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Rare Bird Alert: November 30, 2012

The parade of first state/provincial records continues apace, and I don’t know what else to say except that it has really been an incredible fall so far, potentially heading into an incredible winter. If you’re interested in following the parade of great records across the ABA Area and you’re a Facebook user (I completely understand that not everyone is), you can join the ABA Rare Bird Alert group, where discussion and dissemination of those rare birds continent-wide is encouraged.

Firsts in the ABA, at least a first pending acceptance, include a well-documented Barnacle Goose (ABA Code 4) in Oswego, Illinois.  Provenance has long been a concern for extramlimital Barnacle Geese (and may well be a sticking point for this one too), but with the number of breeding birds in Iceland increasing of late and subsequently showing up in the northeast US and Atlantic Canada annually, individuals probably require close scrutiny.  However, as 17 records of Barnacle Goose have come and gone in in Illinois without acceptance, the odds on this one seem long.  The species is already on the ABA list, however, so the decision to list this one is up to the individual birder.

*The preceding paragraph was edited to take into account previous IL Barnacle Goose records

Louisiana had a pair of firsts this week, both at the same location near Shreveport, Caddo. The first, a Pacific Loon, is a long overdue species for the state (and may actually be a second record once the BRC rules on a previous report from last winter), and the second, a Dusky-capped Flycatcher, will be covered more in depth in an upcoming #ABArare post.

CA GRHABut no state or province has a list as extensive as California’s, which currently sits at 648, or just about 2/3 that of the entire ABA Area, so it’s a very big deal when the state adds a new one.

Earlier this week a young Gray Hawk was discovered in Santa Barbara, the first for the state.  The bird has been present every day since its discovey.  photo at left by Eric Culbertson.

Other good birds in California include a Winter Wren in Yolo, White-throated Sparrow and Brown Booby (3) in Los Angeles, and a Trumpeter Swan in San Joaquin.

Tufted Ducks (3) have begun to make their return to the west coast, with reports from Multnomah, Oregon, and Yakima, Washington.

A “Myrtle” Yellow-rumped Warbler was well-photographed near Thompson Falls, Montana.

In Utah, a Blue Jay was visiting a feeding station in Cache.

Still an excellent bird in the interior of the country is a Lesser Black-backed Gull in Albany, Wyoming.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull was also seein on Lake Havasu in Arizona, the state’s 3rd.  Also in the state, a Rufous-backed Robin (3) was reported from Pima.

Not one, but two Pine Warblers were reported this week in Eddy, New Mexico.

Very good as far south as Texas, a Purple Sandpiper was reported from Baytown, Harris.

In Oklahoma, a Williamson’s Sapsucker was discovered at the Wichita Mountain NWR near Lawton.

Both black-backed gulls were reported in Minnesota, a Great Black-backed Gull in St. Louis and a Lesser Black-backed Gull in Hennepin.

The latest of many Townsend’s Solitaire reports from the center of the continent comes from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

A Western Grebe in Michigan was all the more remarkable because it came away from the lakes in Ingham.

In Indiana, a Calliope Hummingbird is visiting a feeder in Bloomington.

Notable out of range and season was a Black Vulture in Dundas, Ontario.

Rufous Hummingbird in Gaspésie, Quebec is an excellent bird for the province.

A Say’s Phoebe was photographed in Westmoreland, New Brunswick, and a Pine Warbler turned up in Richmond, Nova Scotia.

In Maine, a Townsend’s Warbler is visiting a feeder in Winterport.

There’s some great birding in Massachusetts this week, with Varied Thrush and “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped Warbler in Cuttyhunk Island, and four (!) Western Grebes offshore in Essex.  Several Northern Lapwings continue.

Another “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped Warbler was in New Haven, Connecticut.

Yet anothern “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped Warbler is in Syracure, New York.  Elsewhere in the state, a Painted Bunting was seen by many in Queens, as well as a Barnacle Goose (4) in Bronx, and a Western Tanager upstate in Greene.

Pennsylvania’s 2nd record of Pacific-slope Flycatcher came from Cumberland.

A Ruff (3) was reported from Talbot, Maryland, however local residents have taken a somewhat antagonistic approach to dealing with birders looking for it.

Dare, North Carolina, has hosted the state’s 7th Say’s Phoebe, as well as a trio of White-winged Crossbills and a Ash-throated Flycatcher.  A second Ash-throated Flycatcher was also discovered in Craven.

In Georgia, a Western Grebe was seen in Troup.

Good birds in Florida include a Western Spindalis (4) and a MacGillivray’s Warbler in Miami-Dade, a Vermilion Flycatcher in Alachua, and a Common Merganser in Lee.

In Misissippi a Ferruginous Hawk, likely one of the many that have been hanging out in northwest Arkansas, snuck into Tunica.

–=====–

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.

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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.
Nate Swick

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  • Richard Hubacek

    Just a quick comment–White-throated Sparrow is not a “rare” rare bird along the West Coast. I would rate it as uncommon during Fall and Winter. If you map them with Ebird for California you will see those location “bubbles” light-up all over the place. Every Fall and Winter I normally have two or three at my feeders.

  • Thanks, Richard.  I'll remember for next time I see one noted.  

    It had shown up in the eBird cue and I assumed incorrectly.  As any eBird user knows, there are many ways a bird can be "rare".  

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