Spring Birding Season Arrives

Late March felt like a glorious start to Spring in Alaska. I imagine the returning migrant Gulls felt the same. Called north by the returning sunlight, they were set to return to their summer breeding grounds. Gulls were screeching at traffic on International Airport Road, scouting for open water, and soaring in the beautiful sunshine. Smash cut to an April blizzard.

Blowing snow ruffling the feathers of the grounded Gulls clinging to their perch. They weren’t prepared for two feet of new snow. Well, no one was, but lets look at this Spring delay as an golden opportunity. Extra days to train your ears, clean your camera lenses, and dig those binoculars out of storage. Time to get ready for Spring Bird Migration!

Flash of feathers. Crash of color. Melodies adrift on the breeze. Neighborhoods will soon be a flutter with returning birds. Many will sing at sunrise gently waking you from sleep, other’s will soar overhead, and some will float by your favorite fishing hole. Identification of birds seen during summer travel can deepen your appreciation of the Alaskan wilderness.

Bosom Buddies - Common Redpolls
Bosom Buddies – Common Redpolls

The appreciation of birds was a gradual process for me. My boss, an avid birder, had talked about birds for years. It wasn’t until my wife and I purchased our home, which backs up to a green belt, that birds received my full attention.

I was curious. Who was singing in the morning? I wanted to know who was eating at our feeder? Why did it look like those ducks were landing in our neighborhood? (Later I would find a secret pond, which is another story, for another day.)

My curiosity bubbled over. I bought a bird book (we are a Peterson family), new binoculars, and started investigating our neighborhood. That investigation lead to 6:30 a.m. bird walks at the Campbell Creek Science Center, iBird Pro (my most expensive iPhone app), and a hard drive full of bird photos (most of them blurry).

A couple years later, I boldly classify myself as a beginning birder. A few thousand photos later, I boldly classify myself as an amateur. However, recently I have been able to capture interesting shots, and a found vibrant birding community to share them with on Instagram. Now birds are a topic of conversation with family and friends.

Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee

A walk at the dog park becomes more exciting identifying hundreds Bohemian Waxwings flying overhead. A hike with friends has more laughs after you tell them the Alder Flycatcher can be identified by its song that sounds like “free-beer”. Birds are the amazing thing you see, when you stop and look.

The featured birds are commonly found at backyard feeders year round in Alaska. They also happen to be a great starting point for your investigation into the world of birds.