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Rare Bird Alert: December 23, 2011


The middle of December always seems to be one of the best time for rarity finding, no doubt because nearly every birder on the continent is out participating in Christmas Bird Counts, freed from local patches to cover those 15 mile across circles with redoubled intensity.  It's these sort of exhaustive area counts that really seem to turn up the rarities, as those birds are generally present, it just requires the right birder in the right place to turn them up. It seems as though a significant number of the week's vagrants and rarities are the result of CBCs.  As good a reason as any to get out out and participate.

A remarkable first state record for New York is an apparent Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch flushed from near the summit of Black Dome Mountain in Greene County

Perhaps the most exciting record in the ABA-area is a well-photographed and recorded Nutting's Flycatcher (ABA Code 5) in La Paz County, Arizona.  This is the 5th record of the species north of Mexico.  Also in the state, a pair of Ruddy Ground-Doves were discovered on a CBC in Cochise County

In California a Masked Booby (3) was discovered onshore in Orange County, and a Little Gull (3) in San Bernadino County.

A Tufted Duck (3) is present near Portland, Multmomah County, Oregon.

Washington's second record of Ross's Gull (3), an adult and the first of this arctic species to make it to the lower 48 this season, was discovered on a lake in Okanagan County.  Elsewhere in Washington, a Yellow-billed Loon offshore in Kitsap County and a Harris's Sparrow in Pacific County

In British Columbia, a female Black-throated Blue Warbler was spotted near Penticton

A Brambling (3) was spotted in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. 

Good for the northern Great Basin, a Northern Mockingbird in in Burton, Idaho. 

A White-tailed Kite in Washington County is exciting birders in Utah, also present in Utah County is a Harris's Sparrow.

Notable away form the east coast is a Great Black-backed Gull in Pueblo County, Colorado.

A extralimital American Dipper is present this week in Rapid City, South Dakota.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is the second record record for this species in the prairie provinces in as many weeks. 

Rare but nearly annual in Minnesota is a Townsend's Solitaire, this time in Dakota County.  An apparent Glaucous-winged Gull in St. Louis County is decidedly less expected.

In Ontario, a Franklin's Gull was discovered this week in Sault St Marie.

A Black-legged Kittiwake was found this week in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 

Kentucky has a Harris's Sparrow in Triggs County

A pair of ducks were notable in Arkansas this week, with a White-winged Scoter found in Faulkner County, and a Barrow's Goldeneye at Lake Dardanelle in Yell County.

A Rough-legged Hawk discovered in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana is the first in the state in over ten years.

Good birds for Florida include a King Eider in Escambia County, a Cassin's Kingbird in Hendry County, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher in Lake County.

Georgia's second Green-tailed Towhee, and the first since the 1950s, was discovered on a CBC in Greene County.

In South Carolina, a Rough-legged Hawk in Charleston County was the first photographed in the state, and a Harris's Sparrow in Richland County was a brief stayer early in the week.

A good bird for North Carolina was a Brewer's Blackbird found in Carteret County

Two exciting reports for the east coast come from Maryland, where a Black-headed Grosbeak is visiting a feeder in Caroline County, and a Barrow's Goldeneye was discovered in St. Mary's County.

A second Bell's Vireo was reported from Cape May County, New Jersey, and a Townsend's Solitaire is present in Warren County.

In Pennsylvania, a Franklin's Gull was photographed in Berks County.

A series of great birds were found this week in Massachusetts, including a Pink-footed Goose (4), the state's 7th, in Worcester County. Other notables include an Ash-throated Flycatcher a Painted Bunting, and an  'Audubon's' Yellow-rumped Warbler, all in Barnstable County.

In Maine, the state's second Barnacle Goose (4) in as many weeks was discovered in York County.

And Newfoundland's 9th provincial record of Red-bellied Woodpecker was coming to a feeder in downtown St. John's.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog. A long-time member of the bird blogosphere, Nate has been writing about birds and birding at The Drinking Bird since 2007, but can also be found writing regularly at 10,000 Birds. In the non-digital world, he's an environmental educator and interpretive naturalist. He is also the author of Birding for the Curious. Nate lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children, who are not yet aware that they are being groomed to be birders.
Nate Swick

Latest posts by Nate Swick (see all)

  • Betty

    CBC count circled are 15 miles in DIAMETER, 7.5 miles radius.
    And yes, some amazing birds are being seen!

  • American Dippers breed in the Black Hills–surely they’re not that much of a surprise in Rapid?

  • Oops. I knew that. An oversight I’ll fix.

  • Hmmm, I see that now. For whatever reason the range map I was looking at didn’t show them closer than western Montana…

  • Andrew

    “15 mile across” is the same as “diameter”. What’s the issue?

  • I had originally written “15 mile radius” and edited the post to change it.

  • Ryan Shaw

    10 Yellow-billed Loons were seen on the Sequim CBC from the boat party on the 19th, Clallam County, Washington State.

  • Tony Leukering

    The GA Green-tailed Towhee county is Greene, not Green. Undoubtedly named after someone with predictable results if he were still alive.

  • Tony Leukering

    Oh, and the Am. Dippers are faring quite poorly in the Black Hills, facing extirpation, the last that I heard. So, though it’s not that far out of range, the Rapid City bird is of interest.

  • Thanks!

  • It’s my impression that the Black Hills birds are actually increasing in numbers over the last few years, now recolonizing previously abandoned watersheds. I don’t know how unusual it is to see one in Rapid City in the winter, but the species’ presence in the summer in the Black Hills would not be news.

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