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#ABArare – Little Bunting – Oregon

The Northwest’s run of Asian vagrants keeps marching on. While checking feeders in the town of Joseph, OR on January 28, Alan Contreras and Craig Tumer found a Little Bunting (Code 4). The feeder is at the northeast corner of the intersection of College St. and Wm E. Williams Ave. A map of this location as well as the locations of two sightings on Jan 29 is here. [Note that Wm E. Williams Ave. is labelled as E. McCully St. on Google Maps.]

ABArare Little Bunting 01photo by Craig Tumer

As noted by Wayne Weber on VANBCbirds, the rarity of Little Bunting in the ABA Area, particularly outside of Alaska, is similar to that of Red-flanked Bluetail (which is still showing near Vancouver). Like the Bluetail, this latest sighting is only the third outside of Alaska, and the previous two come from coastal California (one at Pt. Loma Oct 21-24, 1991, and one at Southeast Farallon Island Sep 27-28, 2002). In Alaska, Little Bunting is a fall visitor, unlike Red-flanked Bluetail which has been found primarily in spring. There is also a record of Little Bunting in Mexico. One was found in Baja California Sur on Oct 8, 2008.

Joseph, OR is located in the northeast part of the state, east of La Grande and Pendleton. The closest major city is Boise, ID, a 240-mile drive away. Winter weather can be an issue. At times, roads, including I-84, may be closed due to storms.

As of 3:40 PM PST, there have been no positive reports for Jan 30.

With Dusky Thrush, Siberian Accentor, and multiple Brambling in Alaska (all still present), Red-throated Pipits, Citrine Wagtail, at least four Brambling, and Red-flanked Bluetail in BC (the Vancouver Brambling and Red-flanked Bluetail still present), Brambling in Washington, and now this Little Bunting, it’s been an incredible winter for Asian vagrants. What will be next? Feels like we’re due for a Rustic Bunting soon…

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John Puschock

John Puschock

John Puschock reports ABA rare bird alerts and manages #ABArare for the American Birding Association. John is a frequent participant in rare bird forums around the web and has knack for gathering details necessary to relocate birds. He has been a birder since 1984 and now leads tours for Bird Treks, as well as for his own company Zugunruhe Birding Tours. He has led tours to locations across North America, from Newfoundland to New Mexico and from Costa Rica to Alaska. He specializes in leading tours to Adak in the Aleutian Islands.
  • Richland WA is actually closer than Boise, an hour less driving time, and has regular air service (Lewiston, ID a mere 2 hour drive also has fairly regular air service.) Winter weather *can* be an issue but road closures are pretty uncommon and driving to Wallowa Co. is usually not a problem except during an ongoing snow storm.

  • It was briefly sighted on Thursday by Spencer Walters of Idaho.

  • Matt Brady

    There was a sight-only record of a probable Little Bunting by an extremely experienced observer this past fall as well.

  • Tri-Cities Airport, Pasco Washington, is a lot closer than Boise!
    Pasco, WA 99301

    Nonstop Flights. Book Now!

    I have no affiliation with any of these sites. For info only.
    Jim Greaves, Thompson Falls MT

  • Winter weather did not stop Lark and me from chasing a Hawk-owl at Beaver Dick State Park, just west of Rexburg, in what might be called a back-road area of Idaho, in 2007. Ice everywhere, but we made it without a hitch – twice in November, during a much worse winter than we’ve had this year!

  • While other airports may be closer than Boise, I chose that location because 1) I thought more readers would know the its location, and 2) flights to Boise were cheaper for the departing cities I looked at on Travelocity than to Pasco/Richland or Walla Walla. (I did not look at Lewiston, ID, nor did I look at the Southwest website.)

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