Hermit Thrush Conversation

Today I spent much of the day out birding with Allison Nelson (who was motivated to come to Southeast Alaska because of her work with Hermit Thrushes wintering in the bay area), and her husband. In her work with geolocators, she found evidence that birds from the north bay sites nested further south than the birds from the south bay sites. The latter appeared to have nesting locations into Southeast Alaska.

It was interesting how few Hermit Thrushes we heard today. She mentioned that Gwen Baluss had told her it seemed to be a poor year for Hermit Thrushes in Juneau. I had not really thought about it (in part because it’s been a strange year overall, with the very early spring), but it does seem like I have heard fewer Hermit Thrushes singing than normal. I’m not sure if that is weather dependent (it’s been a wetter May and start of June than normal), or if there is a lower population this year. We did hear one singing at the park, and a few singing up on Harbor Mountain, so that was nice. It was also nice to see a nest with a female sitting on eggs (presumably). I had been told about the nest previously and was a little surprised to see how close it was to the trail. I suspect very few people will notice it until the young start begging. At that point, the nest could be easily discovered by a dog that hears the calls – the nest is only 3 or so feet off the ground.

One thing I was interested to learn, is that studies so far seem to indicate Hermit Thrushes are very faithful to winter and summmer locations. Birds will be recaptured on wintering grounds at the same location year after year. Similarly, birds have been found to return to the same nesting territory in subsequent years. I think it would be interesting to confirm whether that is taking place on the islands up here, also.

Today’s photos (when they get posted) will show some of my favorite trail whimsy in town. I’m not sure who is responsible for it (some of it looks like it has been there for years, with updates from time to time), but I do appreciate it.

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