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Katie Eberhart - Writing & Observations

 

MATANUSKA VALLEY - COMMON WINTER BIRDS

Many birds winter in the Alaska's forests and backyards. Several of the most common and easy to spot are:

Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla gárrulus), about 6 1/4 inches long. In the winter travel in flocks eating wild berries such as Highbush Cranberries, and berries on ornamental shrubs such as Mountain Ash and Black Currant. Identifiable by long crest, black "mask" and yellow band at end of tail.
Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa), about 24-33 inches long. Habitat: coniferous and deciduous forest and forest edges. Hunts for small rodents. Has yellow eyes and gray circles on its face.

Pine Grosbeak, male,  on Bird Feeder

Pine Grosbeak, Male

The Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator), about 9 inches long, lives in the Spruce forests of the Matanuska Valley. They travel in small flocks and feed on buds and fruits of trees as well as black sunflower seeds in bird feeders. The male can be quite red while the female is more brownish with a yellowish-russet head and tail patch. (click on images for larger view)

Pine Grosbeak, female, feeds on seeds on the ground

Pine Grosbeak, Female

The Black-Capped Chickadee: AudioItem The Chickadee is a seed eater which winters in flocks that establish territories. The chickadee has several distinctive calls, one of which you can here by clicking on the button above.

Common Redpoll AudioItem The Common Redpoll, also a seed eater, winters in the northern forests in large flocks. In late winter large, noisy flocks may pass through the forest near your house. Click on the button to hear a flock north of Palmer on March 20, 1997 at 8:30 a.m. The Redpoll's distinctive marking is a red patch on top of its head.

The Downy Woodpecker Downy Woodpecker is a small, shy woodpecker which can be spotted singly or in pairs, sometimes traveling near flocks of chickadees.

 

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This page last updated January 13, 2011

 

 

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