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Blog Birding #367

At Surfbirds, Andy Birch has created a primer comparing two tough Chaetura swifts, Chimney and Vaux’s/

Los Angeles is one of the unique locations in the country where both Vaux’s and Chimney Swifts occur with some regularity. Vaux’s is a common spring and fall migrant, often in large numbers, whereas Chimney Swift is a rare summer visitor and possible breeder (usually at a time when there are no Vaux’s around to muddle things). Chimney Swift sightings, however, have decreased over the past 10-20 years and indeed there haven’t been any for a few summers now.

At 10,000 Birds, Jason Crotty discusses the controversial use of poison to eradicate invasive rodents on seabird nesting islands in Hawaii.

But FWS cannot just go out and spread poison on a critically important seabird nesting island.  Before it does so, it must jump through a series of legal hoops. Perhaps most significantly, any federal project with a significant environmental impact must complete an environmental impact statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  Because Midway is home to endangered species (e.g., Laysan Duck, Hawaiian Monk Seal), FWS must also comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Midway’s birds are also protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

We think of waterthrushes are fairly straightforward, but as Rick Wright explains at Birding New Jersey and Beyond, it hasn’t always been that way.

I’d assumed that European science knew only one before 1807, when Vieillot formally described the Louisiana waterthrush (from specimens taken in Kentucky!). In fact, though, it is evident that even those natural historians who recognized only one waterthrush species actually had access to specimens of both.

At Yale Climate Connections, Sarah Kennedy share research showing that birds in the Adirondacks are moving upslope in response to climate change.

Average daily high temperatures on the mountain have increased more than three degrees Fahrenheit over the past forty years. Kirchman suspects the birds are moving higher to find a more suitable climate.

For now, he says birds are still flourishing on Whiteface. But he’s concerned about species such as the Bicknell’s thrush that require high altitudes.

It looks like another exceptional year for Dickcissels throughout the continent, as Allen Woodliffe shares at Nature Nuggets.

So far Dickcissels have been reported in several places where they were known to have nested the previous year. This includes places in Lambton and Middlesex as well as several places in Chatham-Kent. For example the Campbell Line Pasture just northeast of Blenheim had as many as 19 birds in 2017. So far only one or two birds have been reported this year, but I am not aware of anyone doing a thorough check of this large site. Observations have been from the road only, and that is probably due in part to the presence of large numbers of Wood Ticks. Even if you stay on the grassy laneway, you can encounter a couple of dozen ticks or more in just a few dozen metres or so.


Rare Bird Alert: June 15, 2018

June gets an unfair reputation as being a slow month for birding across much of the ABA Area, but 2018 has shown that some exceptional birds can be found in the first month of summer, especially if you’re interested in seeking vagrants. But before we get to that, a quick round up of the notable continuing rarities around the ABA Area. A Mexican Violetear (ABA Code 4) is still being seen in south Texas, as are Tamaulipas Crows (4) from time to time. The Little Egret (4) continues in Maine. Both Eurasian Hobby (4) and Oriental Cuckoo (4) are still being see on St. Paul Island in Alaska, and the Tufted Flycatcher (4) persists in Arizona.

We’ll start in British Columbia, where a Common Cuckoo (3) on Haida Gwaii Island represents not only a provincial 1st record, but a 2nd record for Canada and one of only 4 records of this widespread Asian breeder away from Alaska. This has been a pretty good spring for Common Cuckoo in western Alaska so it is perhaps not surprising that one overshoots even that state.

This sharp Common Cuckoo was seen feeding among livestock in a cattle pasture. Photo: Mary Helmer

Also good for BC, a Black Phoebe was found in Chilliwack.

There are no fewer than five 1st records in the ABA Area this week, including the British Columbia cuckoo. West Virginia gets in on the incredible Roseate Spoonbill influx of the last couple weeks with a pair of birds in Preston representing a 1st for the state.

In Idaho, a well-documented Alder Flycatcher in Boundary is a 1st there, and a Black-throated Green Warbler in Glenn Ferry looks like the state’s 2nd.

Maine had a Western Wood-Pewee on private property in Washington which will be a 1st record there.

And in California, an Eastern Meadowlark in Modoc represents a long-anticipated 1st record, adding to its ABA Area leading state list. Also in California, a Mississippi Kite was seen in Santa Barbara and a Nazca Booby (4)was seen on a boat trip out of San Diego.

Alaska still has some goodies to share, as a Dark-sided Flycatcher (4) and an apparent Kamchatka Leaf Warbler (5) were seen on Adak late last week.

In Washington, a Common Grackle is a good bird in Clallam.

Nevada’s 2nd record of Tropical Kingbird was found in Clark.

Tropical Parula in Cochise, Arizona, represents the 7th for that state.

In Iowa, a Band-tailed Pigeon was seen in Adair and a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck was seen in Pleasant Hill.

Ohio had a Harris’s Hawk in Holmes and got on the Roseate Spoonbill train with the state’s 3rd record in Lorain.

In Tennessee, a Brown Pelican was seen in Hardin.

Yet another Roseate Spoonbill was seen this week in Kent, Delaware, where it will be the state’s 3rd.

Notable for Quebec, a pair of American Oystercatchers were found at Îles-de-la-Madeleine, and a Tufted Duck (3) was seen at Côte-Nord.

And in Newfoundland, a Northern Wheatear was found at Aspen Grove.


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.


American Birding Podcast: 2018 Splits and Lumps with Nick Block

Another year, another trip around the world of bird taxonomy courtesy of the American Ornithological Society’s classification committee. That group of bird scientists informs the field guides and lists we birders use every day and they are once again making those decisions presently. As we have before, we lean again on Dr. Nick Block, [read more…]

The TOP 10: World Cup Team Crests Featuring Birds

The World Cup, arguably the biggest sporting event in the world, kicks off this week in Russia. Unfortunately, ABA birders and soccer fans lack an obvious rooting interest as the United States missed out on the tournament for the first time in nearly 30 years and Canada’s sole qualification came in 1986. Fear not though, [read more…]

Blog Birding #366

Want to know what it was like to be on a boat when a bird comes by that should by all accounts be in a completely different ocean? Brian Patteson at Seabirding takes you on the ride.

Around 1140 Peter Flood alerted us to a different petrel flying up the slick toward the boat from [read more…]

Rare Bird Alert: June 8, 2018

Notable ABA Area rarities continuing into this week include the Little Egret (ABA Code 4) in Maine, one of the Bahama Mockingbirds (4) that were seen in Florida earlier this spring, and the Tufted Flycatcher (4) in Arizona.

The ABA’s 3rd record of Stygian Owl was a surprise one-day wonder in Monroe, Florida, early in [read more…]

ICYMI: Open Mic: A Veterinarian’s Perspective on the Feral Cat Issue

Issues concerning feral cat colonies and their impacts on local bird populations have been a hot topic of late. Birder, Veterinarian, and ABA member Brian Monk offers his thoughts. [read more…]

#ABArare – Eurasian Hobby, Oriental Cuckoo, and more – Alaska

The last few days have seen an influx of quality Asian rarities to little St. Paul Island in the Pribilofs. In lieu of handling them all individually, it’s easier to put them all together in one post.

On June 1, a movement of birds including Code 3s Common Cuckoo, Siberian Rubythroat, and Eyebrowed Thrushes was [read more…]

Birding Photo Quiz: June 2018

We love rarities. Vagrants. Hybrids. Mutations. Critically endangered birds. Even odd behaviors. If it’s rare, we love to find and enjoy it.

This March, I saw an electric blue Cattle Egret at Cattail Marsh, a famous local hotspot, in Beaumont, Texas. First discovered in December, no one was exactly sure what to make of this [read more…]

#ABArare – Stygian Owl – Florida

The turn of May and June has been an exceptional time for rarities in the ABA Area. Things are still showing up in Alaska and the Gulf Stream continues to put on its annual show. Barely having recovered from the shock of a wayward Tahiti Petrel in North Carolina, the birding world’s jaws dropped once [read more…]

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