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Rare Bird Alert: April 13, 2012

The exceptionally early spring of the past couple weeks seems to have slowed in the last few days, with more seasonal temperature returning to much of the eastern half of the continent at least, according to our friends at eBird.  Early arrivals may only be a week early rather than the fortnight many were showing until recently. 

The vagrant report is picking up slowly, but surely, as well.  As the whole of the continent gets in the fun as birds within and without North America begin moving in earnest.

First, a potential first ABA record was reported from Quebec.  A Common Greenfinch, a species never before recorded as a wild bird in North America, was photographed at a private residence in Matapédia, on the Gaspé peninsula just north of Maine.  All of the usual questions of provenance are in play, obviously, but the location and the time of year may suggest potential wild origin.

Western SpindalisOne of the more exciting confirmed ABA Area rarities of the week came from Florida, with a female Western Spindalis (ABA Code 3) discovered and well-photographed in Fort Lauderdale, Broward.  It was first reported on the 8th of April, but not refound subsequently. 

After a long drought of first stat/provincial records, Pennsylvania comes through this week with their first ever record of Lesser Goldfinch, an individual of the 'black-backed' population that visited a feeder in Franklin for no more than two days before vacating.  Congratulations to those Keystone birders able to see the bird before its hasty retreat.

Elsewhere in the eastern part of the continent, a possible California Gull was reported on Grand Manan, New Brunswick, and a Black Vulture was seen soaring over Tantallon, Nova Scotia.

In Vermont, a Tufted Duck (3) was found in Franklin, and in Rhode Island, a Western Grebe near Narragansett, is one of only a few records for the state.

A trio of White-faced Ibis were well-photographed in Atlantic, New Jersey.

Always good on the eastern half of the continent, a Franklin's Gull was seen on the Potomac with Bonaparte's Gulls in Montgomery, Maryland.

A one day wonder in Georgia was a MacGillivray's Warbler  in Chatham.

A pair of Ruff (3) were well-photographed in Prairie, Arkansas.

In Michigan, a Harris's Sparrow was found in Muskegon.

A Black Vulture, Wisconsin's 8th record, was reported from Portage.

An amazing record from the center of the continent, a Brown Pelican spent a few days this week in Goodhue, Minnesota.  This is the state's 3rd record.

A Glossy Ibis was found in Mills, Iowa.

Another midwest Ruff (3) ws found in Sully, South Dakota.

Glossy Ibis in the west include a bird in Montrose, Colorado, and another in Socorro, New Mexico.

In Arizona, a Red Phalarope is present at Sweetwater Wetlands in Pima.

A couple good Old World species in California in a Ruff (3) in Sonoma and a Tufted Duck (3) in Del Norte.

In British Columbia, a Sage Sparrow was reported in Kelowna, in the interior of the province.


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 <>, the richly illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the ABA.

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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.
Nate Swick

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