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Rare Bird Alert: July 12, 2014


With respect to TS Eliot, birders know that it’s July that is the cruellest month. Birds are ratty and molting, we’re still a couple weeks away from shorebird migration in earnest, and for much of the ABA Area the thermostat makes birding a certain hot and buggy affair. Still, we persevere, because as much as July is known for the slowdown of the birding calender, it holds surprises too. After all, it was just a year ago this week that a Rufous-crowned Wood-Rail photo-bombed a Least Bittern. Anything is possible.

Earlier this year we noted the first Massachusetts record of a Zone-tailed Hawk on Martha’s Vineyard, photographed by a vacationing birder. Evidently the species wasn’t done with the state this year, as another sighting of Zone-tailed Hawk, also accompanied by photographs, was made public this week. The bird was photographed near Middleboro, and at first glance looks as though it could be the same individual moving about in the area, a good sign for birders interested in seeing it for themselves. However, it has yet to be refounf.

This Zone-tailed Hawk, ostensibly Massachusett's 2nd record, migh be the same bird that was originally seen earlier this year. Photo by Marcus Rhodes

This Zone-tailed Hawk, ostensibly Massachusett’s 2nd record, might be the same bird that was originally seen earlier this year. Photo by Marcus Rhodes

Hurricane Arthur seemed to leave a few interesting birds around, primarily southern terns in the northeast, as Massachusetts also had a Sandwich Tern in Essex this week.

Nova Scotia seemed to take the brunt of the storm, however, as the province saw an influx of Black Skimmers, Royal Terns, and other southern seabirds in Arthur’s wake.

Maine, too, had a Royal Tern and a Black Skimmer on Basket Island.

In Quebec, a Tufted Duck (ABA Code 30 in Côte-Nord was unseasonable, and a White-winged Dove in Îles de la Madeleine was notable.

Noteworthy for New Hampshire was a White Ibis near Seabrook.

Very rare outside of Florida in the ABA Area, a Limpkin was a greta bird in Crisp, Georgia.

And in Florida, a Smooth-billed Ani on Virginia Key in Miami-Dade, is the second individual of this mostly extirpated species seen this spring.

In Illinois, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were seen in Cass, though the thought of those birds showing up in unusual places is almost passé anymore.

Good for Wisconsin was a Laughing Gull in Outagamie.

Nebraska’s 2nd or 3rd record of Mottled Duck was photographed in Sarpy this week.

In British Columbia, a Black-billed Cuckoo was well-photographed near Kolowna.

A White-eyed Vireo is a good bird in Tropic. Utah.

In Nevada, one, and possibly a pair of, Hepatic Tanagers were seen in Clark

Good birds for Arizona this week include a Yellow-green Vireo at Havasu NWR, a Plain-capped Starthroat (second in as many weeks) (4) in Cochise, and a Tricolored Heron in Pima.


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

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  • Gregg Gorton

    Memorable line of poetry there at the beginning of your piece, Nate–nice to see it in a birding article–but by TS Eliot, poet of The Waste Land and of Cats. WC Williams is a favorite of mine, as well, but I don’t recall any mention of birds in his work. Hafta look again: maybe we can get someone (other than Aristophanes) to pen a Broadway play called “Birds”!

    • My mistake! WCW called April the *saddest* month. Got them backwards.

    • Mark Brown

      Oh life, bizarre fowl, what color are your wings?

  • Peter Ziminski

    Thought everyone would be interested in knowing how to get rare bird alerts from e-Bird on your Windows Phone, Tablet, or Desktop. Check out the free trial of RareBirder at:

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