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#ABArare – Oriental Cuckoo – Alaska

All eyes turn to western Alaska in early June, as intrepid guides and tour participants comb the Bering Sea Islands and the Aleutians in search of Asian overshoots. While in the past, far Attu was often the singular target, now that the island is more difficult (though not impossible!) to reach the spotlight has turned more towards the Pribilofs and St. Lawrence as spring destinations. And for good reason, both sites have seen an impressible list of rarities in recent years.

Prologue aside, one of the early highlights is an apparent Oriental Cuckoo (ABA Code 4), discovered by Glen Davis and photographed by Cory Gregory (both with St. Paul Island Tours) on June 4 and continuing the next day, on St. Paul Island in the Pribilofs.

photographed by Corey Gregory, used with permission

photographed by Cory Gregory, used with permission

More photos are available at Cory’s flickr page.

St Paul Island is accessible by air via several Alaskan airports, most notably Anchorage, on Penair Airlines.

Oriental Cuckoo is known in the ABA Area from around 10 records and 5 specimens, exclusively from the Bering Sea Islands and Aleutians. Field identification of the species is extremely difficult, given to its similarity with the more regularly occurring Common Cuckoo.  In fact, this bird was identified in the field as a Common Cuckoo before photos obtained by Cory Gregory suggested otherwise upon examination. Though the distinctions between the two remain poorly defined, adult Oriental Cuckoo tends to have courser bands on the breast and a buffier belly and undertail coverts.

According to Scott Schuette, this is the 4th record of the species on St. Paul, and the first since 2004.

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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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