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Rare Bird Alert: October 10, 2014

A remarkable 5 first records grace this week’s Rare Bird Alert report. First generally come in two categories, those that are expected (however unlikely) and those that arrive completely out of left field. We had both in the last seven days, but perhaps the greatest expression of the latter was the incredible Alaska first Wood Thrush, found on St. Paul Island in the Pribilofs, late last week. In a season that has seen multiple Wood Warblers and Tree Pipits, this eastern thrush might be the most remarkable bird seen in the Bering Sea the fall, being as the previous farthest extralimital record of the species comes from southern Saskatchewan. The circumstances surrounding this individual arriving are certainly bizarre. Not only does the bird have to migrate nearly 180 degrees in the wrong direction (not so unusual), but that it survived to find not just Alaska, but St Paul Island. Could, conceivably, the seemingly unthinkable possibility of a Wood Thrush turning up in eastern Russia have occurred this fall? Heck, why not?

Alaska's 1st record of Wood Thrush on St. Paul Island was completely unexpected this week. Photo by Nate Swick

Alaska’s 1st record of Wood Thrush on St. Paul Island this week was arguably the least expected bird of the season there. Photo by Nate Swick

Also notable from Alaska, a Wood Warbler (ABA Code 5), the 7th ABA record and the 4th of the season, was found on Middleton Island in the Gulf of Alaska, the first incidence of this species away from the Aleutians/Bering Sea. Even this late, a Yellow-browed Warbler (4) was found in Gambell, a Spotted Redshank (4) was found on Kodiak Island, and a Black-and-White Warbler near Juneau.

The northwest corner of the ABA Area also produced a couple territorial firsts. In Northwest Territory, a Black-headed Gull (3) found near Yellowknife is a 1st for the territory.

And in Yukon, an Anna’s Hummingbird visiting a feeder in Whitehorse is also a 1st.

Down in the states, Louisiana netted it’s 1st Elegant Tern in Jefferson, and with records of the species from Texas and Florida, this one was firmly in the expected category.

In West Virginia, a Fork-tailed Flycatcher photographed in Monroe is the 1st for that state. Notabley, a Kirtland’s Warbler netted and banded in Dolly Sods Management Area (which encompasses parts of 4 counties so I’m not sure which one is this bird was captured in)

Staying in the east, Newfoundland had a Nelson’s Sparrow at Cape Spear, and a Canvasback St John’s, the latter remarkably only the 2nd record for the province.

In Rhode Island, a Common Gallinule was seen at South Kingston.

A compelling report of a Black-headed Grosbeak came out of Suffolk, New York, though it has yet to be confirmed as of yet.

Pennsylvania’s 8th record of Seaside Sparrow was found this week in Lancaster.

We don’t usually hear about DC in this spot, but a Nelson’s Sparrow there was the district’s 5th, and the first in over 100 years.

In North Carolina, a Say’s Phoebe was found in Carteret. It’s about the state’s 10th.

A reported Kirtland’s Warbler in Georgetown, South Carolina, is one of only a few for the state.

Good for Florida, a Lapland Longspur was found in Brevard.

A good candidate for Gray Flycatcher was reported from Port Stanley, Ontario, this week. It would be the province’s 3rd record if confirmed.

In Manitoba, a Townsend’s Solitaire was in an urban garden in Winnipeg.

Still turning up across the north and west this fall, a Glossy Ibis was found in Dane, Wisconsin.

Colorado’s 5th record of Smith’s Longspur was photographed in Larimer.

In Montana, a Red-throated Loon in Billings is that state’s 16th.

A pelagic out of Newport, Oregon, had a single Ashy Storm-Petrel this week.

A Black-throated Blue Warbler in Washington, Utah, is a nice bird for the intermontane west.

In California, a Red-faced Warbler was well-photographed in Kern.

And in New Mexico, a Philadelphia Vireo was found in Roosevelt.


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.
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