Alaska Alive with Birds, Even in Winter
Large increase in number of Bohemian waxwings
ANCHORAGE - Perhaps you’ve heard it lately, the sound of birds waking up on a winter morning. Anchorage is alive with birds, even in the winter, and there are more than you might imagine.
“If you were very lucky, and had about 50 to 80 friends that you could take out birding, you'd maybe able to find about 40 to 45 species of birds on a winter day in Anchorage,” said lifelong birder Buzz Scher.
Scher compiles statistics for the Alaska Audubon Society, and over the past few years he has seen a huge increase in the numbers of Bohemian waxwings who descend on the city every year.
“Where you used to have a few thousand waxwings or less that you'd find on the Christmas count, now you can find 15,000 at the peak times," said Scher. “But just as soon as they clean out the trees, they disappear.”
The waxwings were easy to find in a Turnagain neighborhood where hundreds were gobbling down berries on a single mountain ash tree. But they weren’t the only birds in town.
Just down the street Jack Miller was attracting all kinds at his many feeders.
“We get a lot of white crown sparrows, which is very unusual for Anchorage,” said Miller. “We also get robins in the winter time.”
A hairy woodpecker was at one of Miller’s feeders, and redpolls came and went at another.
“They are real flockers,” said Miller, referring to the redpolls. “When they get into a feeder they scare everyone else away.”
Miller said it’s a thrill to see them all in his own backyard. “...Because they aren’t as common as they are in the Lower 48, so we treasure the ones that we have.” -- And enjoy their company as the days grow longer, heading into spring.