Rockjumper Tours

aba events

#ABArare – Common House-Martin – Alaska

On August 18, Doug Gochfeld found an apparent Common House-Martin (Code 4) on St. Paul Island while he was on his way to refill a hummingbird feeder. (No, there are no hummingbirds on the island, but these guys are prepared.) I say "apparent" because another species, Asian House-Martin, is very similar in appearance, and its normal range is not much further from St. Paul than that of the Common House-Martin. However, it has not been documented in the ABA Area. To the best of my knowledge, Asian House-Martin has not definitely been eliminated as a possibility yet.

ABArare Common House-Martin Gochfeld flight

ABArare Common House-Martin Gochfeld perchedphotos by Doug Gochfeld

Usually you have to search for the bird that you're looking for, but Gochfeld and the other St. Paul guides didn't have that problem with this bird after the initial sighting. Gochfeld says that everytime he moved or stopped looking at it, the House-Martin would buzz his head, nearly hitting him about a dozen times. Several times he lost sight of it, only to refind it as it flew up behind him at point-blank range. Fellow guide Cameron Cox got to share the experience as well.

ABArare Common House-Martin Gochfeld CoxCameron Cox's close encounter with a Common House-Martin. Photo by Doug Gochfeld

The Bering Sea region, particularly St. Paul, is the best place in the ABA Area to find Common House-Martin. There are about 13 records for the ABA Area, with seven coming from St. Paul. I know of only two records from outside this region: one near the mouth of the Colville River on the north slope of Alaska in 1983 and one at Saint-Pierre (yes, of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon fame) in 1989.

Other goodies at St. Paul on the 18th included the long-staying White-tailed Eagle, Common Snipe, and a Red-necked Stint. A few participants of the ABA's rarity-hunting trips are already expressing their hopes on the ABA Rare Bird Alert Facebook group that the House-Martin sticks around for at least another month. For information on how to visit the island on your own, check out St. Paul Island Tours website here.

The following two tabs change content below.
John Puschock

John Puschock

John Puschock reports ABA rare bird alerts and manages #ABArare for the American Birding Association. John is a frequent participant in rare bird forums around the web and has knack for gathering details necessary to relocate birds. He has been a birder since 1984 and now leads tours for Bird Treks, as well as for his own company Zugunruhe Birding Tours. He has led tours to locations across North America, from Newfoundland to New Mexico and from Costa Rica to Alaska. He specializes in leading tours to Adak in the Aleutian Islands.
American Birding Podcast
Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
Read More »




ABA's FREE Birder's Guide

via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Open Mic: How to talk about climate change as a young birder June 4, 2018 11:37
    One of the challenges in talking about climate change is the disconnect that people feel when hearing about things like sea level rise and their daily lives. Birders, young and old, can play a major role in bridging this gap. […]
  • Meet Teodelina Martelli, 2018 ABA Young Birder of the Year May 26, 2018 2:27
    Meet Teodelina Martelli, a 17-year-old homeschooled birder living in Thousand Oaks, California and one of the 2018 ABA Young Birders of the Year. […]
  • Meet Adam Dhalla, 2018 ABA Young Birder of the Year March 27, 2018 5:42
    Meet 12-year-old Adam Dhalla from Coquitlam, British Columbia, one of the 2018 Young Birders of the Year! Want to learn more about how you could be the next Young Birder of the Year? Registration is open for the 2019 contest now! ——– Q: Were you a birder before you started the ABA Young […]

Follow ABA on Twitter