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Rare Bird Alert: July 4, 2014

Happy Holiday Week to our friends on both sides of the Canada-United States border. The work week may be shorter but the birds keep coming.

The story of this week’s weather is the story of major phenomena on either side of the continent. On the west coast, the El Niño continues to build, and its effects are being seen on birds pushing northward from parts south. And on the east coast, Tropical Storm Arthur is poised to make landfall soon (at the time of writing) and swing up the Atlantic seaboard bringing along who knows what in its path and in its wake.

The avian highlight of the week has to be the potential ABA Area first from California. Observers on a whale-watching vessel off Los Angeles got more than they expected in the form of an apparent Nazca Booby. The species has been seen in the ABA Area previously, but the ship-assisted nature of that report didn’t sit well with rare bird committee-members. This one seems more cut-and-dried. Not only was it free-flying, but as an adult bird, it was much easier to identify.

Photo by Tim Hammond, used with permission

A potential ABA first Nazca Booby. Photo by Tim Hammond, used with permission

The Nazca wasn’t the only Sulid making waves this week. A Brown Booby (ABA Code 3), photographed on a boat in Sarpy, Nebraska – of all places – would be a 1st record not only for the state, but an inland extreme for the species on the continent.

Neotropic Cormorant marks a new outlier for the season with a bird seen in Aurora, South Dakota.

Both Colorado and Wyoming had Eastern Wood-Pewee this week, the former in Larimer and the latter in Fremont

In Montana, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher near Helena was a one-day wonder.

A great record for the far north, in the Northwest Territories a Turkey Vulture was seen and photographed near Yellowknife.

In Alaska, a Black-tailed Godwit (3) was seen near Beluga, and a Hawfinch (4) was a recent addition to the spring goodies on St Paul Island.

A McCown’s Longspur was photographed near Chilcotin, British Columbia.

In Oregon, a Chestnut-sided Warbler near Clatsop is notable.

In addition to the booby news in California, a Prothonotary Warbler was seen on San Clemente Island, also in Los Angeles.

Lots of noteworthy stuff turned up in Arizona this week, highlighted by a second Yellow Grosbeak (4) of the season in Cochise, a Plain-capped Starthroat (4) at a feeder in Santa Cruz, and both a Red-eyed Vireo and a Rufous-backed Robin (3) in Pima.

A nice bird anywhere inland, a Brown Pelican seems particularly exciting in De Baca, New Mexico.

The first Green Violetear (3) of the season was visiting a feeder near San Antonio, Texas. A Brown Booby (3) was also seen just offshore in Cameron.

In Louisiana, a pair of Black-whiskered Vireos at City Park in New Orleans were causing some excitement.

In South Carolina, a Ruff (3) was seen in Beaufort.

Perhaps a harbinger of things to come immediately post-Arthur, a Sooty Tern was seen onshore in Ocean, New Jersey. Just offshore, a South Polar Skua (3) was seen off Cape May

Pennsylvania’s 4th record of Snowy Plover was seen in Erie, where it was joined also by a pair of Piping Plovers.

Annual now in the east, but still notable in the Atlantic provinces, a Western Kingbird was seen at Cape Sable, Nova Scotia.

In Quebec, a White-winged Dove at Lac-Saint-Jean has been present most of the week.

A Varied Thrush was photographed in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, last week.

In Wisconsin, a Blue Grosbeak in Marrinete is a great bird for the north.

And of course, at least two records of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in Iowa this week. One at Green Island WMA and another at . Woodbury.


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.
  • Rick Wright

    Though the species now occurs regularly farther east in Arizona, a female-plumaged white-eared hummingbird seen yesterday by Dave Stejskal in Madera Canyon is a lot more convenient for birders who happen to be visiting Tucson and without the time to drive to the Huachucas. I predict some major picnic table effects over the next few days in Madera….

  • Russ Cannings

    There is apparently a well-photographed Nazca off BC (from summer 2011) but for whatever reason the record/documentation has not yet been made public. Patiently waiting!

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