The early part of this year’s winter has been all about Snowy Owls, and why not? They’re big. They’re flashy. And they’re practically the embodiment of winter. Aside from the owls, the rest of the winter avifauna is MIA this year, not that this was completely unexpected given Ron Pittaway’s thin finch report.
But winter birding scene received a big jolt this week with the arrival of a Ross’s Gull to Lake Red Rock in Marion, Iowa, this week, the state’s 4th record. Interestingly enough, 2 out of those previous 3 came from very lake. The bird has been seen by birders every day this week, so perhaps it will hang around for a while.
Snowy Owls are still piling into the Midwest and East coast and there are too many records to note them all individually. The bird on North Carolina’s Outer Banks persists, but two additional Snowy Owl records were made public in that state, one in Hyde and another well inland in Wake. Neither were publicly accessible though.
We have a new southernmost record for Snowy Owl though, one was seen at Cape Romain in Charleston, South Carolina, this week.
A Black-legged Kittiwake was seen on Lake Hartwell in Georgia, where there are fewer than 5 inland records of the species. That lake lies on the South Carolina border but there has been no word that the bird has crossed over the state line.
Tis the season for vagrant flycatchers in the east, and a Say’s Phoebe in Fauquier, Virginia, is right on time.
New Jersey hosted a Barnacle Goose (ABA Code 4) among a flock of Canada Geese and various geese hybrids in Bergen.
Always a nice find in the east, New York has a Pacific Loon in Suffolk.
A Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) has been exceptionally photogenic in Lyme, Connecticut.
Notable for Massachusetts is a Harris’s Sparrow in Wenham.
A good candidate for Thayer’s Gull was photographed in Rye, New Hampshire.
Western vagrants in Nova Scotia this week include a Bullock’s Oriole in Kentville and a Western Tanager in Cape Breton.
In Quebec, a Black-throated Gray Warbler has been present for several days in Outaouais.
Ontario’s 3rd Thick-billed Murre since the 1950s was well-photographed by many in Kingston. An Anna’s Hummingbird in Thunder Bay is a first for northern Ontario and one of only a few records for the province.
Across the lake, a Harlequin Duck was seen in Cuyahoga, Ohio.
In Alabama, a Vermilion Flycatcher turned up near Daphne.
Nice inland, a Red-throated Loon was seen in Pulaski.
A “Western” Flycatcher, apparently on-vocalizing, was seen in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Good for Texas, a Mew Gull was seen in Hudspeth.
Socorro, New Mexico, hosted a pair of great birds in a Eurasian Wigeon and a Black-legged Kittiwake.
Nevada had a Eurasian Wigeon near Reno.
Not a full species (yet), a “Vega” Herring Gull was well-photographed in San Mateo, California, and the state’s 2nd Gray Hawk was seen in Santa Barbara, very possibly the same bird that was the state’s first last year.
In Montana, a Harris’s Sparrow was photographed in Sanders and a Glaucous Gull was seen near Flathead.
Always exciting, a Northern Hawk-Owl was discovered near Moscow, Idaho.
Oregon’s 11th or so Yellow-throated Warbler was seen on private property near Ankney NWR.
In British Columbia, a Hooded Oriole is visiting a feeder in Port McNeill.
Omissions and errors are not intended, but if you find any please message blog AT aba.org 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 <aba.org/nab>, the richly illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the ABA.