- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - When two National Park Service interpreters stopped to watch a bird outside their offices in Glacier Bay, they didn’t realize it was the first time the species had been spotted in Alaska.

Interpreters Steve Schaller and Emma Johnson were looking at a yellow-throated warbler, reported The Juneau Empire (https://bit.ly/1KC3IqG).

“When we first spotted it, it sort of looked like a yellow-rumped warbler, but then we started to notice its behavior was different, and it had a longer beak,” Schaller said. “We started realizing that this was something new.”

It’s surprising to hear about the species in Alaska: The yellow-throated warbler usually spends summers in the Midwest and winters as far south as Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

But Schaller said the bird was making itself at home, sitting comfortably in the spruce tree outside their offices.

“It’s coming up to the windows on the sides of the building, nabbing spiders and other insects,” he said, adding that it seems used to people.

The pair saw the bird on Sept. 22, just three days after a mother and son spotted a hooded oriole in Juneau.

Birds usually leave Alaska in the fall, but it’s not strange to have unusual bird sightings at this time of year, according to Audubon Alaska Executive Director Nils Warnock.

He said unusual birds tend to show up during migration periods, but noted that it’s odd that both bird sightings appeared to be adults.

“Vagrants are often young birds,” he said. “Sometimes, they do 180 reversals (of their normal direction.)”

It’s also more common, he explained, to see new birds from Asia than from the Lower 48.

Warnock said the birds may have gone astray because of weather and storm patterns that threw them off their paths.

“We’ve had a lot of strange weather lately, especially the big blob,” he said, referring to a large patch of warm water in the Gulf of Alaska. Wayward birds, he explained, “follow wind currents, and end up in out-of-the-way places.”

Then again, he said, two unusual bird sightings in the same week could just be a coincidence — but that didn’t damper his enthusiasm.

“Birds are cool,” said Warnock. “We (birders) love this stuff. There’s something about it, because we have such strong seasonality with our birds. There’s something about seeing these vagrants that show up. It adds a special something.”


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide