Rockjumper Tours

Blog Birding #383

The Cape May Bird Observatory’s new 21st century banding station is already seeing dividends. The researchers there are place geotrackers on some of the catches to see where they go and and how they use the landscape. David La Puma has more.

As of today, they have now been deployed on two resident species (Northern Mockingbird and Carolina Wren) and one short-distance migrant (Yellow-rumped Warbler). These transmitters will allow us to determine such things as habitat usage, home range, and migration decisions of these species and more. These transmitters communicate with an array of receivers distributed across our banding area, as well as a broader network throughout the Cape May Peninsula and the Delaware Bay region. It’s also possible that our birds will be detected by base stations anywhere between the Canadian Maritimes and South America, and with more stations being deployed every day, the chance of a long-distance data point is ever increasing!

Encouraging land managers in the Great Plains to think about birds other than waterfowl has been a tough argument to make, but the benefits are becoming clear and resistance is softening. At Shorebird Science, Maina Handmaker and Monica Iglecia discuss how they make that case.

Cheyenne Bottoms is one of the largest interior marshes in the United States. It has been a Site of Hemispheric Importance in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) for 30 years, and the symposium celebrated this milestone by presenting certificates to the site partners. Migratory shorebirds passing through the mid-continent are subject to unpredictable weather patterns and a landscape of ephemeral wetlands in which to find their food. Water levels at Cheyenne Bottoms still vary on a regular basis, but the basin provides some of the most reliable food resources for shorebirds migrating through the center of the continent.

It’s looking like a big year for Red-breasted Nuthatches, at least in the eastern part of the continent, Andrew Del-Colle, writing at Audubon, has more.

A year-round resident of Canada and certain parts of the Northeast, as well as higher elevations of Appalachia, the Rockies, and along the West Coast, the bird’s wintering grounds can fluctuate in the U.S. dramatically year to year, especially in the east. Typically, the birds remain more northern, but on an irruption year, they can be seen in unusually high numbers throughout the northern and eastern U.S.

Birders and bird scientists know color. Or, at least, we know words for colors that the general public might not. As it turns out, ornithologists are as influential as any artist when it comes to naming the myriad shades available, as Bob Montgomerie writes at the History of Ornithology Blog. 

Because many of the species that Darwin collected were new to science, he was careful to record colours, especially those that might fade on specimens of fish and invertebrates preserved in ‘spirits’. To do this, he was keen to use a method that would allow him to record colours in a way that could be understood by others and reproduced accurately by artists reading his notes years later. For many of Darwin’s descriptions in his field notes, he used the colour swatches and names in Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours by Patrick Syme published in 1821.

A new species of hummingbird was recently discovered on a mountaintop in Ecuador–one that is already critically endangered. Juan Freile, the bird’s discoverer, tells the tale at The AOS Publications Blog. 

Last year a new hummingbird species was unexpectedly discovered on a seldom-visited mountain top in southern Ecuador. A brief visit to the rocky outcrops of Cerro de Arcos in the southern province of El Oro produced a photographic record that rang a bell: a mysterious immature male clearly assignable to the genus Oreotrochilus, the hillstars, which included six species at the time. A few days later, an adult male was captured in another photo, and a week after that, several males and females were observed and a handful collected for scientific purposes.


Rare Bird Alert: October 12, 2018

Sorry for the delay in getting this ready. Hurricane Michael did a number on my town and we’ve been without power for nearly 24 hours now. Just finally getting some juice so I can finish this off. Thanks to Greg Neise for giving me a bit of a head start on this.

Anyway, it’s definitely October, and rarity season is off and running!

The Golden-crowned Warbler (ABA Code 4) in Hidalgo, Texas continues, and boobies seem to be all over the place. On October 7th, a pelagic out of Ventura, California, netted 5 species: Masked (3), Red-footed (4), Brown (3), Blue-footed (4),and Nazca (4).  The Blue-footed Booby (4) at Lake Powell in Utah, which is that state’s 1st record, is still hanging around at least into the beginning of the week.

In New Brunswick, a Gray Kingbird in Wilmot was a 1st record of the species for the province.

Arizona’s 1st RInged Kingfisher was photographed in Graham. The species is regular in Texas, but has been recorded in Oklahoma and Louisiana in recent years.

California’s 2nd Common RInged Plover was found in Marin on October 8, and a White-rumped Sandpiper was photographed in Humboldt.

In Florida, a Bahama Mockingbird (4)was photographed in Palm Beach.

Utah’s 7th record of Hooded Warbler was a beautiful male photographed in Washington.

In Ohio, a Cinnamon Teal was seen in Fairfield/Franklin.

Nebraska’s 2nd Anna’s Hummingbird was found in Saunders.

Tropical Kingbirds like to get around. Alaska had one Tropical Kingbird in Juneau, Colorado’s Tropical Kingbird was in Jefferson, their 3rd, and in Missouri a Tropical/Couch’s Kingbird was found in Henry but unfortunately left before its ID could be confirmed to species.

Minnesota had a Black-throated Gray Warbler in Blue Earth, and another Black-throated Gray Warbler was found today in New Jersey.

New Mexico had a small flock of Lawrence’s Goldfinch in Grant.

Noteworthy for British Columbia was a Lesser Goldfinch in Cranbrook.

And in Quebec it was a good week for birds from the western half of the continent, with a Western Meadowlark found in Gaspésie and a Swainson’s Hawk in Lanaudière.


Omissions and errors are not intended, but if you find any please message blog AT 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 <>, the richly illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the ABA.


Celebrate ABA’s 50th in Colombia!

2019 is the ABA’s 50th Anniversary, and to celebrate we’re going to the very heart of bird biodiversity. Magnificent Colombia, hosting more bird species than any other country in the world, and an amazing array of endemic species, is today’s hottest birding destination. Join Jeff Gordon, Liz Gordon, Adam Riley, Forrest Rowland, George Armistead, and [read more…]

#ABArare – Bahama Mockingbird – Florida

On October 10, Kyle Matera, Kenny Miller, and Marcello Gomes discovered an ABA Code 4 Bahama Mockingbird at Spanish River Park in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Photo: Kyle Matera/Macaulay Library

Spanish River Park is located east of Boca Raton, Florida, near the Gumbo LImbo Nature Center. From I-95 travel east on NW Spanish RIver [read more…]

#ABArare – Golden-crowned Warbler – Texas

Though it’s been present for almost 2 weeks now, I thought I’d mention this bird as it’s still sticking around. On September 26th, Angelina Vasquez discovered an ABA Code 4 Golden-crowned Warbler at Frontera Audubon Center in Hidalgo, Texas.

Frontera Audubon Center is a small urban preserve in Weslaco, Texas. The street address is [read more…]

Blog Birding #382

There may be no wild bird species that is more readily associated with human civilization than the plucky House Sparrow, and it turns out that their evolution was driven by humans in ways we are only now beginning to understand. More at

House sparrows are closely associated with humans and are found in [read more…]

Rare Bird Alert: October 5, 2018

Noteworthy continuing rarities in the ABA Area include an update on the Sinaloa Wren (ABA Code 5) in Arizona, both Nazca Booby (4) and Blue-footed Booby (4) being seen in California, with another Blue-footed Booby sitting tight in Utah for another week, where it represents a 1st for that state. The Black-tailed Gull (4) in [read more…]

American Birding Podcast: Fall at Cape May with David La Puma

Few birders would dispute that Cape May, New Jersey, is among the continent’s most storied birding locations, both in terms of birding spectacles and its influence in North American birding culture. It feels like Cape May Bird Observatory, New Jersey Audubon’s Center for Bird research and education, has always been at the center of it [read more…]

#ABArare – Gray Heron – Newfoundland

On September 30, Bruce Mactavish photographed an ABA Code 5 Gray Heron that landed on an offshore supply vessel on which he was traveling about 30 km/180 nmi east of Cape Race, Newfoundland.

Photo: Bruce Mactavish via ABA Rare Bird Alert Facebook group

Bruce notes that this sighting followed three days of easterly winds [read more…]

Blog Birding #381

At Shorebird Science, Shiloh Schulte shares what it’s like to seek the hidden nests of shorebirds on the tundra.

Good nest-finding skills are essential for our work up here on the Canning River. We are trying to retrieve satellite transmitter put out in previous years and deploy new tags on several shorebird species. In both [read more…]

American Birding Podcast
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