Rare Bird Alert: October 19, 2012
by Greg Neise
In many parts of the ABA area, October and November are the most exciting weeks of the year. Young birds and post-breeding adults wander, get pushed by winds and vagrants are on everyone's mind. The weather this past week was again dominated by the Greenland block, a warm high-pressure system that sets up over the north Atlantic, causing the jet stream across North America to oscillate, and whipping up storms (which push birds around), particularly east of the Rocky Mountains.
The bird of the week is undoubtedly Rhode Island's first record of Wood Sandpiper in Jamestown, discovered by Carlos Pedro on October 13.
A Northern Wheatear discovered in Essex, Massachusetts is an excellent find anywhere in the lower 48.
Western species in the east this week include a Townsend's Solitaires in Allegheny, Pennsylvania and Hamilton Ontario. A Western Grebe was reported in Outaouais, Quebec, and another Western Grebe was reported in Ottawa, Ontario.
A Western Kingbird was reported in Kings, New York, and a Swainson's Hawk was reported from Cape May in New Jersey.
From Florida comes two reports of Vermilion Flycatcher: one from Miami-Dade, and the other in Orange.
Ohio was host to two western vagrants, a Prairie Falcon in Findley and a Mew Gull in Huron Harbor.
The Burrowing Owl at Chicago's Montrose Point in northern Illinois, was rediscovered on Monday.
Probably at the top of the western vagrants list (so far), is a Clark's Nutcracker that was seen near Duluth, Minnesota, and a Golden-crowned Sparrow in Sioux Falls, Iowa.
And that's it for western birds out east. A sort-of eastern bird out west this week was a Lesser Black-backed Gull in Boise Idhaho. A definitely eastern bird out west was the Rose-breasted Grosbeak found in Washington, Utah.
In Texas, a Shiny Cowbird was reported at Bolivar Flats, and in Arizona, a Rufous-capped Warbler was reported in Miller Canyon.
Definitely out-of-range was a Pine Grosbeak reported from Geary, Kansas.
From the west coast comes a couple of interesting reports from Washington: a Slaty-backed Gull photographed in Tacoma, and a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (3) in Ridgefield.
A Bering Sea icebreaker had a Little Bunting come aboard this week in Alaska.
Lastly, two far-flug vagrants from Canada. A Common Crane was seen at Deadhorse Lake in Alberta, and a Frigatebird sp. was reported at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
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.