October ends with another glut of great birds continent-wide as the rarity season really begins to pick up. At least two exceptional ABA Area birds were discovered this week at opposite ends of the ABA Area with a number of other lower level birds scattered throughout. We had two first records reported and several others of which there are fewer that 15 for a given state or province. The most “common” vagrant of the period, however, has to be Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and a number of individuals were recorded north and east of their southern Great Plains centered range. I only included those states/provinces for which it is still an exceptional bird, but left unmentioned are records of the flashy species in places where they’ve become annual fall vagrants.
Headlining this week’s rarities are undoubtedly the handful of ABA Code 4 Bahama Swallows seen in Monroe County, Florida, this week. At least three were seen at the Curry Hammock State Park Hawkwatch, and individuals of a couple more were reported nearby. With that kind of influx you wouldn’t expect that this was the first record of the species in the ABA Area since 1992.
I mentioned Florida first only because the Bahama Swallows were so remarkable, but as far as concentration of rarities go, Washington crushes all comers this week. Leading off a parade of rarities is a Eurasian Hobby (4) in Clallam, the 2nd for the state and only the 5th record in the ABA Area away from Alaska. Clallam has also turned into the most recent incarnation of the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect, and recent records include an Orchard Oriole, one of only a few records for the state, a Brambling (3), a Slaty-backed Gull (3), a Cattle Egret, and a possible Eurasian Skylark. Also around, a Black-headed Gull in Pacific and a Little Gull in Skagit. And that’s before we even get to the state 1st Broad-billed Hummingbird at a feeder in Skamania.
Alaska also had a state first this week, in the form of a wrecked Brown Booby (3) near Sitka. With so many of these birds in California waters this year, perhaps it was a foregone conclusion that one would end up so far north. Also good for Alaska, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is visiting a feeder in Homer.
Mississippi also had a state 1st, in the form of a Sage Thrasher in Harrison on the coast. It was found while birders were looking for the Say’s Phoebe, one of fewer than 5 records for the state.
Staying in the southeast, a Western Meadowlark was found in Baldwin, Alabama.
In North Carolina, a nice-looking Franklin’s Gull in Henderson is the first record of that species in the state in several years.
Neglected last week, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was found in Kanawha, West Virginia.
Pennsylvania also had a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, this one in Lebanon.
And Cape May, New Jersey, not only had a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher but a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) not far away. Also notable at Cape May, a White-winged Dove and a Ash-throated Flycatcher were seen this week.
In Connecticut, notable birds include a Western Kingbird at Bridgeport and a Painted Bunting in Stamford.
Maine had a Townsend’s Solitaire in Hermit Island this week.
Good birds in Newfoundland came from the south, with a White-eyed Vireo at Cape Race and an Indigo Bunting at a feeder in Glovertown.
In Quebec, a Yellow-throated Warbler was photographed at Laurentides, and the first Pink-footed Goose (4) of the year was in Chaudière-Appalaches.
Yet another Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was found in Ontario, in Algoma.
In Manitoba, a reported Yellow-throated Warbler would be a phenomenal bird in far northern Fisher Branch.
Noteworthy birds in Michigan this week include a Lark Bunting at Allegan and a Townsend’s Solitaire in Macomb.
In Wisconsin, a Black-billed Magpie was found in Douglas.
A pelagic trip out of South Padre Island, Texas, had both a Brown Booby (3) and a Red-billed Tropicbird (3).
In New Mexico, a Groove-billed Ani was in Otero.
A Magnificent Hummingbird visiting a feeder in Boulder is about the 20th record for Colorado.
In Utah, a Red-breasted Sapsucker in Logan was a one hour wonder, in addition to being the state’s 11th record. Also in Utah, a Black Scoter was seen near Rockport.
A well-photographed Le Conte’s Sparrow in Clark, Nevada, would be the state’s 4th.
Oregon’s 6th record of Brown Booby was seen from shore in Tillamook.
A Rufous-backed Robin (3) in San Bernadino, California, was seen by many.
Good for British Columbia was a Brown Thrasher at Chetwynd.
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.