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Rare Bird Alert: April 1, 2016

I’m out of town this weekend so I apologize for the lack of lead-in this week. We’re going to go straight to the birds. Continuing ABA notables are still leading the way as the Sinaloa Wren (ABA Code 5) and the Streak-backed Oriole (4) were seen in Arizona this week. In Texas, the Blue Bunting (4) is still at Frontera Audubon Center, though the only Crimson-collared Grosbeak (4) left in the state is at Laguna Atascosa NWR. Flame-colored Tanager also continues in Texas. Newfoundland still hosts a Fieldfare (4), and British Columbia still hosts the long-staying Redwing (4) Both the Zenaida Dove (5) and the Black-faced Grassquit (4) were in Florida this week and a Barnacle Goose (4) continues in Quebec.

One of the more interesting records for the year came from the Gulf Coast of Texas this week, where a young Heermann’s Gull was discovered near Galveston and refound a couple days later. Texas’s 4th record, the species is exceptionally rare away from the immediate Pacific coast, which is noteworthy enough, but it’s also a young bird found during a year when subadults were hard to come by even in their regular range following discouraging reports of nesting failure in the species.


Notable not only for being out of range, but perhaps moreso for being a young bird in a year that saw nearly total nesting failure, this Texas Heerman’s Gull is one of only a few for the state. Photo: Paul Sweet

It was Arizona that had the most impressiverun of new vagrants this week, with a sharp male Rose-throated Becard (3) in Graham and both a Flame-colored Tanager (4) and a Tufted Flycatcher (5) in Cochise. The flycatcher, found at Ramsey Canyon, could potentially be one of the pair that attempted nesting last year in the same place.

A Rock/Purple Sandpiper well inland in Riverside, California. If the latter, it’a a potential 1st state record. If the former, it’s still a pretty notable find inland.

In Colorado, a Neotropic Cormorant was photographed in Montrose.

In Iowa, a Ferruginous Hawk in Crawford was a nice find.

A Say’s Phoebe in Dane, Wisconsin, was nicely documented by many birders there.

Michigan had a Little Gull (3) in Jackson.

In Illinois, a Burrowing Owl in Lawrence was a great bird.

In Tennessee, the state’s 5th record of Snowy Plover was found in Lake.

In Indiana, a nice Ruff (3) was found in Benton.

Ontario had a Western Grebe near Mississauga.

Present for nearly a month in Nova Scotia, a “Kamchatka” Mew Gull in Digby is worth a mention here.

And in Connecticut, a Ross’s Goose was photographed near Stamford, and a Thayer’s Gull at Long Beach.


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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