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    Rare Bird Alert: February 3, 2012

    As we head into February we see that days lengthen just enough to spur the zugunruhe that sends birds back northward.  After a period with a seeming paucity of vagrants, the dam is slowly starting to break this week, as birds moving means birds showing up in unlikely places and surprising and delighting birders.  And that's just plain fun.   

    As with last week, places in italics refer to counties or parishes.

    There a few ABA area rarities in the US and Canada this week, and perhaps the most twitchable is a  Streak-backed Oriole (ABA Code 4) in Tubac, Santa Cruz, Arizona. Oddly, the rarer bird for the state is a  Mew Gull  in Mohave.

    Next door in New Mexico, a subadult Barrow's Goldeneye was discovered in Taos

    In California, a Slaty-backed Gull (4) was recently turned up in San Mateo, and a Sprague's Pipit in Calipatria, Inland.  Always good in the Lower 48 is a Yellow-billed Loon in Monterey, completing the loon sweep on the Cali coast this year. 

    A Brambling (3) was reported form a feeder in Poulsbo, Kitsap, Washington.

    Not one, but two separate Lesser Balck-backed Gulls were reported in interior British Columbia.  One near Vernon and the other near Kelowna.

    Among the most exciting, though mostly inaccessible, birds reported this week was a juvenile Steller's Sea-Eagle (4) photographed on Shemya Island, Alaska. 

    More indication of the rapid range expansion of the Great-tailed Grackle comes from Montana, where the state's 3rd record comes from Bozeman, Gallatin.

    A Common Crane (4) is apparently overwintering near Hastings, Adams, Nebraska.  Though the state has several records, this is the first for winter. 

    Iowa's 5th Bullock's Oriole, an adult male, is visiting a feeder in Wapello.

    A fantastic record for the interior of the continent, a Yellow-billed Loon has been well-documented at a reservoir near Manhattan, Potawattamie, Kansas. 

    For Texas, notable birds for the week (not including the list over continuing vagrants in the Valley) include a Common Redpoll in Tarrant and a far out of range White-eared Hummingbird on the coastal plain in Live Oak.  

    A Say's Phoebe was photographed in Haywood, Tennessee, and in Illinois, a Prairie Falcon was discovered in Champaign.

    Two Townsend's Solitaires are reported from the upper Midwest, on in Stearns, Minnesota, and another in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

    The usual mix of gulls are congregating around Niagara, Ontario, with the most exciting recently being a California Gull.

    A White-winged Dove near Sydney, Nova Scotia.   The species is more or less annual in the Atlantic provinces these days. 

    A Spotted Towhee in Rockport, Essex, Massachusetts, is the latest of many western vagrants to show up in the state this winter.

    The farthest south report of Common Redpoll on the east coast so far this winter comes from Virginia Beach, Princess Anne, Virginia.

    South Carolina has an amazing three Bullock's Orioles currently in the state.  One in Charleston and two in Williamsburg.

    And in Florida, birders attending the Space Coast Birding Festival got to enjoy a California Gull in Volusia and a pair of Vermilion Flycatchers in Orange.


    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.

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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. 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

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    • http://profile.typepad.com/rickwright Rick Wright

      This is Nebraska’s 17th record of Common Crane in 40 years. I hope it lingers until March.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/stuarttingley Stuart Tingley

      Corrections on the White-winged Dove: It is actually near Sydney, NOVA SCOTIA (not New Brunswick). Also erroneous is the statement “the first in the province in over 30 years” – this species has been essentially annual in Nova Scotia (as well as New Brunswick) for the past couple of decades.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/naswick Nate Swick

      You’re absolutely right. I completely misread the listserv message, thinking it said the first since 1979 instead “since the first IN 1979″. Serves me right for doing it so late at night.

      I’ve fixed the mistakes. Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

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