SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Rare bird sighting in Ketchikan


November 09, 2012
Friday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - The first documented sighting of an Ash-throated Flycatcher was recently made in Ketchikan. According to avid bird watcher Steve Heinl and an Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist, he along with his friends Will Young and Andy Piston made this rare sighting in Ketchikan's Millar Street neighborhood Wednesday.

jpg Rare bird sighting in Ketchikan

Heinl's photograph represents the first documented record for Alaska of the Ash-throated Flycatcher. 
Photograph by Steve Heinl ©

"I figured that people that live in the Millar Street neighborhood have been wondering what the people with binoculars and cameras have been doing wandering up and down their street for the past three days," said Heinl.

"Like many birds found far out of their normal range, this bird is a young bird that was hatched this year, and basically migrated in the opposite direction that it should have migrated," Heinl wrote in an email to SitNews.

Heinl said two "birders" from Fairbanks actually traveled to Ketchikan specifically to see this bird and add it to their Alaska list. A "birder" is a person who identifies and studies birds in their natural habitats or a bird watcher.

While the Ash-throated Flycatchers are fairly common throughout most of the western United States and Mexico, they would be rare in Ketchikan and southeast Alaska. Heinl's photograph represents the first documented record for Alaska of the Ash-throated Flycatcher. 

Heinl said, the Ash-throated Flycatcher nests in Mexico and the western United States north to south-central Washington, and these birds spend the winter in Mexico.  They are about 8" long and like to sit on perches in open areas where they scan for flying insects and catch them by "sallying" (flying out, catching the insect in mid-air, and flying back to a perch).  Heinl said the Ash-throated Flycatchers are very similar to some other closely related species that are basically grayish on the upperparts, pale gray on the chest, pale yellow on the belly, and have variable amounts of rusty color on the wings and tail. 



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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

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