January 31 – One Month Since My Big Year Ended

Until I got rather blindsided by a very nasty cold/flu I’ve been quite busy in the last month doing PowerPoint presentations for my 8 classes (3 classes done so far, all 8 PowerPoints mostly done), doing a PowerPoint on my big year (done but likely to be tweaked), and beginning to write on my third book (more about that another day). Today I stayed inside and slept and tried with mixed success to get my fever down, but yesterday I ventured forth to Cuddy Pond to see the Common Goldeneye that was reported. There were at least two, easily found.

The highlight, just north of the pond at one of the Loussac Library’s parking areas, was a strolling moose, on its way to eat shoots on the brush around the pond. I started videotaping it as it walked over a snow pile, on to the parking lot where I was parked, directly toward my car, and then passed immediately in front of my car. It stopped at the other side of the parking lot as cars went by close to it. The moose stood in one place so long I gave up videotaping and then it walked over the snow pile and went down to Cuddy Pond.


I took a quick drive out to the airport and got a photo of the only bird I saw out there, a Common Raven, and some snow-covered branches.

January 29 – eBird Is Keeping Me Birding

Another slow day – it is winter in Anchorage after all. My favorite mountain that I look at every day out our living room window was visible all day – no snow today to hide the view. Except for the pink-tinged clouds early in the day, no clouds were visible out there.

If it weren’t for the eBird challenge for people to post bird sightings every day in January (which I have done so far), I might just have forgotten to write down the birds I saw today, and if it weren’t for my desire to have pictures for my blog posts I might not have taken any pictures. There weren’t many birds today, but in addition to the usual Black-billed Magpies and Steller’s Jays, there was one Pine Grosbeak, a Common Raven and five Common Redpolls that I saw in our yard today.

Tomorrow I intend to go out somewhere even though I’m still coughing and feeling yucky with my cold.

January 28 -My Cold, not the Weather’s

Today it stayed just below freezing, which is a lot warmer than it was earlier in the week. I’m the one that has the cold now, so mostly today I stayed inside and wished I did not have a cold. I did get outside to help with snow removal, again, because we had a new 3-plus inches since yesterday. The picture below is what I woke to this morning. It’s snowing again now so probably we’ll need to work on it again tomorrow.


There were a few birds around, including the Common Raven that periodically makes an appearance on our porch railing to munch on suet, which today mainly just paced the porch railing. There was also a flock of Bohemian Waxwings in one of our birch trees, Steller’s Jays, Common Redpolls and a Pine Grosbeak. There was no sign of any chickadees, including the one with the deformed beak.

January 27 – Calmness in Weather and Birds

Not much happening today. The weather stayed at about 32 degrees after one day of over 40 degrees with some rain. Yesterday there was lots of melting resulting in major icy patches on roads and walkways, but the snow/ice cover remains on most of the creek at Spenard Crossing where I went today. The birds were mostly not around where I birded and in our yard.


I did see an American Robin yesterday in the Airport Heights area, a bird which to me is always amazing to see in the middle of winter. When I grew up in Wisconsin, we never saw robins until spring arrived.

Today at Spenard Crossing in addition to the usual woodland birds, I saw two Brown Creepers, my first of the year.

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The Mallards were huddled in one remaining open water area.

One of these days I’ll venture forth again beyond Anchorage to go birding but without the push of doing a big year, it’s easier to just wait awhile for the roads to get better.


January 25 –

The big news — the snow plow finally came to our street, along with a big machine that gathered some of the snow along the edge of the road and sprayed it into dump trucks, which hauled it away. There was so much snow removed that a dump truck was filled for each house along the street, and still the remaining snow piles are four feet or more high (but the cleared road is wider now). This is the first time since we moved here that there has been enough snow to warrant such efforts.


Back in the yard, activity was modest as temperatures were above 30 degrees, and are expected higher tomorrow, along with rain on top of all the snow. The only birds that I got pictures of were a Steller’s Jay next to the nearly empty peanut jar and Curly, the Black-capped Chickadee, on one of its many trips to the porch today.

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Tomorrow is my third bird class on places to bird in Alaska, this time on some of the islands of Alaska to the south and west of Anchorage – Kodiak, Dutch Harbor/Unalaska and Adak.

January 24 – Oh Happy Day – No Snow Today

The mountains to the east finally came into view today.

Today’s activities consisted of shoveling on the driveway and on trails in the back yard to get to feeders, waiting in vain for our road to be plowed out, doing more on my PowerPoint presentations and returning to painting on my mountain-eagle picture.

Most of the regular wintering birds appeared in the yard but none were overly active. I spent some time trying to photograph one of the Steller’s Jays on my hand but just succeeded in photographing its forays towards my hand from the peanut feeder on the porch.

Curly the Black-capped Chickadee was around quite a bit, usually on the porch.

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Below are examples of my eagle painting before today, with the current version, possibly in final form, being the last one on the page. These are photographs of the painting and because of the room lighting the painting is tinted beige unlike the painting itself. The painting is acrylic on paper, 18-24 inches.

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January 23 – Yet More Snow

It snowed very gently all day long today, but the gentle weather only succeeded in giving us a bit over another inch of snow. Thank goodness! The view out the front window, where usually one can see mountains, was entirely devoid of mountains, which were hidden by falling snow between us and the mountains.

The birds were modestly active, with a couple of Pine Grosbeaks coming down after mostly being absent for awhile, to procure seeds from under the snow where the Black-billed Magpies and Steller’s Jay had just been.

Curly was around again, sampling food on a couple of feeders and then going back to sit for a bit in the snowy birch tree.

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I really hope that very soon we have a day without any new snow.

January 22 – Winter Wonderland

This morning I stuck a yardstick into the snow in our back yard, and just before I fell over into the fluffy snowbank as I leaned out to take my measurements, I measured the snow depth at 29 inches. After that it snowed a couple more inches during the day, but it eventually quit, and has stopped at least for now.


I have way too many feeders out in the yard and have not cleared the snow off of some of them that the birds rarely visit and that are difficult for me to get to through the deep snow.

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The birds did venture forth, mostly to feeders on the porch. The feeders on the porch that are covered by the porch roof are much easier to deal with because I do not have to keep cleaning the snow away. For the feeders that are on the porch but not covered it only takes a little while to shovel new snow away so I can get to the feeders and only a little more time to brush away the snow (or sweep when it’s really deep). Steller’s Jays and Black-billed Magpies were regular visitors today to suet, peanuts, and dried mealworms.

I also saw Curly (the Black-capped Chickadee with a deformed beak) a couple of times at feeders out in the yard, on the porch and up in a birch tree.

As the sun was going down this afternoon the sky to the west pinkened slightly. For a little while I could see vague outlines of the Chugach Mountains to the east, the first I’d seen of them in days, but the clouds, and probably more snow in the mountains, rolled in again before I could attempt a picture. The roads are completely unplowed in and around our neighborhood and travel is difficult so I expect I’ll work on my various bird talks tomorrow and watch yard birds some more rather than go somewhere else to bird.






January 21 – Another 12 Inches of Snow Today

In the last week we have had about two feet of snow, about 12 inches of which came down today. I think that this week’s total is more than we had the previous two winters combined! I went outside frequently to clean off the bird-feeding surfaces today, but the snow was coming down so heavily that the seed would be covered before I got back in the house. Very few birds were around, and when they did come they had to dig through the snow that had fallen since I last cleaned off the feeders.

We had a single Common Redpoll come under the porch roof to eat seeds and two Black-billed Magpies came in to eat suet.

And Curly came by for about 5 minutes and then disappeared after digging a bit in the snow for seed.

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It’s good we had nothing we had to go to today. In the afternoon we decided to go out to clean off the driveway hoping that the snow would stop coming down soon, but after that it snowed a couple more inches. Behind Dave in the picture below is our house and one of our cars. While we were out there a large flock of Bohemian Waxwings flew by probably wondering where they could find something to eat. When this all melts (assuming it will melt someday), it is going to be a big mess.


January 19-20 – Home with Winter Birds

Winter birds that I photographed the last two days include Common Ravens gathering on trash day in the neighborhood near where my bird class is.

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Although I did see a flyover flock of Bohemian Waxwings, the fruit trees in that neighborhood were mostly beautiful and snow-covered and birdless.

Photographed yard birds include a Red-breasted Nuthatch, Common Redpolls and Black-billed Magpies.


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The winter birds in our yard include a couple of Black-capped Chickadees, one of which is Curly, the Black-capped Chickadee with the deformed beak. Curly survived overnight temperatures of minus 24 degrees on the 18th and minus 7 degrees on the 19th. In addition to Curly’s beak, another noteworthy feature is Curly’s constant movement. I am including a couple of videos that show this as well as how Curly is able to pick up food by leaning over sideways. It apparently is easier for Curly to feed on the snow rather than on a hard surface because Curly’s beak can dig into the snow when Curly is trying to pick up some food particle.

Today it went to just above zero degrees, which in comparison to a couple of days ago seems like a heat wave. I’m hoping for a bit more heat wave so it is more comfortable to get out and bird.