Last updated: April 14, 2015
I was stationed out at Exit Glacier for the day. There are many forms of change happening around the Exit Glacier area. As I was heading back from a successful guided hike up to the edge of Exit Glacier I spotted a different silhouette in a nearby cottonwood tree. A very red Pine Grosbeak ruffled up its feathers and preened for a moment. I have seen these birds plenty of times in Michigan when I was growing up, but this was only the 3rd time I’ve seen one in the Exit Glacier area. Later in the day Ranger Elsie told me she spotted a Spruce Grouse with at least 2 chicks crossing the paved trail out to the glacier. Another fairly common bird elsewhere, that is somewhat uncommon to see around Exit Glacier in the summer.
Exit Glacier, like many glaciers in Alaska, is rapidly receding. The successional forests which are colonizing disturbed de-glaciated terrain are rapidly maturing. As this process continues I expect there will be an increase in the diversity of bird species regularly visiting the area like Grey-Cheeked Thrushes who prefer well wooded areas having a thick understory (Lowther et al. 2001). It is interesting to notice these changes on a relaxed informal basis I would love to have a MAPS station or at least regular point counts near the nature center to monitor the changes in this bird diversity over the change in forest succession.
*Lowther, P. E., C. C. Rimmer, B. Kessel, S. L. Johnson, and W. G. Ellison. 2001. Graycheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus). The Birds of North America, No. 591. 20 pp