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Rare Bird Alert: June 24, 2011

Much of the southwest and southeast US are still in drought.  The rest of the continent is wet and colder than normal and there's little in the way of major weather systems to blow birds around.  As such, the rare birds and vagrants across much of the US and Canada consist, in large part, with those few species that seem to be the big movers this spring and early summer.  Neotropic Comorants, Cassin's Sparrows and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers abound, all potentially related to extreme drought in their core range.  In any case, birders would probably do well to keep an eye out for any of them.

The most intriguing vagrant of the week has to be the Hooded Crow now present at a park in Staten Island, New York.  The species has never been reported in the ABA area – at least not a potentially wild bird – and by all accounts this individual shows signs of being a legitimate vagrant.  We may never know for sure, but it's a fascinating record nonetheless. More from Bill Maynard at the ABA PEEPS blog.  

Birders on a closed section of Great Swamp NWR in New Jersey this week found a lingering Trumpeter Swan

A possible Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, is one of many east of their traditional range this spring.

A pair of Wilson's Phalaropes are reported near Smyrna, Delaware.

Virginia hosts a couple nice birds in the form of a Wood Stork in Albermarle County and a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (ABA Code 3) near Chesapeake. 

Birders offshore out of Indian River County, Florida, found a White-tailed Tropicbird (ABA Code 3).

Kentucky joins the states that have recorded a Neotropic Cormorant this spring, with a bird in far western Fulton County.  It has been splitting its time not only in Kentucky, but across the border in Obion County, Tennessee.

Indiana's first Neotropic Cormorant continues in Greene County, and two Neotropic Cormorants are now present at a marsh in southern Cook County, Illinois.

And we certainly can't leave out South Dakota, also hosting a Neotropic Cormorant in McPherson County and, for a change, a possible Reddish Egret report comes from Codington County.

A lingering Lesser Black-backed Gull is present in Wright County, Minnesota. 

Cave Swallows are reported annually in Oklahoma anymore, but notable is the first nesting record at Wichita Mountain NWR.

Great birds in Texas this week include the state's fourth Snail Kite, and the first out of the Lower Valley, near Houston.  In Texas, this is more likely to be a Middle American bird than one from Florida.  A Green Violetear was also photographed early in the week in Ingram.

Arizona also has some interesting reports for the week, headlined by an Elegant Tern at Green Valley.  Also present are a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Maricopa County, a pair of nice gulls, Heerman's in Tucson and Laughing at Cibola NWR, and a Rufous-backed Robin in Pima County.

In the intermontane west comes a report of Rose-breasted Grosbeak in Uinta County, Utah, and a Common Black-Hawk in Delta County, Colorado. 

An Eastern Kingbird is notable from King County, Washington.

Excellent reports from California include a Glossy Ibis in Riverside County and an Indigo Bunting in Ventura County for the southern half of the state, and a White-winged Dove in Santa Cruz County and a flyby Brown Booby at Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County.

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Given the preponderance of Neotropic Cormorants present in the middle of the continent this year, where do you think the next place they'll show up will be?

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
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