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#ABArare – Citrine Wagtail – California

On Friday, December 16,Maurice Demille discovered and photographed an ABA Code 5 Citrine Wagtail at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in Yolo County, California. This is the 3rd record for the ABA Area and a potential 1st for California. It was seen by a handful of birders the next day but has not been seen since though conditions have been very difficult.

Once one of the great head-scratchers in the ABA Are with a single record in Mississippi, Citrine Wagtail has occurred twice in the ABA Area in recent years, both along the west coast. Photo: Maurice Demille/Macaulay Library

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area lies directly between West Sacramento and Davis, California, just off of I-80. To access the area, take the “County Road 32A East Chiles Road” exit immediately west of the Yolo Causeway, turn right at stop sign and head south under freeway to west levee access. The bird was seen in the vicinity of Parking Lot B. Notably, this is not the first continental rarity seen at this site. A Marsh Sandpiper occurred at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in spring of 2016.

Citrine Wagtail is part of the confusing “yellow wagtail” species complex along with Eastern and Western Yellow Wagtail, breeding in north-central Asia and wintering in south Asia. It has occurred twice in the ABA Area before, the 1st a two-day wonder in Starkville, Mississippi, in 1992, hardly a place where one expects to find rarities of such magnitude. In November 2012, an individual was found on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where it remained into early January 2013.


Rare Bird Alert: December 15, 2017

This is the last rare bird update before Christmas Bird Count season begins. The annual count period typically produces a handful of great birds across the ABA Area, the result of thousands of motivated birders thoroughly covering patches from coast to coast (and increasingly around the world). Birders are likely hoping that the lingering rarities in the ABA Area will stick around for their respective count days, as any bird of the type mentioned here is a real feather in the cap of a count circle.

Those birds include a Green-breasted Mango (ABA Code 4) in south Texas which, along with continuing Tamaulipas Crows (4) make for a tempting 1-2 punch for visiting birders. A Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) is still hanging tight in Florida, as is a Barnacle Goose (4) in Pennsylvania and the Garganey (4) in California.

The best bird of the period, and undoubtedly on the short list for best of the year in the ABA Area, was an ABA 1st record Mistle Thrush, found in Miramichi, New Brunswick, where it is also a provincial and national 1st as well. The Maritimes are no stranger to the occasional vagrant European thrush, but Mistle Thrush was an unexpected one, not least of which because it is still a fairly rare visitor even to Iceland. The bird has stuck around most of the week, though reportedly the Mountain Ash berries that have been sustaining it are running low.

European thrushes are not without precedence in Atlantic Canada, but Mistle Thrush was on few birders’ radars. Photo: Alain Clavette/Macaulay Library

Mistle Thrush wasn’t the only provincial 1st for Atlantic Canada this week. In Newfoundland, a well-photographed and even better documented Willow Flycatcher near St. John’s is a 1st confirmed record for the province, the third in a series of long-expected 1st records for Newfoundland this month.

Another 1st came from Louisiana, where a surprise snowstorm dropped a female Lucifer Hummingbird at a feeder in New Iberia. The bird was present for less than a day before moving on.

Another outlier in the ongoing Snowy Owl irruption came from Horry, South Carolina, where a bird was photographed feeding on a pigeon. It was eventually taken in by a rehab facility.

In Pennsylvania, a Bullock’s Oriole was seen in a yard in Allegheny.

Connecticut adds to the Barnacle Goose (4) tally in North America this season with a bird in Avon.

Rhode Island’s 5th record of White-winged Dove was seen in Middleton, and the state’s second Townsend’s Warbler of the season was seen in North Kingstown.

Maine had a Western Tanager in Kennebunk.

A pair of western strays were in Nova Scotia this week, a Black-headed Grosbeak at Glace Bay and a Bullock’s Oriole at Cape Breton.

In Wisconsin, a Slaty-backed Gull (3) was seen in Kenosha and a Townsend’s Solitaire at the UW-Madison campus in Dane.

Good birds in Texas include a Violet-crowned Hummingbird at a feeder in Terrell, two individual Golden-crowned Sparrows, one in Hansford and another in Guadalupe. A Northern Wheater was found in Colorado, and a Greater Pewee returned to the Houston area this year.

In New Mexico, a Black Scoter was seen in Cibola.

Colorado had a Harris’s Hawk in Larimer, the state’s 5th or 6th record.

Arizona’s 2nd record of White-winged Crossbills, a pair of birds, were seen in Apache.

In San Diego, California, a near flock of Nazca Boobies (4) were seen from shore with at least 3 confirmed and 2 other unidentifiable birds farther out. At the opposite end of the state, White-winged Crossbills were seen in Del Norte.

Oregon had yet another Short-tailed Albatross (4) this week, this one from a normal pelagic out of Newport rather than a repositioning cruise. Also, a Eurasian Kestrel (4) was seen briefly in Curry by birders looking unsuccessfully for a recent skylark.

In British Columbia, a Brown Thrasher was photographed in Cranbrook, and the province’s 7th record of  Summer Tanager was seen in Victoria.


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: What’s in a Common Name?

What is in a bird common name? It’s a question that many of us might not think about immediately, but there’s a lot going on in those lists we are so familiar with. Capitalization, honorifics, patronyms, how names are assigned, how they’re changed. The names are an important part of how we interact with birds [read more…]

The Essential Tool for Birding Australia

A review by Chris Benesh

The Australian Bird Guide, by Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke, Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack, and Kim Franklin

Princeton University Press, 2017

566 pages—softcover

ABA Sales / Buteo Books 14737

Few places on Earth are as well saturated with field guides as Australia. The first modern attempt , Neville Cayley’s [read more…]

The Cuban Endemics, Plus

A review by Diana Doyle

Endemic Birds of Cuba: A Comprehensive Field Guide Including West Indian Endemics Residing in Cuba, by Nils Navarro

Ediciones Nuevos Mundos, 2015

168 page—softcover

Available in English and Spanish

ABA Sales / Buteo Books 14535

Bee Hummingbird.

Those two words best characterize the tantalizing endemics of Cuba. But this [read more…]

SNEAK PEEK! Birder’s Guide to Gear, 2017

The 2017 issue of Birder’s Guide to Gear has been printed and is beginning to arrive in members’ mailboxes. But you don’t have to wait until your hard copy to see what’s inside. And neither do non-members. You can see the entirety of this issue of Birder’s Guide online right now. Just click here.

[read more…]

#ABArare – Mistle Thrush – New Brunswick

On Saturday, December 9, Peter Gadd in Miramichi, New Brunswick, photographed an apparent Mistle Thrush feeding on Mountain Ash berries in their yard. This is not only a 1st record for New Brunswick and Canada, but it is a potential 1st ABA Area record of this wide-ranging Eurasian Turdus thrush.

Photo: Michel Doucet/Macaulay Library

[read more…]

Rare Bird Alert: December 8, 2017

The first week of December brings some interesting new birds to spots across the ABA Area. But we’ll start with the continuing ones, some of which should be familiar to readers by now. In Texas, Tamaulipas Crows (ABA Code 4) continue in the Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere and may stay all winter. The Garganey [read more…]

2017 Birders’ Gift Guide

Looking for some last minute gifts? Jennie Duberstein has some suggestions for the discerning birder on your list this year. [read more…]

#ABArare – Green-breasted Mango – Texas

On December 2, 2017, John Brush discovered a young Green-breasted Mango (ABA Code 4) at Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center in Hidalgo County, Texas. Green-breasted Mango has occurred in the ABA Area around 20 times, with all but a few records coming from south Texas.

Photo: Cynthia Bridge/Macaulay Library (S40885401)

Quinta Mazatlan is one [read more…]

American Birding Podcast
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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