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Rare Bird Alert: January 13, 2017

A great many birds of note have continued well into 2017, including the Common Pochard (ABA Code 4) in California, now merely only the third most interesting bird in that state this week. Also lingering long into the new year, the Amazon Kingfisher (5) in Texas and the Streak-backed Oriole (4) in Arizona, which was joined in that state by a Nutting’s Flycatcher (5). Both Red-flanked Bluetails (4) in Idaho and British Columbia continue into the week, as did the Bananaquit (4) in Florida, at least into the early parts. Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese (both 4) continue in the northeast in too many states and provinces to mention individually, and the interesting Graylag Goose (5) in Rhode Island is still hanging around, too.

We turn, once again, to California, where the northern half of the state has seen a sustained run of rarities that is envy-inducing. A one-day wonder Eurasian Kestrel in Humboldt, potentially the state’s 2nd record, was an obvious highlight, but the bounty has spread beyond the borders of the county of late (thank goodness) to include a Slaty-backed Gull (3) at Point Pinos and the little dove-faced pulse-quickener itself, a Ross’s Gull in San Mateo.

A stunner even in a California parking lot, Ross’s Gull can’t help but deliver. Photo: Leslie Flint/Macaulay Library (S33627120)

Up in British Columbia, a Lesser Goldfinch in Abbotsford is a notable find, as is at least one, maybe two, Red-throated Pipit (3) in Victoria.

In Alaska, a young White-tailed Eagle (4) has been present on St Paul Island for the better part of the year.

Nevada had a likely Slaty-backed Gull (3) found in Clark.

Once regular in the ABA Area, but much tougher in recent years, a Rose-throated Becard (3) was found in Santa Cruz, Arizona.

Texas also had a Rose-throated Becard (3) this week, in Hidalgo,  and a Rufous-backed Robin was photographed in Tom Green.

In Kansas, a Golden-crowned Sparrow was a very nice bird in Ellsworth.

Nebraska had a Brambling (3), which have been hit and miss across the ABA Area this fall/winter, in Sarpy.

In Illinois, a Ferruginous Hawk in Cook is about the 5th for the state.

Michigan had a Townsend’s Solitaire in Livingtstone.

Ontario also had a Slaty-backed Gull (3), this one in Thorold, on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. One was on the American side last week.

In New York, a Townsend’s Solitaire was well-photographed by many in Suffolk.

And Alabama boasts a couple flycatchers this past week, a Say’s Phoebe  in Autauga and an Ash-throated Flycatcher near the town of Summerdale.


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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  • Rick Wright

    The golden-crowned sparrow that has been in northeastern Nebraska for a couple of weeks now is of the same order of local rarity as the brambling — both great birds for the state.

  • Chris Rurik

    Small note: the northernmost county on the CA coast is not Humboldt, but Del Norte. Thanks for another great roundup.

    • Ah, you’re right. I forgot about that. It’s where the Common Scoter was…

  • Claire Miller

    I must point out the 2 discoverers of the Ross Gull at San Mateo was a lady (will add her name when I find it out again) and my long time birding buddy Don Pendleton. I am so happy for his spotting such a beautiful little lifer bird. Go Don!

    • It is a great bird for sure. Thanks for sharing more information on it.

  • Melissa H

    The Purple Sandpiper in Victoria is still present as well


  • Claire Miller

    And the latest word from the coast is, the Ross was taken by a Peregrine. Yes. I’m stunned and sad too.

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