#ABARare - Rufous-tailed Robin- Alaska
by Nate Swick
Yesterday, September 7, 2012, Scott Schuette, Andy Bankert, and Doug Gochfeld on Saint Paul Island in the Priblof Islands, Alaska, re-discovered a Rufous-tailed Robin, Luscinia sibilans, (ABA Code 5), intially found the day before by Steve Heinl. This is the 4th North American record of this species, all from Alaska, the second for Saint Paul and the first found in the fall.
Rufous-tailed Robin is migratory species breeding in northeastern Asia as far south as Mongolia. In winter it heads to Southeast Asia and southern China. In appearance it is very similar to New World Catharus thrushes, particularly Hermit Thrush and Veery. This bird often flicks its tail and is often found on its breeding grounds in the undergrowth, associated with broadleaf evergreen and semi-evergreen bottomland forests having dense undergrowth with associated fallen trees and thickets. In winter Rufous-tailed Robin is said to use fung shui woodland (no joking).
Other names this species has been called include Swinhoe's Robin and Whistling Nightingale. When treated as a true thrush, it is taxonomically closest to Siberian Blue Robin, Luscinia cyane, a species recorded on Attu Island in 1985.
The first Rufous-tailed Robin in the ABA, an unaccepted record, was found on Attu in 2000. A second bird was collected on Attu in 2008, just days before a third record was discovered on St Paul.