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Rare Bird Alert: January 23, 2014

This week sees another pretty slow edition of the Rare Bird Alert for the ABA Area. Maybe it’s the season. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s the fact that the entire continent east of approximately Vancouver is a walk-in freezer. Neither bird nor birder are active in this sort of weather.

Despite the abnormal chill, the bird of the week was tropical in nature. An ABA Code 4 Crimson-collared Grosbeak was discovered a few days ago at Santa Ana NWR in Hidalgo, Texas. The species has been more or less annual in the Valley in recent years, but this is the first seen this season. Unfortunately, the bird was not seen on subsequent days.

photo by Terry Fuller

photo by Terry Fuller

And while Snowy Owls have become practically passe this winter, Georgia finally became the last state/province on the Atlantic to get one of them within their borders when a Snowy Owl was discovered on Tybee Island, very nearly the same place that hosted an individual a couple years ago.

Other good birds in Georgia include a Franklin’s Gull on St. Simon’s Island and a Little Gull (3) at Lake Hartwell on the South Carolina border. That bird was seen in both states.

Also in South Carolina, a Black-headed Gull (3) was seen in Conway.

Notable for Florida this week, a Calliope Hummingbird was visiting a feeder in Hillsborough.

Regular on both coasts but a great bird inland, a Eurasian Wigeon (3) was seen in Alabama, near the Wheeler NWR Visitor’s Center.

Good birds in Mississippi include a Pacific Loon in Tishamingo and a Glaucous Gull in Tunica.

In North Carolina, a young Swainson’s Hawk was seen by a group of birders in Washington.

A remarkable three Black-headed Gulls (3) were seen at one site in Norfolk,  Virginia.

We don’t usually mention the District of Columbia here, but a Ross’s Goose there was a first for the district. More remarkable, however, was a Snowy Owl spotted near a park in the middle of the city this week.

A Crested Caracara in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, might be a new bird, or it might be the same bird that was seen there last year that never left.

Always a good one in the east, a Spotted Towhee was in Glen Williams, Ontario.

In Iowa, a Great Black-backed Gull was seen in Lee.

A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks were discovered this week in Payette, Idaho.

A Western Gull in Huerfano, Colorado is that state’s 3rd record.

In Arizona, a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl was well-photographed in Santa Cruz though the actual location of the bird has remained under wraps.


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.
Nate Swick

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  • NC Birder

    The Swainson’s Hawk was seen on the west side of Lake Phelps. That’s over 30 miles from Washington NC. Pettigrew State Park is a better reference.

    • But it was in Washington County, as denoted by italics.

      • NC Birder

        OK, but why are some reports geographically general and others more specific? For instance, the Calliope Hummingbird referenced to Hillsborough Co. Fl., is in the town of Lutz, yet the SC Black-headed Gull is referenced to the town of Conway and not the county (Horry)? Just wondering what the criteria are.

        • Essentially it’s my discretion, which boils down to specificity given in the report, size of the jurisdiction reference, and what I’m able to find in the time I’m working on it.

          I try to make it clear with italics whether I’m talking about county or not, though.

          • NC Birder

            Thanks Nate, for the clarification.

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