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Rare Bird Alert: November 2, 2012

The entire week, both in the bird world and in the regular-person world, was gripped (both in bird speak and regular-person speak) by Sandy, a hurricane/superstorm/Frankenstorm that collided with a massive cold front during an abnormally high tide creating an incredibly destructive storm that wreaked havoc on the eastern seaboard, but also brought impressive numbers of birds to unusual places.  

SandyJaegers and Leach's Storm-Petrels seemed to be the predominant species in the vicinity of Sandy's immediate landfall near Philadelphia, but classic hurricane waifs like tropicbirds and frigatebirds were also represented. Even more, and indicative of Sandy's "Frankenstorm" nature, sustained high winds out of Canada whipped up by the storm seem to have displaced some high Arctic birds, as oddities like Ross's Gulls and Gyrfalcon turned up along the Great Lakes far earlier than generally expected (when those species are even expected).  

Notable reports in the wake of Sandy are far too numerous to include in full in this weekly run-down, but John Puschock has been keeping abreast of all of the storm's many impressive waifs in a series of posts.  Update 1 is here.  Update 2 is here.  And Update 3 is here.  Many of the best reports from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Connecticut and other places in Sandy's path can be found there rather than here. 

A potential first state record, that may or may not be storm-related (of course everything on the east coast may be storm-related in some manner) was a reported, but as yet not refound, Virginia's Warbler in Queens, New York.  Almost certainly Sandy driven was an adult Ross's Gull in western Cayuga

Another Ross's Gull was seen in in Ontario, this time at Fort Erie. 

Remarkable at any time, but especially so for the cluster of reports were three Northern Lapwings (ABA Code 4) in Massachusetts, 2 in Nantucket and a third in Barnstable.  Also in Barnstable, both a Le Conte's Sparrow and a Western Kingbird were around this week

Magnificent Frigatebird (likely the same bird) was present both in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the wake of the storm. 

Up in the Atlantic provinces, Newfoundland's 2nd record of Ash-throated Flycatcher came from Bonavista, as well as a Northern Lapwing (4) near St. John's. 

In New Brunswick, a Western Kingbird report comes from Red Head. 

Another record of Barnacle Goose (4) surfaces this week, this time in Montérégie, Quebec. 

Lost among the myriad storm-tossed bird reports in New Jersey, was a Townsend's Solitaire in Cape May present before the storm hit. 

Likely related to Sandy in some way, was a Little Gull (3) in Taylor, West Virginia. 

Lake Erie wasn't as hot this week as Lake Ontario, but the Ohio lakefront hosted a California Gull in Ashtabula and a Black-headed Gull (3) in Cuyahoga

In Michigan, a Vermilion Flycatcher was in Alger, and a California Gull and a Dovekie in Berrian.

One of fewer than a dozen records in Wisconsin was a Bewick's Wren in Eau Claire.  Also in the state this week, a Black-billed Magpie in Ashland and a Cattle Egret in Door

In Minnesota, a Clark's Nutcracker was seen in Ramsey, a Cassin's Kingbird in Grand Marai, and a Mountain Bluebird in Lake

A good find on the far northwest edge of its range, a Red-bellied Woodpecker was photographed near Gull Lake, Manitoba. 

A nice gull duo at Oahe Dam in Stanley, South Dakota, was both a Great Black-backed Gull and a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Found moribund in Lancaster, Nebraska, was that state's third record of Harris's Hawk.

Indicative of the excellent finch movement this fall, was a White-winged Crossbill in Nodaway, Missouri. 

In Kansas, a Costa's Hummingbird was visiting a feeder in Finney, and a Pacific Loon was present in Miami

Good birds for Louisiana include an Ash-throated Flycatcher in Cameron, a Vermilion Flycatcher at Lacassine NWR also in Cameron, and a Groove-billed Ani in New Orleans

In Texas, a Mew Gull was photographed in Hidalgo and a Red Phalarope was seen in Grayson

Nice for Arizona is a Reddish Egret on the Colorado River in La Paz

Idaho's third record of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (3) has been present much of the week in Ada

In Utah, a Golden-crowned Sparrow was reported from Salt Lake, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull in Davis

Good birds for the southern half of California include a Rufous-backed Robin (3) in Riverside and a Yellow-green Vireo in Ventura.  In the north, a Franklin's Gull was discovered in Yolo

Washington's second ever record of Northern Wheatear has spent the better part of the week near Westhaven in Grays Harbor.  

A Red-throated Loon was spotted on Glenmore Reservoir near Calgary, Alberta. 

In British Columbia, a Red Phalarope was well-photographed near Penticton.  


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 <>, the richly illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the ABA.  Place names written in italics refer to counties/parishes.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.