Rare Bird Alert: March 16, 2012
by Nate Swick
It's been a remarkably slow week for vagrants across much of the continent, for reasons that aren't entirely clear. Perhaps it's just the early spring doldrums, or perhaps it's the result of the abnormal heat wave that made parts of the upper Midwest and southern Canada feel more like they were experiencing May than March. Vagrants aside, spring is definitely in the air, with reports from the south of returning Yellow-throated Warblers and Louisiana Waterthrushes, the Eastern Phoebes and Mountain Bluebirds that are such reliable vangards of the season on either side of the continent are arriving, and the first swallows are finding their way into southern Canada. There's plenty to be excited about, even if most of it is exactly what we're expecting.
Biggest news of the week wasn't a bird seen, but a decision handed down by the California Bird Record Committee on a new species for the state. Back in December a Common Snipe (ABA Code 5) was bagged by a hunter in Riverside, that report - and specimen - was accepted. The bird itself was mounted and remains the property of the hunter.
As for living birds, a Slaty-backed Gull (3) was discovered in Del Norte.
A pelagic trip on the US/Canada border found Mottled Petrels (3) in British Columbia waters and an apparent Black-tailed Gull (4) off of Long Beach, Wahington.
The long staying and well-documented Nutting's Flycatcher (5) continues in La Paz, Arizona.
A Eurasian Wigeon was present this week in Michigan City, LaPorte, Indiana.
In Hart, Geogia, a Pacific Loon was reported on the Georgia side of Lake Hartwell.
This week in Florida, a Black-throated Gray Warbler was discovered in Miami-Dade.
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.