Rare Bird Alert: June 8, 2012
by Nate Swick
The spring rarity season begins to come to a close this week, with most every breeding bird in North America finally having made its way to precisely where it needs to go to do their summer thing. The flow of vagrants and notable reports slows down too, but there are still some excellent birds all around the continent, including nothing less than four potential first state/proivincial records in the last week. Half of which are dead certain and the other half (interestingly concerning the same species) are less so. But that's for the respective RBCs to decide, ours is but to revel in the good fortune and fantastic birding of others.
A first state record for a state as well-covered as Texas certainly is a big deal. So the Black-tailed Godwit (ABA Code 3) discovered a few days ago in Brazoria is exciting indeed. Also in the state, a Masked Duck (3) has also returned to Sabel Palm Sanctuary in Cameron.
Another remarkable first state records comes from Washington, where an Eastern Meadowlark was found singing in Skagit, earlier this week. No recent word on whether the bird has stuck around.
In the realm of cryptic and questionable first state records comes a pair of reports from the mid-Atlantic concerning first state records of Cape Verde Shearwater (5), an extremely rare and difficult to ID European tubenose recorded in the ABA area only three times prior to this week.
The first report comes from New Jersey, where an intriguing shearwater strongly resembling Cape Verde was photographed from a boat our of Point Pleasant. UPDATE: The bird in question has, in fact, been identified as a fairly typical first year Cory's Shearwater.
The second Cape Verde Shearwater report comes from nearby New York, where a group of experienced birders discovered a candidate while seawatching from Suffolk. Both records are potential first state records.
In Massachusetts, a Brown Pelican in Essex is a great bird for New England.
In a season of plenty for this species, he most wayward report of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is one recently discovered near Pittsfield, Maine.
Two good birds for Atlantic Canada are both reported in Newfoundland this week. An American White Pelican seen all over the island but most recently near Chance, is the province's 3rd, and a White-winged Dove is frequenting a feeder in Trepassey.
A Snowy Plover in Erie, Pennsylvania is that state's 4th ever.
And another Snowy Plover (perhaps the same individual?) in Ashtabula, Ohio, is that state's 4th as well.
A pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were reported this week from near Purdum, Blaine, Nebraska.
A Red-headed Woodpecker near Vermilion, Alberta, is a good one for the prairie provinces.
In Wyoming, a Brown Thrasher was reported at a feeder near Cheyenne, Laramie.
Good for the west is an Eastern Wood-Pewee from Pueblo, Colorado.
A couple exciting, but somewhat regular vagrants in Arizona are both from the southeast corner, a Buff-collared Nightjar near Ruby in Santa Cruz (the first in several years), and the now somewhat annual Flame-colored Tanager (3), at Cave Creek, Cochise.
Gambell once again leads the Alaska contingent, with records this week of Red-necked Stint (3) another White-tailed Eagle (4), and a Phylloscopus Willow Warbler/Chiffchaff (5/unrecorded) that would either be the ABA Area's first spring record (Willow) or the first ever record (Chiffchaff).
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.