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    Rare Bird Alert: January 17, 2014

    The west is dry, the east is cold, and it looks like it’s going to stay that way for at least the near future heading into this week. The season continues to be a little bit sluggish in the way of new developments, but a few good birds are sticking tight. North Carolina’s 3rd Band-tailed Pigeon continues, as does the first for Utah Streak-backed Oriole for those lucky birders willing to wait it out. Notably, the Streak-backed Oriole that was present in New Mexico has triumphantly returned, allowing looks for the last few days near Carlsbad.

    The most notable ABA Area rarity of the week came from Newfoundland, where an ABA Code 3 Common Snipe was seen, helpfully along with a Wilson’s Snipe, in Ferryland.  This is the second record for the province and only the second confirmed record of this species away from the west coast.

    Wilson's and Common Snipe at Ferryland, Newfoundland

    Wilson’s (left) and Common (right) Snipe. Note the overall warmer coloration of the Common Snipe. Wider pale bars on the tertials and lighter barring on the flanks can also be seen. Photo by Bruce Mactavish.

    Three first state records were found this week, two in the southeast. The first was a Townsend’s Warbler seen in Charleston, South Carolina, which has not been refound.

    The other first came from Florida, where a young Violet-green Swallow in Monroe looks for furnish that state’s first state record. As swallows are, this bird has been moving around a lot, but several birders have managed to cross paths with it in the days following its discovery.  Also in Florida, a Western Tanager was seen in Pinellas.

    Far afield in Hawaii, comes the third first, a Terek Sandpiper on Oahu.

    Back to the south, a Brown Booby (3) was photographed from a boat offshore in Alabama waters, this is the first photographic record for that state

    Georgia also had a Western Tanager, one at a feeder in Hephzibah.

    North Carolina’s 3rd record of Allen’s Hummingbird was banded at a feeder in Oriental, Pamlico.

    Excellent for Kentucky, an Iceland Gull was found at Kentucky Dam, on the border of Livingston and Marshall counties.

    In Ontario, a Heerman’s Gull was reported from near Bronte, but has not been refound. This would be a second record for Ontario.

    Good birds in Nebraska include a Steller’s Jay in Scotts Bluff and an American Black Duck late last week in Douglas.

    It’s been a good week for pale gulls in Nevada, as a Glaucous Gull was found at Lake Mead, and a Glaucous-winged Gull was recorded in Washoe

    Just in case you forgot, there are a few Blue-footed Boobies (4) still around, including one continuing this week in Mohave, Arizona, along with a long staying Brown Booby (3). The Blue-footed’s roost was found recently, making the bird a bit more reliable.

    In Oregon, a King Eider was seen by many near Newport.


    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.

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    Nate Swick

    Nate Swick

    Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog. A long-time member of the bird blogosphere, Nate has been writing about birds and birding at The Drinking Bird since 2007, but can also be found writing regularly at 10,000 Birds. In the non-digital world, he's an environmental educator and interpretive naturalist. Nate lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children, who are not yet aware that they are being groomed to be birders.
    Nate Swick

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    • Jared Clarke

      FYI – The COMMON SNIPE is actually the third record for the province, including one that was shot by St. Lewis, Labrador in 1927. It is, however, the second record for the island (Newfoundland) – the other occurring nearby just three years ago (Feb 2011).

    • Paul Lehman

      It is misleading and somewhat unfortunate that ABARare and eBird rarities list species that are totally regular in some parts of North America, so mislead the reader on proper status and distribution and may partly obscure the truly rare records of the same species elsewhere. For example, Slaty-backed Gulls in western Alaska or Black-headed Gulls in the Atlantic Provinces are totally regular visitors in NUMBERS and partly hide the true rarities of those same species which might be occurring elsewhere, such as the current Slaty-backed in Colorado or Black-headed in South Carolina. Nick Minor’s “awesome” collection of ABARare species as listed in eBird is actually made up by a MAJORITY of species/individuals that are not truly rare at all where they are being seen and some are even regular permanent residents in those areas. It would be good if somehow reports from such regular areas of occurrence could be flagged or deleted and leave the moniker of “rare” for where the species are truly rare.

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