aba events

The Kaufman Challenge, v. 0.5

What could be simpler? Learn the names of fifty plants and animals around your home. That’s all there… [read more]

The Kaufman Challenge, v. 0.5 The Kaufman Challenge, v. 0.5

It’s OK to Talk to Strangers – at Least if They Have Binoculars

I was desperate to find another birder, but generally speaking there are few to be found in the Black… [read more]

It’s OK to Talk to Strangers – at Least if They Have Binoculars It's OK to Talk to Strangers - at Least if They Have Binoculars

Open Mic – The Endangered Species Act and Birds: A Wild Success?

At the Mic: Jason A. Crotty The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is difficult to evaluate, as its success… [read more]

Open Mic – The Endangered Species Act and Birds:  A Wild Success? Open Mic - The Endangered Species Act and Birds:  A Wild Success?

Announcing the 2016 ABA Awards Recipients!

The ABA Board of Directors recently voted to make three presentations of ABA Awards in 2016. The awardees… [read more]

Announcing the 2016 ABA Awards Recipients! Announcing the 2016 ABA Awards Recipients!

Introducing the 2016 ABA Bird of the Year!

We're excited, at last, to share this year's ABA Bird of the Year and artist. Thanks to artist… [read more]

Introducing the 2016 ABA Bird of the Year! Introducing the 2016 ABA Bird of the Year!

The ABA’s Spark Bird Project Puts Binoculars in the Hands of Kids

What could a kid discover if they had the tools we birders often take for granted? What could they find? Birds,… [read more]

The ABA’s Spark Bird Project Puts Binoculars in the Hands of Kids The ABA's Spark Bird Project Puts Binoculars in the Hands of Kids
Nikon Monarch 7

Rare Bird Alert: September 30, 2016


The last week of September was a very good week for vagrants in North America, with a number of exciting finds coming from all corners of the ABA Area. First to check in with our continuing birds, the now very familiar Little Egret (ABA Code 4) in Maine, the Crimson-collared Grosbeak (4) in Texas, and the Jack Snipe (4) on St. Paul Island in Alaska were all present into this past week.

Most notable this week, from a rarity and twitching perspective, is the Variegated Flycatcher (5) discovered Wednesday on South Padre Island, Cameron, Texas. Not only is this only the 7th record of this austral migrant in the ABA Area, it’s the 1st for Texas. Variegated Flycatcher has always been an odd species, with records widely distributed around the ABA Area in places like Washington, Maine and Ontario, for instance, but never in Texas, arguably the most natural destination for neotropical vagrants, until now.

Photo:  Susan Strasevicz via Macauley Library

Variegated Flycatcher in Texas is a 1st for that state and the 7th for the ABA Area. Photo: Susan Strasevicz via Macauley Library

From a purely rare perspective, the most exciting bird of the week was an apparent Eurasian Sparrowhawk on Adak Island, a potential first record for the ABA in addition to one for Alaska. Sadly, the bird has not been refound and may no longer be on the island, but at least there are photos.

Other notables from western Alaska include a pair of Red-flanked Bluetails (4), and a briefly seen Yellow-browed Warbler (4) on St. Paul, and the third Siberian Accentor (4) of the fall on Gambell.

Perhaps the most bizarre sighting of the period was a completely unexpected for any number of reasons Gray Wagtail (4) photographed from the deck of a pelagic birding boat off of Grays Harbor, Washington. This is not only a 1st record for the state, but only the 2nd record of this species in the Lower 48.

South Carolina also had a mind-bender of a 1st record this week, when a Yellow-green Vireo was captured by a banding operation on Kiawah Island in Charleston.

Up in North Carolina, the bird of the fall was a young Kirtland’s Warbler, photographed in Yancey. It is the state’s 6th record.

Ohio had a nice Harris’s Sparrow visiting a feeder at Black Swamp Bird Observatory in Ottawa.

In Michigan, a nice find was a California Gull in Berrien.

Louisiana begins to fill in its annual array of winter flycatchers with a Say’s Phoebe in Vermilion.

New Mexico had a wayward Blackpoll Warbler in Las Cruces.

Increasingly expected in Arizona is a Ruddy Ground-Dove (3), this one in Pinal.

September in California is always great for vagrants, and highlights of the week include the state’s 11th Dusky Warbler in San Mateo, a Mourning Warbler in Mendocino, the state’s 11th Smith’s Longspur on San Clemente Island in Los Angeles, and a Hawaiian Petrel (4) seen from SE Farallon Island.

Good for Alberta was a sharp Black-throated Blue Warbler in Canmore.


Omissions and errors are not intended, but if you find any please message blog AT aba.org and I will try to fix them as soon as possible. This post is meant to be an account of the most recently reported birds. Continuing birds not mentioned are likely included in previous editions listed here. Place names written in italics refer to counties/parishes.

Readers should note that none of these reports has yet been vetted by a records committee. All birders are urged to submit documentation of rare sightings to the appropriate state or provincial committees. For full analysis of these and other bird observations, subscribe to North American Birds <aba.org/nab>, the richly illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the ABA.

#ABArare – Variegated Flycatcher – Texas


On September 28, Bill Beaty found an ABA Code 5 Variegated Flycatcher on South Padre Island, Cameron County, Texas. This would be the 7th record for the ABA Area and the 1st for Texas.


Photo: Javi Gonzalez

The bird was seen at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, typically hanging out around the front of the building and the parking lot area. It was seen until dark on the 28th.

Variegated Flycatcher, Empidonomus varius, is a tropical South American species and the nominate subspecies, varius, is a long-distant austral migrant which winters in northern South America and the western Amazon basin.

There are six previous records of this species in the ABA Area previously, literally from all corners of the continent. The first ABA-Area record of this species was one photographed at Biddeford Pool, Maine in 1977. Subsequent records have come from Obion, Tennessee (1984), Toronto, Ontario (1993), Franklin, Washington (2008), and two records from Florida, St. John’s (2013) and Broward (2015).

Variegated Flycatcher is very similar to another vagrant flycatcher, Piratic Flycatcher. In fact, the first report of  Variegated in Florida was subsequently determined to be Piratic. For visual comparisons between Variegated and Piratic Flycatchers, Martin Reid’s website (follow the link) has excellent photos and a study of the two species.

Join the Migratory Bird Twitter Chat!

Join the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sonoran Joint Venture, ABA, and Black Swamp Bird Observatory for a Migratory Bird Twitter Chat on September 29, 2016! [read more…]

#ABArare – Dusky Warbler – California

On September 24, Ron Thorn discovered an ABA Code 4 Dusky Warbler in a patch of fennel in San Mateo County, California. The bird has been fairly reliable in this spot, which just south of San Francisco and notably just north of the San Francisco Airport. I can’t immediately recall a more convenient bird for [read more…]

Blog Birding #290

ABA Board member J. Drew Lanham, whose new memoir was published recently, offers an excerpt of the work focusing on the concerns of a black man birding in rural South Carolina at Literary Hub.

On mornings like this I sometimes question why I choose to do such things. Was I crazy to take this route, [read more…]

#ABArare – Eurasian Sparrowhawk – Alaska

St. Paul and Gambell are the most popular fall hotspots in western Alaska, but the Aleutians produce as well, despite less coverage. Frank and Barb Haas hit the jackpot on the western Aleutian island of Adak this past Wednesday (9/21) when they photographed an unusual Accipiter that looks like a good candidate for the [read more…]

Rare Bird Alert: September 23, 2016

According to our friends at Birdcast, this past week was a good one for migration with fair to excellent conditions across the continent. As such, the rare birds alerts were more active this week, with a number of notable vagrants moving along with the expected species, particularly on the left half of North America.

Continuing [read more…]

American Birding Expo Wrap-up

Last weekend the ABA Lounge was open for visitors at the American Birding Expo in Columbus Ohio. Hats off to Expo organizers Bill Thompson III and Wendy Clark, as well as the whole Birdwatcher’s Digest team, for a wonderful event. The expo featured tour companies and guides from virtually every part of the globe, optics [read more…]

Test your ID Skills with the ABA Photo Quiz

Birders love Photo ID quizzes. Or, at least, they certainly get a lot of attention. Maybe we like tackling the finer points of bird ID when the obvious stuff is obscured. Or maybe those of us who are adept at taking poor bird photos hold out hope that our headless, branch-obscured, butt shots can find [read more…]

ICYMI: THE Top 10: Reasons to make Hawaii part of the ABA Area

Editor’s Note: The discussion regarding the addition of Hawaii to the ABA Area is ongoing, and we encourage ABA members to make their views known by filling out a proxy ballot answering this question. We hope you have also seen the August 2016 issue of Birding magazine. To continue that conversation, here’s a piece from [read more…]

Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
Read More »

Recent Comments




ABA's FREE Birder's Guide

If you live nearby, or are travelling in the area, come visit the ABA Headquarters in Delaware City.

Beginning this spring we will be having bird walks, heron watches and evening cruises, right from our front porch! Click here to view the full calender, and register for events >>

via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow ABA on Twitter