Bird count: 67 species, almost 9,500 birds

A Townsend’s solitaire was one of the rarer birds seen in the count.-Photo by Tami Reiser

A Townsend’s solitaire was one of the rarer birds seen in the count.-Photo by Tami Reiser

Homer’s Audubon Christmas Bird Count was held Dec. 20, and it was a beautiful, warm, calm day. There were 67 species seen that day and an additional eight species recorded for the Count Week (three days before and three days after). 

A total of almost 9,500 birds were counted. The final report is on the Kachemak Bay Birder’s website at

There were some unusual and interesting birds spotted. The American coot was still where it had been for almost a month — right there where the culvert empties out of Beluga Lake into the Slough. The coot rests in the grass there but then comes out to feed. It’s a dark bird with a very obvious white bill so it is hard to miss. Seeing it from the bike path gives a good, close view. There have been only three previous sightings here in Homer.

Another interesting bird was the Townsend’s solitaire which was seen by the airport observation platform and has been seen in town near the hospital for many weeks also.

A group of rusty blackbirds was seen at Bishop’s Beach, a very late horned puffin, probably migrating through, was seen off Land’s End, and good finds of cedar waxwings and red-throated loons. Two teams reported hearing varied thrush singing.

Good birds were found in the Count Week also. A trumpeter swan surprised everyone when it was seen in Mud Bay on Dec. 21. They are never here in the winter but several hundred winter over at the mouth of the Kenai River. 

Others unusual for this time of year were northern shovelers, Eurasian wigeon and green-winged teal. Two interesting hybrids were found, a mallard crossed with a northern pintail and a glaucous-winged gull crossed with a herring gull. Hybrids do not count as a separate species but are documented.

Overall there were a high number of finches counted, both white-winged crossbills (2,070) and pine siskins (2,019). The fantastic cone crop this year is likely a factor and the mild weather contributed to the high number of species seen.

Mallards (1,055) were third highest.

A big thank you goes to all the 30 or more participants and especially Dave Erikson who has been the coordinator/compiler now for 38 Christmas Bird Counts. And a thank you to the folks at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center for the use of their facilities.  As we like to say “It’s a great day to bird!”

More in News

Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove poses for a photo on Jan. 9, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The veteran Alaska legislator was passing through Homer while waiting to take the M/V Tustumena ferry to Kodiak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Clem Tillion, PFD founder and former legislator, dies at 96

Tillion died Wedneday, Oct. 13, at Halibut Cove home.

Thunder Mountain High School on April 18.  Earlier this fall, vandalism including stolen soap dispensers and toilets clogged with foreign objects such as paper towel rolls were a problem at schools nationwide and in Juneau. But, principals say the local situation is improving. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
After brief surge, vandalism subsiding at local high schools

Principals say internet trends, stress likely behind incidents.

In this Jan. 8, 2020, photo Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, heads to a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington. An Alaska man faces federal charges after authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill Murkowski, according to court documents unsealed Wed., Oct. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite,File)
Delta Junction man faces charges over threatening Murkowski’s life

Authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill the senator.

Donna Aderhold recites the Homer City Council oath of office and is sworn in for duty at the city council meeting on Oct. 11. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
New council members sworn into duty Monday

Newly-elected Homer City Council members Shelly Erickson and Jason Davis and re-elected… Continue reading

Runners participate in boys varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. The trails recently reported incidents of vandalism and theft. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Vandalism and theft reported at Tsalteshi Trails

One trail user reported stolen skis recently and multiple signs have been defaced.

At left Bonita Banks, RN, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) nurse at Homer Medical Center, and at right, Annie Garay, RN, Community Health Educator, pose for a photo at South Peninsula Hospital on Sept. 27, 2021, at Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
New hospital community health educator starts

Garay, a Homer raised nurse, came home to ride out COVID-19, wound up doing pandemic nursing.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Montessori school goes to universal indoor masking

As of Tuesday, eight KPBSD schools were operating with universal indoor masking for staff and students.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Crabbers look at cuts to quotas

Tanner, opilio crab quotas cut on top of cancellation of fall king crab fishery.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Judge sides with psychiatrists who alleged wrongful firing

Two psychiatrists said they were wrongfully fired when Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy took office.

Most Read