May 6: Anchor Point

Observations by Kristine Sowl:

The Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival is a celebration of birds, all birds really, though shorebirds tend to take center stage.  However, it’s not only shorebirds that are migrating through Homer. I had to stay at home this morning to work, but was still able to enjoy the birds in my yard, near Anchor Point.

I started off my morning by wandering the yard and the nearby woods. A ruby-crowned kinglet seemed to be stuck on repeat as it tediously repeated its song over and over.

I could hear varied thrush singing from the treetops and, in the distance, sandhill cranes. But my most exciting find was two spruce grouse, a female lurking in the brush and a male that flew up into a spruce and displayed himself in all his glory.

Male spruce grouse

 The only shorebirds I encountered was a greater yellowlegs who has a territory on the next lake over and a snipe that was winnowing overhead. I checked my lake for a pair of mallards that had showed up two days ago, but they were not in sight. After my morning constitutional, I sat down at the kitchen table. I deliberately chose this location for my home office desk because it faces the window and has an excellent view of the front yard.

Golden-crowned sparrow

Plus, my feeders normally hang from the porch, so there was a lot of spilled seed in the flower bed that had accumulated over the winter and attracts the spring birds.  First visitor of the day was a golden-crowned sparrow. I had seen one for the first time yesterday and today it looks like I have a pair of them.

To my surprise, I also had visitations by both red and white-winged crossbills. I don’t think I observed either of these species over the winter. An even bigger surprise, the white-winged crossbills were a female plus two recently fledged young! Guess they didn’t waste any time with their nesting.

Red crossbill
White-winged crossbill

As the morning progressed, I saw several birds patrol the grass, looking for food. These included a white-crowned sparrow, two dark-eyed juncos (mostly likely the birds that had overwintered here), and three American robins. The robins had shown up on Friday, while the white-crowned sparrow was my first of the year.  

American robin

I did a last check of the yard before lunch and heard a yellow-rumped warbler singing across the road. Other species seen included my resident birds – both boreal and black-capped chickadees, pine siskins, and red-breasted nuthatches.

Kristine Sowl is a wildlife biologist; she studies breeding and migration ecology of Beringian shorebirds.  Kristine participates in the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Monitoring project and has been birding in Homer even before she lived here.  You may have met Kristine volunteering at a Viewing Station during a past Festival.