Anchorage Area Rarity – Emperor Goose – April 15, 2017

Location:  Loussac Library (east side) – Anchorage, AK

First Seen:  April 15, 2017

Last Seen:  May 3, 2017 (continuing as of this date at Tina Lake near Dowling Road)

Discovered by:  First observed, positively IDed, and reported by Bob P..  Seen, confirmed, and further by Buzz S.  Seen by numerous other birders including Keith C.                                                                            Declan T, Gary R., Julie C, Larry R.

Relative Rarity:  Accidental in Anchorage.  According to the eBird database, one (1) prior record in Anchorage in late April/early May of 2002.

Read the rest

Anchorage Area Rarity – House Finch – March 25, 2017

Location:  365 Gold Avenue – Girdwood, AK

First Seen:  March 25, 2017

Last Seen:  April 1, 2017 (continuing as of this date)

Discovered by:  First observed, positively IDed, and reported by Thede T.  Seen, confirmed, and photographed by wkeys.  Later even that that and in subsequent days seen by numerous other birders.

Relative Rarity:  First ever record for Anchorage!  About eight (8) other records in Alaska, all of those in the South-east Alaska Region.

Read the rest

Anchorage Area Rarity – Hawfinch – March 2, 2017

Location:  Two locations in the same Hillside neighborhood:  1st Location:  Metz Court, 2nd Location:  Park Hills Drive – Anchorage, AK

First Seen:  February 28, 2017

Last Seen:  April 3, 2017 (continuing as of this date)

Discovered by:  Neighborhood resident.  First observed, positively ID’ed, photographed, and reported by Enric F.  Later seen, confirmed, and photographed by numerous other birders.

Relative Rarity:  First ever record for Anchorage or south-central Alaska for that matter!  Very rare for mainland Alaska with just a few eBird records from the Nome area in 2009. Casual in western and south-western Alaska with “two handfuls” of records from Attu, Adak, Gambell, St. Paul, Buldir Island, and Shemya Island.

Read the rest

Anchorage Area Rarity – Franklin’s Gull – May 23, 2016

Location:  Mouth of Ship Creek – Anchorage, AK2016-franklins-gull

First Seen:  May 23, 2016

Last Seen:  May 24, 2016

Discovered by:  First observed, positively IDed, and reported by David S.  Later seen, confirmed, and photographed by Aaron B., Enric F. Keith C. Tim S., and a few others.

Relative Rarity:  Less than annual in Anchorage.  About seven (7) other records in Anchorage in the last 35 years or so.  Also observed in 1981, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2012. (source is the eBird database).

Read the rest

Anchorage Area Rarity – Black Oystercatcher – May 7, 2016


Location:  First observed at Carr-Gottstein Park – Anchorage, AK on May 7, 2016, later observed at Spenard – Anchorage, AK on May 26, 2016.  Possibly the same bird?

First Seen:  May 7, 2016

Last Seen:  May 26, 2016

Discovered by:  First observed, positively IDed, and reported by Keith C at Carr-Gottstein Park on May 7, 2016.  Later observed, positively IDed, and reported by Aaron B., Enric F. wkeys, Beth F., Lynn B.., and a few others at the Audubon Bench near the outlet of Chester Creek.

Relative Rarity:  Less than annual in Anchorage.  No other records in Anchorage according to the eBird database, although there are reportedly “one or two” other records by those who don’t utilize the eBird database.… Read the rest

Beginning Birding Class Reminder – April 21, 2016 – April 20, 2016

Thursday – April 20, 2016

Beginning Birding Class This Thursday – April 20, 2016

Just a Reminder that Anchorage Audubon is presenting a course on “Birding for Beginners” Tomorrow night.  Everyone is welcome to learn what birding is all about.

Tell your friends who might be interested in a new way to see the world!  This evening will be a fabulous chance to learn about birdwatching without having to wear funny hats.  And of course, cookies will be served.

We’d Love to Have You Join Us:

Thursday, April 21, 2016:  7:00 pm

BP Energy Center


We’ve updated our website with a
complete schedule of Spring Events:

  1. The Beginning Birding Class – April 21, 2016
  2. The BLM Early Morning Bird Walks – May 5,12,19,26
  3. Mat-Su Birders’ Goose Bay Bird Walk – May 8, 2016
  4. Westchester Potluck and Pro-Am Bird Walk – May 26, 2016
  5. Statewide Shorebird Festivals


Beginning Birding Class – April 21, 2016 – April 18, 2016

Thursday – April 21, 2016

Beginning Birding Class

If you’re looking for the perfect way to learn what birding is all about, we will present a course in “Birding for Beginners” at our April 21 Meeting.  This is a fabulous opportunity to learn about Birds and Birding from the beginning, and it’s just in time for our Spring Migration arrivals.bbclass-1

W. Keys, Aaron Bowman, and the Audubon Board will attempt to cover it all in one evening:  What you need to begin,  How to use a field guide,  What to look for in the field,  Where to find birds in Anchorage,  How to use binoculars,  How to hear birds,  What is migration all about,  as well as basic bird identification and their incredible behaviors.  It’s a simple look into the wondrous events that are happening outside your living room window every single day.

Why do we like birding?  Author Thomas Dunlap said it best:  “It’s easy to begin and impossible fully to master.”


Everyone is welcome.  Bring the kids.  Tell your friends who might be interested in a new way to see the world!  This evening will be a fabulous chance to learn about birdwatching without having to wear funny hats.  And of course, cookies will be served.

We’d Love to Have You Join Us:

Thursday, April 21.   7:00 pm

BP Energy Center

The Best Alaskan Hawkwatch Article – April 6, 2016

The Best Alaskan Hawkwatch Article

The BEST Article Ever Written on Hawkwatching in Alaska!

the-best-alaskan-hawkwatch-articleA few years back, The American Birding Association’s magazine, Birding, ran an article about our own Gunsight Mountain Hawkwatch by Paul and Cecily Fritz.

The Fritzes led the hawkwatch effort at Gunsight Mountain for many years, and this article describes the site perfectly.  They explain why our hawkwatch is very different from most other hawkwatch sites in the country, which raptors can be seen, when they can be seen, and why the birds even fly in a strangely different direction.

(Website administrator edit on 3/10/2018:  The PDF of the article has been embedded here because it appears to be not longer available on Hawkwatch International’s website.  Special thanks and credit to Paul and Cecily Fritz and to Hawkwatch International.)

Hawkwatch - Paul and Celicy Fritz-1


We have a gem in our own backyard, and we’d love to see you sometime this spring at Gunsight Mountain!

The Hawks Are Here! – April 5, 2016

The Ultimate Hawkwatch at Gunsight Mountain – “The Harlan’s Hawk Capitol of the World”


This year, Hawkwatch International is once again monitoring the Gunsight Mountain Hawkwatch site, but this year it’s bigger than ever.  There will be 2 professional hawk watchers at the site from March 7 until May 15!

Paul and Cecily Fritz dreamed of such a full-scale monitoring effort twenty years ago, and it’s finally happened.

Last year Neil Paprocki manned the site for 2 weeks, and this year it’s the Full Deal.

In the past, Paul and Cecily usually started visiting the site around March 25, and by that date, the Golden Eagle migration was really starting to happen.  But Carol McIntyre (Denali Park biologist) had said that Goldens were on the nest in Denali around March 15.  Those birds take a different route than the Gunsight Goldens, but it would indicate that the birds were moving early in March.

Two weeks ago, the counters had a day with 229 Golden Eagles, and YESTERDAY, the first Rough-legged Hawks came through the sige.  Harlan’s Hawks have been seen for at least a week.
If you’d like to see their counts, they are posting daily results at:

Like last year, we are also asking for volunteers to help the observers.  Watching the whole sky for an entire day is hard work, and the more eyes the better.

If you want to join the counters for a day, please do so.  They’d love the assistance and the company, but be advised that the count may be taking place at Milepost 121 or Milepost 120 instead of the regular Hawkwatch Weekend site of mile 121.

Hawkmasters Davis and Rubenthaler would probably appreciate any fresh provisions you’d like to bring along, but please use disposable or recyclable dishes/utensils so they don’t have to worry about returning them.

Also please be advised that they have  job to do, so large groups of absolute beginners who need a personal course in Hawkwatching is not the most productive use of their time.  Fortunately, that’s EXACTLY what the Hawkwatch Weekend is for.

We hope to see you up the road.!


The Big Anchorage Birding Day Results – March, 2016

Saturday – March 20, 2016

The First Day of Spring was Celebrated!

We Came, We Saw, We Birded!

The Big Anchorage Birding Day Results

Another Audubon Cutthroat Competition Entered into the Annals of History!!

What A Day!
…and that’s what we’d expect for a Big Anchorage Day.  Six teams squared off to find the most bird species in Anchorage during 24 hours on the First Day of Spring.  And only in Anchorage would this gargantuan effort be accompanied by an all-time record snowfall with near white-out conditions.  It was birding drama at it’s finest.
Two teams started Friday at 5:00pm in Girdwood where it was spitting light snow.  The birding was tough and slow—even the regular Girdwood birds, such as the Chestnut-backed Chickadee, were absent or extremely difficult.  The teams’ efforts continued after dark with no success at owling.
Another team took the opposite approach and started in Anchorage on Friday evening to moderate success.  They hit the road before 6:00 am on Saturday and headed to Girdwood in near blizzard conditions, and again, birding was brutal.
Saturday in Anchorage was also merciless, and the results showed it very clearly.  Last year, two teams tied with 37 species found.  This year, the winning team of Thede Tobish, Nils Warnock, and W. Keys found only 31.  All credit was given to Thede and Nils when Keys said, They found everything.  All I did was hand them scones and try to keep the car out of 20-car pile-ups.”
At the final Tally, it was revealed that 9 species were seen that were NOT seen last year:  Canada Goose, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser,  Eurasian Collared Dove, Northern Hawk Owl, Short-eared Owl, Sharp-shinned hawk, Northern Shrike, and Hoary Redpoll.
In addition, FIFTEEN species were seen last year and were not seen this year:  Green-winged Teal, Willow Ptarmigan, Herring Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull,  Boreal Owl,  3-Toed Woodpecker,  Merlin, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Chipping Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Purple Finch,  Cassins’ Finch, White-winged Crossbill, and Pine Siskin.  
Ten species were seen by only one team, and possibly the two best finds of the day were found by the team which logged the lowest total number of species.  Daria and Arlene spotted both the Eurasian Collared Dove and a WOLVERINE near Potter Marsh!  Whoa!
Once again, the ruling principle of the day was, “You have to be in the right place at the right time.”  This was drilled in by The Finely Feathered Fairbankians.  Their team and the winning team were together on the Point Woronzof Road looking successfully at the Northern Hawk Owl and looking expectantly for the reported Short-eared Owl.  The cars were side-by-side and the winning team headed down the road at the exact moment that the Fairbanksians spotted the Short-eared flying down the runway a short distance away.  Later in the day, The Fairbanksians said, It was totally great that we were both right there when the Short-eared flew right by us.”  And the Winning Team replied, “Huh?  What do you mean?”

THAT’S birding at it’s finest.  

NO Audubon Meeting This Thursday – March 17, 2016 – March 14, 2016

NO Audubon Meeting This Thursday – March 17, 2016

Sorry for the confusion, but there is NO Audubon meeting this Thursday.

Our regular meeting has been replaced by Neil Paprocki’s special Hawkwatch Program on SATURDAY – March 19, 2016.


Neil Paprocki from Hawkwatch International

“The Gunsight Mountain Hawkwatch
Monitoring Program for 2016″


Our March 19 Meeting is TOTALLY DIFFERENT this year. It will NOT take place on our usual Third Thursday because of the availability of a Special Guest Star. Neil Paprocki from Hawkwatch International will present a SPECIAL program on The Gunsight Mountain Hawkwatch.

This year, for the First Time Ever, Hawkwatch International is monitoring our migration site for the full TEN WEEK Migration Season from March 7 thru May 15!  This is a dream collection of data that has been envisioned for 20 years.

Neil Paprocki and his team arrived at the sight on March 7, and will give us a glimpse into the early Golden Eagle migration, the results from last year’s limited monitoring of the site, and an overview of the Gunsight Mountain migration. This will be a total treat for all Raptor Fans, but EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT FOR THIS MEETING.

The Program will happen on SATURDAY, MARCH 19 at 7:30pm, and even the location is different. For this meeting ONLY, we will meet in the UAA Consortium Library, Room 307.

We hope you can join us, and there will be special scholastic cookies in honor of the UAA Library.


General Membership Meeting – January 2016

Thursday – January 21, 2016

Bosque del Apache

by Jules Tileston

at the BP Energy Center

7:00 PM

Our January program will be another “Must See” for birders.  Jules Tileston will take us on a photo journey to The Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge south of Albuquerque.

Bosque del Apache is one of the premier birding destinations in the Southwest, and Jules will share highlights of his three trips to the Refuge.

Jules moved Alaska in 1972 as the lead for wild river studies for the Department of the Interior and retired in 1988.  He then worked at DNR for Governors Hickel and Knowles.  He is now a full-time recovering bureaucrat and a part-time consultant on a variety of projects ranging from Akutan, Cold Bay access, and North Slope oil and gas projects to various gas pipelines from the North Slope to Valdez and to Cook Inlet. 

Read the rest

Seward Birding Birding Trip – February 20, 2016

Saturday – February 20, 2016

Anchorage Audubon Society – Annual Winter Field Trip

Seward Birding Birding Trip

Meet in front of the Seward Harbormaster’s restrooms,
located at the south end of the small boat harbor.

Join Aaron Bowman and others for a winter birding excursion to enjoy Seward’s great diversity of wintering birds and the possibility of a few rarities. Come dressed for the weather and the location, prepared for a great day with great birds.
Bring your binoculars and spotting scope (if you have one…there never are too many!) and other favorite birding gear. Plan on gathering with the group for a lunch break in town where you can eat a packed lunch or purchase something locally. You may also wish to bring walkie-talkies to communicate between cars, or donations of sunflower bird seed for one of our regular feeder stops provided by a local birder.
Read the rest

HawkWatch International – March 7 – May 15, 2016

HawkWatch International

Count Hawks at Gunsight Mountain

at Milepost 118.8 of the Glenn Highway 

This spring, a decades-long goal will finally happen.  We have always wanted to do a complete and thorough HawkWatch for an entire season at Gunsight Mountain.  This year, thanks to Neil Paprocki, it will become a reality!
Neil monitored our HawkWatch site for 2 weeks last spring, and this year Neil will return with TWO additional hawk watchers for the entire season.
Last spring, we asked for local help for Neil because “The More Eyes on the Sky, The Better.”  We will be doing that again this year, and we’ll let everyone know about the particulars when we have more information.
Read the rest

The Big Anchorage Birding Day – March, 2016

Saturday – March 18-19, 2016

Celebrate the First Day of Spring with

The Big Anchorage Birding Day

Another Audubon Cutthroat Competition!!

Next week it’ll be Spring, and what better way to celebrate than by scouring the Anchorage Municipality for birds. From Eklutna to Portage–How many species can your team find in 24 hours from 5:00 PM on Friday March 18, 2016 until 5:00 PM on Saturday March 19, 2016?

It’s a Big Day to usher in Spring. Who knows what will turn up? It’s simple: Get a team together and go birding. All team members must see all birds counted by the team. (some exceptions apply for larger teams.)

Bird as much or as little of the 24 hours as you like.

Read the rest

Gunsight Mountain Hawk Watch – April 16 – 17, 2016

Gunsight Mountain Hawk Watch

at Milepost 118.8 of the Glenn Highway


Our Annual HawkWatch Weekend in collaboration with the Mat-Su Birders will take place on April 16 – 17th, 2016.

Celebrate the return of spring migrating raptors with this annual Anchorage Audubon first field trip of the spring. Migrating raptors that can be seen along the ridgeline near MP 118.8 include golden eagle, red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, northern goshawk, American kestrel, peregrine falcon and merlin. Swainson’s hawk and osprey have also been seen migrating through this area. Bring warm clothing, binoculars, spotting scopes, lunch, snacks, and lawn chairs and sit back while you watch migrating raptors glide over the nearby ridge.

The Hawkwatch is a spectacle that is unrivaled in Alaska. 

Read the rest

Anchorage Area Rarity – Red-winged Blackbird – January 28, 2016

Location:  Spenard – Anchorage, AK

First Seen:  January 28, 2016

Last Seen:  February 26, 2016

Discovered by:  First observed, positively IDed, reported, and photographed by Aaron Bowman.

Relative Rarity:  Seems just about “almost” annual in Anchorage.  About fourty’ish (40’ish) other records in Anchorage in the last 30 years or so.  Also observed in 1977, 1979, 1989, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 (source is the eBird database).  Almost not worth including as a rarity at all?

2016-red-winged-blackbirdRead the rest

Anchorage Area Rarity – Black-backed Woodpecker – December 19, 2015

Location:  The U-Med District – Anchorage, AK

First Seen:  December 19, 2015 (during the Anchorage 2015 Christmas Bird Count)

Last Seen:  December 19, 2015 (during the Anchorage 2015 Christmas Bird Count)

Discovered by:  First observed by Julie Confer, positively IDed, reported, and photographed by Keith Confer.

Relative Rarity:  Less than annual in Anchorage.  About eleven (11) other records in Anchorage in the last 20 years or so.  Also observed in 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013, and 2014.  (source is the eBird database)

151219 - Anchorage - Black-backed WoodpeckerRead the rest