General Membership Meeting – January 2015

Thursday – January 15, 2015

Aaron Bowman’s Big Year

by Aaron Bowman

at the BP Energy Center

7:00 PM

Aaron Bowman

Aaron Bowman

Our January program will finally present the December talk which was unfortunately cancelled due to an encounter with an unknown illness which got the better of our esteemed speaker.

But once again, Anchorage Audubon presents another fabulous birding talk, and this one will be a total treat to start your New Year!  Aaron Bowman, Anchorage Audubon’s Field Trip Czar, has been on a year-long quest to do an Anchorage Big Year.

And now that it’s over, and Aaron will share his quest with us at this month’s meeting and program.

During 2014, Aaron scoured the Municipality and has found at least one “First Ever Anchorage Bird” which turned up on the foulest day of the year.  Only Aaron would have even left the safety of his house on that day!

Aaron’s Big Year is a glimpse into what we can all find without leaving our own back yard, and it’s an evening you won’t want to miss.

And we wouldn’t even think about starting the New Year without cookies!

Christmas Bird Count – 2014 Results

Hi Society, Christmas Bird Count Summary

We finally have the preliminary results for the 2014 Anchorage Christmas Bird Count which was held on Sunday, December 14.

President-for-Life keeps the unruly crowd at bay with his dapper delivery of the Tally Results

President-for-Life keeps the unruly crowd at bay with his dapper delivery of the Tally Results

We’re sorry for the delay in reporting.  One of the reporting areas had a software problem which corrupted their data.  We suspect this was caused by North Korean hackers, and the FBI is looking into the case as this is being written.

Our Anchorage teams of Christmas Counters located 44 species of birds with one additional “count week” species (an American Wigeon) being reported.  The total number of birds spotted was 10,147.

Early crowd...anxious to begin feeding...

Early crowd…anxious to begin feeding…

Of the 45 species observed, 12 species were represented by only ONE individual being sighted.  Bohemian Waxwings were once again the most numerous birds found.  White-winged Crossbills made an impressive showing this year with 847 seen, which landed them in fifth place for numbers sighted.

The most unusual sightings this year were the Cackling Goose, the Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and the Red Crossbills.  The Cackling Goose has been well substantiated, but the Chickadee and the Crossbills are being reviewed according to the standard Rare Bird procedure for the Christmas Bird Count.

Yummmmm!  Chili!

Yummmmm! Chili!

Data from the Anchorage Count follows below, and is sorted according to the number of each species seen.  The Tally Party and Chili Feed was a fabulous get-together, and we’d like to thanks UAA’s Mike McCormick and Dana Sample for making the evening possible.  Also worthy of our highest praise are Area Leaders Thede Tobish, Aaron Bowman, Craig Wiese, Dick Prentki, and Pat Pourchot;  Chief Co-ordinator Louann Feldmann;  and all of the many many counters and feeder watchers who provided the data for this year’s count.

Area leader Aaron Bowman received late tally results from one his field commanders

Area leader Aaron Bowman received late tally results from one his field commanders

Anchorage continues to be a Rock Star of Christmas Bird Counts.  Last year, of the 2,408 count circles reporting, Anchorage had the 24th highest participation in the USA!!  This is not a per capita number–it’s based on total participants.  We rock, and here’s what we saw this year:

Bohemian Waxwing                  6930
Black-capped Chickadee         2085
Common Redpoll                      1562
Mallard                                      1079
White-winged Crossbill              847
Black-billed Magpie                    689
Common Raven                         663
Rock Pigeon                               395
Pine Grosbeak                           390
Red-breasted Nuthatch              356
European Starling                         305
Boreal Chickadee                         292
Steller’s Jay                                 113
Dark-eyed Junco                           90
American Robin                            86
Downy Woodpecker                      54
American Dipper                           41
Bald Eagle                                     24
Hairy Woodpecker                         24
Red Crossbill                                 20
Common Goldeneye                      17
Gray Jay                                         17
White-crowned Sparrow                  9
Common Merganser                        3
Red-breasted Merganser                  3
Northern Shrike                               3
Snow Bunting                                  3
Sharp-shinned Hawk                       2
American Three-toed Woodpecker    2
Brown Creeper                                2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet                    2
Pine Siskin                                       2
Cackling Goose                               1
Green-winged Teal                          1
Northern Goshawk                          1
Great Horned Owl                           1
Northern Saw-whet Owl                  1
Northern Flicker                               1
Northwestern Crow                          1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee             1
Golden-crowned Kinglet                  1
Varied Thrush                                   1
Hoary Redpoll                                  1
American Wigeon                             1 cw

Christmas Bird Count – December 2014

Join us for the Anchorage Audubon Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, December 14!

This year’s Anchorage Christmas Bird Count will happen on Sunday, December 14, and once again, it’s FREE!  For the second time ever, UAA will host our After-The-Count Party and Tally in the Student Union Cafeteria. It’s a fabulous day of counting birds, a delectable Chili Feed, and a Rollicking Good Time!

So here’s what you have to do to join the fun:  
    FIRST, call your Area Leader.  Area maps and leader contact info are on our website at   If you cannot reach your area leader, Contact Louann Feldmann at  The area leader will give you information about where that particular team will meet on Sunday, December 14, and what you need to do.  We will do everything possible to place inexperienced counters with veteran groups.

SECOND:  SIGN UP IN ADVANCE.  There is NO FEE this year, but it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to sign up in advance.  In the past, each participant has received a Christmas Bird Count magazine in the fall that details the findings of the CBC for the entire Continent.  This year, the Count Re-cap will only be available electronically, and you will only receive it if your email is submitted through the sign-up process.  Please do NOT but the burden of signing yourself up in the lap of your area leader.  Sign up at

THIRD:  Come to the party at the UAA Student Union Cafeteria.  The party starts at 4:30.  The Audubon Board will bring a fine assortment of chilis, toppings, and cornbread.  Please bring a dessert or side dish to share.  Park in front of the UAA Bookstore, and enter at the bookstore.   
        FOURTH:  If you’re out counting, wear as many layers as you own.  Even driving teams will have all the vehicle windows down in order to hear anything that’s stirring.

And here’s the cool part.  Anchorage is always at the TOP of the list of national participants in the CBC.  This is not based on per capita–we have one of the highest absolute numbers of counters.  Last year, Anchorage logged the EIGHTH HIGHEST number of participants in the entire United States.  WE beat out New York, LA, Chicago, San Diego, and oodles more.  We totally rocked the Christmas Bird Count.  We hope you’ll join us so we can do it again.

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is an organized continent-wide survey that documents every bird seen on a given day from sunrise to sunset. Since the turn of the 20th century, the Christmas Bird Count has contributed to the knowledge base of wintering birds in North America. This information is also important to allow scientists to detect fluctuations and trends of birds over a period of years. The count is an all-day event open to anyone wishing to participate. This is an excellent opportunity for novice bird watchers to join with seasoned veterans and learn more about identifying and finding the local birds. Home feeder-watchers are also needed. I would like to particularly encourage anyone with feeders in the Anchorage area who can spare at least one hour to watch their feeders to participate. The Christmas Bird Count is online with data from 1900 to the present at

Participants are typically assigned to one of five areas in the Anchorage bowl (see map below) and will be assgined to a team based on their bird identification skill level and endurance.   THIS YEAR, count participation is FREE.  It is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, however, that all field observers SIGN UP IN ADVANCE at  select login. The username to logon to the site has typically been your email address or if you are new in the system you will need to set up a new username and password.  The reference code for the Anchorage CBC is “AKAN”.

We invite you to join us after the count at the UAA STUDENT UNION CAFETERIA for chili, hot drinks and a dessert potluck gathering beginning at 4:30 pm. We provide the chili and hot drinks but please feel free to bring a yummy dessert! This is a great time to socialize with other birders and watch as the final tally of each area’s results is tabulated. If you can’t make it on the 14th, please consider doing a Christmas Bird Count in another community. If you are interested in participating in the Anchorage CBC or would like further information, please contact the appropriate area leader listed below or Louann at



Area  Leader  E-mail  Phone
 1  Lee Tibbitts  786-7038
 Thede Tobish  343-7918
 2  Aaron Bowman ampbowman@gmailcom  343-9947
 3  Craig Wiese  563-0311
 4  Dick Prentki  333-4201
 5  Pat Pourchot  258-3003

Anchorage Audubon PDF of Christmas Bird Count map


Anchorage 2011 Christmas Bird Count Results

Anchorage 2010 Christmas Bird Count Results

Anchorage 2009 Christmas Bird Count Results

Anchorage 2008 Christmas Bird Count Results

Anchorage Area Rarity – American Redstart

The American Redstart

American Redstart

American Redstart

  Anchorage, AK – R Street Alley

First Seen:  August 23, 2014

Last Seen:  August 25, 2014

Discovered by: A friend of Christine Maack.  First positively identified by Thede Tobish?

Relative Rarity:  Rare for Anchorage and South Central, AK.  One previous record on June 23, 2002 by Nathan and Stanley Senner.

Anchorage Area Rarity – Stilt Sandpipers

The Stilt Sandpipers

Stilt Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper

Location:  Anchorage, AK – Carr Gottstein Park

First Seen:  August 17, 2014

Last Seen:  August 18, 2014

Discovered by:  Peter Scully

Relative Rarity:  Casual.  Previous reports of one (1) on September 13, 2013 at Carr Gottstein Park, one (1) on July 23, 2013 at Westchester Lagoon by Dick Prentki, and one (1) in 1998 by Nathan and Stanley Senner.

Anchorage Area Rarity – Red Knot

The Red Knot

Red Knot

Red Knot

  Anchorage, AK – Coastal Trail at the Audubon Bench

First Seen:  May 25, 2014 by Peter Scully

Last Seen:  May 25, 2014

Discovered by: Peter Scully

Relative Rarity:  Second Alaska mainland record and the first record for the Anchorage area.  Most others reported at Gambell in western Alaska.

Information:  Don’t laugh at the picture!  The bird was over 600 meters away.

Anchorage Area Rarity – Lazuli Bunting

The Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting

Location:  Anchorage, AK – Campbell Creek Estuary Park

First Seen:  October 11, 2013

Last Seen:  October 15, 2013

Discovered by:  Aaron Bowman

Relative Rarity:  A few reports from Southeast Alaska.  Most notably in 2008 in Juneau and again in 2009 in Ketchikan.  First reported sighting in mainland Alaska and any part of Alaska north of Juneau.


Anchorage Area Rarity – American Coot

The American Coot

American Coot

American Coot

Location:  Anchorage, AK – Lake Hood

First Seen:  October 6, 2013 by Aaron Bowman, subsequently see by many

Last Seen:  October 21, 2013

Discovered by: Aaron Bowman

Relative Rarity:  Generally less than annual, but previous reported at Lake Hood in 2012, 2007, and 2004.  A few other reports at Potter Marsh in 2010 and 1980.

Anchorage Area Rarity – Siberian Stonechat

The Siberian Stonechat

Location:  Anchorage, AK – Carr Gottstein Park

First Seen:  September 24, 2013 by Aaron Bowman

Last Seen:  September 24, 2013

Discovered by: Aaron Bowman

Relative Rarity:  Second Alaska mainland record and the first record for the Anchorage area.  Most others reported at Gambell in western Alaska.

Anchorage Area Rarity – Palm Warbler

The Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler


Location:  Anchorage, AK – 4700 Elmore Road (The MOA Permit Office)

First Seen:  October 18, 2012

Last Seen:  October 19, 2012

Discovered by:  Thede Tobish

Relative Rarity:  Thede says Palm Warblers are “a common rarity” in Alaska.  “1 or 2 are found every year all over the state.”  This, however, is only the 2ndrecord in our part of the state. The first was 2 years ago when Luke DiCicco discovered a deceased Palm Warbler on the sidewalk of the Girdwood gas station.

Information:  On Wednesday, October 17 2013, Thede posted on AK Birding:  “I’ve started checking chickadee flocks for late migrants.”  21 hours later, he found a Palm Warbler.

Anchorage Area Rarity – Willet

The Willet

Location:  Kenai, AK – Kenai River Wildlife Viewing Platform at the mouth of the Kenai River

First Seen:  June 22, 2012

Last Seen:  June 30, 2012

Discovered by:  Laura Burke?

Relative Rarity:  First record for all of Alaska.


Anchorage Area Rarity – Western Kingbird

The Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird


Location:  Anchorage, AK – Westchester Lagoon

First Seen:  June 11, 2012 by Gavin Beiber.  Re-located June 13, 2012 by Pat Pourchot

Last Seen:  June 14, 2012

Discovered by:  Gavin Beiber.  Subsequently relocated by Pat Pourchot

Relative Rarity:  Western Kingbirds have been seen in Southeast Alaska in Juneau and in the Hyder area, as well as along the Denali Highway.  They are extremely unusual with less-than-annual sightings.   A Western Kingbird was seen in Seward, AK for about 4 days in 2008.

Anchorage Area Rarity – Franklin’s Gull

The Franklin’s Gull

Location:  Anchorage, AK – Mouth of Chester Creek, Mouth of Fish Creek

First Seen:  June 7, 2012

Last Seen:  June 10, 2012

Discovered by: David Sonneborn

Relative Rarity:  Casual in South-coastal Alaska.  Anchorage sightings in August, 2005 and September 2009. Extremely rare in spring, summer, and fall.  Maybe 1 per year.

Anchorage Area Rarity – Great Egret

The Great Egret

Location:  Anchorage, AK – 20 Mile River Marsh

First Seen:  May 28, 2012

Last Seen:  May 31, 2012

Discovered by: John Pearce and Elizabeth Manning.  Word spread by Thede Tobish.

Relative Rarity:  Accidental in South-central Alaska, this being the first reported sighting.

Additional Information:  1st Great Egret observed in south coastal Alaska. Adult in breeding plumage. Appeared to be feeding on Alaska Blackfish, catching several while observed. Periodically harassed by Mew Gulls.

This Great Egret …. is about the 20th occurrence of the species in Alaska and the first for the Anchorage area.  Aside from one record in Cordova, another for Kodiak, and two for Barrow, most of Alaska’s records are split evenly between Southeast Alaska and the western and central Aleutians, where the Asian breeding race modesta is involved. –Aaron Lang

Anchorage Area Rarity – Ivory Gull

The Ivory Gull

Location:  Anchorage, AK – Campbell Point Park near the Clithroe Center in Anchorage

First Seen:  May 7, 2012

Last Seen:  May 7, 2012

Discovered by:  Luke DeCicco

Relative Rarity:  Casual in South coastal, AK.  Third local record.  Last seen in Anchorage in May, 2006.


Anchorage Area Rarity – Evening Grosbeak

The Evening Grosbeak

Location:  Palmer, AK – The Butte area

First Seen:  January 12, 2012

Last Seen:  March 25, 2012 (with additional undocumented sightings as late as mid-May, 2012)

Discovered by:  Bob and Chariie Sartor

Relative Rarity:  One prior record from the Anchorage area.  Up to twenty (20) additional records from South east, Alaska.