Across the majority of the continent falls clings with increasingly weary fingertips, making many of us wish we were basking in the warmth and colorful birds of south Texas this week. Most of the northeast saw real, live snow as another cold weather system swept out of the north of Canada across the rest of North America. It's not all trouble however, as waves of winter finches continue to make their presence felt at feeding stations and berry-producing trees much farther south than generally expected.
Flocks of Evening Grosbeaks (the ABA Bird of the Year in case you missed it) have been reported as far south as Virginia, as have White-winged Crossbills. Pine Siskins are in numbers down to Louisiana, and the newest arrival, Bohemian Waxwings have staged a massive invasion of the Great Lakes region this week. For some birders, winter can't come soon enough.
In first record news, a Herald Petrel (ABA Code 3) was discovered beneath a mailbox in Blair, Pennsylvania, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. The bird was taken to a rehab facility where it eventually died. Interestingly, while this is the first confirmed record of the species in Pennsylvania, the famous 1959 "Hawk Mountain Petrel" (.pdf) was suspected by many to most likely be this species.
There was another first this week as Saskatchewan makes history with a remarkable Hepatic Tanager (photo at left by Nick Saunders), not just the province's first but only the second for Canada, in Wadena. This individual has persisted most of the week through some harsh weather thanks to the continued hospitality of its hosts.
Also in western Canada, an Elegant Tern was found in Victoria, British Columbia.
Not one, but two, Tropical Kingbirds were present in Lincoln, Oregon, this week. Also in the state, a Franklin's Gull was in Union.
Notable birds in California include a Brown Booby (3) on SE Farallon Island in San Francisco (remarkably, the state first Northern Gannet, first reported in April, is still being seen), a Field Sparrow in Marin, and a Harris's Sparrow in Alameda.
In Nevada, a Harlequin Duck was reported from Pyramid Lake in Washoe.
A Harris's Sparrow was seen in Davis, Utah.
Initially reported a couple weeks ago, a Ruddy Ground-Dove (3) was seen among Inca Doves in Maricopa, Arizona. Other Ruddy Ground-Doves were also reported in Yuma and Tubac.
Seen briefly and not found again, a subadult Northern Jacana (4) was photographed in Hidalgo, Texas. Notable birds elsewhere in the state include a Costa's Hummingbird in the Big Bend area, and a Purple Sandpiper in Nueces.
Nebraska has seen a minor irruption of high elevation birds into the state, with several Pinyon Jays reported from Keith and a Clark's Nutcracker in Scotts Bluff. Elsewhere, a Red-throated Loon was a good bird in Knox, as is a Black-legged Kittiwake in Lancaster.
In South Dakota, a Great Black-backed Gull was seen in Hughes, and a Pacific Loon in Lake.
A Cassin's Kingbird in Cook is a great bird for Minnesota.
Always notable inland are a Black-legged Kittiwake in Douglas and a Red Phalarope in Sheboygan, both Wisconsin.
A Chestnut-collared Longspur was photographed at Prairie State Park in in Barton, Missouri.
One of several across the eastern part of the continent this fall, a Townsend's Solitaire made an appearance in Porter, Indiana.
In Ohio, a Little Gull has been present at Hoover Reservoir in Delaware for some time, and a Lark Bunting has been seen by many in Tuscawaras.
A Chestnut-collared Longspur in Louisiana this week was discovered near Thornwell, in Jefferson Davis.
Good for the state of Tennessee, but particularly so for far eastern Sullivan County, is a Western Grebe.
An Ash-throated Flycatcher was seen on Dauphin Island, Mobile, Alabama.
North Carolina also had two Ash-throated Flycatchers on the week, one in Pender and another in Dare.
A Say's Phoebe in Fauquier, Virginia, is a nice bird anywhere in the east.
Aside from the vagrant petrel, Pennsylvania has had a phenomenal week. The state's 2nd record of Calliope Hummingbird came from a feeder in Chester. All five species of grebes recorded for the state, including notables Eared Grebe and the state's 2nd Western Grebe, were together on the same pond in Lebanon, and a Saltmarsh Sparrow in Bucks was the state's 5th.
A Harris's Sparrow was present near Syracuse, in Onondaga, New York.
An Allen's Hummingbird in Great Barrington, Berkshire, Massachusetts, is that state's 6th record. Also in the state, notable both for location and time of year is a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Barnstable, and a pair of Brown Pelicans in Plymouth are likely remnants of Sandy.
In Quebec, a Trumpeter Swan at site minier East Sullivan is very good, as is a Gray Kingbird at Maria.
A Yellow-headed Blackbird near East Kingston, New Hampshire, is a nice bird in the east.
A Northern Lapwing (4) at Berwick, Maine, was apparently a one-day wonder, though the Pink-footed Goose (4) near Cherryfield, has stuck around.
An "Audubon's" Yellow-rumped Warbler at Point Pleasant, Nova Scotia, is one of very few for the province.
And a Pink-footed Goose (4), practically expected every fall the Atlantic provinces anymore, was at Guernsey Cove on Prince Edward 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.