Often, if it wasn’t for yard birds, winter birding in the cold northland would be pretty bleak. Thank goodness for my yard’s Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Common Ravens, Black-billed Magpies, Steller’s Jays, Black-capped and Boreal Chickadees, Pine Grosbeaks and Common Redpolls (one is hidden in the picture below of the Pine Grosbeaks) today.
As I’ve been reminded the last few days, it can be a long haul between new birds in February after the winter birds and known visiting rarities have been seen. Realizing that I was unlikely to add any new year birds by watching my yard, this morning I did a circuit through selected parts of Anchorage, one of which was an area where we had a Merlin on our Christmas Bird Count. No raptors there today. Shortly afterward, however, near the intersection of Denali & 15th Streets, a MERLIN zoomed by overhead, heading south. Feeling cheered up by finally a new year-bird, even though I did not get a picture of the Merlin, I checked out the downtown area but only saw ravens, pigeons and magpies.