The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Carol Griswold
For The LOG 

Rare birds highlight of Christmas count


Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Robin Collman, Egor Sturdy, Michael Mahmood, Terry Martin, Carol Griswold, Marilyn Sutherland and Jim Herbert get their assignments as Seward's bird counters prepare for the day's expedition during Christmas week. The guy with the big grin, Dan Crowson, was visiting from Anchorage..

On the day of Seward's Christmas Bird Count, Dec. 22, 22 Field Counters, including four young birders and four Boat Crew, birded the Seward Circle from dawn to dark. Another 10 Feeder Watchers kept vigil at their feeders. Hikers counted along the Tonsina Trail Route, and out to mile 1 on Exit Glacier Road. Other teams walked, biked and drove their respective routes from Lowell Point to Mile 12 and points in between.

The weather was mostly overcast with brief glimpses of the sun and an occasional snow flurry with temperatures ranging from 31 to 37 degrees. The brisk 15-22 mph north wind with gusts to 37 mph made conditions in exposed areas challenging. The Boat Crew contended with rough seas to four feet buffeted by the wind on their 24-mile survey of Resurrection Bay.

The Seward Count Day species was up this year to 60 species from 52 last year with three species added for Count Week. Numbers overall were lower, 1,922 birds, with many species totaling only one or two birds, and no reports of any Pine Siskin, Redpoll or Crossbills. The highlights, however, were Seward's rare and unusual birds.

Feeder Watcher Extraordinaire Ava Eads counted the rare Swamp Sparrow. The bird was initially documented on Dec. 12 as the first record for Seward and the Kenai Peninsula. Birders from Anchorage, Soldotna, Kodiak, Talkeetna and even California have traveled to Ava's to see this bird with more planning to come. Another bird listed as rare, the White-throated Sparrow, first spotted on Dec. 15, was counted at Lowell Point.

Another exciting find was a Killdeer, a new winter record for Seward and the Kenai Peninsula. A Brambling, another unusual bird from Eurasia, first found on Nov. 28, also made the count. Rare or not, every bird found was special and counted.

The CBC is a 100 percent volunteer project. Many thanks to Captain Mike Brittain for providing his skills and the Dora, and the Boat Crew: Tasha DiMarzio, John Maniscalco, and Tuula Hollmen; the Tonsina Team: Tim Johnson, Michelle Keagle, and Ann Ghicadus; Lowell Point and Points North Team: Jim Herbert and Michael Mahmood; Town South Team: Kit and Janet Durnil, and Jonah Lindquist; Town North Team: Robin Collman, Kerry Martin, and Kristin Pelo; Beach Team: Carol Griswold, Marilyn Sutherland, Dan Crowson, and Egor Sturdy; Exit Glacier Team: Wendy, Cody, and Casey Bryden.

And many thanks to the Feeder Watchers: Judy Cabana, Tasha DiMarzio, Ava Eads, Duane and Sanna LeVan, Russ Maddox, John Maniscalco, Paul and Lynda Paquette and Katy Turnbull.

The National Audubon Society annually compiles bird data collected by citizen scientists across the Americas in the Christmas Bird Count, and uses this information to assess the health of bird populations and to help guide conservation action.

For information on the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, and other citizen science opportunities like the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit For photos, please visit my blog at

Happy Birding in 2014!

See the count results at


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