Date: 2/11/19 2:34 am From: <kenaibirder...> [AKBirding] <AKBirding-noreply...> Subject: [AK Birding] Of Siskins and Redpolls
Unlike other Kenai Peninsula Coastal areas the greater Kenai area does not typically harbor large numbers of PINE SISKINS in winter, or any time for that matter. But the winter of 2018-19 has been unusual in this respect since the first half of winter, November through January, Pine Siskins have been the "norm' while COMMON REDPOLLS have been the exception. This is hard core boreal habitat, unlike Homer or Seward or Anchorage, yet unbelievably siskins have been common while redpolls have been scarce to absent. This is rare in our area especially when that condition persists for months. Of course all that changed with the advent of February as redpolls finally moved-in in force. On February 2 we finally started to see redpolls appear locally. On the Kasilof Flats we encountered a flock of 700 Common Redpoll foraging with a flock of 350 SNOW BUNTINGS and a handful of MCKAY's BUNTINGS. When foraging in the vast open country of the Kasilof or Kenai Flats redpolls resort to feeding on Seaside Arrowgrass (Triglochin maritima) and American Dune Grass (Leymus mollis) seed heads just as the bunting typically do. Since the birch catkin crop is poor to non-existent in our area, grasses are being exploited more than normal by area winter finches.