Rare Bird Alert: January 18, 2013
by Nate Swick
Oh, to be a birder in southwest British Columbia over the last several weeks. Those birders in the Vancouver area have seen an overabundance of riches of late, starting with Rustic Buntings in the fall and rolling right into BC's first Cave Swallow, a number of Red-throated Pipits, and a ridiculous flight of Bramblings. This, of course, all before the top blew off the province with the ABA-Area's second Citrine Wagtail, a bird that continues to be seen up to this week, making a mockery of the species' long-held title as one of the ABA's oddest records.
That luck continues this week with a bird that, in any non-Citrine Wagtail year, would make a strong case for bird of the year already. That bird is a Code-4 Red-flanked Bluetail, a first for BC and Canada and only the second mainland sighting ever in North America, seen near Vancouver. The bird is incredibly confiding, and has been seen nearly every day this week by several observers, a fact that only emphasizes that fact that it's been a crazy wonderful year for birders in that part of the continent.
That's not all for British Columbia though. In addition to the bluetail, a fourth Brambling (3) has been coming to a feeder in Victoria, and a Baikal Teal (4) was a one day wonder in Delta. I guess they can't win 'em all.
Other firsts for the period also came from the western side of the continent. Definitely unexpected for Arizona was a subadult Ivory Gull photographed in Mohave in late December. Sadly, the bird in question was severly injured, unable to fly, and likely not long in surviving after the diagnostic photos were taken.
A Common Crane (4) was seen among a small group of Sandhill Cranes in near Overton in Clark, Nevada, a first for that state. More on that bird likely to come on the #ABArare beat. Also in the same county, a Neotropic Cormorant was also discovered this week, making an odd day list for the birder who seeks them out.
A second Arctic Loon in as many weeks was seen in California, this time notably in Los Angeles where it's a first county record for the largest county list in the nation. A Worm-eating Warbler was also seen in Humboldt.
A Western Gull in Salt Lake, Utah, is an excellent bird away from the immediate coast.
As is a Red-throated Loon seen this week in Quay, New Mexico.
A young Masked Booby (3) was seen on shore at Port Aransas, Nueces, Texas.
A pair of White-tailed Kites were seen by a lucky few in Drew, Arkansas, and the remarkable "return" after several months of a Brown Booby (3) to Lake Hamilton in Garland. The bird likely never left in actuality, and the lake is surrounded by private property making regular surveys nearly impossible. A Say's Phoebe was also in Desha.
Great for the plains region, in Kansas a Rock Wren turned up in Miami, and a Cassin's Finch was reported near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Western overshoots in Minnesota include a Spotted Towhee in Rice and a Varied Thrush in Anoka.
A Slaty-backed Gull (3) turned up in Wayne, Michigan, and a Townsend's Solitaire was seen near Lansing.
Ontario also had a Townsend's Sol-taire (a species that was seen widely across the Great Lakes region this fall and winter) near Kendel, and a Western Grebe was seen near Sarnia.
The season's first Yellow-legged Gull (4) was found at Quidi Vidi Lake in Newfoundland.
Mew Gulls, likely of the European "Common Gull" population were seen both in Halifax and Bedford, Nova Scotia.
In New Hampshire both a Townsend's Solitaire in Gilford and a Varied Thrush near Bow gave a western flair to the state this week.
Massachusetts also had a "Common" Mew Gull, this time in Essex.
A Bullock's Oriole was a surprise at a feeder in Ellington, Connecticut.
A trio of Northern Lapwings (4) visited a cattle pasture in Ocean, New Jersey, this week, suggesting that the Lapwing flight isn't quite over for the year. Also a Barnacle Goose (4) was among Canadas in West Windsor, Mercer.
Delaware had a Western Grebe this week, off of Prime Hook.
A Le Conte's Sparrow in Mason, West Virginia was only that state's 3rd ever record.
Both White-winged Crossbills and Red Crossbills (of Types 1 and 3) were reported all week at Devil's Fork SP in Oconee, South Carolina.
Good for Georgia was a juvenile Tundra Swan in McIntosh, a Ross's Goose in Cobb, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher in Charlton.
The West Indian strays continue in Miami-Dade, but a Cackling Goose in Jackson, Florida, is a great bird for that state.
Always nice on the Gulf coast, a Glaucous Gull was seen this week in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
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 <aba.org/nab>, the richly illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the ABA. Place names written in italics refer to counties/parishes.