Feb. 11 – The Beautiful in the Ordinary

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Today I took a walk at Spenard Crossing in Anchorage, a place where rarities have often occurred in the past, but none were seen by me today. There was a pair of Downy Woodpeckers talking to each other and searching for breakfast.

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After that I went to Government Hill on the north side of town. In the “lower 48”, European Starlings are a maligned, or at best barely tolerated, pest bird. In Alaska, however, there are many places where starlings have never occurred, other places where they are thought of as more or less desirable rarities of note, and a few places like Anchorage where they have become established. Until today, I had mostly ignored them in Alaska, but when a flock of about 20 of them landed on a lawn next to my car, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how beautiful they can be. Maybe I’m just trying to turn humdrum February birding into something more, but really seeing the starlings today definitely improved my outlook.

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Other birds of note today were a Northern Shrike harassing two Black-billed Magpies on a lawn in Government Hill, and an American Robin blending in with a tree still laden with fruit.

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Earlier at Spenard Crossing I had tossed a few peanuts to the ground for other magpies, and watched them grab the peanuts and hurry off to bury them in the leaves.

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All ordinary Anchorage birds – and beautiful.

107 species so far

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