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Rare Bird Alert: December 2, 2016

As 2016 draws ever closer to its close, the birding continues to be productive, in so far as a number of ABA Area rarities are continuing. Perhaps the story of this year has to do with the high quality rarities that have stuck around for so long in so many cases. It’s that sort of luck that has likely contributed, in its way, to the high umbers our Big Year birders continue to put up. I can’t recall a year like this, at least not in the years since I began keeping this weekly tally.

Bird continuing into this week include the ABA’s 4th Pine Bunting (ABA Code 5) in Gambell, Alaska, the ABA’s 2nd  Common Scoter (5) in Oregon, and the ABA’s 3rd Amazon Kingfisher (5) in Texas, the latter two at least through last weekend. Additionally, the long-staying Blue-footed Booby (4) in California was seen again this week, as was the Streak-backed Oriole (4) in Arizona.

The most interesting new bird of the week comes from Quebec, where a Common Shelduck (not on the checklist) was photographed at Rivière Brochu, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. This Eurasian species is not on the ABA Checklist as of yet, but this individual is only the latest of a number of records from Eastern Canada in late fall/early winter, strongly suggesting a pattern of natural vagrancy. A shelduck recorded in Newfoundland in November of 2015 was accepted by that province’s Bird Records Committee, the first such decision in the ABA Area, which means that the species will be under consideration by the ABA CLC in the coming year, if it is not already.


Photo: Bruno Duchesne/Macaulay Library (S32800655)


There were only two first record this week. The first in Virginia, where a Lesser Goldfinch in Virginia Beach represents the 1st record for the state. The species has seen a significant expansion of its wintering range in recent years, so it is certainly one to put on the radar for birders in other nearby states.

Also in Virginia, a White-cheeked Pintail (3) was at Chincoteague NWR in Accomack, and a Black-throated Gray Warbler was seen in Fairfax.

The second comes from little District of Columbia, which is seldom mentioned here. A trio of Sandhill Cranes, photographed by a visitor, represents a 1st for the district. With that record, DC becomes the last jurisdiction in the continental US and Canada to record Sandhill Crane on its official list, leaving Hawaii alone among entities in the ABA Area with no record of them.

Florida, and specifically Miami-Dade county takes the prize as the site with the densest collection of ABA rarities. We could even be more specific, as Bill Baggs State Park enjoyed a Thick-billed Vireo  (4), a  Western Spindalis (3), and a LaSagra’s Flycatcher (4) in the last two weeks. Additionally, a 2nd Thick-billed Vireo (4) was found at Royal Palm Visitor’s Center, in Everglades National Park, in the same county.

South Carolina’s 4th record of Black Guillemot was photographed in Georgetown.

In North Carolina, an Iceland Gull is a nice bird, particularly one inland as in Guilford this week.

Maryland also had a Black-throated Gray Warbler this week, in Harford, one of fewer than 10 records for the state.

In Ontario, a Crested Caracara was discovered near Michipicoten, and a Thick-billed Murre at Cobden.

Nebraska had a Clark’s Grebe reported from Lancaster.

In Kansas, a Lewis’s Woodpecker has been present in Pottawatamie for a few days.

An American Black Duck in Weld, Colorado, is a good bird for the state.

In New Mexico, a Long-tailed Duck was found in Colfax.

And in British Columbia, a Slaty-backed Gull was photographed in Delta, and a Ferruginous Hawk in Creston.


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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