C’mon, even Alaska beat us.

Posted January 21st, 2010 by kcorliss. Comments Off on C’mon, even Alaska beat us..

The unmet goal of getting 50 species on the Fargo-Moorhead Christmas Bird Count remains a festering sore with me. Again this year we came close–48–but it’s little consolation. Frustrating? You bet.

Then today I hear (via KUCB) of a modest Alaskan village (Unalaska) which got 51 species:

Results from the local 2009 Christmas Bird Count are in. Local bird watchers saw about 7,270 individual birds from 51 different species. Included in the count were 1,368 Emperor Geese, 125 Steller Eiders, 505 bald eagles, and 2 Eurasian Wigeons. 

What’s up with that? In the northern hemisphere birds are supposed to abandoned northerly latitudes in winter and filter south where some Christmas bird counts get huge (think Rockport, Texas).

There is a fairly simple explanation for this of course. Unalaska, home of Dutch Harbor (Deadliest Catch is filmed out of this port), sits in the Aleutian chain where the Japan current maintains a temperate flow of ocean water. Thus the birders there are able to count a lot of water birds. Not that I necessarily want to be there but over 1,000 emperor geese would be impressive to witness. Especially since I’ve never seen one. Stellar’s eiders neither.

(emperor geese, by Russell Link)

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