We’re nearly halfway through February and many of the rarities present since the beginning of 2016 are still around. Birders doing Big Years in 2016 certainly picked a friendly year to do so. Texas leads the pack with continuing Blue Bunting (ABA Code 4), multiple Northern Jacanas (4) three different Crimson-collared Grosbeaks (4) and Golden-crowned Warbler (4). The long-continuing Sinaloa Wren (5) and a Streak-backed Oriole (4) are in Arizona. The British Columbia Redwing (4) is still around, as is the one in Nova Scotia. In Ohio, the Brambling (3) is still present and the Kelp Gull (4) was discovered again this week. A long-staying, but inconsistently seen, Brambling (3) is also continuing in Idaho.
And we have new rares, too! One comes from Florida, where a female Black-faced Grassquit (4) was seen at Long Key State Park in Monroe, Florida. Notably, the last ABA Area grassquit was found at nearby Bahia Honda almost exactly one year ago.
This Black-faced Grassquit is the 3rd ABA Area record in the last 4 years. Photo: Angel Abreu
And speaking of returning rarities, Texas adds to its riches with a pair of ABA Area notables, a White-throated Thrush (4) in Hidalgo and a Common Crane (4) in Terry. Both are birds that were in the state last year around the same time.
In California, a Kelp Gull (4), or to be more specific *the* Kelp Gull was found in Los Angeles. Close scrutiny reveals it to likely be the same bird that was present south of San Francisco last May. This is a new species for Los Angeles county, which provisionally places it one bird ahead of San Diego in the long-simmering friendly rivalry to be the birdiest county in the ABA Area.
In Montana, a Mew Gull in Flathead is noteworthy.
Nebraska had a Varied Thrush in Howard.
Minnesota also had a Varied Thrush this week, in Cass.
A Ferruginous Hawk was found in Barton, Missouri, in the west of the state.
In Tennessee, a small group of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks was discovered near Sevierville.
A Pacific Loon was photographed in Lauderdale, Alabama.
In addition to the grassquit, a Broad-billed Hummingbird was also in Florida this week, at a feeder in Collier.
Georgia is the third state this week to have a Varied Thrush, one was photographed in DeKalb.
In North Carolina, a small group of Atlantic Puffins were seen off Hatteras.
A pelagic in New Jersey waters had a Great Skua off Cape May. The bird was also seen in Delaware waters, where it represents the 2nd record for the state.
In Connecticut, a Hermit Warbler in Barkhamsted is the state’s 2nd record.
Newfoundland had a Fieldfare (4) near Lumsden this week, the second Euro thrush in as many weeks in the Maritimes.
In Ontario, a “Bewick’s” Tundra Swan in Shrewsbury was a nice find, as was a Townsend’s Solitaire near Athens.
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.