Last Friday I was visiting with Larry, another pizza-day regular, over lunch at the Backdoor and he happened to mention that there had been an unfamiliar bird in their yard. From his description of a bird with white outer tail feathers and white on its wings (he thought primaries), it didn’t sound like a very good fit for anything I could think of. I got an e-mail from him today that mentioned the bird was still around and he had attached some pictures that his partner Martina had taken which made it clear that the bird was not one typical for Sitka. I was able to get over there with a few other birders keen to see it. The photos with this post are ones I was able to get during that visit.
The bird is kind of ragged looking, and my best guess is that it’s an immature bird undergoing molt. I would certainly be interested in hearing other thoughts about it in the comments.
As far as I can tell, this is the third record of Northern Mockingbird for Sitka. There were a couple of them reported in two different years in the early 1990s, one in July the other in August. Marge Ward told me one was at Starrigavan, the other up at the Kimsham landfill (which is now the site of ball fields). There are scattered reports from elsewhere in Southeast Alaska, but the normal range of this species appears to be no further north (in the west) than the southern portions of Oregon and Idaho.
Many thanks to Larry for mentioning this bird and Martina for getting pictures!