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Rare Bird Alert: January 6, 2017

Happy New Year to ABA Blog readers and rare bird aficionados! If you’re planning on running an ABA Big Year for 2017 you’ve come to the right place. A number of 2016 birds have stuck around in the new year, including the  continuing Common Pochard (ABA Code 4) in California and the Red-flanked Bluetail (4) in Idaho. The wild-appearing Greylag Goose (5) continues in Rhode Island, as does the very long-staying Amazon Kingfisher (5) in Texas. Three young Common Shelducks (not listed) are hanging on in New Brunswick, and the Kelp Gull (4) has been seen on and off in Newfoundland into this week.

There are not too many birders willing to brave the Bering Sea islands this time of year, but an Alaska 1st Black Kite on St Paul Island in the Pribilofs suggests that there’s still gold to be mined up there. Hawaii has 3 previous records of Black Kite, but this is the 1st for continental ABA Area. Also in Alaska, a Eurasian Hobby (4) was discovered in Anchorage.

Photo: Barbara Lestenkof

In addition to Alaska, British Columbia also boasts a 1st this week, with a Purple Sandpiper in Victoria. This is only the 2nd record for the Pacific coast, and follows an exceptional record of the species in Colorado less than a month ago.

And Virginia gets a new bird as well, discovered by the ABA’s own Ned Brinkley no less. A Lucy’s Warbler in  Northampton on Virginia’s eastern shore, is a 1st for the state and only the 2nd record in eastern North America.

District of Columbia also had a 1st this week, their second in the last couple months, with a Black-throated Gray Warbler.

Oregon’s 3rd record of Baikal Teal was taken by a hunter in Multnomah this week, as had the two previous state records for the species before it.

An Iceland Gull in Flathead, Montana, is one of fewer than 20 records for the state, and all the more notable for the fact that it appears to be the nominate subspecies, which breeds in Europe.

In California, a Red-footed Booby (4) has been hanging around Mission Bay in San Diego.

Nevada had a  Glaucous Gull in Washoe this week.

In Arizona, the Nutting’s Flycatcher (5) in Santa Cruz appears to have returned for another year.

Good for Texas was a young Great Black-backed Gull  in Galveston.

Minnesota had a Curve-billed Thrasher photographed visiting a feeder in Grand Rapid.

In Illinois, a Mew Gull was seen just outside of Chicago in Joliet.

New Hampshire had a Varied Thrush in Swanzey.

In New York, a Slaty-backed Gull (3) was discovered among the gull congregation around Niagara Falls.

New Jersey had a Mew Gull, no mention of which subspecies, in Somerset.

And in Florida, a Bananaquit has been showing well in Broward, as has a Harris’s Sparrow in Hernando.


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

Latest posts by Nate Swick (see all)

  • Nathan Hentze

    The BC Red-flanked Bluetail is also continuing to be seen daily this week

  • Nate Dias

    From what I heard, the statement “the ABA’s own Ned Brinkley” is no longer current…

    • Ah, he’s always ours.

      • Ted Floyd


  • Tony Leukering

    The CO Purple Sandpiper continued into the New Year, I believe.

  • Rob Hilton

    The area hosting the Lucy’s Warbler in Virginia is under a Blizzard Warning for up to 15 inches of snow, strong winds, and near zero-visibility white-out conditions at times. I suppose it won’t survive the storm.

  • David Rankin

    I believe the recently found Nutting’s Flycatcher in AZ was a new bird. The previously wintering bird was along the Colorado River.

    • Mark Stevenson

      This IS a new bird at a never before location. The only Nutting’s in this county before was at Patagonia Lake State Park, not California Gulch.

      • Thanks for the more detailed info.

  • Matt Brady

    What constitutes “The East”? Louisiana has two records of Lucy’s Warbler, one of which was in the SE part of the state, at Grand Isle.

    • Yeah, that’s a tough one. I did note those two records and thought about what to do with them. I generally consider anything east of the Appalachians to be “east”, but I admit it’s a personal distinction.

      • Matt Brady

        Coming from California, anything east of the Rockies was always “the East” to me, but now that I live in Louisiana, the Mississippi River seems like a good border. Grand Isle is west of the current mouth of the Mississippi, but east of several historical mouths.

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