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Rare Bird Alert: March 14, 2014

What a difference a year makes. This time last year we were in the midst of an epic run of first records from across the ABA Area. We went over a year without going more than one week without some jurisdiction getting something new. We were awash in North Lapwings and a number of notable gulls were moving around. But last year was fairly mild in North America, and compared to this year’s winter revenge the birds were exceptionally transient.

But if we’re looking for moving birds, spring is right around the corner to offer us our fill. And we truly know that spring is coming when our friends at Birdcast release their first Migration Highlight of the season. With Tree Swallow and hummingbird reports coming in from the southern tier of the ABA Area, it’s only a matter of time. Even if the weather doesn’t yet feel like it in much of North America.

baikal DD 2

Photo: Jeremy Gatten

When an ABA Code 4 Baikal Teal was reported from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, this week, it was a sure bet to be bird of the week. Though closer examination revealed something more interesting, if, ironically, less countable. The bird in question is now believed to be a Baikal Teal x Northern Pintail hybrid, a pretty remarkable bird in its own right, and arguably (and ironically) rarer than a full-blooded Baikal Teal even if it’s not countable. More information and discussion of this interesting bird is available at BC Rare Bird Alert, linked above.

Also in British Columbia, an Acorn Woodpecker was reported near Burnaby. It would be the 7th record for the province.

Noteworthy for Montana was a Mew Gull in Flathead.

A Rufous-backed Robin (3), one of a few this winter, was seen in Santa Cruz, Arizona.

In Quebec,  Fish Crow was seen and, more importantly, heard in Montérégie.

A Painted Bunting has been visiting a private residence in Newport, Rhode Island, this week.

Swallow-tailed Kites have burst into the ABA Area this week, and one was seen as far north as Cape May, New Jersey.

In West Virginia, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was seen near Morgantown.

In Georgia, a Little Gull turned up over the ocean from Jekyll Island.

Great for Alabama, a Northern Goshawk was seen in Madison.

And in Florida, a White-cheeked Pintail (4) was found at Pelican Island NWR in Indian River.  An individual of this species spent much of the early part of the winter here but had not been seen for some time. It is possible that this is the same individual that has returned. Incidentally, that bird was accepted by the Florida Records Committee as being of natural origin.


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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