aba events

Open Mic: Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel(s) in California

At the Mic: Steve N.G. Howell Bodega Bay, an hour or so north of San Francisco, California, is the… [read more]

Open Mic: Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel(s) in California Open Mic: Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel(s) in California

Photo Quiz: August 2015 Birding

This one would seem to qualify as an “LBJ”—a little brown job. But which species? There must be… [read more]

Photo Quiz: August 2015 Birding Photo Quiz: August 2015 Birding

Highlights from 2015 Camp Colorado: A Photo-Video Essay

I got to spend July 6-12, 2015 in the field in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with twenty-two young… [read more]

Highlights from 2015 Camp Colorado: A Photo-Video Essay Highlights from 2015 Camp Colorado: A Photo-Video Essay

Small Town Unites to Aid Baby Flicker

In the United States, we celebrate Independence Day on the Fourth of July. Canada's closest analog, Canada… [read more]

Small Town Unites to Aid Baby Flicker Small Town Unites to Aid Baby Flicker

ABA Checklist Committee Adds Rufous-necked Wood-Rail to ABA Checklist

The ABA Checklist Committee (hereafter, CLC) recently voted 8–0 to accept the Rufous-necked Wood-Rail… [read more]

ABA Checklist Committee Adds Rufous-necked Wood-Rail to ABA Checklist ABA Checklist Committee Adds Rufous-necked Wood-Rail to ABA Checklist

New Mexico’s Dale Zimmerman receives ABA Ludlow Griscom Award

Dale Zimmerman of Silver City, New Mexico, one of his state’s best known and admired biologists and… [read more]

New Mexico’s Dale Zimmerman receives ABA Ludlow Griscom Award New Mexico’s Dale Zimmerman receives ABA Ludlow Griscom Award

Reflections on the American Birding Expo


Last weekend was the inaugural edition of the American Birding Expo in Columbus, Ohio, and by all accounts it was a great success.

The idea for an event like this, an American response to the venerable British Birdfair, has been kicking around for years. North America has a huge community of birders, many of them have disposable income to spend on binoculars, books, and trips to various corners of the world. Putting them in the same place as the providers of those goods and services seems like a no-brainer. And yet, the very things that make North America such a great place for birds and birding – the scale of the place, the many great birding sites, the strong conservation infrastructure – make logistical decisions about such an event more difficult.

Kudos to Bill Thompson III and the folks at BirdWatcher’s Digest for taking up the challenge. Columbus, Ohio, is more or less centrally located on the continent and is a growing city (15th largest in the US!). It hosts a gorgeous Audubon Center with ample space and pretty decent birding on the grounds. It’s close enough for many North American friends to get to and convenient enough for international partners. The dominoes lined up, and last weekend they fell gloriously into their places in a celebration of birding and a successful amalgamation of commerce, conservation, and community.

ABA President Jeffrey Gordon welcomes attendees to the inaugural event, photo by Raymond VanBuskirk

ABA President Jeffrey Gordon welcomes attendees to the inaugural event, photo by Raymond VanBuskirk

The ABA was proud to join the effort as a co-host. We welcomed many, many new members because of our presence there, which is great for us. We also pulled off a successful ABA Summit beforehand that saw a number of interesting and useful panels and workshops with topics ranging from conservation concerns, birding ethics, and how to be a more effective bird walk leader. It ended with our annual meeting where members voted on a slate of new and returning board members, and it’s always nice to see members taking an active role in our shared continental birding organization.

ABA Summit attendees bird the area around Grange Insurance Audubon Center the morning of the first day. Photo by Nate Swick

ABA Summit attendees bird the area around Grange Insurance Audubon Center the morning of the first day. Photo by Nate Swick


ABA Staffer George Armistead leads a group on the grounds of the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, photo by Greg Niese

ABA Staffer George Armistead leads a group on the grounds of the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, photo by Greg Niese

The event coordinators, primarily Bill Thompson III and Wendy Clark but including a whole range of staff and volunteers, gave the birding community a expertly organized canvas on which to paint the future of our shared avocation. They deserve kudos not only from vendors, exhibitors and attendees, but from the whole of the North American birding community for having the vision and persistence to make this long-anticipated event such a success. The first one is always the hardest, and with this inaugural event the seeds for bigger and better events in the future were undoubtedly planted.

Volunteers and vendors set up in the exhibition hall the day before the American Birding Expo is set to open. Photo by Jeffrey A. Gordon

Volunteers and vendors set up in the exhibition hall the day before the American Birding Expo is set to open. Photo by Jeffrey A. Gordon

But it was perhaps the most satisfying to see booth after booth of international exhibitors, many of whom were exhibiting in America for the very first time. Each one a symbol of the conservation and tourist potential of their home nations. It’s probably overly simplistic to say that bird tourism is a solution to the many daunting conservation and land-use issues face by nations around the world. But it’s certainly a tool to be used by those of us who care about such things, and if the Expo is any indication that tool is wielded deftly and creatively by bird tour guides on every continent represented. International travel is an opportunity to value wild places and the birds that are found there in a very practical way and the people from Uganda and Honduras and Colombia and India and everywhere else are passionate about just that.

Likewise the attendees. Wood Duck boxes were scattered around the grounds imploring visitors to donate a few dollars to the conservation causes of the hosts. For the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, it was a nature outreach program for inner-city students in Columbus. For Birdlife International, it was the critically endangered Hooded Grebe. And for the ABA, it was land acquisition and research for the Red Knot, a trans-hemispheric migrant famously tied to the horseshoe crab spawns on beaches near our headquarters in Delaware. Over the course of the event several thousand dollars made their way to each.

Wood Duck boxes were scattered around the site, encouraging attendees to give to the Expo's conservation goals, photo by Nate Swick

Wood Duck boxes were scattered around the site, encouraging attendees to give to the Expo’s conservation goals, photo by Nate Swick

So the first American Birding Expo is in the books. The tents packed up, the tables put away, the exhibitors heading home and the attendees sent away with bags full of swag and minds full of possibilities. It was a great weekend.

We hope to see you there next year.

Rare Bird Alert: October 9, 2015


October and November are peak time for rarities across most of the continent, and things continue to stay interesting just about everywhere but particularly in the western half of the continent. There some patterns emerging in the last couple weeks, none of which are unexpected for this time of year. Eastern landbird vagrants are starting to pick up across the west and vagrant shorebirds are thinning out with a couple notable exceptions. Offshore, El Nino continues to push interesting things around the Pacific while Hurricane Joaquin’s turn to the east left only a couple reports of likely storm-affected birds in its wake.

Continuing highlights remain in south Texas and south Arizona, where the dynamic duo of Northern Jacana (ABA Code 4) and Collared Plover (5) hold tight in the former and Plain-capped Starthroat (4), Sinaloa Wren (5) and Slate-throated Redstart (5) were present through the week in the latter.

One of the more exciting find of the period was in Ontario, where a young Eurasian Dotterel (4) made a brief stop in Bruce, on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, where it was a 1st provincial record. Unfortunately the bird was present only for a few hours, if that, and was not seen again following the initial discovery.


This Eurasian Dotterel was not only a 1st record for Ontario, but a 1st for the entire eastern half of the continent. Photo by Michael Butler

Two additional first records to report this week, both involving Sulids which should come as no surprise this year. In Oregon, an apparent Nazca Booby (erroneously identified as Masked Booby in the link) was picked up emaciated near Newport and transported to Los Angeles for rehab. This would be a 1st for Oregon and one of fewer than five records for the ABA Area, all but one in the last year. This species is not yet on the ABA Area checklist.

And in Georgia, a Red-footed Booby (4) was discovered in a harbor in Glynn, all the more exciting given Georgia’s limited coastline. This would also be a 1st record for that state.

Heading back to the west coast to pick up Alaska, which has had another excellent week in Bering Sea as we head to the tail end of the season there. On Gambell, the ABA’s 6-7th record of  Wood Warbler (5) was a highlight in a week that also included Little Bunting (4), Rustic Buntings (3), a likely Lanceolated Warbler (5) and the state’s 2nd record of Blue-headed Vireo. St. Paul also had a great week with a Eurasian Hobby (4) and at least 2 Rustic Buntings (3). And on the mainland, a Great Black-backed Gull in Barrow is Alaska’s 4th.

In British Columbia, a Black-throated Blue Warbler and a Hooded Warbler remarkably came to the same water feature in a yard in Revelstoke.

Alberta also had a Black-throated Blue Warbler, this one in Cochrane.

In Washington, shorebirds were the highlights with a Bar-tailed Godwit in Ilwaco and a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (3) in Yakima.

And exceptional push of Black-vented Shearwaters northward into Oregon saw birders find them in Curry and Douglas.

In Idaho, a White-throated Sparrow was discovered in Ada.

Nice finds from the east in California include a Mourning Warbler in San Francisco, a Blue-headed Vireo and a Le Conte’s Sparrow in Marin, and a Pine Warbler in Santa Clara.

In Nevada, a Brown Thrasher is in Clark.

Arizona had a Prothonotary Warbler in Mohave.

Notable birds in New Mexico include a Philadelphia Vireo in Lea and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher in Roosevelt.

A Long-billed Murrelet (4) was a one-day wonder in Barton, Kansas, this week, and remarkably not a first record for that state.

In Iowa, birders found a Clark’s Nutcracker in Dickinson. Notably this followed a record of this species last week in Minnesota. Nutcrackers are known to irrupt into lowlands periodically so birders in the upper midwest and south-central Canada might look out for them this winter.

In Wisconsin, a Common Ground-Dove was seen along the lake in Door.

Michigan, too, had a Common Ground-Dove this week, in Schoolcraft, however this bird had an unlucky run-in with a Merlin. Less apt to be Merlin food was a California Gull in Ottawa.

In Illinois, a Mottled Duck in was found in Clinton.

Good for Quebec this week was a Swainson’s Hawk at Haute-Côte-Nord and a Tropical Kingbird in Boucherville.

In Newfoundland, at least one Yellow-legged Gull (3) had returned to St. John’s.

The only obvious storm-blown birds from Hurricane Joaquin’s passage were a couple Sooty Terns in Cape May,
New Jersey.

In South Carolina, a Ruff (3) in Myrtle Beach is the 5th found in the state for the year. A Western Kingbird was also discovered near Hemmingway.

Florida also had a Ruff (3) this week, in Okaloosa, and the third Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher in three weeks was found in Fort Lauderdale.


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.

SNEAK PEEK! Birder’s Guide to Listing & Taxonomy, 2015

The 2015 issue of Birder’s Guide to Listing & Taxonomy is now being printed. That means that, if you’re an ABA member, you should find it in your mailbox in the next couple weeks. But you don’t have to wait until then to see what’s inside. And neither do non-members. You can see the entirety [read more…]

Crossing the Rubicon

Back in the April 2015 issue of Birding, there appears a beautiful and remarkable photo of a slam-dunk Black-and-white Warbler. Essayist Tony Leukering explains why it’s this-and-that age and such-and-such sex, but ID of the bird at the species level simply isn’t at issue. The bird is a patently obvious Black-and-white Warbler.

Photo by [read more…]

St. Paul in Fall

Birders go to the remote Pribilof Islands, primarily St. Paul Island, in fall for the same reason that they go to Gambell – to look for wandering migrants. Depending on the winds and the date and on which birds find their way to these islands, the migrants can arrive from nearly anywhere. While birders who [read more…]

Blog Birding #246

Congo Peafowl is a ghost bird, living in a difficult area to access and difficult to find once there. At Nature Travel Network, Laura Kammermeier relays the story of a recent, and successful, quest to finally find one.

The Congo Peafowl, therefore, is “one of the most elusive animals on earth.” This might very well [read more…]

#ABArare – Wood Warbler – Alaska

More from western Alaska, this time once again from Gambell in St. Lawrence Island. Paul Lehman found a Code 5 Wood Warbler.

Photo by Paul Lehman


Wood Warbler is the rarest Phylloscopus to occur in the ABA Area, breeding no closer to North America than central Russia, a full 2500 miles west [read more…]

#ABArare – Eurasian Dotterel – Ontario

Jut getting word that an ABA Code 4 Eurasian Dotterel was discovered this afternoon near Oliphant, Bruce County, Ontario, by Michael Butler. The bird was associating with a flock of shorebirds of Lake Huron. This is a first provincial record for Ontario and a first record for this species in the eastern half of the [read more…]

Rare Bird Alert: October 2, 2015

This report is coming from the floor of the American Birding Expo, and composed between various stints of setting up, so my apologies for the lack of a preamble this time round. We’ll go straight to the birds. Continuing rarities in the ABA include some very long-staying birds, namely the Texas Collared Plover (ABA Code [read more…]

Follow the ABA at the American Birding Expo!

We’re busy setting up for the ABA Summit and the American Birding Expo this week. The ABA lounge is back in action and we’re excited to welcome all the birders and birding industry folks from North America and beyond as we celebrate this community that we’re all a part of.

We’ll be sharing a [read more…]

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.
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