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Rare Bird Alert: February 21, 2014

No week in North American birding sees more rarity reports than the week of the Great Backyard Bird Count. Granted, the very vast majority of these records are incorrect and quickly dealt with by the vast network of volunteer eBird reviewers, but the fact that so many more eyes are in the field during this brief period does mean that some records that would sneak through the cracks get some attention. Last year, at least one of the Northern Lapwings in the east was discovered as a direct result of the GBBC (it was a report of a different bird, but still…), so it’s hard to completely write off even the most outlandish bird reports.

That said, there was still a good variety of confirmed rarities across the ABA Area, arguably highlighted once again by a Slaty-backed Gull (ABA Code3), this time in Lake, Illinois, north of Chicago. While not as extralimital as the Texas bird last week – that bird is continuing – this record is just the latest of many in the Great Lakes, where the species is becoming practically annual.

For the second week in a row, a Slaty-backed Gull highlights the RBA, this one in Illinois, photo by Nathan Goldberg

For the second week in a row, a Slaty-backed Gull highlights the RBA, this one in Illinois, photo by Nathan Goldberg

Staying in the Great Lakes, a pair of Harlequin Ducks at Whitby, Ontario, is a nice find inland.

The on again/off again Yellow-legged Gull (4) in St. John’s, Newfoundland, was refound this week at Quiri Vidi Lake.

Good for Connecticut is an Eared Grebe near Greenwich.

In New Jersey, a Barrow’s Goldeneye was seen in Warren.

Another Barrow’s Goldeneye in Northampton, Pennsylvania, is that state’s 7th record.

In West Virginia, one or more Lesser Black-backed Gull(s) were seen in Ohio and Wetzel. This is the 4th (and maybe 5th) record of that species for the state if these records do represent two different birds.

And in Maryland, a Brewer’s Blackbird was among a mixed flock of blackbirds in Baltimore.

Both a King Eider and a Harlequin Duck were seen among a number of other notable sea ducks at the seawall in Georgetown, South Carolina.

Georgia’s 2nd record of Yellow-billed Loon was photographed at Lake Hartwell, Hart. No word on whether the individual crossed state lines into South Carolina where it would be a state first.

In Alabama, a Western Tanager was seen on Dauphin Island.

A Rough-legged Hawk is a very nice bird in Mississippi, and one was seen this week in Tunica.

Noteworthy for Texas, a pair of Trumpeter Swans were seen in Ellis.

In Arizona, a Rufous-backed Robin (3) was seen in Wickenburg, Maricopa.

Nevada’s second record of Brown Booby (3) was seen in Clark this week.

In Washington, an Emperor Goose was seen near Chimacum, Jefferson.

Not yet in the ABA Area, but worth noting here, a Common Raven was photographed on Kure Atoll, Hawaii, a remarkable record.


Omissions and errors are not intended, but if you find any please message blog AT and I will 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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