June 21, 1899
Went ashore at about 3:30 P.M. at "Aurell Beach" Yakutat Bay, and made for high ground. At about 200 feet from the shore bird notes began to be heard, russet backed and dwarf Hermit thrushes in predominance. Got up among the leafless alders + willows, + heard the clear notes of the golden cr. sparrow. The songs of all the many lilard (?) here were quite radically different from all those heard at the White Pass. These sang [illus], while those at the Yakutat, with very slight variations as to sharps and flats, sang [illus.]. They were very common, from 200 feet above sea to solid snow.
Found the nest of the Alice's Thrush. It was about 500 feet up, in the alder + willow scrub. The [female] was on the nest when I found it, + remained there till I was about 15 feet from her, so that I could identify her absolutely. When she quietly slid off, the [male], who seemed to be watching her from a distance, began to sing most deliciously the song I heard yesterday + that new song. I absolutely satisfied myself that he was the singer, + his species was unquestionable, as I dis[Page 38] tinctly saw all the diagnostic marks at close range with my glass. His call notes, also, were extremely similar to those of the veery. The nest conained three eggs, fresh, greenish-blue and spotted with dull, dusky spots. not nearly as reddish as the olive-backs. It was made almost entirely out of moss, with a basis of grasses placed at the crossing of two willow stems, almost 1-1/2 inches in diameter, abut 8 feet from the ground.
The Townsend's sparrows were very common + extremely susceptible to "chirping" in the thick alder covering. 3 or 4 at a time would be in sight, near by, vigorously chucking or cheeping, those at a short distance singing their full rich song. A few linnets (red-polls) appears at the call, circling high, like cross-bills, (chet, shet, sherrrr --do-) suddenly swinging down to a little brush near-by. A big bird, that I at first took for a [female] mallard, from the nasal wok-wok-wok it uttered showed its head between the alder stalks , so I cautiously worked my way to within range + succeeded in shooting it. It turned out to be a fine [male] willow Ptarmigan, in nearly perfect summer plumage. There were lots of little scratched out clearings under the alders, with scattered white feathers lying around [Page 39] where the birds, which were very numerous, had been preening out the old feathers.
Pipits were heard, but I didn't see any positively.
Ridgway came from Yakutat with 5 Kodiak Pine Grosbeaks, and Fisher, from the west side of same bay brought in 4 parasitic and one fine old pomarine jaeger. He got a Pinicola at Yakutat village this afternoon. (June 21st)
Yesterday, in Yakutat harbor, Arctic Terns were for the first time seen. They were numerous, and their "screeing" note is similar to that of the roseate's, as I remember it, and also somewhat vaguely suggests the screaming note of the bluejay. They were diving for fish in the harbor, in company with the short-billed gulls (2 or 3 seen at a time but not so numerous by 1/10 as the terns) which had apparently as little trouble diving as the terns did. The gulls would slip into the water, at a very straight angle [illus], and disappear entirely. When they emerged, a second, perhaps, after they had gone under, the wings tips would show first, about 8 to 10 inches apart, and then the birds would wedge themselves out very prettily. The gulls would sometimes chase the terns away. The Yakutat Song Sparrow (new) was singing about the village, where I got one, + R.R. got a series of 10. Townsend's S. was also [Page 40] common.
The thrush I first mistook for some veery, then decided as the Russet Back, and found the nest of, has turned out to be Alice's Thrush (Hylocichla aliciae) we having left the range of the Russet Back at Sitka. This explains the difference in the song.