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Rare Bird Alert: January 4, 2013

Happy New Year!  The next great irruption of the winter of 2012-13 is on.  The northern owls, Great Grays, Northern Hawks, and Boreals, have moved south in numbers into southern Canada, with Quebec being particularly heavy with the birds.  Gyrfalcons have been reported in several locations in southern Canada and the northern US this week, too.  And the winter finches are still coming down, with reports piling up again across the continent.

COPO VTThe most interesting bird of the period is almost certainly the Common Pochard (ABA Code 3) seen among several other notable ducks on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain.  The species relatively low ABA code belies the novelty of the sighting, as it’s only the second for the east coast and obviously a first for Vermont.

Another possible first turned up in Colorado this week, in the yeard of none other than ABA Blog contributor Bill Schmocker’s Boulder county yard.  With the ridiculous run of Hoary Redpolls across the northern tier this year, perhaps it was only a matter of time before some states got their first.

Elsewhere in the intermontain west, a Red-necked Grebe in Eddy and a Glaucous Gull in Bernalillo are good for New Mexico.

3 Rufous-backed Robins (3) have turned up in Arizona this week, one each in Santa Cruz, Cochise, and Maricopa.  Cochise also had a Winter Wren this week.

Good for California this week are a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in San Luis Obispo and a Common Redpoll in Placer.

A small flock of Common Redpolls were also in Washoe, Nevada.

Notable for Oregon was a Glaucous Gull in Lane.

Burrowing Owl made itself at home in a drainage pipe in Everett, Snohomish, Washington, for a couple days this week.

Haida Gwaii continues to produce excellent rarities for British Columbia, the most recent additions are 5 Red-throated Pipits (3) and a Smew (3).

In Minnesota, the increasingly less noteworthy Slaty-backed Gull (3) was seen in Duluth, as well as a Townsend’s Solitaire in LeSueur.

Michigan had a Slaty-backed Gull (3) too, this one in Wayne, and also a Western Grebe in Ottawa.

An “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped Warbler is a good bird from Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Missouri’s 12th Say’s Phoebe was seen in Lincoln and the state’s 5th Lesser Goldfinch came briefly to a feeder in Christian.

Arkansas also had a Lesser Goldfinch, this one in Salina and the state’s 3rd record.  It also stuck around a little bit longer than the Missouri bird.

The 5th record of ‘Type 5’ Red Crossbills east of the Rocky Mountains came from some birds recorded in Hays. Kansas.

A report of a Northern Goshawk was made near Lewisville, Texas.

In Mississippi, an Ash-throated Flycatcher was reported in Shelby and a Vermillion Flycatcher was hanging out near Gulfport.

Both a Cave Swallow and a Lark Bunting were seen this week in Mobile, Alabama.

A La Sagra’s Flycatcher (4) was seen on Virginia Key in Miami-Dade, and a male Western Spindalis was reported from Palm Beach.

Two reports of Northern Goshawk came from north Georgia this week, and a Western Tanager was seen near Augusta.

In Tennessee, that state’s 4th Ash-throated Flycatcher was well-photographed by many in Shelby.

A Western Grebe was offshore Virginia Beach, Virginia, this week.

Harris’s Sparrow was at a feeder in Carbon, Pennsylvania.

A Slaty-backed Gull (3) was seen on the US side of the Niagara River, New York.

In Connecticut, a Lark Sparrow near Windsor was an unexpected bird, and in the winter no less.

A Mew Gull in Essex, Massachusetts, was not identified to subspecies, but one would expect the European “Common Gull” to be just as, if not more, expected.

Maine had two reports of Varied Thrush this week, one from Freeport and another from Lincolnville.

A beautiful photograph of a Pink-footed Goose (4) in St. John’s, Newfoundland, makes a mockery of this species’ status as an ABA Area rarity.

Nova Scotia also had a Mew Gull, at Mahone Bay, that was not identified to population.


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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