FAIRBANKS — A bird-finding fundraiser held Saturday at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge didn’t produce a new two-hour record for the number of birds found at the refuge on College Road but it did raise more than $400 for Friends of Creamer’s.
Eight bird seekers scoured the trails, fields, forest and wetlands under the leadership of Mark Ross, a wildlife biologist and naturalist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, from 10 a.m. to noon. They were attempting to break Ross’ own record of finding 37 species of birds at Creamer’s Field in two hours.
Birds were mainly identified by song. The most frequently heard species was the yellow warbler, which always could be heard warbling somewhere, no matter which habitat searchers were moving through, from the seasonal ponds, to the boreal forest, to the bog areas. Warblers were closely followed by the distinctive song of the white crowned sparrow.
Noticeably absent from the count were black-capped and boreal chickadees.
“These guys have hatchlings right now,” Ross explained. “They’re hunkered down in their nests, or moving around very quietly trying not to be discovered, protecting their young.”
The chickadees’ strategy worked, as not a single chickadee was heard or spotted.
In the end, searchers found 27 different bird species on Saturday. While that may seem like a lot to non-birder types, it’s not, Ross said.
“I’m not sure why,” said Ross, whose team won the Alaska Songbird Institute’s 12-hour Big Day Birdathon two weeks ago with 65 species. “It could be time of day, the weather.”
Ross was hoping to turn up an alder flycatcher on Saturday. Alder flycatchers are the last migrants to arrive in the Tanana Valley but none were heard on Saturday. The first report of an alder flycatcher at Creamer’s Field came in on Monday, Ross said.
BIRD SPECIES FOUND