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Rare Bird Alert: April 11, 2014


When it rains it pours in early spring, it seems. Not just in the flood of year firsts returning to North America from parts south, but also in the number and scope of rarities in the ABA Area. Two states pick up first records this week – sure it’s nothing like the streak we saw last year – but it’s a second state record that has people talking this time around.

An ABA Code 5 Marsh Sandpiper in Solano, California, is that state’s second record, but only the second ever of this species for the ABA Area outside of Alaska. Interestingly, California’s first Marsh Sandpiper was one found only last fall at the Salton Sea.

Marsh Sandpiper sp14f

Only the second for the state, but the first spring record of the species in the New World. photo by John Sterling.

Least likely of the first state records this week is probably the Northern Wheatear found in DeBaca, New Mexico. That species is only regular in the ABA Area in the far northeast and northwest corners of the continent.

On the short list of new species possibilities in a number of states and provinces, a Neotropic Comorant near Clinton is a first for New Jersey. Though there has been some talk as to whether this bird is an abnormal Double-crested. Consensus seems to be building towards the state first, though.

A good bird in New York, a Gyrfalcon was photographed in Washington.

In Maine, a Northern Lapwing (4) in Cape Elizabeth is that state’s third record.

Annual nowadays but still worth noting when they occur, a Barnacle Goose (4) was seen in Centre-du-Québec, Quebec

Good birds in Ohio include a Tufted Duck (3) in Sandusky, a Ruff (3) in Wayne, and a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Erie.

Illinois had a Snowy Plover and a Eurasian Wigeon (3), both in Fulton.

Tennessee’s fourth record of Townsend’s Solitaire was seen this week in Morgan. 

In Louisiana, a Little Gull is noteworthy in Cameron.

In Florida, a Townsend’s Warbler was seen in Escambia.

A Great Black-backed Gull was recorded in Minnehaha, South Dakota.

And likely to receive #ABArare treatment shortly, a Slate-throated Redstart (4) was discovered in Cochise.


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

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. He is also the author of Birding for the Curious. 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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  • Rob

    Now that better photos have been obtained and other birders have seen the Neotropic Cormorant, the ID question has been resolved and all appear good with it being a NJ first.

    • Yeah, I was leaving a little room to maneuver but it always looked like a good Neotropic to me. Great find, Rob!

  • Alan Wormington

    Neotropic Cormorant has clearly been a “stealth” invader of northern areas in recent years, in particular to the Great Lakes. This year there will be even more reports once again (now that everyone is really looking for them), and I predict that in just 10 years (or less) that the species will become so routine here that each sighting will be barely noteworthy. A breeding attempt on the Great Lakes would not be a surprise as well.

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