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Rare Bird Alert: May 23, 2014

With the balance of migration over for much of the continent but for the flycatchers and the cuckoos, a calm returns to the listservs. Epic migration accounts have turned to reports of residents breeding, fledging, and getting on with the season. In some parts of the continent, however, things are just heating up. Spring rarity season in Alaska is right around the corner, and in the Gulf Stream, the Hatteras, North Carolina, institution that is Captain Brian Patteson is starting the most productive run of pelagics on the east coast.

That Spring Blitz started off with a doozy of a trip a couple days ago, with a Pterodroma quartet that included Herald “Trindade” Petrel (ABA Code 3), Fea’s Petrel (3), Bermuda Petrel (4) and at least one and possibly more European Storm-Petrels (4) for one of the best single day hauls in recent memory. If that’s how the first day went, one hopes for something really exceptional this year.

One of North America's rarest seabirds, Bermuda Petrel is a treat whenever it's seen. photo by Brian Patteseon/Seabirding Inc

One of the world’s rarest seabirds, Bermuda Petrel, like this one out of Hatteras this week, is a treat whenever and wherever it’s seen. photo by Brian Patteson/Seabirding Inc

Yet another Bahama Mockingbird (4) in Florida, this time in Miami-Dade, makes 6 for the spring. Also a South Polar Skua (3) was found wrecked on a beach in Broward and sent to a rebahher.

In Alabama, a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher in Baldwin is that state’s 4th record.

Grande Isle continues to be the place to bird in Louisiana, as this week saw both a Shiny Cowbird and a Black-whiskered Vireo there.

In Arkansas, Cave Swallows were seen in Miller.

A grand total of three Buff-breasted Flycatcher were singing at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, this week.

Good birds for New Mexico include a Trumpeter Swan in Dona Ana, an Eastern Wood-Pewee in Roosevelt, and a Bobolink in Bernalillo.

A Streak-backed Oriole (4) was seen in the Santa Rita Mountains in Santa Cruz, Arizona, and a Baltimore Oriole was photographed in Tuba City.

In Colorado, highlights of the week include a Least Bittern in Pueblo and a number of eastern warblers including Mourning Warbler and Kentucky Warbler in Weld and a Prairie Warbler in Pueblo.

In Wyoming, a lingering Glaucous Gull was near Casper.

A Little Blue Heron near Henderson, Nevada, is a nice bird in the west.

Increasingly annual in California, a Hawaiian Petrel (4) was seen offshore in Mendocino waters, and a Cassin’s Sparrow was singing in Los Angeles

In Oregon, a Hudsonian Godwit in Polk was noteworthy.

A Hooded Warbler in Whitman, Washington, is one of only a few records for that state.

Across the border in British Columbia, good birds include a Black-throated Sparrow in Osoyoos and a White-tailed Kite in Williams Lake.

Hopefully a sign of things to come in Alaska, a Tundra Bean-Goose (3) was photographed on St. Paul Island.

We very rarely get reports from northern Canada, so it was great to see that Northwest Territories picked up its 3rd territorial record of Lesser Black-backed Gull, a subadult in Yellowknife.

In Manitoba, a Western Tanager was near Steinbach and a Glossy Ibis near Boissevain.

Another Western Tanager was discovered near Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Remarkable not just for the location, but also the time of year, a Black-legged Kittiwake showed well for several days in Marion, Iowa.

In Wisconsin, a Lazuli Bunting was a nice bird in Grant.

The fourth record of the spring in the ABA Area, a Garganey (4) was at Houghton Lake in Michigan.

Making a play as the species of the season, a small flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were seen near Yorkville, Illinois.

In Indiana, a Glossy Ibis was seen in Jasper.

A Curlew Sandpiper (3) was seen near Middletown, Delaware.

New Jersey had a nice run of good birds this week, including Black-bellied Whistling Ducks in Galloway, a Swainson’s Warbler well-photographed in Passaic, a Barrow’s Goldeneye in Bergen, and a Curlew Sandpiper (3) in Cumberland.

Massachusetts’s second Ruff (3) of the season was seen in Essex.

A Black-headed Grosbeak was visiting a feeder in Monhegan, Maine, at the same feeder that also hosted a Painted Bunting!

In Newfoundland, a Pacific Loon at St. Vincent’s is the province’s 3rd record and the 1st to be photographed. An Eastern Kingbird has also been hanging around Biscay Bay for several days.

And in Nova Scotia, a Brown Booby (3) on a boat in St. Mary’s Bay, the province’s 4th, was discovered when it was videoed for a report on the local news. A Northern Wheatear was also seen in Taylor Head.


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.
Nate Swick

Latest posts by Nate Swick (see all)

  • Carl

    Also 11th state record Swainson’s Warbler and 8th state Purple Gallinule in PA this week.

    • I got the gallinule last week, but I did miss the Swainson’s Warbler. Thanks!

      • Carl

        Also 3rd PA state record White-faced Ibis.

  • Josh

    Any specifics on where the information was obtained about the Michigan Garganery?

    • It was reported to the ABA Rare Bird Alert Facebook group, but now that I look back at it, a local birder encouraged the “possible” tag on it. I don’t believe it was refound and was left unconfirmed.

  • Jbird

    Varied bunting spotted three consecutive days in Rio Rico Arizona.

    • David Rankin

      While that’s an awesome bird, Varied Buntings are expected in that general area, and breed in the appropriate habitat in SE AZ.

  • TurtleDude

    Hey Nate, Northern Wheatear also found today in White River Junction, VT. Stunning bird, here’s some pics:


  • Laurent Fournier

    Interesting (and very rare) hybrid Prairie/Blue-winged warbler in Michigan yesterday and today

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