed at Nome just after noon. It turns out that Nome was experiencing a late thaw, so there was still plenty of ice melting everywhere. There was ice floating offshore and the mountains still had a lot of snow on them. BJ had also heard reports that the Kougarok road was still snowed in. We decided to save the Kougarok Road until our last day of the trip to give the road crews time to get it open. Basically, migration was going to be late and we were concerned about missing some target birds.
While we were waiting for our ride to our hotel (the Aurora Inn), we heard LAPLAND LONGSPUR singing and had a flyover GLAUCOUS GULL. We'd later find out how common these would be. We checked in then grabbed lunch at Fat Freddie's where we saw several RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS playing in the waves and more fly-by glaucous gulls.
After lunch, it was time for some serious birding. We headed down the Council Road toward Safety Lagoon. The first good bird was a MERLIN that flew in front of the van and perched on a post just as we were leaving town. Further along, a stop at a gravel pit turned up LEAST SANDPIPERS, WESTERN SANDPIPERS, a lone DUNLIN, a few RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, and semipalmated plover. We saw a couple of WHIMBREL along the way, and desperately tried to turn them into curlews, but no suck luck. We had several LONG-TAILED JAEGER as well, and one PARASITIC JAEGER. At about the 10 mile mark, a YELLOW WAGTAIL* landed in the middle of the road right in front of our van, and shut off the engine so as not to spook it. Unfortunately, when we restarted it, the engine made horrible noises and started to give off some noxious fumes. We limped back into town, and traded in the van for a newer (working) one.
We rushed back out to where we were and then continued on to Cape Nome. Scoping the ocean, we turned up about a dozen BLACK SCOTER, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES, and a few harlequins and red-breasted mergs. The quarry cliff face at the cape had and adult PEREGRINE FALCON guarding its nest and and a common raven. Toby spotted a PELAGIC CORMORANT* sitting on an offshore piece of ice. As we continued to the lagoon, we turned up a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, a harrier, several SAVANNAH and FOX SPARROWS along with the rest of the expected sparrow species, a few common redpolls, and too many Lapland longspurs to count.
We arrived at Safety Lagoon to find it was still almost completely frozen over. That was the bad news. The good news was it concentrated the birds in the few open places. One stop at about mile 23 turned up hundreds of BRANT and 50+ TUNDRA SWANS, plus a SLATY-BACKED GULL* in among the numerous glaucous and mews.
Stopping right at the western end of the bridge over Safety Inlet to look for shorebirds, we spotted two SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS as well as some westerns and some arctic terns. While we were looking for more shorebirds, a male BLUETHROAT* popped up out of the rocks, but dropped back in rather quickly. While we were searching the rocks and trying to coax him back out, a GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW* jumped up on the guard rail. These were two birds completely out of their usual locations, but we found them because of the late migration.
Heading further west we started seeing small flocks of COMMON EIDERS offshore. Onshore we spotted a SHORT-EARED OWL. Then another. And another. Our final total for the night was six! In a pool just before Solomon we turned up a pair of BAR-TAILED GODWITS*, a nesting pair of pacific loons, and more western sandpipers and red-necked phalaropes. The river in Solomon had many tree swallows flying over it, a WANDERING TATTLER along the banks, and 4-5 harlequins (and lots of icebergs) floating in the current. While we were looking at the river a GYRFALCON flew by.
Since we needed to get back for dinner, we turned around and headed back to town. Just as we got to mile 25, Betty spotted another owl perched on a post. We were about to write it off as "just another short-eared" when somebody noticed it had a tail. Way out in the middle of the tundra, was a NORTHERN HAWK-OWL*. We thought this was amazing and thought we might have had a record. We later found out, they nest in the small patch of forest out near Council, and this guy was apparently on his way there.
Getting back to town we headed to Fat Freddie's for dinner. As
we were sitting there, a flock of about 8 geese flew by. A look
the bins turned up the white tails of EMPEROR GEESE*! Now I know
why Fat Freddie's is so popular with birders: fly-by lifers while you
Day 5 - 31 May '00
We woke up to a cold rain, bundled up, and headed down the Teller Road, in search of the historical (but not reported for 2000) white wagtail. A stop at a flock of passerines turned up a HOARY REDPOLL* among the commons. Another stop turned up singing GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH and northern waterthrush. Willow Ptarmigan were everywhere, as were fox sparrows. There was also an occasional golden-crowned. As we started to climb into the higher part of the road, the rain was joined by intermittent mist and fog. In one of the fog breaks, we found a pair of PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER* by the side of the road. Another break had a couple of SNOW BUNTINGS. By this point the willow ptarmigan were replaced by rock ptarmigan, but there really weren't large numbers of anything else. In total, we found 29 willow and 28 rock ptarmigan between Nome and Teller.
When we arrived at the turn to Wooly Lagoon, we saw that the road was a muddy mess with two deep rivers of water running down a set of tire tracks in the mud. We slowly crept down the road and spooked three passerines. BJ said they were northern wheatears by the sound of them, but we never got a good look. We started to continue down the road, but decided it would be best not to, because the road was getting even worse the further down we went. We turned around and continued on to Teller.
We arrived at Teller in only a light drizzle, but found the harbor completely iced in. The wagtail was said to hang out near the "washateria". A search around it and the nearby sewage lagoon turned up a robin, a fox sparrow, some redpolls, but no wagtail. Also, while we were searching three SANDHILL CRANES flew over. We contemplated driving down the harbor jetty but that was blocked by snow. We heard later that two members of another tour group found the wagtail on the jetty, although most of that group missed it, too.
After a quick lunch in the van, we started back toward Nome stopping to watch a large herd of musk oxen just outside Teller. Our main objective was to get back to the Wooly Lagoon Road and see if we could scare up a wheatear. We headed down the road to near where we spooked the birds earlier in the day. Since we could barely see out the van windows, the junior member of the troupe (i.e. me) was asked to get out and see if there was anything moving. I was about to give up, because the wind was freezing, when a small bird flew by and landed just uphill from where we'd stopped. Because I was out of the van, I got a decent look, as did BJ because he was on the side of the van facing the bird. It was a female NORTHERN WHEATEAR*. The others tried to get out of the van to see the bird, but it flew on.
After an early dinner at Fat Freddie's, we made another run out to Safety Lagoon. We didn't have any unusual birds (the common ducks, sparrows, longspurs, and long-tailed jaegers) until we got out to the edge of the lagoon. Our stop at mile 23 had the all of the previous night's birds, with the addition of a SABINE'S GULL. We then drove on to mile 25 to see if the hawk owl was still around - it wasn't. But while we were stopped, I noticed a large flock of eiders bobbing in the waves. They were far enough away that I couldn't make them out clearly with the bins, but they didn't look like commons. When I looked through the scope, I think my exact words were "Holy @#$%! They're Steller's!" We counted them and came up with 35 STELLER'S EIDERS*, pretty evenly split between males and females. Now we realized what the delayed migration meant in terms of birds transiting through Nome. Although the birds summering in Nome were late, the birds that winter in Nome or pass through on migration were still around. We might see some interesting birds yet.
A further drive on to Solomon, pretty much found the same birds as the night before (but no bluethroat). We made it back to Nome at about 11 PM, jammed a note about the eiders under the info center door for Lana to post, and collapsed.
Day 6 - 1 June '00
This was to be our day to chase the bristle-thighed curlew at Coffee Dome. We had earlier met a tour group that had been out to see it a few days before, so we knew the road was open and they were on territory. Unfortunately, we also met a birder who had been out there and told us that all the melting snow had caused a major washout at about the 55 mile mark, and that only a high clearance, 4-wheel drive could hope to get past it. Even though we had only a van, we thought we'd give it a go, hoping that the road crew had made enough repairs to get us past the washout.
We never got that far. We found a partial washout at the 7 mile mark, where the meltwater and rain were pouring over the road. One half of the road had a 3" deep stream and the other had several deep erosion crevasses. We slowly worked our way through the water and continued on. At the 20 mile mark we found two more similar washouts. Nervous that if we continued we wouldn't be able to get back to town, we gave up and turned around. A quick stop at the Nome dump on the way back turned up a subadult SLATY-BACKED GULL among the ravens and glaucous gulls, but that couldn't make up for our disappointment. We stopped in at the info center to see if there were any good sightings the day before, and Lana told us that the Teller road had washed out, too! Our only choice was to make one more run to Safety.
Our first stop was Cape Nome. The scoters, kittiwakes, mergs and harlequins were still there. We also had a few flyby pelagic cormorants. Toby spotted some strings of murres flying by in the distance, and BJ noted they were most likely COMMON MURRES*. As I was scanning the waves, somebody said "Take a look at these ducks." I kept scanning the waves. Toby added, "they're definitely eiders." After the Steller's the night before, that got my attention. I tried to get my scope on them but by the time I did all I could see were the backs of 4 males and 3 females. I clearly saw a light colored head and back on the males. After discussion among the group, BJ and Toby concluded they were spectacled eiders. Another late migrant. Having not gotten that great a look, I yielded to the experts. However, I wasn't comfortable with this and debated whether I'd count them as a lifer or not.
Toby was near the end of her trip and wasn't planning a visit to the Kenai Peninsula, so we stopped on the west side of Safety Inlet to look for the Aleutian terns that had previously nested there. Several other birders were already there looking at a flock of about 100 shorebirds that were coming in. We scrambled to get the scopes on them, and as we did, one of the birders ID'ed them as RED PHALAROPES*. We then pulled off the road and ate lunch, hoping an Aleutian tern would fly by as we ate (It didn't). After finishing lunch, we started scoping the arctic terns at the inlet, trying to turn one into an Aleutian. Just then, we heard an unusual call behind us. Turning around, we saw an ALEUTIAN TERN* flying over the lagoon, just beside the road. Toby had her lifer (so did I).
We continued up the road to "our" stop at mile 23 where we met the birding group we ran into in Teller. They were looking at eight STELLER'S EIDERS and 2 or 3 EMPEROR GEESE feeding on the grass with the usual suspects (swans, brant, gulls, etc). They also had seen some black turnstones - a lifer for me. We scoped for a while but couldn't turn any up, though we did find a couple of RED KNOTS on a far sand bar. While we were scanning, a loon flew overhead. I noticed a ring around its neck, and instinctively called it a common. BJ said it was a YELLOW-BILLED LOON*, not a common.
Further on, we stopped at our lucky spot at mile 25. While Toby and I were scanning the ocean, we both hit on a pair of fly-by eiders at the same time. This time, I saw the light head and back, and the black breast. Now I could count my SPECTACLED EIDERS*. Further east of there, we had a COMMON MERGANSER fly by. We pushed all the way on past Solomon, where a McKay's bunting had been reported near a large gold dredge. We spent about an hour out there, looking for the bunting and others, but came up empty. Knowing we had another long day ahead of us the next day, we called it an early night.
Day 7 - 2 June '00
Our flight back to Anchorage wasn't until noon, so BJ, Betty and I made one more run up to Cape Nome. We found the same scoters, kittiwakes and mergansers, and there were even more murres flying by. Betty asked BJ to take a look at a loon she'd found out on the waves. After a long look BJ said it was an ARCTIC LOON*. I took a look but it was bouncing in the waves too much. Finally it hit a patch of slack water and I saw the white above the waterline. On the way back, I got off a fantastic picture of a long tailed jaeger sitting on a nest. We returned to the hotel to find Toby scanning the ocean. She had seen a POMARINE JAEGER, but nothing else unusual. We loaded up the van and headed off to the airport.
Since we had time to kill after checking-in for our flight, we wandered over to the creek on the far side of the airport parking lot. Toby turned up a northern waterthrush, but I saw a small shorebird that was bobbing and weaving. Betty and I chased it over the ice and mud piles, just in case it was something more interesting, but finally we got a good look and it was a SPOTTED SANDPIPER. After that, we got on our flight and headed south.
We picked up a new van at Anchorage airport and stopped at a mini-market where we found several ROCK DOVES. After a quick stop at the Benson school to get the black-backed woodpeckers as a lifer for Betty, we headed up the Glenn highway to the Tangle Lakes Lodge. This is a long drive over some fairly rough, barely-paved-in-some-places road. Between bathroom stops, dinner stops, and one photo stop at Matanuska glacier overlook, it took us 7½ hours to get there. Driving straight through would have taken about 2 hours less.
We did have a few good birds along the way, though. The glacier overlook had hermit and grey-cheeked thrushes. We were told about a NORTHEN HAWK OWL at about mile 117 of the Glenn, and were able to find him, right where expected. There was another hawk owl a few miles up the road. A bathroom stop at a roadhouse further up gave us a flock of CLIFF SWALLOWs, a HERRING GULL, and a gray jay harassing yet another hawk owl. One pond gave us a SURF SCOTER in among the more common ducks. Another pond gave us a pair of tundra swans. We also stopped to watch a couple of porcupines along the road. There were plenty of tree swallows along the road and we even found an AMERICAN KESTREL perched on a wire. And one more hawk owl (that's four!). Add to those, a juvenile bald eagle snacking on a fish on the shore of Paxson Lake.
At Tangle Lakes Lodge, we found the resident SAY'S PHOEBE, and hundreds of cliff swallows. I walked from the porch of my cabin about 10 feet to look down onto the lake below, spooking a female willow ptarmigan on the way, to find lesser scaup and a common loon. Since we were starting to lose the light (it was about midnight), I went to bed.
Day 8 - 3 June '00
We woke up to songbirds. The brush around the lodge was full of YELLOW WARBLERS, WILSON'S WARBLERS, fox, tree, and white-crowned sparrows. The Say's phoebe was perched on a building calling actively. The loon on the pond was also calling. We made a quick run back up the Denali highway before breakfast toward Paxson before breakfast. This turned up our first BLACKPOLL WARBLER of the trip along with a long-tailed jaeger, a whimbrel, and more yellow, orange-crowned, and Wilson's warblers, and sparrows, adding Savannah's to the previous three. Then we ran back to the lodge, ate breakfast, and headed out
Our plan today was to drive as much of the Denali highway as we could deal with after our long drive the day before. Our target birds were Smith's longspur (the local specialty) for Toby and me, and trumpeter swan for me. We stopped at nearly every pond along the way. Most had several kinds of duck. One of them had a RING-NECKED DUCK, our only one of the trip. Some of them also had red-necked grebes and swans, although we kept finding tundras, not trumpeters.
We stopped at about mile 56 to scan some of the grassy areas for longspurs. After about 45 minutes, one bird flushed and just kept flying. Toby felt it was a Smith's, but I had no idea. It could have been a swallow for all I saw of it. Figuring that was the best we'd do at that spot we got back in the van and headed west. We hadn't gone a quarter mile, when we found a pond with a pair of TRUMPETER SWANS* right beside the road.
We continued on past the Susitna River bridge and started seeing some spruce forest. This added NORTHERN FLICKER and Bonaparte's gull. It was so unusual seeing them perch3ed in the top of spruces. A golden eagle soared on the ridge line over the trees. Many of the open areas had displaying semipalmated plovers. One had an AMERICAN PIPIT. After a stop for lunch, we met another birding group who had searched the area for longspurs and come up empty.
We pushed on to the Brushkana Campground, but really didn't find anything unusual, turned around, and made it back to the lodge around dinnertime. When we arrived, we talked with the owner of the lodge, who wasn't on site when we arrived the night before. He said that he had two regular spots close to the lodge where Smith's were regular, and if we'd give him an hour or so, he'd check whether the birds were there. Unfortunately, when he came back he said that his best spot was still snowed shut (damn this late winter!), but we could try the pullout at mile 17, which has been reliable. He also added that he'd seen a wandering tattler and a dipper (a lifer for me) in the creek just east of the lodge, and lots of good birds in a pond at mile 19, where merlins were known to nest. He was also expecting his friend Audie, who knew some places to check.
We wolfed down dinner, and BJ, Betty, and I made a longspur run. We stopped at the bridge and found the tattler, a few harlequins, grey-cheeked and VARIED THRUSH, but no dipper. We then ran to mile 17 to look for the longspurs. We spent about an hour looking for the longspur but only finding sparrows and warblers. Just then Audie drove by. After a bit of a negotiation, Audie told us that because the higher elevations were too still too snowy, the longspurs were lower down than they'd usually be. He'd seen the longspurs that morning at mile 13, flying back and forth across the road. We ran to mile 13 and found lots of birds calling and singing. A HORNED LARK flew up onto the road, so we knew we had the right habitat. There were far too many tree and Savannah sparrows. I chased after a pair of birds that turned out to be longspurs, but the wrong species (Lapland). Finally we just had to quit. We stopped at the pond at mile 19, and found an american golden-plover, a few red-necked phalaropes, lesser yellowlegs, and a spotted sandpiper among the ducks and tundra swans, but no merlins. One last stop at the bridge and creek to check (unsuccessfully) for my dipper, and we went to bed.
Day 9 - June 4 '00
BJ, Betty, and I made another pre-breakfast run. A stop at the bridge turned up the tattler, the harlequins, a pair of Barrow's goldeneye, but still no dipper. Mile 17 had sparrows and a beautiful rock ptarmigan right beside the road, but no longspurs. Mile 13 only had the sparrows. Getting frustrated, we went back for breakfast and Toby, and then packed up and headed to Anchorage. Along the way we stopped at the bridge (no dipper), mile 17 (no longspur), mile 13 (no longspur), and several other creeks between the lodge and Paxson (no dipper).
We wanted to make a stop at the road to Tolsona Wilderness Campground to check for boreal species and crossbills. BJ got out the owl tapes. This got an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER singing. A few gray jays and robins also came to the tape. I heard a boreal chickadee, but we couldn't draw him into the open (it would have been a lifer for Betty). Just as we were wrapping up, a beautiful goshawk flew right over our heads. We made it to Anchorage about dinnertime, where I picked up my new rental car and said goodbye to BJ and Betty. I was heading to Seward, but I had one more stop to make along the way.
A previous trip report said that dippers nest in Indian Creek near the Brown Bear Saloon. I got there and pulled into the parking lot across the street. As I got out of my car, an adult bald eagle flew by, not 10 feet over my head. I walked to the bridge over the creek. No dippers. I crossed to the other side of the road. No dippers. Then I noticed a trail from the bridge down to the creek under the bridge and walked down to find an adult AMERICAN DIPPER* feeding a juvenile. I saw another adult who I assumed was its mate. I must have gotten a bit too close because they took off upstream a bit, so I backed off and went back to my car.
Arriving in Seward, I checked into my cabin (at the Farm B&B). Outside the cabin in the pine trees were some very noisy RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS and PINE SISKINS. I headed into town to check out what was in the bay. I scoped out the boat harbor but only came up with mew gulls. I saw a cormorant sitting on a piling toward downtown, and drove down to find it and see what species it was. When I got there, it was gone, but in it's place were a dozen gulls one of whom was a GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL*. I continued down the road to Lowell Point stopping occasionally to scope the bay, but all I found were a couple of harlequins. I drove back north of town and down Nash Road to the marine center, but found nothing on the bay. I went back into town, checked out the head of the bay near the cruise ship dock and found a lesser yellowlegs on the mudflats, and some scaup on the water. Since it had been a long day, I grabbed some take-out and went home.
Day 10 - 5 June '00
Today was the day of my cruise into Kenai Fjords. The cruise wasn't until at 9 AM, so I had some time to land-bird before boarding. The kinglets and siskins were still around the cabin when I woke up and they were joined by orange-crowned and yellow rumped warblers, and a varied thrush or two. I also heard a woodpecker in the area, who I chased, hoping it would be a three-toed, but never found him. I also found a calling snipe perched in a tree where Nash Road met the Seward Highway.
I went with Kenai Fjords Tours on their Northwestern Glacier Cruise, which lasts about 9 hours. The boat was skippered by Captain Chad. While he is not a birder, as he put it, he "birds for a living". Although the focus of the tours is not birds, when we got to the birdy sites, he would come out on the outdoor bridge on the upper deck with the birders on the tour and help point out the different species. This tour normally goes along the coast into Northwestern Glacier, then out to the Chiswell Islands before returning to Seward. However, since we needed to drop off some kayakers at Fox Island, we did the route in reverse.
We left on time, but like the night before, there still were not any interesting birds on the bay. There were plenty of sea otters, some with young. Our first good bird of the day came at Fox Island, where a pair of MARBLED MURRELETS* were floating near the dock. From there we headed for the Chiswell's. Along the way we had some distant looks at humpback whales. As we approached the Chiswells, we started seeing both HORNED PUFFINS* and TUFTED PUFFINS* on the water, and black-legged kittiwakes in the air. Chad told us that the way to tell the puffins apart at a distance was that horned puffins have white bellies and tufted puffins have black bellies ("Tough guys wear black" as he put it).
The Chiswells were where we started seeing serious numbers. There were thousands of kittiwakes on the rocks, along with hundreds of puffins of both species with horned outnumbering tufted. There were hundreds of pelagic and and double-crested cormorants, too, both perched and flying around. Chad pointed out a few RED-FACED CORMORANTS* hidden in the crevasses on the island. After a spin around one of the islands we headed for open water and the glacier. Just as we got past the island, the common murres showed up. Thousands of them! Chad drove the boat slowly into the middle of the flock, and they all dove. Then they popped back up to the surface around the boat like rubber duckies! I asked if there were any thick-billed among them. Chad answered jokingly "You're on your own finding them".
Continuing on into more open water the mate joined us on the bridge. "This is the spot where we usually find parakeet auklets," he said. The words were barely out of his mouth when the captain spotted two PARAKEET AUKLETS* up ahead, mixed in with the puffins. He used the red bill as his field mark. Further along he spotted three ANCIENT MURRELETS*. Then a couple more parakeets. A little further on, Captain Chad said, "watch those areas of flat water for RHINOCEROUS AUKLETS*" Just as he said it, he added "See? There's a flock now" as 6 or 7 took off. I found a small flock and he found another that stayed put for a decent look. All together we had about 15. The numbers of birds didn't come down until we got into granite passage, where I took a break for lunch.
Exiting granite passage we came into Northwestern Fjord. This area added a new bird to the trip: PIGEON GUILLEMOT.* They mostly stayed out near the ocean end of the fjord. Deep in the fjord we found lots of floating ice calved off the glaciers, and swimming among the mini-icebergs were several pair of KITTLITZ'S MURRELETS*. Mostly they would dive to avoid the boat, but on the occasions that they flew, Captain Chad pointed out the white on the tails to the birders. After going as close to the face of the glacier, we turned around and headed out. We came in closer to shore, and Chad pointed out a pair of BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS* on the beach. The trip back to Seward was spent picking out bald eagles along the hillsides. The mate said there was a pair about every mile-and-a-half down the shoreline into Resurrection Bay.
That evening, I ate dinner at one of the nicer restaurants at the small boat harbor. As I was waiting for dinner, a bald eagle flew in and perched on the mast of one of the boats. Only in Alaska! I visited the area near the cruise ship harbor one last time turning up nothing unusual. As I was leaving I noticed 5 or 6 black birds on a steel structure. They weren't ravens - they were NORTHWESTERN CROWS*. My eleventh lifer of the day!
Day 11 - 6 June '00
After the great sea bird count, I wanted to get some of my landbird targets, specifically, woodpeckers, crossbills or waxwings. I did turn up many birds that I hadn't yet seen on the trip, but this also turned out to be my first day without a lifer.
My first stop was at the Caines Head Trail. Along the way I had a pair of marbled murrelets right along the bayshore road. The trailhead parking lot had hermit thrush and ruby-crowned kinglets. Along the trail I turned up the first STELLER'S JAY of the trip. Right after I found the Steller's, a RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD flew in and perched in the top of a spruce tree. I also heard (but didn't see) a WESTERN WOOD PEWEE. Elsewhere along the trail I found more hermit and varied thrush, ruby-crowned kinglets, and the expected warblers. The return trip to town turned up a pair of harlequins in a creek. Next came a non-birding visit to Exit Glacier. Other than a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK that cut right across the trail (and scared the life out of me), the birds were pretty much the same as I'd been seeing. Hoping for some more coniferous species, I headed up the Seward Highway to Primrose Campground. These were definitely coniferous woods, but the only birds I saw were Townsend's warblers and more kinglets.
I headed back to town and stopped at the tourist info office. They wanted to be helpful, but suggested I try the USFS office in downtown Seward. There I was introduced to Bud Schuster who does the Seward bird hotline. He was very helpful and gave me some advice on where to find some target species. Unfortunately, the sites were mostly rather far out of town. I decided I'd hit them on my way to Homer the next day.
With the weather turning nasty, I stopped at the Sea-Life Center. While this is dedicated to general marine life, it did allow the opportunity to see murres, guillemots and puffins close up. A drive along the bayshore found several double-crested cormorants on the pilings. I made a quick run to the ponds at the end of the airport runway. These turned up some BANK SWALLOWS, a spotted sandpiper, a semipalmated plover, and a lesser yellowlegs, with a few ducks. Rather than get caught in the rain, I quit before exploring all of the ponds and called it a night.
Day 12 - 7 June '00
I spent the morning and most of the afternoon driving to Homer, birding along the way. My first stop was the Ptarmigan Creek Campground on the Seward Highway. Bud Schuster had told me this would be a good spot for three-toed woodpeckers, since there were many dead spruces on the entrance road. Unfortunately, when I arrived it was raining and windy. I spent about 45 minutes wandering around in the rain, during which time I had two flyover woodpeckers, but I wasn't able to positively ID them (I knew they were probably three-toeds, but I didn't count them). I also had the usual ruby-crowned kinglets.
The next stop was on the hillside opposite Tern Lake at the intersection of the Seward and Sterling highways. The target here was alder flycatcher. I climbed up the hillside a bit, but the knee-high plants, damp from the morning rain, made me rather soggy. Since I wasn't hearing any birds, especially over the traffic, I gave up quickly on this one. Of course, Tern Lake had several of the requisite arctic terns.
On the way to Homer, I drove the Skilak Lake Rd. I stopped often along the road, and at one overlook turned up an ALDER FLYCATCHER*. Other stops turned up several hermit, one Swainson's, and a varied thrush or two, the usual warblers, and interestingly, my only DOWNY WOODPECKER of the trip. I did another diversion up a mountain road near Sterling which had been suggested by another birder as a place to find boreal species but didn't find much. I also stopped along the coast near Kenai and Soldotna (taking Kalifornsky Beach Rd.), but didn't find any shorebirds.
I arrived in Homer in late afternoon, checked in, and headed straight for the spit. I didn't find any shorebirds at the head of it or along the length of it. There was a fox sparrow at the lumber storage area and lots of cliff swallows. I headed to the point of the spit to scope out Gull Island. At that distance I made out lots of kittiwakes and some kind of alcid floating on the bay, but it was too far away to ID the species (my guess was tufted puffin). The only other bird I found on the water that evening was a common loon. I doubled back to Beluga Lake and found plenty of scaup and a few pair of red-necked grebes, but nothing unusual.
At dinner that evening, I found myself watching strings of birds flying by a channel marker heading out to sea. There were about 6 to 10 birds per string and about one string every other minute. After dinner I got the scope out and found they were common murres, heading out from Gull Island. I also found three marbled murrelets flying together. Coming home from dinner, I made one last stop at mud harbor to look for shorebirds. I turned up a lesser yellowlegs and a very light godwit that I assume was a female hudsonian (although I wanted to call it a marbled).
Day 13 - 8 June '00
After a quick early morning check of the spit (and finding nothing new), I took a birding tour of the harbor with Karl Stolzfus of Bay Excursions water taxi service. This was a roughly four hour tour of the bay side of the spit, and although the weather was pretty drizzly, it really allowed us to get up close to the birds.
The close looks allowed us to really see the differences between the KITTLITZ'S MURRELETS and the marbled (besides the fact that the Kittlitz's tended to stay on the east side of the bay and the marbled on the west side). Karl also got us some good looks at ALEUTIAN TERNS, including two birds perched on a board that floated right by the boat, and pigeon guillemots. We saw common, pacific, and red-throated loons although we missed out on the yellow-billed that had been reported. The east side of the bay had lots of ducks including a few common eider and large rafts of all three scoters.
We finished with a stop at Gull Island. As we dodged kittiwakes (and their droppings!), Karl pointed out some RED-FACED CORMORANTS mixed in with the pelagics on the rocks. We also found both puffin species - mostly tufted - mixed in with the thousands of common murres floating around the island. On both the way in and out of the harbor, Karl also slowed down to take close looks at the entrance jetties. He said that they're a good place to look for rock sandpipers, especially just before high tide, but we didn't find any.
After lunch, I headed up the spit, spotting a western sandpiper along the spit on the way. At the Wildlife Information Office on the outskirts of town, Christina, one of the staff who was also a birder, suggested I try the area around Fritz Creek for three-toed woodpecker. I headed out there and turned down Bonnie St. At a bend in the road I found a good stand of spruce, and wandered in (it wasn't posted and it didn't look like private property, but I later found out it was. Oops!) I was just starting to head out, when I heard woodpecker hammering. Not 20 feet from me was a beautiful male THREE-TOED WOODPECKER*. I walked back to my car to check out some of the other birds in the area and saw a three-toed hammering at a fallen log. I assumed it was the one I had just seen, but then I heard the original one again in the same place. This must have been a different one. I also turned up an alder flycatcher, a western wood-pewee, some common redpolls, and orange-crowned warblers along the road.
Hoping to keep up my luck and maybe find some crossbills, I tried another dirt road (Hill Rd.) Along that road I found a house with a large flock of pine siskins at their feeder. I continued up and just started exploring the side roads. Along one I found another three-toed woodpecker, ruby-crowned kinglet, hermit and varied thrushes, more redpolls and siskins, and the usual warblers including Townsend's. Coming back out to Hill Road I found a golden-crowned sparrow perched on a spruce tree. After listening to him a while, I christened them "volare-birds", because their song sounded like the opening notes to "Volare" (OK, I guess you had to be there). I grabbed dinner, made one last run down the spit (finding nothing new), and went to bed.
Day 14 - 9 June '00
First stop was the town reservoir off Skyline Rd. I found a good mix of boreal species in the trees, including boreal chickadee, gray jay, golden-crowned sparrow, Townsend's and yellow-rumped warblers, varied thrush, and redpolls. There were two red-necked grebes on the water and spotted sandpiper on the dam breast. There also were several people sleeping in their pick-up trucks, so I was a bit uncomfortable and moved on. From there I stopped at the Homestead trailhead on Skyline Rd. and added another alder flycatcher and some kinglets. I also tried Beluga Lake but found only a hermit thrush in the trees and nothing on the water. I had been told that I might have better luck with the crossbills in Seldovia, so I joined a boat trip to there. The trip across, while incredibly scenic, was uneventful though I saw some of the Gull Island species out on the water.
Seldovia was a nice little town, and a lot of homes had feeders out. One home had Steller's jays and yellow warblers, another had siskins and common redpolls, a third had a CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE and a fourth had a SONG SPARROW. The woods outside of town had grey-cheeked and varied thrushes and warblers. The best spot had to be the slough, because it held a group of about 10 bald eagles all waiting for salmon, with one juvenile eagle being chased by northwestern crows. Can you guess that I never found the crossbills?
I got back to town checked out the spit (nothing new), mud bay (the same old ducks), the ocean near my hotel (common loon), and then called it quits early.
Day 15 - 10 June '00
My last day in Alaska. I woke up in Homer to golden-crowned sparrows volare-ing outside my window. I had really hoped to use this as a mop-up day, but the weather chose not to cooperate. So I drove straight through to Anchorage. The weather there was better (on and off), but it still was a rather frustrating day.
My first stop was Chugach State Park. I had a few black-capped chickadees and yellow-rumped warblers near the visitor center. Of course, just as I started down the trail it started to pour. Since the trail was already too muddy, I turned around and headed back into town. I stopped at the mudflats at the mouth of Ship Creek but didn't find anything except fishermen, so I headed to Westchester Lagoon. The lagoon itself had mew gulls and red-necked grebes with several kinds of swallows (violet-green, tree, and bank) feeding above it. The mudflats still had good numbers of godwits and more gulls. There was a single yellow warbler in the trees along the levee. From there, I made a run to Earthquake Park to llok at the mudflats, but didn't see anything there. I next headed to Kincaid Park, but found a concert going on there and didn't even get out of the car.
I noticed the sky was clearing in the east so I ping-ponged over to Hillside Park, where I did a short hike. The mosquitoes were fairly thick, and the only birds I found were orange-crowned and yellow-rumped warblers. The biggest shock was when a cyclist rode down a path near me. A moose burst out of the brush and chased him down the path. Not wanting to be trampled on my last day, I tried going back to Spenard Lake, but even the duck numbers were down from the beginning of my trip.
Figuring that I really didn't have too much to complain about, and not wanting to sit on a 14 hour flight (with layovers) in soggy clothes, I called it a vacation. I was tired, but overall extremely satisfied. And I still had some birds to come back for another time. Final score: 155 species, 45 of which were lifers.
Trip List – Alaska 2000
|COMMON NAME||SCIENTIFIC NAME|
|Red-throated Loon||Gavia stellata|
|Arctic Loon||Gavia arctica|
|Pacific Loon||Gavia pacifica|
|Common Loon||Gavia immer|
|Yellow-billed Loon||Gavia adamsii|
|Horned Grebe||Podiceps auritus|
|Red-necked Grebe||Podiceps grisegena|
|Double-crested Cormorant||Phalacrocorax auritus|
|Pelagic Cormorant||Phalacrocorax pelagicus|
|Red-faced Cormorant||Phalacrocorax urile|
|Emperor Goose||Chen canigica|
|Canada Goose||Branta canadensis|
|Trumpeter Swan||Cygnus buccinator|
|Tundra Swan||Cygnus columbianus|
|American Wigeon||Anas americana|
|Northern Shoveler||Anas clypeata|
|Northern Pintail||Anas acuta|
|Green-winged Teal||Anas crecca|
|Ring-necked Duck||Aythya collaris|
|Greater Scaup||Aythya marila|
|Lesser Scaup||Aythya affinis|
|Steller's Eider||Polysticta stelleri|
|Spectacled Eider||Somateria fischeri|
|Common Eider||Somateria molissima|
|Harlequin Duck||Histrionicus histrionicus|
|Surf Scoter||Melanitta perspicillata|
|White-winged Scoter||Melanitta fusca|
|Black Scoter||Melanitta nigra|
|Common Goldeneye||Bucephala clangula|
|Barrow's Goldeneye||Bucephala islandica|
|Red-breasted Merganser||Mergus serrator|
|Common Merganser||Mergus merganser|
|Bald Eagle||Haliaeetus leucocephalus|
|Northern Harrier||Circus cyaneus|
|Sharp-shinned Hawk||Accipiter striatus|
|Northern Goshawk||Accipiter gentilis|
|Red-tailed Hawk||Buteo jamaicensis|
|Rough-legged Hawk||Buteo lagopus|
|Golden Eagle||Aquila chrysaetos|
|American Kestrel||Falco sparvererius|
|Peregrine Falcon||Falco peregrinus|
|Spruce Grouse||Falcipennis canadensis|
|Willow Ptarmigan||Lagopus lagopus|
|Rock Ptarmigan||Lagopus mutus|
|Sandhill Crane||Grus canadensis|
|Pacific Golden-Plover||Pluvialus fulva|
|American Golden-Plover||Pluvialus dominica|
|Semipalmated Plover||Charadrius semipalmatus|
|Black Oystercatcher||Haematopus bachmani|
|Lesser Yellowlegs||Tringa flavipes|
|Wandering Tattler||Heteroscelus incanus|
|Spotted Sandpiper||Actitis macularia|
|Hudsonian Godwit||Limosa haemastica|
|Bar-tailed Godwit||Limosa lapponica|
|Ruddy Turnstone||Arenaria interpres|
|Red Knot||Calidris canutus|
|Semipalmated Sandpiper||Calidris pusilla|
|Western Sandpiper||Calidris mauri|
|Least Sandpiper||Calidris minutilla|
|Pectoral Sandpiper||Calidris melanotos|
|Short-billed Dowitcher||Limnodromus griseus|
|Common Snipe||Galinago gallinago|
|Red-necked Phalarope||Phalaropus lobatus|
|Red Phalarope||Phalaropus fulicaria|
|Parasitic Jaeger||Stercorarius parasiticus|
|Long-tailed Jaeger||Stercorarius longicaudus|
|Bonaparte's Gull||Larus philadelphia|
|Mew Gull||Larus canus|
|Herring Gull||Larus argentatus|
|Slaty-backed Gull||Larus schistisagus|
|Glaucous-winged Gull||Larus glaucescens|
|Glaucous Gull||Larus hyperboreus|
|Black-legged Kittiwake||Rissa tridactyla|
|Sabine's Gull||Xema sabini|
|Arctic Tern||Sterna paradisaea|
|Aleutian Tern||Sterna aleutica|
|Common Murre||Uria aalge|
|Pigeon Guillemot||Cepphus columba|
|Marbled Murrelet||Brachyramphus marmoratus|
|Kittlitz's Murrelet||Brachyramphus brevirostris|
|Ancient Murrelet||Synthilboraphus antiquus|
|Parakeet Auklet||Aethia psittacula|
|Rhinoceros Auklet||Cerorhinca monocerata|
|Tufted Puffin||Fratercula cirrhata|
|Horned Puffin||Fratercula corniculata|
|Rock Dove||Columba livia|
|Great Horned Owl||Bubo virginianus|
|Northern Hawk Owl||Surnia ulula|
|Short-eared Owl||Asio flammeus|
|Rufous Hummingbird||Selasphorus rufus|
|Belted Kingfisher||Ceryle alcyon|
|Downy Woodpecker||Picoides pubescens|
|Three-toed Woodpecker||Picoides tridactylus|
|Black-backed Woodpecker||Picoides arcticus|
|Northern Flicker||Colaptes auratus|
|Olive-sided Flycatcher||Contopus cooperi|
|Western Wood-Pewee||Contopus sordidulus|
|Alder Flycatcher||Empidonax alnorum|
|Say's Phoebe||Sayornis saya|
|Northern Shrike||Lanius excubitor|
|Gray Jay||Perisoreus canadensis|
|Steller's Jay||Cyanocitta stelleri|
|Black-billed Magpie||Pica hudsonia|
|Northwestern Crow||Corvus caurinus|
|Common Raven||Corvus corax|
|Horned Lark||Eremophila alpestris|
|Tree Swallow||Tachycineta bicolor|
|Violet-green Swallow||Tachycineta thalassina|
|Bank Swallow||Riparia riparia|
|Cliff Swallow||Petrochelidon pyrrhonota|
|Black-capped Chickadee||Poecile atricapillus|
|Chestnut-backed Chickadee||Peocile rufescens|
|Boreal Chickadee||Poecile hudsonicus|
|American Dipper||Cinclus mexicanus|
|Ruby-crowned Kinglet||Regulus calendula|
|Northern Wheatear||Oenanthe oenanthe|
|Gray-cheeked Thrush||Catharus minimus|
|Swainson's Thrush||Catharus ustulatus|
|Hermit Thrush||Catharus guttatus|
|American Robin||Turdus migratorius|
|Varied Thrush||Ixoreus naevius|
|Yellow Wagtail||Motacilla flava|
|American Pipit||Anthus rubescens|
|Orange-crowned Warbler||Vermivora celata|
|Yellow Warbler||Dendroica petechia|
|Yellow-rumped Warbler||Dendroica coronata|
|Townsend's Warbler||Dendroica townsendi|
|Blackpoll Warbler||Dendroica striata|
|Northern Waterthrush||Seiurus noveboracensis|
|Wilson's Warbler||Wilsonia pusilla|
|American Tree Sparrow||Spizella arborea|
|Savannah Sparrow||Passerculus sandwichensis|
|Fox Sparrow||Passerella iliaca|
|Song Sparrow||Melospiza melodia|
|Lincoln's Sparrow||Melospiza lincolnii|
|White-crowned Sparrow||Zonotrichia leucophrys|
|Golden-crowned Sparrow||Zonotrichia atricapilla|
|Dark-eyed Junco||Junco hyemalis|
|Lapland Longspur||Calcarius lapponicus|
|Snow Bunting||Plectrophenax nivalis|
|Common Redpoll||Carduelis flammea|
|Hoary Redpoll||Carduelis hornemanii|
|Pine Siskin||Carduelis pinus|
by Jeffrey A. Hopkins