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Rare Bird Alert: January 10, 2014

This week saw a full third of the continent plunged into the deep freeze, as many residents of the US and Canada added the phrase “Polar Vortex” into their vocabularies, at which point they spit in disgust and watch it freeze before it hit the ground. It’s hard to say exactly what kind of birds this weather system is going to force southward – would we even notice more Snowy Owls at this point? – but as the weather warms up and birders venture out into the field it will be interesting to see what may result.

One first state record for this week, which happens to be an good bird for the ABA Area as well. A Streak-backed Oriole (ABA Code 4) was well-photographed by many in Washington, Utah, for that state’s first pending confirmation.

Streak-backed Oriole, a 1st for Utah, photo by Stephanie Greenwood

Streak-backed Oriole, a 1st for Utah, photo by Stephanie Greenwood

Good birds in California this week include a Black-headed Gull (3) on the north side of the Salton Sea in Riverside, and a Slaty-backed Gull well-photographed at Half Moon Bay in San Mateo.

A remarkable record for Hawaii, a Belted Kingfisher was seen on Maui.

In Alaska, a Western Meadowlark was photographed in Ketchikan, where most of Alaska’s records have come from in the past.

A Great-tailed Grackle is visiting a fast-food restaurant parking lot in Gallatin, Montana.

The Mountain West is just about the last part of the Lower 48 states where Lesser Black-backed Gulls are still notable, but two were seen this week, with individuals in Sparks, Nevada, and at Lake Havasu, Arizona.

A good bird for New Mexico, particularly in winter, is a Bay-breasted Warbler in Luna.

A Great Black-backed Gull in Galveston, Texas, is a review species for that state.

Oklahoma also had a Great Black-backed Gull, this one at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City.

Notable birds in Louisiana include Cinnamon Teal in Cameron , Say’s Phoebe in New Orleans, and a Long-tailed Duck on D’Arbonne Lake in Union.

Always a nice bird inland, a Red-throated Loon was seen in Knox, Tennessee.

A California Gull was seen in Volusia, Florida.

North Carolina’s 3rd record of Band-tailed Pigeon is visiting a feeder on Roanoke Island, Dare. 

In Virginia, a Vermilion Flycatcher in King William is that state’s 4th or 5th record and the first in many years.

Increasingly common on the Mid-Atlantic, a Trumpeter Swan was seen in Anne Arundel, Maryland.

Several notable birds were seen in New York this week, including a Tufted Duck on the Niagara River, a Barnacle Goose (4) in Suffolk, and both a Slaty-backed Gull (3) and a Gyrfalcon in Ulster.

A Barnacle Goose (4) was also seen in Rhode Island, near the town of Middletown.

In Maine, a  Townsend’s Solitaire was videoed on Matinicus Island.


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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