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Rare Bird Alert: March 4, 2016

As we head into March there are still a great many continuing rarities in the ABA Area. Most notable is the continuing Zenaida Dove (ABA Code 5) in south Florida. Texas also holds on to many of its wintering rarities including continuing Blue Bunting (4), Crimson-collared Grosbeak (4), Northern Jacana (4) and Common Crane (4).  A Pink-footed Goose (4) originally seen earlier in the year in Connecticut has returned. The Ohio Brambling (3) was seen early in the week but has not been reported in a few days. A Common Pochard also continues in Alaska, and the Britich Columbia Redwing is also still around..

There was one no doubter 1st state record this week, in Massachusetts in the form of a young Yellow-billed Loon, a rarity anywhere in the Lower 48 and particularly so on the east coast. The bird was seen at Race Point on Cape Cod in Barnstable, and three other species of loons have been reported in the vicinity, making it the only place on the east coast where four species of loons can be seen together.

One of only a few records for the east coast, this MA 1st Yellow-billed Loon has been accommodating for birders over the last few days. Photo: Steve Arena

One of only a few records for the east coast, this MA 1st Yellow-billed Loon has been accommodating for birders over the last few days. Photo: Steve Arena

Most of the rare bird talk this week has been surrounding the continuing Great White Pelican in Lee, Florida. More information on that bird is available at the link. Provenance is an open question with this bird, and will likely continue to be discussed for as long as it remains and probably beyond.

In North Carolina, a Calliope Hummingbird has been present in Alamance for a couple weeks.

Virginia had a Townsend’s Solitaire, photographed in Rockingham.

Regular in the northeast but very good so far south, a Tufted Duck (3) was seen in Harford, Maryland.

In New York, a Bullock’s Oriole is visiting a feeder in Milton.

A nice bird for Newfoundland, a Thayer’s Gull was among thr regular gull flock at St. John’s.

Wisconsin had a Black Vulture in Madison this week, the 10th for the state and the 1st in winter.

In South Dakota, a “Black” Brant was seen in Sully.

Always a good bird inland, a Eurasian Wigeon was photographed in Ada, Idaho.

Washington’s 3rd or 4th record of Rustic Bunting was photographed in Whatcom , at what was, unfortunately, not a public site. A pelagic out of Westport had 2 Laysan Albatross (3).

And in California, a Blue-footed Booby (4) was seen on Anacape Island in Ventura.


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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  • James Muller

    Just saw a report that the Ohio Brambling was seen at 8:15 AM.

    • Great. Thanks for the update.

  • James Fox

    Virginia also had a Western Grebe on the Machipongo River that was seen in both Northampton and Accomack Counties.

    • I did miss that one. I’ll be sure to include it next week.

  • Nathan Hentze

    The BC Redwing is continuing through this first week of March as well. Regarding loons, there are sites in BC where 4 species of loon can be seen together with at least some regularity. Now 5, that would be the real prize.

    • Aha, yes, I suppose Arctic Loon is a bit more likely on the west coast than the east…

      Sorry about the Redwing, I had it in my notes but inadvertently deleted it.

  • Ryan Merrill

    It’s not that hard to see four species of loons in Washington. Yellow-billed is somewhat difficult, but easy if you have a boat. Arctic is the tough one.

    • Matt Brady

      And all five species have been seen at certain locations in California as well. Maybe not at the exact same time, but they’ve all certainly shown up at the same locations.

    • Charlie Wright

      True. East Coast bias much? With a boat in Clallam County, Washington, 4 loon species could reasonably be seen on just about any day from 1 November to 31 March at least, and double digit Yellow-billed is quite possible. A day list with 5 loon species has been an attainable goal basically anytime an Arctic Loon has shown up in Washington. Four is quite routine.

    • Fixed, thanks.

    • Tony Leukering

      And two individual reservoirs in the southern Denver metro area have hosted all five of the world’s loon species, though I don’t know that either has hosted more than three at a time.

  • Matthew Grube

    I believe Laysan Albatross is Code 2.

  • Jason Lambert

    It’s a little embarrassing to admit we didn’t have it yet, but New Hampshire managed it’s first Tufted Duck on the 4th.

  • David Pettee

    Perhaps the difference re: the quadreloonial sightings is that all four species are being seen from land at the same time, in one scope view.

    • Yes, that was what I meant.

  • Tony Leukering

    I saw the Zenaida Dove on 2 March (with Dave Czaplak and Mary Ann Todd), but I thought that the details may be of interest. Dave and I kicked a dove out of the overhead veg right in front of us just north of the southern pink flag on the left side of the trail. We didn’t see it, but the sound of the wingbeats sounded like a Mourning Dove (or something else in that genus), so we wondered if it weren’t THE bird. Just a minute or so later as Dave and I were looking for the bird, a couple of other birders spotted a perched dove in that area — it was a Mourning Dove, which sang a couple of times. We eventually left and returned later in the day and got to that very spot and, lo and behold, the Zenaida Dove was on the ground in the veg precisely where we had kicked whatever dove out of the veg earlier. That got me to wondering about the possibility of the Zenaida being paired with that Mourning Dove and of the two birds nesting. Certainly, Mourning Doves are well into their breeding season in south Florida. I suggest that others take the possibility into consideration and remember the ABA birding ethics guidelines.

  • David H

    Nate, did you go see the Calliope? -From a native Greensboroan

    • I haven’t. I got Calliope Hummingbird in NC in 2008, so this one isn’t a high priority. Great bird, though!

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