February 19 – Exciting Day 3, Great Backyard Bird Count

It started out much like many of the winter mornings lately. It was snowing heavily. Common Redpolls were swarming the feeders, the Steller’s Jays were coming to the peanut feeder, taking a load of peanuts away and returning, Black-billed Magpies were squawking and flying back and forth and a couple of Pine Grosbeaks were perched high in the birch trees.

I was writing them all down so I could enter another checklist for the GBBC later, and was getting ready to leave for church. I looked out in the backyard one more time before I left just as a small hawk barreled into the birch tree above the feeder where the Common Redpolls had just been. They had disappeared completely. At first all I could see was the back of the hawk partly obscured by branches and falling snow. Then the hawk hopped up to another branch and I could see that it was a Sharp-shinned Hawk – a first for my Anchorage yard list and the first of the year!

Even though I’m not doing a big year, I was delighted to add the hawk to my year and yard lists. I expect it will be back again for the redpolls, but there are so many of them I probably will not notice when their numbers are a bit diminished.

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