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Rare Bird Alert: December 14, 2012

CBC season starts this weekend, and no doubt birders around the continent, and indeed the world, are gearing up for the biggest citizen science project in the world.  Good birders will almost certainly be found, so the relative paucity of vagrant reports continent-wide this week is hopefully only the calm before the storm.  

There was one first record this week, that from bird-rich Florida that was at somewhat expected despite its novelty.  The spate of vagrant hummingbirds this season has added several firsts (and even more seconds, thirds, and fourths) than we've seen in some time.  So perhaps it's somewhat mundane that the Sunshine State finally picks up a Costa's Hummingbird, this one banded in Leon County. 

WHWA DMBeyond that first record, the most exciting bird was almost certainly the White Wagtail (ABA Code 3), discovered in Los Angeles, California, this week.  (photo at left by Dinuk Magammana).  

This is one of those species whose ABA code is a bit misleading.  White Wagtail is regularly encountered in Alaska, and has even nested in the state in the past, but any wagtail in the Lower 48 and southern Canada is a big deal.

And speaking of wagtails, the Citrine Wagtail (5) from Comax, British Columbia, is still hanging around into this week.  

A pelagic trip out of Newport, Oregon, had a Mottled Petrel, and a Tufted Duck (3) was discovered at Broughton Beach, Multnomah

A Tufted Duck (3) was also in Vancouver, Clark, Washington, along with an Eastern Phoebe in King

A boat trip out of Lanai, Hawaii, had a White-necked Petrel

A nice bird out of the center of the continent is Harris's Sparrow.  One was in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Also in the state, a Ruddy Ground-Dove (3) was reported form Patagonia, Santa Cruz.  

A Barrow's Goldeneye was seen in Eddy, New Mexico, and a Dusky-capped Flycatcher turned up in Clark, Nevada. 

Red-throated Loon is a grea bird anywhere in the interior of the continent.  One was reported from Boulder, Colorado. 

An Ancient Murrelet was recovered from near Bozeman, Montana.  the bird unforunately died at a rehad facility.  

A pair of Flamingos unknown to species were seen in Cameron, Texas; notable despite the obligatory provenance questions.  Also, a Black-legged Kittiwake was seen in Boca Chica, also in Cameron

In Louisiana, a MacGillivray's Warbler was reported from Plaquemines along with a Burrowing Owl in Cameron

A Vermilion Flycatcher was seen near Stuttgart, in Arkansas, Arkansas, the county so nice they named it twice. 

Still good in the interior of the continent, but increasingly regular, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was reported from Rutherford, Tennessee. 

A reported, but as yet not refound, Common Raven in Boone, Missouri, would be the first record for that state in decades. 

Hoary Redpolls have been spotty wherever Common Redpolls have been reported, and notable was one in Cook, Illinois. 

Two good gulls in the form of Lesser Black-backed Gull and Glaucous Gull in Pottawattamie, Iowa. 

Another good gull in the midwest is a Great Black-backed Gull in Hennepin, Minnesota. 

A Western Grebe was present in Marquette, Michigan. 

A Western Grebe was also in Portage, Ohio.  Also in the state, a Black-headed Gull in Cuyahoga and a Townsend's Solitaire on Kelleys Island, Erie

Always good on the Great Lakes, a King Eider was in St. Catherines, Ontario, this week. 

A remarkable record for Massachusetts, particularly in December, is a Brown Booby (3) reported offshore from Wellfleet, Barnstable. Even more remarkable perhaps is the Black-browed Albatross (4) seen on a trip out of Martha's Vineyard, Dukes. 

Townsend's Solitaire has been well-photographed in Seneca, New York.

A Townsend's Warbler was found in Cape May, New Jersey.

Two good birds on the water in Maryland are a Barrow's Goldeneye in Talbot and a Pacific Loon in Baltimore

A pair of Red-necked Grebes in Mecklenburg, Virginia, are especially good inland. 

A Buff-bellied Hummingbird visiting a feeder in McClellanville, South Carolina is the second for the state. 

A Western Kingbird was found in Glynn, Georgia, by birders looking for the continuing Snowy Owl. 

A great bird for the Gulf of Mexico was a Sooty Shearwater seen from a boat off of Dauphin Island, Alabama. 

In addition to the state first hummer, Razorbills are turning up all over the Florida coast this week, and elsewwere, a Black-headed Grosbeak is coming to a feeder on private property in Stuart, and a Smooth-billed Ani, fairly unusual anymore, was discovered in Monroe


This post is meant to be an account of the most recently reported birds.  Continuing birds not mentioned are likely included in previous editions listed here.

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.
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