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Rare Bird Alert: December 27, 2013

Maybe the big holiday in the middle of the week, with all its attendant traveling and family time put a damper on the rarity report for the last seven days. There’s little to report across much of the ABA Area in the way of continental vagrants, though within the US and Canada there are still a few things moving around.

Perhaps no birder in the country is as nervous about the stagnant state of rarity watching as much as Neil Hayward. He’s sitting at home for the holidays tied with Sandy Komito’s Big Year record, waiting to spring into action for the tie-breaker. And all with only four days remaining.

photo by Tami Reiser

The Rustic Bunting in Homer, Alaska – Neil’s last ABA Area bird –  continues this week – photo by Tami Reiser

The northeast part of the ABA Area has seen a couple White-winged Doves discovered in the last week, one at Biddeford Pond in Maine, and another White-winged Dove in Suffolk, Massachusetts.

A chaseable Black Guillemot has excited birders in Nassau, New York.

In Maryland, a Bullock’s Oriole has been visiting a feeder in White Hall.

A good candidate for Trumpeter Swan was photographed in Augusta, Virginia, this week.

And North Carolina had an apparent Trumpeter Swan as well, the state’s 2nd record, in Chatham. Two additional Snowy Owl reports this week, one each in Beaufort and Carteret make a remarkable total of 13 for the season so far.

Florida gets a number of Tyrant flycatchers in the winter, but a Tropical Kingbird in Miami-Dade is notable even by Tyrannid standards. Also in the state is a Harlequin Duck in Nassau and a Snow Bunting in Duval.

Probably more common than generally reported, a Northern Saw-whet Owl was photographed in Blount, Alabama.

Excellent for Mississippi was a Black-headed Gull in Yalabusha.

A pair of Common Mergansers in Union, Louisiana, and two of very very few recent records for that state.

In Arkansas, a Say’s Phoebe was seen in Lonoke.

Good birds in Tennessee include the state’s 12th Prairie Falcon in Obion, and a Smith’s Longspur in Montgomery.

Kentucky also had a Prairie Falcon, along with a Yellow-headed Blackbird in Hopkins.

Notable for Missouri was a pair of Inca Doves in Dallas.

A Northern Hawk Owl in Charlevoix, Michigan, is notable particularly for being in the lower peninsula of the state.

A Greater Pewee was seen this week near Houston, Texas.

In New Mexico, good birds include a Long-tailed Duck in Eddy and a Groove-billed Ani in Dona Ana.

Arizona also had a Long-tailed Duck, this one in Glendale.

In California, a Mottled Petrel (ABA Code 3) was seen from shore at Point Pinos, Monterey.

And in Montana, a Curve-billed Thrasher was well-photographed near the town of Eureka.


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 Birds <>, the richly illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the ABA.

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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.
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