Rare Bird Alert: March 15, 2013
by Nate Swick
I feel sort of like a Yankees fan in 1941. This streak, nearly unbroken since last March of not going more than two weeks without a state or provincial first record in the ABA-Area is only getting bigger since I first went back and looked up what had only been a hunch up to this point. Now that I know we're in the middle of it? Well, it feels bigger now, and I really want to know how long we can keep this up.
Anyway, the streak continues this week with a remarkable two more firsts, both in the United States this time. Almost immediately after posting last week's RBA, a Delaware birder discovered a Crested Caracara near Ocean View in the southern part of the state. It's been a crazy year for caracaras, with apparently multiple birds hanging around southern New Jersey most of the winter. Whether this is a new bird or one of those birds making the leap across Delaware Bay is probably impossible to determine (none of the birds were banded), but with a growing number of extralimital caracara records across the east (and much of the west too), confidence in the provenance of these birds as legitimate seems to be growing. Though admittedly that's just my sense and you can take that as far as you want to.
Not long after the caracara, a gorup of birders from the northeast found Louisiana's first record of Iceland Gull, a striking subadult in Plaquemines. The bird proved difficult to relocate given the amount of real estate in the Mississippi River delta where it could take off to at any given time, but it was recently refound at a landfill in Venice.
But as fun as firsts are, those are hardly the most exciting reports this week in the ABA Area. That honor has to go to the ABA Code 5 Gray Heron (photo at left by Bruce Mactavish) discovered at Little Heart's Ease, Newfoundland. This is the ABA-Area's sixth record, Newfoundland's third, and probably the first truly twitchable individual of this species in the area, though the Caribbean and northern South America have a surprising number of records as well. The bird was refound later in the week, and while initial reports suggested it may be ill, local residents have stated they believe it's been around for several months, so who knows?
Also notable in Newfoundland, a Long-eared Owl, one of only a few records, was photographed near Portugal Cove South.
In Quebec, an Ivory Gull was seen in Bas-Saint-Laurent.
Still a very good bird in New England, a Black Vulture was photographed near New Salem, New Hampshire, and a possible Northern Lapwing (4) was reported, but not yet confirmed, near Pittsfield.
Nice in Connecticut is a Trumpeter Swan near New Haven.
A Varied Thrush in Kings, New York, is the first report in New York City metro area for some time.
New Jersey also had a Pacific Loon, one well-seen and photographed in Morris.
A Black-tailed Godwit (3), either a new bird or the same one from last fall, was found this week at Chincoteague NWR in Accomack, Virginia.
Multiple White-faced Ibis, as many as five in a single flock, have been seen with some frequency in Hyde, North Carolina. This group more than doubles the total number of birds ever reported in the state.
In Georgia, a possible Yellow-billed Loon was reported from a lake on the border of Cobb and Fulton.
A White-faced Ibis was also photographed in Alachua, Florida, and a half dozen Sprague's Pipits were reported from Taylor.
Alabama's second Razorbill of the season, not to mention the second ever, was seen from the pier of Gulf State Park in Baldwin.
A Ferruginous Hawk in Perry, Tennessee, is that state's 3rd record. UPDATE: This record was a mistaken ID
At Riverlands Bird Sanctuary in St. Charles, Missouri, both a Glaucous Gull and a Western Grebe have been present this week.
A Mountain Bluebird was found this week in Des Moines, Iowa.
Still a notable bird on the southern plains, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was reported from Hefner, Oklahoma.
Largely absent from the Rocky Mountains, a Purple Finch is a great find for Larimer, Colorado.
A Eurasian Wigeon (3) away from the coast is notable in the west, so one in Lee Metcalf NWR in Ravalli, Montana, was a very nice bird.
An Iceland Gull was seen on the Snake River in Nez Perce, Idaho.
And slightly late reports from Arizona include a Lesser Black-backed Gull, around the state's 5th, a Red-necked Grebe, and a Mew Gull, on Alamo Lake in La Paz.
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.