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Rare Bird Alert: December 7, 2012


The parade of state/provincial firsts that overtook the rare bird alert for pretty much the entirety of November was bound to come to an end sometime.  But this first week of December, beyond offering the regular mix of vagrants across the continent, is interesting because of the return of three of last year's most exciting rarities.  I suppose there's no way to be absolutely certain that they're the same individuals, but as the birds in question have returned to the exact spot as the birds last year the odds seem very much in favor of that happening. 

FADUThe first of these likely returnees is a stunning male Falcated Duck (ABA Code 4) that turned up at Sacramento NWR, Colusa, California.  Access to the auto loop at the refuge is complicated by high water, but the overlook from which the duck has been seen most consistently, is still accessible.  

Photo at left by Nicole Perkins.

The other returning rarity is a Nutting's Flycatcher (5), that's apparently come back to Bill Williams River NWR in La Paz, Arizona.  Other good birds in the state include a pair of eastern warblers, Yellow-throated Warbler and Pine Warbler, both in Pima.  

The third returning rarity comes from Alaska, where the Dusky Thrush (4) present on and off at the end of last year has returned to Anchorage. 

In Oregon, a subadult Phainopepla has been present for the past few days near Ashland, and a Harris's Sparrow is present in Columbia

Still notable on the west coast, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was reported from Wallula, Washington. 

In New Mexico, a Red-bellied Woodpecker was Eddy.  

Red-necked Grebe near Dallas and a Great Black-backed Gull in Surfside are both review species for Texas.  

A Glaucous Gull in Orleans and a Tropical Kingbird in Caddo are good birds for Louisiana. 

Oklahoma had a Pacific Loon on Lake Tenkiller in Cherokee.  

In Arkansas, a Rock Wren was reported from a water treatment facility in Fayetteville, Washington

A Red-throated Loon has been present for the last few days on a lake in Pawnee, Kansas. 

In Colorado, a Little Gull was near Windsor, in Larimer

A second record east of the Rocky Mountains was a 'Type 5' Red Crossbill recorded in Boone, Missouri.

A Gyrfalcon was reported from Polk, Iowa, the farthest south record of that Arctic falcon this season. 

Michigan has a pair of Varied Thrushes in the state, both in Marquette and Barry

There's a Varied Thrush in Ohio, too, this one in Lorain.  Also in the state was a California Gull in Cuyahoga and a pair of Western Grebes in Lake and Cuyahoga

In Kentucky a Little Gull was in Calloway, and Tennessee's fourth record of Western Grebe (and second this fall) was in Davidson

Sprague's Pipit was well-photographed in Tunica, Mississippi. 

In Alabama, a White-faced Ibis was seen near Daphne and a Vermilion Flycatcher near Foley. 

A young Swainson's Hawk was seen on Eglin AFB, in Okaloosa, Florida. 

A Sprague's Pipit in Macon, Georgia, is likely a returning bird from last year, but a Snowy Owl on Sea Island in Glynn was completely unexpected.  

North Carolina's third Ash-throated Flycatcher of the season was seen in Carteret, and a Say's Phoebe was reported from the Kiptopeke hawkwatch in Northampton, Virginia. 

In West Virginia, a Red-necked Grebe in present in Taylor

Western Kingbird was reported from Dorchester, Maryland. 

Pennsylvania's 3rd Calliope Hummingbird (and second in as many months) is coming to a feeder in Lancaster, and a Black-headed Gull is in Butler

New Jersey's 2nd Pink-footed Goose (4) was reported from Hunterdon this week.  Both a Western Grebe and a Western Tanager are present in Cape May, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher is in Burlington

An Eared Grebe is a good bird on the Lake Ontario shore in Toronto, Ontario. 

In Quebec, a Varied Thrush is in Capitale-Nationale, and a Spotted Towhee was a brief visitor in Témiscamingue

One of the more exciting birds in the ABA Area this week was a subadult Little Egret (4) present in Barnstable, Massachusetts.  Also, an  'Audubon's' Yellow-rumped Warbler was photographed in Boston. 

Another 'Audubon's' Yellow-rumped Warbler was reported from near Intervale, Vermont. 


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

Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog. A long-time member of the bird blogosphere, Nate has been writing about birds and birding at The Drinking Bird since 2007, but can also be found writing regularly at 10,000 Birds. In the non-digital world, he's an environmental educator and interpretive naturalist. He is also the author of Birding for the Curious. Nate lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children, who are not yet aware that they are being groomed to be birders.
Nate Swick

Latest posts by Nate Swick (see all)

  • Justin Bosler

    Just a minor correction: the Glaucous Gull in Louisiana is in Orleans Parish.

  • Thanks, Justin. 

  • Alan Wormington

    When did they move Toronto to Lake Erie?

  • Temporal shift, I guess.  I always get those two lakes mixed up…

  • Alan Wormington

    Nate, you do an awesome job in your reporting. Don’t worry about those pesky lakes!

  • Ryan Douglas

    Our Type 5 Red Crossbill was the second east of the Rockies. Matt Young had the first in NY in (I think) 2006.

  • Got it.  Thanks!

  • Jerry A. Smith

    Surprised the Townsend’s warbler, fourth state record for Maine, present since 28 November and continuing in Winterport, Waldo county, Maine does not make it into this RBA.

  • I did mention it in an earlier edition. I generally don't include continuing birds as this thing would be a way too long! 

    Sent from my phone

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