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Rare Bird Alert: September 27, 2013

The Blue-footed Booby invasion has officially crossed over
into “ridiculous” territory. Prior to this year, the high count for
Blue-footed Booby in California – and indeed the ABA Area, as well
– was 48 individuals at the Salton Sea during the 1971-72 flight
year. As of this week, that number is officially blown out of the
water. The current high count is well into the 70s at the Salton
Sea, and assuming no double-counts, birders in the state have seen
over 100 individual Blue-footed Boobies across the state in the
last couple weeks. At this point, calling it an invasion seems
quaint. This is more like a Sula-pocalypse. While Oregon and
Washington are still without a booby this fall, British Columbia
has finally broken though with a Blue-footed Booby 
(ABA Code 4) photographed offshore near
Telegraph Cove. This is the first confirmed record for the
province, as a previous sight-only record was not accepted. Other
firsts in the ABA Area include one I overlooked last week. A
provincial first Hammond’s Flycatcher
was netted and banded in Shelburne, Nova
Scotia, last week. The bird was not refound after being fitted with
its jewelry. And just a reminder that there are other species of
boobies out there to find, Oklahoma gets it’s first
Brown Booby (3) – perhaps not entirely
unexpected given the four seen over the last two years in
neighboring Arkansas – one photographed by staff at Tishamingo NWR
in Johnston. That bird has not been seen since
it’s initial discovery, either. But without doubt, the hottest
birding for the week is once again in western Alaska, with St. Paul
and St. Lawrence continuing to attempt to one up one-another. At
the former, birders on the ABA’s rarity-hunting event did good,
getting Common Rosefinch
(4) and Eyebrowed
(3), in addition to the birds reported last week. While around
Gambell, birders had Lanceolated
(5) Red-flanked
(4) ‘Siberian’
(5), Pechora
(4), and  Siberian
(4) on the former. Meanwhile on the
mainland, a Stonechat (4) in Anchorage
proved that one doesn’t have to bird the Bering Sea to get the
Asian strays, though it clearly helps.

Red-flanked Bluetail.
Photo by Clarence Irrigoo.

Red-flanked Bluetail, Gambell, AK.
Photo by Clarence Irrigoo.

In addition to the provincial
first booby, British Columbia had a Hooded
near Jordan River and a
Red-throated Pipit (3) seen and heard
flying by Metchosin. A Sharp-tailed
(3) was seen at Fern Ridge,
, Oregon. Birders in California  are finding
more than just Blue-footed Boobies, a Yellow-green
was a good bird in
Orange, this week. A flyover
Wood Stork was notable for
, Nevada. In Arizona, a Red
was discovered on Lake Patagonia in
Santa Cruz. Very infrequent inland was an
Elegant Tern in  San
, New Mexico. An Arctic
was notable in Arapahoe,
Colorado. Excellent for the ABA Area and a rarity for Texas was a
Crescent-chested Warbler (4) reported
in Big Bend NP. Always a nice find in the middle of the continent,
Kansas had a Laughing Gull in
Douglas. In Iowa, a Townsend’s
was seen in Boone,
and a Fulvous Whistling-Duck reported
from Red Rock Lake in Marion. In Illinois, a
Say’s Phoebe was seen in
DuPage. An apparent Ash-throated
was photographed in
Hadley, Michigan. Good birds for Ontario
include a Swainson’s Hawk in
Leamington and a Least Tern at Point
Pelee. Very good on the east coast, a Sharp-tailed
(3) was
well-photographed at Baie-du-Febvre, Quebec. Also in the province,
a Trumpeter Swan near Témiscamingue
and a Sandwich Tern at Côte-Nord. Good
for Massachusetts was a Franklin’s
in Fairhaven. In New Jersey, the
first Curlew
of the season came from
Brigantine NWR. In Virginia, a Say’s
was seen at Chincoteague NWR in
. Not quite annual in North Carolina, two
different Hudsonian Godwits were found
in Dare and Hyde. Notable
birds in Georgia include a Western
in Hall and an
Eared Grebe in

The 9th or
10th for the state, a Hudsonian
was nicely photographed in
Yazoo, Mississippi, this week.


Omissions and
errors are not intended, but if you find any please message blog AT and I’ll try to fix them as soon as possible. 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
 <>, the richly
illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the

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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

Latest posts by Nate Swick (see all)

  • Richard Hubacek

    Nate–There was a Curlew Sandpiper found in Mendocino County, California last week. First seen on Thursday and refound Friday. It was a county first. Picture can be seen on WFO’s website.

    • I overlooked that, thanks.

      With all the booby news, it’s hard to find anything else in California this week!

  • David Rankin

    There were actually a crippling 4(!!) Yellow-Green Vireo’s reported in CA this week, 1 each in Ventura, Orange, San Diego and Los Angeles counties, all supported by pictures!

  • Justin

    Franklin’s Gull in Mass turned out to not be a Franklin’s

  • Russell Cannings

    Latest from BC includes: Curlew Sandpiper (Haida Gwaii), 3 more Red-throated Pipits (Haida Gwaii), and an ORIENTAL TURTLE-DOVE (Tofino). There have also been several inland records of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper this fall. Always nice in addition to the regular sightings from the coast. Check the blog for more details:

    • Russell Cannings

      Oct 4–Tropical Kingbird in Victoria, BC (Swan Lake)

      Also a couple more sightings of RTPI up in Haida Gwaii. Will update the blog soon

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