Rare Bird Alert: October 5, 2012
by Nate Swick
I'll keep this short. A busy schedule and a mild illness have conspired to encourage me to keep the creative writing portion of this weekly shindig concise, but I don't think I have to stretch much to say that the Pacific coast of the continent is absolutely rocking right now, led by the big land masses of Alaska and California. Only in those two states can you have a first state record that isn't even the most exciting bird of the week (Alaska) and a Code 3 bird that's about as mind-altering as any rarer bird on the continent (California). Enough with this prattle, on with the birds.
Alaska had a first state record this week with a well-photographed Blue-headed Vireo in Middleton Island, but two mega vagrants took the title of birds of the week. The first, an ABA Code 5 Pine Bunting on Saint Paul Island. (photo at left by Doug Gochfeld), only the third in the ABA Area and the first in nearly 20 years. And number two, perhaps stealing the thunder from the bunting, is the ABA's second ever Siberian Blue Robin (5) on Gambell, leaving the poor little Mourning Warbler on Gambell, only Alaska's 8th, completely ignored.
Also huge in the Lower 48 was California's first state record of Common Cuckoo in Santa Cruz, a code 3 due to several Alaska records but only the 2nd in the Lower 48. Other hot birds in Cali include an Arctic Warbler banded on South Farallon Island, San Francisco, while a Wedge-tailed Shearwater (4) was found offshore, a Yellow-green Vireo in San Diego, and a Brown Booby from a cruise ship in Mendocino waters.
And lest we forget, a 'possible' Plumbeous Vireo discovered in Berrien, Michigan, would be a first state record if/when confirmed.
And way out in the east, a Dusky Flycatcher banded on Jekyll Island, Glynn, is a state first as well.
But back to the west, between Alaska and California birding is pretty good too. In Washington the state's second ever Wilson's Plover, in Grays Harbor, comes not more than a month after their first.
A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Victoria is a good bird for British Columbia.
Well photographed and notable in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a Baltimore Oriole.
A Townsend's Solitaire, the first of the season in the eastern half of the continent, was reported from Hennepin, Minnesota, this week.
Whether it's a new bird or a lingerer from the spate of inland birds this late summer, a Brown Booby (3) report comes from a lake in Harris, Texas.
A Townsend's Warbler was discovered in Cameron, Louisiana.
Always good in the east, a Swainson's Hawk report comes from Tunica, Mississippi.
In Alabama, a Vermilion Flycatcher was seen in Mobile.
Continuing the common fall theme of flycatchers turning up in the east, a Say's Phoebe was found this week in Lake, Florida, along with a Cinnamon Teal in Oskaloosa.
A Calliope Hummingbird has taken up residence at a feeder in Greenville, South Carolina.
The second of the species seen in the east this week was a Swainson's Hawk from Grant, West Virginia.
Annual in places all over the right half of the continent, but still notable east of the Mississippi, a Western Kingbird in Lake, Ohio.
There was a Western Kingbird in Erie, Pennsylvania, as well, but tops for the state was a Northern Wheatear, Pennsylvania's 5th, in Berks.
Another Say's Phoebe in as many weeks in New Jersey was seen in Cape May.
In Connecticut, a Common Gallinule near Litchfield was very good.
Another Northern Wheatear report came from Rhode Island, with a bird on Block Island.
And in Massachusetts, another Say's Phoebe was seen at Plum Island in Essex.
Quebec had a report of Northern Wheatear too, a well-photographed bird in Riviere-Ouelle.
And the second record of Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher in New Brunswick was a bird seen by many this week on White Head Island.
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.