October flew by leaving us with a couple of light snowfalls. November came around with something slightly more impressive, but it wasn't the same. Mid December decided to make up for all of the snowfalls that we missed all at once, it seems like.
"Since about May 25, crews have been seeing multiple species showing what we believe are signs of highly pathogenic avian influenza. The signs we are seeing widespread is a headshaking that we equate to "getting the cobwebs out", like a person may do when they first wake up. This behavior occurs regularly every couple minutes. This behavior has been observed in: black brant, cackling geese, bar-tailed godwits, dunlin, lapland longspurs, spectacled eiders, emperor geese, greater white-fronted geese, sabines gulls, glaucous gulls, and red-necked phalaropes."
This video shot on Thursday May 19th, shows the erratic circling behavior of a Canada goose. Although the cause is unknown, this type of behavior is according to USGS, "highly suggestive" of an infection with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).
A number of sick and / or dying songbirds were reported in McCarthy including pine grosbeaks and red polls. A sickly golden eagle was reported ten days earlier. "It flew up to a tree top but appeared weak and a bit awkward."
Swallow populations are fluctuating as the environment changes. In 2016, the Alaska Songbird Institute began studying changes in swallow populations and formed the Alaska Swallow Monitoring Network. This is an opportunity for participation for community members to participate in a structured monitoring program.