Rare Bird Alert: October 12, 2012
by Nate Swick
This past week was dominated by a huge front, pushing winter across the continent from the central provinces all the way to the southeastern states. That weather system - big, slow, and strong - pushed any number of interesting birds around, and likely had a lot to do with the influx of western species turning up from the Great Lakes all the way to the Atlantic. Along with the weather, the predicted push of seed-eating northern birds seems to be progressing anon. Following the big movement of Red Crossbills come reports of Evening Grosbeaks as far south as Connecticut and Red-breasted Nuthatches turning up in several spots in Louisiana. This could be a fascinating winter.
Only one first state record was reported this month and it game from Oregon where the state's first (and long awaited) Cassin's Sparrow was discovered in Curry. In the same county, a Worm-eating Warbler was also seen. Another excellent find was a Brown Booby (ABA Code 3) Oregon's 5th, seen from a pelagic out of Lincoln, where a Tropical Kingbird was notable on land in that county.
Alaska lakcs the continental rarities of the last couple weeks, but a couple good birds for the state include a Harris's Sparrow in Juneau and a Chestnut-sided Warbler in Middleton Island.
Good birds in California this week are mostly from the southern part of the state. A Painted Redstart was well-photographed in Los Angeles and a Blue-footed Booby was a one-day wonder at the Salton Sea in Imperial.
in Arizona, a Rufous-backed Robin (3) was found at Boyce Thompson State Park in Pinal. This species used to be more unusual than it has been in recent years.
Good for Nevada was a Great Crested Flycatcher near Dyer, Esmerelda.
In Utah, an Ovenbird was discovered in Tooele.
The most recent of a series of excellent warbler reports from Idaho was a 'western' Palm Warbler in Latah.
Becoming more common in the interior west is a Lesser Black-backed Gull at Ft Peck, Valley, Montana.
A Lesser Black-backed Gull was also an excellent bird in Bismarck, North Dakota.
A pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks turned up near Holdrege, Phelps, Nebraska.
In Minnesota, a Say's Phoebe has been present in St. Louis for much of the last week.
In the wake of the aforementioned storm, birders in Cook, Illinois, turned up a Burrowing Owl, a Harris's Sparrow, and a Violet-Green Swallow along the lakefront.
Good birds for Texas include a Ruddy Ground-Dove (3) in Bexar and a Greater Pewee in Harris, both farther north than would be immediately expected.
Birds pushed ahead of the weather found the end of the road in Florida, where a Tropical Kingbird was found in Franklin, a Say's Phoebe in Pinellas, a Vermilion Flycatcher in Hernando, and a MacGillivray's Warbler in Miami-Dade.
Flycatchers were also on the agenda in South Carolina, where a Vermilion Flycatcher was reported from Bear Island in Colleton.
In Virginia, a Black-tailed Godwit (3) stayed a few days at Chincoteague NWR in Accomack, and a Say's Phoebe in Princess Anne. Sadly for attendees of the upcoming ABA Rally, neither has stuck around.
One of several Northern Wheatears in the northeast was seen at BWI Airport in Anne Arundel, Maryland.
In Ohio, a Brown Pelican was seen in Sandusky, possibly the same bird seen farther west the week before.
A late report of a Sage Thrasher came from Long Point in Ontario. Also in the province, the second record of "Vega" Herring Gull came from Point Pelee, and a Western Grebe was seen at Point Edward.
Not one, but two Northern Wheatears were seen this week in Cape May, New Jersey, as well as an Ash-throated Flycatcher in Ocean.
Always notable on the east coast, a Franklin's Gull has stuck for a few days at Montezuma NWR, Wayne, New York.
A Common Gallinule is hanging around near Peacedale, Rhode Island.
In Massachusetts this week, a banding station on South Monomoy Island in Chatham had both a Black-throated Gray Warbler and a Townsend's Solitaire in their nets. Also a Purple Gallinule has been in Norfolk.
Barely worthy of the Code 4 assignment anymore, what will undoubtedly be only the first Barnacle Goose (4) of the season comes from Côte-Nord, Quebec. Also a Western Kingbird was seen in Outaouais.
An Eared Grebe turned up in Rye Harbor, New Hampshire.
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. Place names written in italics refer to counties/parishes/districts.