November 24 – They’re Gone; They’re Back

Most of the lakes in Anchorage finally (much later than usual, I believe) have a thin layer of ice across them.

The ocean inlet, however, seems to be ice-free so far.

Most of the ducks, except for Mallards at places where the water is open, such as at Spenard Crossing and Cuddy Pond, and our yard, and a Common Merganser every now and then, seem to be gone for the year. The Mallards in our yard regularly behave as if they thought they were lightweight songbirds as they perch on the bird feeders.

One day only a Rock Pigeon visited along with the Mallards. It seemed to be particularly attached to one of the male Mallards, flying when the Mallard flew and hopping along near it on the ground.

Until quite recently the weather has been unseasonably warm and little birds have been infrequent in our yard, except for periodic visits by Steller’s Jays, Black-billed Magpies, and the absolutely too-cute Red-breasted Nuthatches.

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A couple of days ago, however, when we had a brief cold spell, the yard was hopping, with first-for-the-season Common Redpolls and Bohemian Waxwings.

Today, when a small flock of Mallards was in the backyard, they suddenly took off and in their fleeing midst was a huge (in comparison with everything else in our yard except the Mallards) Northern Goshawk. All disappeared, and since then only a few Mallards have flown rapidly over our yard, clearly afraid to land again. Just now, however, a single male Mallard has dared to land briefly in our yard again. They will be back, and maybe the Goshawk will too. It pays to pay attention to birds, even in a mostly empty back yard.