aba events

Announcing the 2015 ABA Bird of the Year! / ¡Presentando al ABA Ave del Año del 2015!

We bid a fond farewell to our friend the Rufous Hummingbird, and turn our eyes towards 2015's standard… [read more]

Announcing the 2015 ABA Bird of the Year! / ¡Presentando al ABA Ave del Año del 2015! Announcing the 2015 ABA Bird of the Year! / ¡Presentando al ABA Ave del Año del 2015!

Photo Quiz, November/December 2014 Birding

  Update (Jan. 21, 2015): Tom Johnson's full analysis of this photo is available to ABA members.… [read more]

Photo Quiz, November/December 2014 Birding Photo Quiz, November/December 2014 Birding

Introducing the ABA State Guides

  In one of the ABA’s most ambitious undertakings ever, the association has partnered with… [read more]

Introducing the ABA State Guides Introducing the ABA State Guides

ABA Checklist Committee Adds Egyptian Goose to ABA Checklist

Yesterday, the ABA Checklist Committee (CLC) unanimously (8–0) accepted the Egyptian Goose (Alopochen… [read more]

ABA Checklist Committee Adds Egyptian Goose to ABA Checklist ABA Checklist Committee Adds Egyptian Goose to ABA Checklist

2014 AOU Check-list Supplement is Out!

Every summer, birders anxiously await publication of the “Check-list Supplement” by the American… [read more]

2014 AOU Check-list Supplement is Out! 2014 AOU Check-list Supplement is Out!

2014 Camp Colorado

July 4, 2014: 10:00 am. I’ve just picked up my rental car at the airport in Denver and am driving by… [read more]

2014 Camp Colorado 2014 Camp Colorado

    The TOP 10: Best ABA Area Vagrants of 2014

    By Nate Swick and George Armistead

    2013 was an incredible year for vagrants, particularly unexpected ones, and a hard year to top, but 2014 was no slouch itself. Now that 2013 is well in the rear view mirror, we’ve looked back on the year that was and assembled the following list of notable and unexpected birds that got twitchers across the continent pricing plane tickets and rental cars.

    As always, our list is merely our own personal opinion. Feel free to hash it out in the comments section if you think we’re right on, wildly off base, or have our heads firmly up our cloacas. It’s these kind of discussions among birding friends that make our community so special.

    So without further ado….

    10. Marsh Sandpiper – California – April

    Sure, Marsh Sandpiper is known as a very rare vagrant in western Alaska. But that’s western Alaska. Not the easiest place in the ABA Area to get to in a pinch. With only one previous record away from the Last Frontier – and that a one-day wonder – an accessible Marsh Sandpiper is undoubtedly a big get.  That’s why this long-staying individual found by Roger Muskat makes the list, a combination of incredible rarity and incredible ease.

    Photo by John Sterling

    Photo by John Sterling

    9. Tufted Flycatcher – Texas – April

    April in east Texas is always hot, but the inclusion of the ABA Area’s 7th Tufted Flycatcher, found and photographed by Phil Ziegler, to the suite of birds found there in the spring was certainly unexpected. The exceptional cold of winter 13-14 probably pushed this elevational migrant down close to sea-level, as it was suspected to do with the ABA Area’s 1st Tufted Flycatcher in 1991. Sadly, this bird didn’t stick around long, and many subsequent attempts to find it failed.

    The ABA's 7th record of Tufted Flycatcher was, thus far, a one-day wonder, in Kleberg County, Texas, this week. Photo by Jim Ziegler

    Photo by Phil Ziegler

    8. Bahama Swallow – Florida – October

    Bahama Swallow had not been seen in the ABA Area since 1992, so it was a complete shock with at least three, and possible more, individuals passed over the Florida Keys Hawkwatch platform, to the shock of the hawk-watchers assembled there, in October. Whether this means that the species is more regular in south Florida than we know, going unnoticed because – let’s face it – how many of us are willing and able to carefully pass through flocks of many thousand wintering swallows, or this was an unusual incursion of the species that is not likely to be repeated is unclear. I guess we’ll just have to wait until this October to find out.

    Photo by Alexander Harper, used with permission

    Photo by Alexander Harper

    7. Salvin’s Albatross – California – July

    There are few birds in the ABA Area as dramatic as albatrosses, and aside from the one expected and two sort of expected species, any albatross in the ABA Area is a big deal. The long-expected AOU split of the “Shy” Albatross complex turned what was one good rarity into three exceptional ones, as the two California boats that got on the ABA’s 2nd record of Salvin’s Albatross – the first was photographed in Alaska in 2003 – found out. The bird was initially spotted by Alvaro Jaramillo, who radioed the nearby Debbie Shearwater boat to share the pelagic love. Views were crippling, copious photos were taken, and many celebratory high-fives were had (I expect).

    Photo by Alvaro Jaramillo/Alvaro's Adventures

    Photo by Alvaro Jaramillo/Alvaro’s Adventures

    6. Red-legged Honeycreeper- Texas – November

    Docked a few places because of questions about escapee potential, the female-type Red-legged Honeycreeper found at Estero Llano Grande State Park in Texas’s Lower Valley seems as good a bet for natural vagrancy as one could hope for based on plumage, location, and timing. The question of provenance is for the Texas Bird Records Committee and the ABA CLC to suss out, however. The rest of us can just enjoy the presence of the long-anticipated potential first ABA record anyway. Particularly as bike Big Year champ Dorian Anderson improbably managed to catch up with it!

    Red-legged Honeycreeper in South Texas is a potential ABA Area first, pending decisions by the Texas BRC and the ABA Checklist Committee

    Red-legged Honeycreeper in South Texas is a potential ABA Area first. Photo by Dorian Anderson.

    5. Whiskered Tern – New Jersey – September

    Rare birds aren’t always great simply because of their rarity, but also because they serve as common touchpoints for the hundreds of birders who make the journey to see them. Often these sorts of sightings become de facto bird festivals, with friends and acquaintances joining together to celebrate one lost individual. Of course, the very best vagrants are those that do both, and the Cape May Whiskered Tern of 2014, found by Louise Zemaitis and Alec Humann, definitely fit the bill. This individual was the 3rd ABA record for Whiskered Tern, with both of the previous two having ties to Cape May as well. In the week or so that the bird was present, hundreds of birders managed to see it from the hawkwatch and adjacent beach.

    Photo by Mike Crewes

    Photo by Mike Crewe

    4. Eurasian Siskin – Alaska – November

    Alaska had its usual haul of great birds this year, including incredible numbers of Tree Pipits and Wood Warblers, but arguably the best was the ABA’s 3rd record of Eurasian Siskin, a colorful individual found by Suzi Golodoff that has spent the better part of three months on Unalaska island. It was initially seen in early November, stuck around through the Unalaska Christmas Bird Count and into the new year. It was last seen on January 18th.

    Photo by Suzi Golodoff

    Photo by Suzi Golodoff

    3. Collared Plover – Texas – August

    Some birds go to show that hitting the out of the way spots can be incredibly productive. Such a find resulted when Dan Jones checked a seemingly innocuous playa near Edinburg, Texas, to find a sharp little Collared Plover, the ABA’s 2nd ever record. This bird may go down as the most inspirational vagrant in ABA Area history, but how many birds are in the running for that honor?

    Photo by Dan Jones

    Photo by Dan Jones

    2. Common Shelduck – Newfoundland – April

    Common Shelduck is a strange bird in the ABA Area. It’s not uncommon in private collections and at zoos, so determining whether a given individual is a natural vagrant or not isn’t easy. Many east of the Mississippi River are pretty much rejected out of hand. But a number of records in the northeast may represent wild birds, and one wary bird in Newfoundland in the spring of last year – precisely the time of year one might expect an overshoot from northern Europe – seemed to pass the initial smell test. It remains to be seen exactly what will become of this bird and others like it, but birders in the northeast seem to be particularly open to the idea of natural vagrancy for this species in the ABA Area.

    Photo by Tony Dunne

    Photo by Tony Dunne

    1. Nazca Booby – California – June

    First records are fun. Particularly those whose provenance is not really in doubt, a relief given the other potential firsts of 2014. That’s why the Nazca Booby in southern California gets the nod for the best rarity of 2014. Nazca Booby has been long suspected to occur in ABA waters and soCal birders have had it on their radar for years. The difficulty of differentiating subadults from subadults of the very similar (and formerly conspecific) Masked Booby has muddied the waters, so it was very exciting when a near-pristine adult bird was seen from a whale-watching cruise out of San Diego. It was the first, but it’s unlikely to be the last.

    Photo by Tim Hammond, used with permission

    Photo by Tim Hammond, used with permission

    So that’s it. What do you think? Did you manage to cross paths with any of these birds last year? And what did we leave off that we should have included?

    Let us know in the comments!

      ABA Duck Stamps, Help us Reach $15,000!

      You may remember the ABA’s initiative to sell Duck Stamps through our offices as a way to make birders’ voices heard in a way that helps support the important Duck Stamp program.

      Well, we’re excited to say that we’re currently 26 stamps short of 1000, and we’d love to close that gap very soon. 1000 stamps means $15,000 for bird conservation and habitat purchases. It’s a significant amount and we’d like to thank everybody who helped out by purchasing a stamp through the ABA.


      Here’s the link! Let’s close that gap!

        Big Year Records Busted in 2014

        Dorian Anderson’s year wasn’t the only impressive Big Year performance this year. In at least two states, long-standing Big Year records fell in 2014 and those birders are deserving of some congratulations themselves for what is certainly a hard-won honor.

        In Arizona, Green Valley guide Laurens Halsey capped off what started as a personal attempt [read more…]

          Of Magpies, Pigeons and House Sparrows: Why it Matters Where You Live (and Go Birding)

          I have been fortunate to have lived in many different areas of the United States and to experience very diverse bird populations in the areas near my different homes. Although you can study the distribution maps for the various bird species and easily see the huge differences, nothing drives it home better than to live [read more…]

            Blog Birding #219

            After a year of birding by bike, Dorian Anderson considers chasing a bird the traditional way and realizes how his experience in 2014 has forever changed the way he looks at birding. At The Speckled Hatchback.

            I need here to say that I am sure I will chase at least some birds in the future. [read more…]

              #ABArare – Gray-crowned Yellowthroat – Texas

              A bird walk yesterday morning led by Huck Hutchens at Estero Llano Grande State Park in Hidalgo Co, Texas, turned up an ABA Code 4 Gray-crowned Yellowthroat. The bird was seen and photographed by many throughout the day.

              Photo by Chris Benesh, used with permission

              Estero Llano Grande is located just south of Weslaco, [read more…]

                The Chicago Connection

                So, Ted Floyd sent me the cover of the current issue of Birding (about to hit your mailboxes, and available online right now for ABA members):

                …and pointed out that on page 3 of the magazine, it says:

                What do Chicago in winter, the ABA Checklist Committee, field ID of the Slaty-backed Gull, and Daryl Hannah [read more…]

                  Rare Bird Alert: January 23, 2015

                  We roll into the last week of January with two state picking up potential first records in the last 7 days, neither of which are as cut and dried as we certainly like to see in our perfect world. But, as we all know, little about birds is cut and dried. The first is a [read more…]

                    Open Mic: More than Just a Name

                    At the Mic: Donald Jones

                    Thanks, Rick and Derek, for interesting and thought provoking pieces on bird names, bird codes, and the birders’ psyche. Although I enjoyed Rick’s take and I think he makes many good points, I have to say, I respectfully disagree with his overall premise: “It’s not about the birds, it’s about [read more…]

                      An Interview with Dorian Anderson, pedal-powered Big Year champ

                      There’s no getting around the fact that the ABA Area Big Year has serious appeal among birders. Much of it is the vicarious thrill of watching someone build a list in 365 days that most of the the rest of us take a lifetime to accomplish. But there’s also a celebration of the birding community [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.
                      If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
                      Read More »

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