Rare Bird Alert: April 27, 2012
by Nate Swick
It's a much busier week this week as the birds, both expected and unexpected, begin pouring in. Birders simply cannot miss the migrants showing up across the continent, and many are picking up some surprises, too. A pair of potential first state records highlight this week's birding, and notably both come from states, California and Texas, that seem to have very few holes left to fill.
The talk of North America this week is undoubtedly the potential Texas and ABA first Tropical Mockingbird at Sabine Woods in Jefferson. The bird stands in contrast to Chicago's recent - and now departed - Elaenia in that the bird's identity is in no way in question, but the means by which it turned up in Texas undoubtedly is.
Recent photos have shown significant wear in the tail, which might suggest a captive past for the mega-rarity, but nothing, of course, is so cut and dried. Extensive wear occurs in wild birds too, particularly in brush loving species like this one. Questions of provenance will certainly continue to dog this bird throughout its stay, but birders looking to bank one may want to have a look anyway as it's showing well through the week.
There are no question marks for California's latest, an adult Northern Gannet spotted offshore from South East Farallon Island, San Francisco. The Gannet is not only the first for California, but the first for the Pacific, making it all the more remarkable.
Elsewhere in the ABA area, pelagic birders in Washington picked up a Parakeet Auklet out of Westport.
In British Columbia, a pair of Lesser Goldfinches are at a feeder in Lillooet.
Some eastern goodies in Colorado include a Prothonotary Warbler in El Paso, a Laughing Gull in Arapahoe, and a Kentucky Warbler in Pueblo.
Excellent for Arizona is a report of a possible Western Gull in Cochise. Annual anymore, but still notable is the spring's first Rufous-backed Robin (ABA Code 3), also in Cochise.
Non mockingbirds in Texas include a Crimson-collared Grosbeak (4) at Weslaco, Hidalgo, two Rufous-capped Warblers (3) in Uvalde, and a possible second ABA record of Amazon Kingfisher (5) at Bentsen in Hidalgo. More on the last report likely to come as we hear it.
In Saskatchewan, a Eurasian Wigeon was reported at Cypress Lake near Maple Creek.
Good for Minnesota are a Say's Phoebe in Fillmore and a White-winged Dove in Winona.
Only the 12th record for Wisconsin, and one of only a few for the spring, was a White-winged Dove in Germantown, Washington.
Coming off of last year's first state record, Indiana quickly gets their second Neotropic Cormorant, right on the border of Illinois, in Lake.
The Northern Gannet seen regularly from Whitefish Point, Chippewa, Michigan, last year has apparently returned for a second season.
Great stuff has been pouring into Ontarion this week, starting with the provinces 9th Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) at Long Point, a bird that was even banded. Also present, a Say's Phoebe near MacNamee, and a Bell's Vireo, one of fewer than a dozen provincial records, at Point Pelee.
In Quebec, an out of range and early Swainson's Hawk was reported near Montérégie.
A Hooded Warbler overshot its range and ended up in Biddeford, York, Maine.
Massachusetts' third ever Black-throated Sparrow, and the first since 1963, was on Cape Cod, Barnstable. Also two Magnificent Frigatebird sightings (possibly the same bird?) came the same day from both Barnstable and Martha's Vineyard, Dukes.
A Magnificent Frigatebird on Montauk Point, Suffolk, New York, may have even been that same bird. Also in the NYC area, a White-faced Ibis in Queens.
Excellent, but nearly annual anymore, for New Jersey was a Swallow-tailed Kite at Garrett Mountain, Passaic.
Florida is hopping with vagrants in addition to the migrants streaming north. A Bar-tailed Godwit was reported at Flamingo in Miami-Dade, back after a short absense was a Black Noddy at Dry Tortugas in Monroe, a Varied Thrush has been seen by a few in Collier, and a Bahama Mockingbird (4) was recently reported from Brevard.
A couple great birds from Louisiana include a Band-tailed Pigeon visiting a feeder in Lafayette and a Townsend's Solitaire on Grande Isle, Jefferson.
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.