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Rare Bird Alert: February 8, 2013

I’m back from the far east this week, though my body is still recovering from India time. Many thanks to #ABArare guru John Puschock for covering for me. Between John and Web Developer Greg Neise, who has also covered for me in the past, I appreciate having help dragging this beast across the finish line week after week, particularly when I’m out of town.

This week saw fewer notable vagrants than weeks past, but remarkably there is still one first record and the potential for a second should the identification conundrum ever get straightened out, both from the southeast United States.

NOLA GAThat first first record, for which the identification is not an issue, is a Northern Lapwing (ABA Code 4) well-photographed in Bulloch, Georgia. The bird has been seen on and off over the past couple days, but disperses widely in the area. Birders will likely have to put in some time to get this one. photo at left by Lauren Deaner

The second potential state first is one that is significantly more difficult to verify.  An unusual Progne martin was photographed on Key West, Monroe, Florida. Suggestions as to its identify have included an ABA-Area first Caribbean Martin, though at this time Cuban Martin, or even Purple Martin, cannot be completely ruled out. Birders interested in having a look at the bird themselves should follow the link above for copious photographs of the bird, any and all input is welcome.

Also in Florida, a Black-legged Kittiwake has been hanging around the Tampa area, skirting between Hillsborough and Manatee counties.

The lapwing invasion is far from over, and in Maryland another Northern Lapwing was discovered in Talbot.  It’s the state’s 2nd record.

A Painted Bunting, unusual for the season and region, was coming to a feeder in Bergen, New Jersey.

A Mew Gull, likely from the European ssp, was reported in Central Park, New York, New York, and in the western part of the state, a Tufted Duck (3) is in Oswego.

More Northern Lapwings (4) were seen in New England, this time in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

An exciting find in the east, particularly south of Canada, was a Great Gray Owl seen and photographed by many near Hanover, New Hampshire.

A White-winged Dove was present at Rondeau Provincial Park in Ontario. Also in the province was a Western Grebe on the Toronto lakefront.

Slaty-backed Gulls (3) were seen both in Ohio and Indiana. The former in Ottawa and the latter in Lake.

Another good gull in the midwest comes from Kansas, where a Great Black-backed Gull is in Douglas.

A review species for Texas, a Varied Thrush was seen in Kress. It’s the second seen this winter in that state.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker report came from Eddy, New Mexico.

At the ABA-sponsored Gullapalooza, participants got a look at a good-for-Colorado Iceland Gull in Boulder.

Though this winter has not seen the same numbers as last year, a Snowy Owl in Cache, Utah, is that state’s 11th record.

It’s been a remarkable year for Brambling (4) in the western part of the continent, and Hailey, Idaho, is the latest location to get one.

A great bird north of the Canadian border is a Northern Mockingbird in Vulcan, Alberta.

Another Brambling (4) for British Columbia was seen in Gibsons, the fourth this season in the province.

In addition to last week’s Little Bunting, a Mountain Plover was reported from Coos, Oregon.

A good bird for California, a Red-necked Grebe was seen in Del Amo, Los Angeles.


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.
Nate Swick

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  • Angus Wilson

    “A Mew Gull, likely from the European ssp, was reported in Central Park, New York, New York”

    Accepting that all these reports come with the boiler plate caveat that they have yet to be “vetted by a records committee”, inclusion of this line item seems careless. The sighting being referred to was posted as a tentative alert by an inexperienced birder and withdrawn a few hours later. The brief description provided in that first short message contained some red flags that seeded doubts in many readers minds and the preliminary nature of the identification was made clear by the observer. No damage done one would think, but alas the ‘sighting’ lives on. There was no Mew Gull, European or otherwise.

    Unconfirmed alerts plucked from the listserves and trimmed of supporting detail really have no place on the ABA blog.

  • My mistake. I'm not familiar with every aspect of every state's birding community so it is hard for be to determine the validity of some records. Granted, that one was below my usual standard, and I did not see the withdrawal. These reports are, in many ways, a snapshot of what is going on at a given point, and while I endeavor to report only the most reliable reports, sometimes these sneak through. I apologize. 

    Anyone can send me a short email, sent to nswick AT, whenever something report worthy is discovered.  I do appreciate when those come in. 

    Sent from my phone

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