Rare Bird Alert: February 22, 2013
by Nate Swick
The Great Backyard Bird Count, an event that has turned into an opportunity to spread the gospel of birding on par with the storied Christmas Bird Counts, took place this past weekend. This was the first year that the entire GBBC dataset was fed through eBird, with somewhat unpredictable results. While the number of incredible records was higher than normal, that was some sweet sweet wheat in that chaff, too. Most notable was the report, now confirmed, of a Eurasian Bullfinch (ABA Code 4) in Dillingham, Alaska. Sadly the bird is not chaseable, but it almost certainly wouldn't have been reported without the GBBC.
The first record parade continues, this time with a caveat. A Winter Wren (the eastern one) report from Pleasant Grove, Utah, would be that state's first record. Ever since the species formerly known as Winter Wren (the combined one) was split into Winter and Pacific, birders, particularly those in the areas where neither wren was particularly common, have been scrutinizing their Winter-type Wrens closely and finding some interesting candidates that may be able to be assigned to the eastern population. Undoubtedly, this species has occurred in many of these states before (in fact, a record in Utah that predates this one has come to light in the wake of this report), but we still have a lot to learn about how regularly they turn up.
In the state, rather than the county, of Washington, an Arctic Loon was seen offshore from Chelan.
Nice for California was a Manx Shearwater well-photographed off San Diego and an Iceland Gull, the second in as many weeks, in Riverside.
Another Mexican specialty turned up in Texas, a briefly staying Golden-crowned Warbler (4) at Zapata. A nice male Barrow's Goldeneye in Pinto is only the state's 10th, and a Brant is review-worthy in Lubbock.
Arkansas continues to have a nice winter with a Say's Phoebe in Lonoke and a Prairie Falcon in Poinsett.
A Western Grebe at Riverlands in St Charles, Missouri, is a great bird for the state.
A Glaucous-winged Gull at Lake Ogallala in Keith, is Nebraska's 4th ever record.
Varied Thrush continue to show up all over the midwest, and one is recently seen in Evanston, Illinois, and in Manitowoc, Wisconsins.
Also in Wisconsin, a Spotted Towhee is visiting a feeder in Chippewa, and a Green-tailed Towhee is doing the same in Huntingdon, Indiana.
More Varied Thrush fun in the midwest with a bird in Cuyahoga, Ohio.
Across the lake in Ontario, a Thayer's Gull turned up at Mississauga and a California Gull was found at Niagara Falls. A Western Grebe was also along the lakefront near Toronto.
Yet another Varied Thrush, the third of the season for New Hampshire, in Nashua.
Good ducks in western New York include a Tufted Duck (3) in Buffalo and a one-day wonder Smew (4) near Ogdensburg.
Pennsylvania becomes the latest eastern state to host a Bullock's Oriole this month with one in Montgomery. A Thayer's Gull was also reported in Northampton.
In Maryland, whise Bullock's Oriole is still present incidentally, a Pacific Loon was seen from Ocean City, and a Trumpeter Swan was reported from Patuxent NWR.
A Snowy Plover in Onslow, North Carolina, is about the 12th for the state and only the first in the winter. Also, an Atlantic Puffin was seen on a pelagic trip out of Dare.
A second Iceland Gull for the month was reported from Volusia, Florida.
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. Place names written in italics refer to counties/parishes
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.