Hummingbird in Haines

Climate change shifts winter range

 

January 10, 2019

The Josephsons named the hummingbird "Anthony Frost." They ordered a feeder that will keep its food warm. Brenda Josephson photo.

Brenda and Roy Josephson have a resident Anna's hummingbird flitting around their home and eating from their feeder, and it's the northernmost spot the hummingbird has ever been observed, according to the largest bird observation reporting website eBird.

On Monday, Brenda Josephson said they've seen the bird almost every day since mid-December. "We put out the feeder on Dec. 15 for him," Josephson said. "Everything was going great and then we didn't see him on Dec. 30. We thought he was gone. It was cold and windy that night. He was gone for three days. On Jan. 2 he showed back up."

On Monday, when temperatures sank into single digits, Josephson said they didn't see the bird. They tried putting a hand warmer on the feeder, but it kept freezing. Now they rotate the feed to keep regularly thawed food available for the bird, and they've since ordered a heated feeder to keep the bird's feed thawed.

"We're actually really worried for him and the fact he chose to stay here," Brenda Josephson said.

Birder Pam Randles said Anna's hummingbirds have been arriving in the Chilkat Valley more frequently in the wintertime. The relatively plump gray and green birds are found along the Pacific coast, and are one of the only hummingbirds that winters in the Pacific Northwest, according to eBird.com. Of the 1.2 million Anna's sightings logged on eBird, Haines is the northernmost observation of any Anna's hummingbird during the months of December, January and February.


Mike and Lisa Denker had an Anna's overwinter near their house through February several years ago.

The Audubon Society released a 2014 climate change report which indicated that more than half of bird species in North America are at risk of disappearing by 2080 because of shifting and shrinking ranges. The Anna's hummingbird was included in the list of threatened species, according to the organization's website.

Other Anna's sightings in December and January in Southeast include Gustavus, Sitka, Hoonah, Juneau, Petersburg, Craig and Ketchikan.

Josephson said they haven't seen the bird since Monday when the cold snap began. "That's unfortunate," Josephson said. "He was gone for three days last time so we haven't given up hope. I hope he survived it."

Christmas Count

During this December's annual Christmas bird count, Randles said no hummingbirds were seen, although three reports were received before or after the official census. A new species counted this year were four Ruddy Ducks along River Road. "I'm not terribly surprised because we've been getting more duck species as we've seen the climate change, but I've never seen a Ruddy Duck up here before," Randles said.


Uncommon winter species that were observed included one horned grebe, three pelagic cormorants, three belted kingfishers and a brown creeper.

Eighty-nine participants composed of 11 teams spent many hours walking, driving and skiing more than 20 miles of area at different locations across the borough to collect bird observations that will be sent to the Audubon Society. The data collected from similar volunteers across the country help the conservation group analyze ranges for hundreds of bird species.

Local volunteers counted 1,401 birds from 50 different species during the recent count.

 
 

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