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Rare Bird Alert: March 11, 2016

By mid-March the listservs are hopping less with news about rarities and more with reports of returning spring migrants. Depending on where you are on the continent, they might be bluebirds or swallows or phoebes, but they’re coming, whetting our appetites for the big push that is likely still 6 to 8 weeks away. But no time to linger on that slightly depressing realization, Purple Martins are coming back, and that’s all that matters right now.

Still loads of great rarities in the ABA Area this week, concentrated on the edges as they typically are. Texas leads the way once again, where the Blue Bunting (ABA Code 4), Crimson-collared Grosbeak (4), and multiple Northern Jacanas (4) are continuing to provide an impressive trio for birders in the lower valley. At least three Common Cranes (4) have been consistent in west Texas, too. Florida is also making a claim for the rarity hotspot of the continent, too, where Zenaida Dove (5) and Black-faced Grassquit (4) have been hit and miss all week.  Vagrant thrushes continue on opposite sides of Canada, with both the British Columbia Redwing (4) and the Newfoundland Fieldfare (4) both re-appearing this week. After disappearing for a few days, the Brambling (3) in Ohio is being seen again, and a Pink-footed Goose (4) in Connecticut continues to be the only really consistent one seen in the ABA Area this winter.

We lead off the new week with a 1st for New Hampshire, a state whose inglorious distinction of being the only state/province in the northeast without a record of Tufted Duck (3) has, at long last, come to an end. Beset on all sides with dozens of Tufted Duck records, birders finally nabbed the sharp-looking male just across the border in Salem, Rockingham County this week.

Long ancticipated, this Tufted Duck represents first for New Hampshire, pending acceptance. Photo: Kyle Wilmarth

Long anticipated, this Tufted Duck represents first for New Hampshire, pending acceptance. Photo: Kyle Wilmarth

In Nova Scotia, a Bullock’s Oriole was seen at a feeder in Cape Breton, the second one in the province this winter.

A Western Grebe was skirting the Accomack/Northampton in Virginia last week.

Most of Florida’s most notable birds of late have come from the south, but a Glaucous Gull in Hernando came from the other direction.

Yet another great bird found in Texas’s lower valley, a nice male Rose-throated Becard (3) was photograpged in Cameron.

A nice bird for Ohio was a Great Cormorant in Cuyahoga. (UPDATE: I apologize for not realizing the significance of this record, as this is a 1st for Ohio)

In Wisconsin, a Barrow’s Goldeneye was discovered in Dane.

Minnesota had a male Mountain Bluebird in Sherburne, this week.

And in Iowa, a California Gull was discovered on a reservoir in Pottawattamie.


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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