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

Photo Quiz: August 2016 Birding

Photo by © Tara Tanaka.

Photo by © Tara Tanaka.

This photo, by itself, isn’t all that hard. We’ll even tell you what it is: It’s an Eastern Phoebe. But there’s a hitch. Of course. The quiz question isn’t: What’s this bird? Instead: What bird is the Eastern Phoebe frequently mistaken for, especially in winter?

Tony Leukering, bird ID expert and general ponderer of how birders think, invites us in the August 2016 Birding to consider “The Most Neglected Field Mark” of all: time of year. If you know when flycatchers show up in the ABA Area, you would never, ever, confuse a winter Eastern Phoebe with, well, anything. That’s because, in many places where phoebes winter, like North Carolina, they’re the only birds that look like phoebes. Phoebe lookalikes–Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Kingbird, Traill’s Flycatcher, etc.–simply aren’t around in winter.

But not everybody knows that. And that’s Leukering point. The phoebe situation is fairly straightforward. But other cases are not. In his commentary in the August issue, Leukering reviews for us various “confusing” IDs that really aren’t confusing at all–if you just look at a calendar. These include winter Chipping Sparrows (try American Tree Sparrow), early Orange-crowned Warblers (also known as Tennessee Warbler), and late juvenile Short-billed Dowitchers (probably Long-billed). And others.

Needless to say, Leukering’s commendably short and readable commentary doesn’t touch on every instance in which time of year is valuable to the ID process. So here’s our question: What are examples from your own neck of the woods where simply paying attention to the calendar can clear up what might otherwise be a gnarly ID problem?

Rare Bird Alert: August 26, 2016


Out well-trodden ABA notables continue in both Arizona and Maine, as the Tufted Flycatcher (ABA Code 5) and Plain-capped Starthroat (4) continue into the week, along with the on-again-off-again Flame-colored Tanager (4) in the former, and the Little Egret (4) persisting at least into last weekend in the latter.

It’s getting to be that special time of year in Alaska, and the fall season rarities begin to come in larger numbers as birders stake out the far reaches of the ABA Area in preparation of avian riches in the coming months. The bgiiest find so far comes from the mainland, however, even if it’s the farthest reaches of the mainland. A Pacific Swift (4), listed on the ABA Checklist as Fork-tailed Swift, well-photographed in the Colville River Delta in North Slope, is only the 2nd mainland record of the species in the ABA Area. On the rarity magnets in Bering Sea, things are starting to heat up. On St. Paul Island, a second Marsh Sandpiper (5) joined the one reported last week, along with a Siberian Rubythroat (3), and on Gambell, the first Dusky Warbler (4) on the island in many years was found this week.


This Pacific Swift in Alaska’s far north is only the 2nd mainland record of the species in the ABA Area. Photo: Isaac Helmericks

One 1st record this week, from Ontario where a Common Ringed Plover has been seen by many birders near Toronto this week. Interestingly, this is the second individual in eastern Canada in the last two weeks following a bird in Quebec last week.

Speaking of Quebec, a Swainson’s Hawk was photographed this week at Bas-Saint-laurent.

In Newfoundland was a pair of Yellow-crowned Night Heron near the town of Freshwater.

Notable for Pennsylvania was a Lark Sparrow photographed in Lancaster.

Delaware’s 2nd record of Gray Kingbird was found near Little Creek this week.

And it was a good week for vagrant flycatchers in the Mid-Atlantic, as in Maryland a likely Tropical Kingbird in Baltimore is that state’s 2nd. A Masked Booby (3) was also seen in Maryland waters from a boat out of Lewes, Delaware.

Exceptional onshore, particularly when not associated with a tropical storm, a Bridled Tern was photographed in Georgetown, South Carolina.

In Georgia, a Ruff (3) was found in Decatur.

Tennessee had a Red Phalarope in Cocke.

In Illinois, a Roseate Spoonbill was found on an Air Force base in St. Clair, and is unfortunately inaccessible to the public.

Iowa becomes the latest midwestern state to host Swallow-tailed Kites this summer, as a pair were found in Johnson.

An unidentified Frigatebird sp was a shock in Ramsey, Minnesota, this week. The bird was a male and unidentifiable based on photos taken, but Magnificent Frigatebird has been recorded in Minnesota before, and is the most likely species though nothing can be ruled out.

Notable for the ABA Area, a Jabiru (4) was photographed in Victoria, Texas, this week. The bird was seen again as recently as yesterday. This is Texas’s 11th record.

In Arizona, a Ruddy Turnstone was photographed in Maricopa.

Wyoming had a Nashville Warbler in Cheyenne.

California has had an exceptional summer for Craveri’s Murrelets (3), being seen regularly as far north as Half Moon Bay in San Mateo. A second Bar-tailed Godwit in as many week in California was seen in Santa Clara.

And from British Columbia, a report of two young Short-tailed Albatrosses (3) off Cape Scott at the beginning of the month.


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 – Jabiru – Texas

On August 24, Dan Walker found and photographed an ABA Code 4 Jabiru in southern Victoria County, Texas. He reported the bird to the TEXBIRDS Facebook group. The bird was seen briefly, but disappeared into ditch in a nearby wet pasture and did not show itself again. It is possibly, even likely, that it is [read more…]

In Praise of New Technologies

A recent Facebook thread (doesn’t everything these days start with some kind of social media post) lamented the apparent reliance on instant gratification and use of technology in the pursuit of birds these days. It’s true that the use of cameras seems to be greater than the use of binoculars for today’s beginners, both young [read more…]

Who Can See a Toucan? You Can! — Free!

Channel-billed Toucan photo by Theo Ferguson on the Asa Wright website: http://asawright.org.

Who wants a free birding trip to Panama? Who wants a free birding trip to Trinidad & Tobago? Who wants a free world-class Zeiss Victory SF binocular?

It’s time to get your friends and extended family to join the ABA. There are just 4 months left in our membership recruitment contest. This is a separate [read more…]

Blog Birding #285

Birding attracts naturalists, but also writers too, as if there something about the pastoral avocation that is so appealing to those who look for inspiration in unusual places. At Literary Hub, Katherine Towler explores.

With birds I have found another way of being in the world. The time devoted to watching birds is about nothing [read more…]

#ABArare – Pacific Swift – Alaska

On Friday, August 19, Isaac Helmericks discovered and photographed an ABA Code 4 Pacific Swift in the Colville River Delta in the far north of Alaska. This species is almost exclusively known in the ABA Area from the Aleutians and the Bering Sea Islands.

Helmericks was able to get impressive photos of this fast-flying [read more…]

Rare Bird Alert: August 19, 2016

It’s hot and buggy across much of the ABA Area, but at least the birds are beginning to move in good numbers. Not the continuing ABA notables, however, which are mostly unchanged for the last month and a half. The Maine Little Egret (ABA Code 4) can still be found, though it is moving around [read more…]

The ABA and the NABCI, Securing a Future for North America’s Birds

Established in 1999, the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) Committee is a forum of government agencies, private organizations, and bird initiatives helping partners across the continent meet their common bird conservation objectives. The Committee is working to secure a bright future for North America’s more than 1,150 species of birds, in conjunction with [read more…]

Open Mic: Seabirds and Plastic Pollution – What it Means for Ocean Ecosystems

At the Mic: Veronica Padula

Birds are fascinating, and I was instantly hooked on studying them in college, especially when thinking about birds’ roles as environmental sentinels. Their health and well-being can tell us so much about what is happening in an ecosystem, and what could potentially be happening to the people in that ecosystem. [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.
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