HawkWatch Volunteers Needed – April 17 – May 15, 2017

HawkWatch International

Count Hawks at Gunsight Mountain

at Milepost 118.8 of the Glenn Highway 

The raptors are coming through Gunsight Mountain (there’s nifty movie here!) like gangbusters.  The Golden Eagle tally is over 600 and the Harlan’s Hawks streamed in with 61 on Monday.  Also on Monday, there were 3 Sharpies, 1 Rough-legged, 2 Goshawks, and an amazing Boreal Owl calling during the middle of the Day!   There has also been a Hawk Owl hunting near the Hawkwatch site at Mile 120.

The Hawkwatchers would appreciate any help they can get—scanning the sky for an entire day is pretty tiring and the more eyes the better.

Last year, OUR area volunteers (all of you folks) tallied SIX HUNDRED hours of assistance at the site, and those hours contribute to the equation when funding and grant money is awarded.

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The Anchorage Big Day Wrap-up!

The Anchorage Big Day Wrap-up!

another Audubon Cutthroat Competition!!


It was a Cutthroat Birdwatching Competition at it’s finest that combined no sleep with in-your-face attitude and Margaritas! It was the First Day of Spring Anchorage Big Day.

TEN teams squared off to see who could find the most avian species in the 24 hours between 5:00 PM on Friday and 5:00 PM on Saturday. Strategies varied widely. Some teams headed for Girdwood at 4:00 PM on Friday so the hour of driving wouldn’t eat into their legal birding time. Others headed for Girdwood before sunrise on Saturday for the same reason.

Some teams looked for owls around town, and some spent the night prowling from Girdwood to Portage listening intently every quarter mile.

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Annual Event – February 18, 2017

The Annual AAS Seward Winter Birding Field Trip

Work off all those Holiday Cookies!

Due to potentially unsafe driving conditions between Anchorage and Seward, the 2017 AAS Seward Winter Birding Field Trip scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled.  It was a difficult decision, but safety and everyone’s well being was uppermost in our minds.  We apologize for the inconvenience. 

Join Andrew Fisher and Anchorage Audubon for a free winter birding excursion to enjoy Seward’s
diversity of wintering birds and the possibility of a few rarities.


Come dressed for a variety of weather conditions, bring your ice grippers, and plan for a fun day with great company!


Bring your binoculars and spotting scope (if you have one…there never are too many!),
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Membership Meeting – Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lynn Barbers’ Record Breaking Alaska Big Year

 at the BP Energy Center – 7:00 PM

lynn-barber-alaska-big-yearLynn Barber holds the record for the tenth highest North American Big Year total ever.  When she found 723 birds in 2008, it was the highest Big Year total ever for a woman.  She set the Texas Big Year all-time record (522 species) in 2005, she found 350 species in one year in South Dakota, and this year she has already smashed all existing records for an Alaska Big Year by finding 299 species thus far (as of October 9, 2016, 307 species to round out the year).  We’re can’t wait to hear her tales of adventure in the last frontier.

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Membership Meeting – Thursday, January 19, 2017

Birding the Ebro Delta and Catalonia, Spain

 at the BP Energy Center – 7:00 PM

The Ebro Delta is the largest wetland in Catalonia (Spain), and one of the most important bird areas in the western Mediterranean Sea with over 300 species of overwintering and transient birds including the awesome and unique Hoopoe. Come and learn about this important bird area and others in Catalonia with Enric Fernandez, who lived in Spain for 22 years before moving to Alaska.

Enric will share with us pictures from his last birding trip there in November 2016, and provide tips on species to look for, places to visit, and bird identification. To top it off, he will share a place in Catalonia where a hungry birder can purchase a 2.2

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Christmas Bird Count – 2016 Results

Hi Society!

2016 Christmas Bird Count Results


We finally have the results for the 2016 Anchorage Christmas Bird Count which was held on Saturday, December 17, 2016.

We’re sorry for the delay in reporting.  It took us awhile to undo the damage done to the Anchorage Audubon CBC database by Russian hackers.

Our Anchorage teams of Christmas Counters located 37 species of birds on count day with one additional “count week” species (a Short-eared Owl!) being reported bringing the total number of species seen during count week to 38 species .  The total number of individual birds spotted was 20,739.

This graph shows that the 2016 CBC was perhaps a little bit below our previous fifteen year average which appears to be “about” 40-42 species (give or take), but what we lacked in quantity, we MORE than made up for in the “quality” department….with two 1st ever Anchorage CBC records including a Song Sparrow (1st ever Anchorage CBC record), the American Kestrel (again 1st ever Anchorage CBC record), and a Pacific Wren (2nd ever Anchorage CBC record) following the 1st ever Anchorage CBC record in 2015.

Of the 38 species observed during count week, 7 species were represented by only ONE individual being sighted.  Bohemian Waxwings were once again the most numerous birds found with 7,857 seen (compared to the 54 year average of 3,851).  Common Redpolls made an impressive showing this year with 3,227 seen (compared to the 56 year average of 1,425), which landed them in second place for numbers sighted as well as Black-capped Chickadees with 2,085 seen (compared to a 57 year average of 893), which landed them in third place.

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 thank the First Congregational Church, Lynn Barber, and Louann Feldmann for making the evening possible.

Also worthy of our highest praise are Area Leaders Thede Tobish, Andrew Fisher, Daria Carle, Tom Evans, Dick Prentki, and Pat Pourchot;  Chief Coordinator Louann Feldmann;  and all of the many, many counters and feeder watchers who provided the data for this year’s count.

Anchorage continues to be a Rock Star of Christmas Bird Counts.  For the 2014 CBC, 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 for the 2016 CBC:

Bohemian Waxwing 7,857
Common Redpoll 3,227
Black-capped Chickadee 2,305
Mallard 1,302
European Starling 1,084
Rock Pigeon 841
Black-billed Magpie 753
Common Raven 697
White-winged Crossbill 638
Pine Grosbeak 600
Red-breasted Nuthatch 457
Boreal Chickadee 331
American Robin 193
Steller’s Jay 96
Downy Woodpecker 60
American Dipper 46
Golden-crowned Kinglet 45
Brown Creeper 31
Hairy Woodpecker 30
Bald Eagle 29
Dark-eyed Junco 27
Common Merganser 22
Pine Siskin 12
White-tailed Ptarmigan 10
Northern Shrike 9
Gray Jay 8
White-crowned Sparrow 8
Northern Goshawk 6
Great Horned Owl 5
Am. Three-toed Woodpecker 3
Common Goldeneye 1
Red-breasted Merganser 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
American Kestrel 1
Spruce Grouse 1
Pacific Wren 1
Song Sparrow 1
Short-eared Owl (count week) 1

As seen during the Tally Party, graphs have been made of each species on a per year basis since the count began.  These graphs are available for viewing via the following link:

Graphs of Species by Year (click on this link)

The graphs total about 1 megabyte (1 MB), so they aren’t small, but nor are they large, representing about 1/700 of a typical movie available for streaming on the various movie streaming services on the web.  So you choose the fun – the number of species recorded during the last 50 or so years of the Anchorage CBC, or 10-1/2 seconds of the movie “Dumb and Dumber”.

We’ve actually spotted what looks to be a data error in the historical data based upon these graphs.  If you can spot it, please let us know, as we’ll definitely put YOU on the short list for our anti-Russian hacking team we are assembling!

Membership Meeting – Thursday, December 15, 2016

Birding with the Big 5: A Look into Remote

Kenyan Birding Adventures

 at the BP Energy Center – 7:00 PM


Come learn about some of the remote and adventurous birding locations in Kenya, East Africa, with Andrew Fisher, who spent 14 years there getting to know African wildlife. He will share some of his favorite birding locations, when to go, what species to look for, and share fun stories of getting stuck in the mud, camping with elephants, and where and when to not get out of your vehicle. Come and learn about some of the well-known, and not so well known Kenyan birds. Who would have thought that the Alaskan Northern Wheatears spend the winter on the plains of Kenya.

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Special Program: Gunsight Mountain Hawkwatch – Wednesday, March 8, 2017

 Neil Paprocki presents:

Special Program:  Gunsight Mountain Hawkwatch

 at the First Congregational Church, 2610 E. Northern Lights Blvd – 7:00 PM

We’ve got a real treat next Wednesday, March 8th, when Neil Paprocki will give a last minute program about the Gunsight Mountain Hawkwatch. Neil will be in town to get his team started on the Second Ever full-season monitoring of the raptor migration through the Gunsight Mountain area.

Once again, Hawkwatch International will monitor the migration from March 7 until approximately May 15, and Neil will give us a glimpse into this year’s plans as well as last year’s findings.

So mark your calendar at the last minute: Wednesday, March 8th. 7:00pm at the First Congregational Church on Northern Lights just east of Lake Otis.

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Christmas Bird Count – Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Bird Count and Tally Potluck Chili Feed

 at the First Congregational Church, 2610 E. Northern Lights Blvd – 5:00 PM


This year’s count will be Satchristmas-bird-count-transparenturday, December 17th followed by the Tally Party and Chili Feed Potluck at the First Congregational Church, 2610 E. Northern Lights Blvd. just east of Lake Otis.  Park in the lot on the east side of the church and enter through the glass doors on that side (lower level of the building).

To sign up:   Register as a participant in the 2016 Christmas Bird Count at the National Audubon Christmas Bird Count Site, www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count. Participation is free but National Audubon is always happy to accept an on line donation to continue their important work, including support of the Christmas Bird Count.  

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Membership Meeting – Thursday, November 17, 2016

An Introduction to the Birds of Hawaii

 at the BP Energy Center – 7:00 PM

Just this week, the American Birding Association announced that they are adding Hawaii to the official ABA “North American Area.”

This is simultaneously a great idea and a Big Fat Mess.  Everything from ABA Life Lists to Big Years is now changed with the addition of new “countable” birds, and we’ll attempt to put it all in perspective at our November program on Thursday, November 17.

Commander-In-Chief W. Keys will try to address Hawaiian ecology in general, the birds of Hawaii, where to find them, and where to find the best Mai Tais.

So Aloha to all, and we hope to see you Thursday, November 17. 

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Membership Meeting – Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bird Feeders in Alaska

at the BP Energy Center – 7:00 PM

161009-feeder-1-boreal-chickadeeIn case you haven’t noticed, it’s Fall.  That means it’s time to stock up the bird feeders, and our October Audubon Program features “Bird Feeders in Alaska.

”According to the latest estimates, over 52 Million Americans feed birds and other wildlife at their homes.   It’s great citizen science, it’s great fun, and we’ll present a rundown of types of food for birds, types of feeders, and other tips for attracting wildlife to your yard.

We’ve gathered a fabulous selection of photos which show local feeders and techniques that are totally unexpected.


If you have great photos of unusual bird feeders in Alaska, please send them as soon as possible to flybynightclub AT gci DOT net.

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HawkWatch International – March 7 – May 15, 2017

HawkWatch International

Count Hawks at Gunsight Mountain

at Milepost 118.8 of the Glenn Highway 

This spring, a decades-long goal will finally happen for the second year in a row!  We have always wanted to do a complete and thorough Hawk Watch for an entire season at Gunsight Mountain. 

This year, thanks to Neil Paprocki, it will become a reality once again!


Neil monitored our Hawk Watch site for 2 weeks in the spring of 2015.  His Hawk Watch International team returned in 2016 to count for the full season, and tallied over 3,000 migrating raptors.

That total included over 1,100 Golden Eagles and over 1,000 Harlan’s Hawks.   This year, Neil will return with two additional hawk watchers for the entire season.
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Membership Meeting – Thursday, March 16, 2017

Beginning Birding Class

The Perfect Opportunity to Learn

What This Crazy Addiction Is All About!

at the BP Energy Center – 7:00 PM

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 Anchorage Audubon’s March 16 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.

W. Keys 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. 

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Annual Event – March 24-25, 2017

The Big Anchorage Birding Day

Celebrate the First Day of Spring with

another Audubon Cutthroat Competition!!

Believe it or not, Spring is on the way, 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 24, 2017 until 5:00 PM on Saturday March 25, 2017.

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.

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Annual Event – April 15-16, 2017

The Gunsight Mountain Hawk Watch Weekend

The Harlan’s Hawk Capitol

of the World!

at MP 118.8 of the Glenn Highway:  10:00 AM

Our Annual Hawk Watch Weekend in collaboration with the Mat-Su Birders will take place this year on April 15 & 16th.   It’s the Greatest Event of the Birding Year in Alaska!

Our Hawk Watch is known as “The Harlan’s Hawk Capital of the World” because you’ll see more Harlan’s Hawks here than anywhere else on Earth.

There is no ornithological tailgate party like this anywhere in the country, and this year we know of at least one birder who’s traveling all the way from Utah for the event.

Celebrate the return of spring migrating raptors with this annual Anchorage Audubon field trip of the spring. Migrating raptors that can be seen along the ridge line near MP 118.8 include Golden Eagle, Harlan’s 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 as well as Swans, Lapland Longspurs, Snow Buntings, and the occasional Northern Hawk Owl.   Bring warm clothing, binoculars, spotting scopes, lunch, snacks, and lawn chairs and sit back while you watch migrating raptors glide over the nearby ridge.

Generally great weather, albeit a little chilly sometimes – The dog doesn’t quite seem so enraptured by the passing raptors as is everyone else.

The Hawkwatch is a spectacle that is unrivaled in Alaska.  It’s a great gathering, a fabulous party, and the birds are astounding.  If you have never attended the Hawk Watch, you’ll never be the same.  The scenery is gorgeous!

Hawk Watch Panorama taken from a 100 Megapixel image of the Chugach Mountains to the south of MP 118.8 of the Glenn Highway

Meet at 10:00 AM at the wayside at Milepost 118.8, Glenn Highway. A short raptor identification talk will take place at 10:30 AM.  On Sunday, April 16, the Mat-Su Birders will host their annual Hawk Watch Potluck BBQ at the same location.   For details on the Mat-Su Hawk Watch – www.matsubirders.org/html/calendar.html.

Hawk Watch – Northern Harrier (note the black wing tips)

A special birder’s banquet will be hosted by the Sheep Mountain Lodge on Saturday night, and plans include a talk by the Professional Hawkwatchers from Hawkwatch International who once again will be conducting an entire-migration census of the site during March, April, and May.  Rooms are available at The Lodge for those who want to stay on site for the entire Hawkwatching Weekend.

Hawk Watch 2012 – Golden Eagle

And once again, Anchorage Audubon and the Mat-Su Birders are honored to supply Port-A-Potties at the event for your Hawkwatching pleasure.   

We’d Love to Have You Join Us.

Saturday & Sunday, April 15 & 16, 2017

MP 118.8 Glenn Highway




Membership Meeting – Thursday, April 20, 2017

Adventures in India

at the BP Energy Center – 7:00 PM

Our April Program is another first for Anchorage Audubon.  We have never had a presentation on the birds and wildlife of India, and this will be an unbelievable treat.  Julie Jessen is a stunning photographer with amazing stories to tell.

Imagine India and you may think of big cities and people…but do you think about wildlife? Photographer Julie Jessen had the opportunity to spend five weeks exploring India’s wildlife and wild places earlier this year.


Join us on April 20 at 7:00 PM to experience the wonder of India–from one-horned rhinos in monsoon-influenced Assam to snow leopards in the high elevations of Jammu & Kashmir. Julie’s talk will include tips and tricks on photographing birds and wildlife on YOUR next adventure.

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Campbell Creek BLM Early Morning Birdwalks – May 4, 2017

Campbell Creek BLM Early Morning Birdwalks

Tired of just seeing magpies and ravens?  Welcome the Spring Songbirds!

Develop and fine-tune your birding skills and witness the progression of songbird migration through the Campbell Tract this spring. Join the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff and Anchorage Audubon Society members for a series of early morning outdoor bird walks May 4, 11, 18, & 25. Walks are from 6:30 AM – 8:30 AM.


Please meet in the Campbell Creek Science Center parking lot. Dress appropriately for the weather and for walking on uneven terrain. Hot cocoa and coffee will be available at the Science Center afterwards, courtesy of Friends of the Campbell Creek Science Center.

The Campbell Creek BLM Birdwalks will continue on May 11, 18, and 25th.… Read the rest

25th Annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival – May 4-7, 2017

Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival

25th Annual Festival

Alaska’s largest birding festival features a huge array of field trips, seminars, and speakers.  2017 festival highlights include Keynote Speakers, J. Drew Lanham from Clemson University and author/photographer Paul Bannick (The Owl and the Woodpecker).  Located in the bustling town of Homer, this will certainly be a birding highlight of the year.  There are field trips, boat trips, kayak trips,  ID seminars,  and this year’s festival spotlights the artwork of the late George C. West.



For more information go to:  http://kachemakshorebird.org/


Thursday, May 4, 2017 – Sunday, May 7, 2017

Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival


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Copper River Shorebird Festival – May 4 – 7, 2017

Copper River Shorebird Festival

Cordova, Alaska

Highlighting a vast number of migratory shorebirds stopping over on the Copper River Delta, this is truly a great festival in the fabulous  town of Cordova.  This is where you go for Avian Tonnage!  This year’s Keynote Speaker is none other than David Allen Sibley – the ultimate Field Guide guru.

Also featured will be esteemed biologists Joan Walsh, Lisa Kennedy, Samantha Franks and a special presentation by The Alaska Hummingbird Project’s-Kate McLaughlin.  


For more information go to http://www.copperriverdeltashorebirdfestival.com to find out why 5 Million Shorebirds Can’t be Wrong.

Also this year, Major Marine Tours will feature a special birding boat trip from Whittier to Cordova, and there will be an New Event:  Shorebird Airboat Tours.… Read the rest

Campbell Creek BLM Early Morning Birdwalks – May 11, 2017

Campbell Creek BLM Early Morning Birdwalks

Tired of just seeing magpies and ravens?  Welcome the Spring Songbirds!

Develop and fine-tune your birding skills and witness the progression of songbird migration through the Campbell Tract this spring. Join the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff and Anchorage Audubon Society members for a series of early morning outdoor bird walks May 11, 18, & 25. Walks are from 6:30 AM – 8:30 AM.


Please meet in the Campbell Creek Science Center parking lot. Dress appropriately for the weather and for walking on uneven terrain. Hot cocoa and coffee will be available at the Science Center afterwards, courtesy of Friends of the Campbell Creek Science Center.

The Campbell Creek BLM Birdwalks will continue on May 18, and 25th.… Read the rest