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Rare Bird Alert: April 28, 2017

The numbers of continuing rarities in the ABA Area are still relatively low, except in Arizona, where the Tufted Flycatchers (ABA Code 5), Streak-backed Oriole (4), and now a Flame-colored Tanager (4) are not in any hurry to leave. The Fieldfare (4) in Maine stuck around at least into the first part of the week, though it has been absent for a few days now, and the Black Noddy (3) is still being seen from time to time on the Dry Tortugas in Florida.

So let’s talk about Florida. In the past three weeks, the Sunshine State has seen a sustained push of Caribbean rarities, turning up all across southeast Florida and in the Keys. At least count, at least three Bahama Mockingbird (4) have been found in Monroe, Broward, and Miami-Dade. A La Sagra’s Flycatcher (4) was a one-day wonder in Monroe, which was disappointing, but a Thick-billed Vireo (4) in Miami-Dade has been more accommodating. Joining the vireo at the same park in Miami-Dade, a Fork-tailed Flycatcher was found, along with a Western Spindalis (3) – one of *many* – and a Bananaquit  (4). And if rarities from the south are getting boring, a gorgeous Ruff (3) was seen in Alachua and a Lazuli Bunting was also in Miami-Dade.

Florida has seen rarities from all corners this week, including Bahama Mockingbird (top l) and Thick-billed Vireo (top r), and Ruff (bottom l) and Fork-tailed Flycatcher (bottom r)

Two first records to report, one sort of expected and the other quite unexpected. In the former category, a Little Egret (4) in Cumberland, New Jersey, represents a long-anticipated 1st record for that state. While Little Egrets certainly seem to be increasing on the east coast, it’s still a difficult bird to find in any state where one can expect more than five Snowy Egrets.

And the unexpected one, a dead Northern Fulmar was found washed up on the shore of Lake Superior in St. Louis, Minnesota. This is not only a 1st record of this species, but a first tubenose period for the state. Also notable for Minnesota, a Tricolored Heron was seen in Murray.

An exceptional bird in the east, a nice male Garganey (4) stuck around for a couple days in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

It was a very good week for White-faced Ibis in the east, as birds were seen in Essex, Massachusetts, and Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

New York had a stunning male Ruff (3) in Suffolk.

Virginia also had White-faced Ibis this week, in Accomack.

In Mississippi, a Black-whiskered Vireo was seen by a Big Year team in Jackson.

Ontario’s 2nd record of Cassin’s Sparrow was found on the point at Long Point, this week.

Michigan had a Slaty-backed Gull (3) in Muskegon and a flyby Neotropic Cormorant at Whitefish Point in Chippewa.

Noteworthy for Kansas was a Black-throated Blue Warbler in Johnson.

Always a nice find inland, a Brown Pelican was found in Mesa, Colorado.

Texas had a Black-whiskered Vireo among a small fallout in Galveston.

In New Mexico, a Wood Thrush was photographed at a migrant trap in Roosevelt, and a Costa’s Hummingbird was seen in Hidalgo.

California had a White Wagtail (3) in San Diego, the 2nd record for the county, and a repositioning cruise passing through central Calnifornia waters found multiple Hawaiian Petrels (4) and Murphy’s Petrels (3).

And in British Columbia, a Loggerhead Shrike was found in Hope.


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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  • Jack Rogers

    I thought the Ontario Cassin’s Sparrow was more like the 10th record for the province? I’m nearly positive it’s at least not the second for Ontario.

    • Josh Vandermeulen

      There are currently 8 accepted records of Cassin’s Sparrow for Ontario, including two previous for the Long Point area (both at the Long Point tip), so this is the 9th for the province.

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