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May 26, 2015

  • Dark-eyed Junco, Fairbanks, Alaska

    Bird of the Week – Dark-eyed Junco

    The Dark-eyed Junco is one of Alaska birders’ favorite species, because it is among the first spring migrants to arrive and the last to leave. There are half a dozen subspecies, but the Slate-colored shown here is the version found most commonly in Alaska. The black head and the pinkish bill make this another easy species to identify in the field. The call sounds amazingly like an old-style cell phone ringing, and WC has seen birders check their phones when they have heard the bird’s call. Very common, a habitué of feeders and, yes, another sparrow. But at least it…

  • Golden-crowned Sparrow, Cordova, Alaska

    Bird of the Week – Golden-crowned Sparrow

    One last sparrow, and WC has saved a handsome one for last. The Golden-crowned Sparrow is easily identified by the strong golden line on the crown of its head. The gold crown contrasts nicely with the otherwise black head. It also has easily recognized call, “oh-deary-me.” It’s a bit secretive, lurking in dense brush, but the males perch on shrub tops during breeding season, to establish territories and attract mates. This bird was photographed on spring migration on the Copper River Delta. Camera geek stuff: f5.7, 1/320, ISO250. For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

  • Fox Sparrow, Valdez, Alaska

    Bird of the Week – Fox Sparrow

    We’re not quite done with sparrows just yet. The Fox Sparrow is probably Alaska’s most variable sparrow, ranging from Sooty or Pacific subspecies shown here to the Red or Taiga species seen in Interior Alaska. There are at least four subspecies in Alaska; perhaps as many as 18 in North America. It’s also one of the Alaska largest sparrows, and kicks up leaves jumping and hopping as it forages. Unlike some other songbirds, it is perfectly, well, reasonably, confortable in the rain. Which in places like Valdez is a good thing. The Fox Sparrow also has one of the most…

  • Lincoln's Sparrow, Peat Ponds, Fairbanks, Alaska

    Bird of the Week – Lincoln’s Sparrow

    We’re still on sparrows. There are lots of sparrow species, the Little Brown Jobs or LBJs. This one is the Lincoln’s Sparrow, a boreal forest specialist. Because the species breeds only in boreal regions, has a distinct preference for dense shrub cover, and is secretive in nature, much of its biology remains poorly documented. And it can be difficult to photograph. (It’s not a great photo; it’s a little soft and the shadow across the head is a distraction. This is a target species for this coming summer.) The Lincoln’s Sparrow is a microhabitat specialist, preferring low willow cover with dense ground vegetation and…

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    A 6-Pack of Reasons Amy Demboski Should Never Hold Office

    Shockingly there are still Anchorage residents who are answering “undecided” when asked who they will vote for on May 5th in the mayoral election. Maybe their brains are stricken with spring fever, or cabin fever, or a controlled substance of some kind (#YesOn2). We’re about to make it easier for you to decide, and the decision has little to do with policy and everything to do with integrity, honesty, and ethics. We’d like to believe that those things, when utterly lacking in a candidate of any political persuasion, render that candidate unsuitable to hold office in the eyes of the…

Headlines

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the NRA Leadership Forum in Nashville.

NRA Leaders Speechify – Aloha Akhbar?!

Apr 11, 2015

For a weekend conference designed to celebrate and protect Americans’ second amendment rights, the Leadership Conference at the annual convention of the National Rifle Association sounded a whole lot more like a fire and brimstone tent revival to quash the political aspirations of future Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana “The leader of the vast left wing conspiracy will be announcing her candidacy,” said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, during an unscheduled moment with the press before the event started. Jindal described this event in vague terms as an unholy alliance between big business and the Hollywood elite….

American Tree Sparrow, Denali Highway, Alaska

Bird of the Week – American Tree Sparrow

Apr 11, 2015

The American Tree Sparrow is mis-named. It breeds in Alaska and Canada, north of the treeline, far from trees. Early European settlers thought it looked like the Eurasian Tree Sparrow, an unrelated species, and the name stuck. The handsome, brown-capped little sparrow breeds in alpine habitats across Alaska, between the Brooks Range and the Coastal Range. This is one of the smaller Alaska sparrows, best seen in spring when the male perches on top of low bushes, singing to establish his territory and  to find a mate. Camera geek stuff: f4, 1/250, ISO200. For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather…

Song Sparrow, Copper River Delta, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Song Sparrow

Apr 4, 2015

The Song Sparrow is one of the most diverse and widespread songbirds in North America, with 24 diagnosable subspecies (52 named) breeding from Newfoundland to the Aleutian islands here in Alaska and south to central Mexico. Coastal southcentral Alaska is the northerly limit of its breeding range. Individuals vary 150% in body mass over this range—the largest subspecies breed in beach grass in the Aleutians, the smallest in California salt marshes. The species commonly seen in mainland Alaska is at the larger end of the size spectrum. While the species generally winters in the western states, birds regularly over-winter in southeastern Alaska…

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The Weekend Off – News You Missed

Mar 30, 2015

Alaska ADN – Sudanese refugees living in Anchorage have vehicles vandalized Mohammed Hano and Mbarek Suleiman, refugees from a violent conflict in a distant African country who now live in Anchorage, say they woke Sunday morning to find their cars covered in messages telling them to leave the place that was supposed to be their final, safe home. The Week – Baked Alaska EARLIER THIS WINTER, Monica Zappa packed up her crew of Alaskan sled dogs and headed south, in search of snow. “We haven’t been able to train where we live for two months,” she told me. Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, which Zappa…

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Spring Migration, Delta Barley Project

Bird of the Week – Yellow-rumped Warbler

Mar 28, 2015

By far the most common warbler in the boreal forest, the Yellow-rumped Warbler, the “Butter-Butt,” prefers the canopy, the tops of trees. As a result, it’s probably the most common cause of “birder’s neck,” neck strain from looking straight overhead. The species winters in the southern United States and Central America. The Yellow-rumped Warbler has two different forms: the Audubon’s and the Myrtle. They were once thought be be separate species, but were “lumped” into a single species a little while back. Alaska sees the Myrtle Warbler form. Camera geek stuff: f8, 1/640, ISO6400. For more bird photos, please visit Frozen…

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Quiet, 26 Years After the Spill

Mar 24, 2015

Several years ago Shannyn Moore, Jeanne Devon and I went out to Prince William Sound [read the post from Jeanne Devon] on an assignment from BBC World Service. We were sent for the odd request that could only come from a international news agency like the BBC… gather sound. They didn’t need video, or pictures, just sound. BBC had certainly been there before and had much in their catalogue to make it sound like their reporter was in Alaska – but they were looking for sound from right then. It was July 4th weekend so instead of BBQ and beer the…

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The Weekend Off – News You Missed

Mar 23, 2015

Alaska KTVA – Anchorage mayoral candidate threatens to sue media Mayoral candidate Dan Coffey has stated he doesn’t want the public to hear a private conversation he had with current Anchorage Assembly member Bill Starr back in 2008. The conversation with Starr was recorded onto an answering machine. ADN – State sells $4 billion in stocks because it may need the cash before long The state is liquidating about $4 billion of long-term investments in stocks because it may need the money soon and can’t afford the risk of a market decline. The need to draw billions from the Constitutional Budget…

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Coffey Tape Reveals Illegal Donations (AUDIO)

Mar 22, 2015

The following is a press release from Michigan public radio reporter, and former Anchorage radio personality Aaron Selbig. The audio tape is the subject of this week’s Alaska Dispatch News, and Mudflats column by Shannyn Moore. Her commentary can be found HERE. *** The audiotape of former Anchorage Assembly members Dan Coffey and Bill Starr discussing illegal campaign contributions first aired February 26, 2008 on the Aaron Selbig Show on KUDO 1080AM. It was later replayed by KUDO hosts Camille Conte and Shannyn Moore. The tape came to Selbig after it was recorded on the home answering machine of former…

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Coffey Spilled the Beans Long Ago

Mar 22, 2015

Anchorage mayoral candidate Dan Coffey has a problem — a big problem. I’m not sure if it’s a medical issue that has affected his memory of events over the last decade or so, or if it’s just way easier for him to pretend some of the things he’s done or said didn’t happen. Shall we climb into the not-so-way-back machine? Oh, it was an exciting time, and I was in the middle of it. We’re only going back to 2008 — for now. There was this wonderful character named Alan Tesche. He was an assemblyman and used to get on…

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New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Photos

Mar 21, 2015

For the first time in my photo career I was assigned to cover the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade – it was one of my bucket list assignments. The specific focus of my assignment was the first ever LGBT group allowed to march in the parade. You can see my photos from that part of the parade over at the Village Voice. While I was there on assignment, I also photographed the rest of the parade – below are a few of my favorite shots – many more can be seen at my photo website.