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Rare Bird Alert: September 22, 2017

This week sees vagrants continuing in western Alaska, shifting southward to St. Paul this time around. Lots of birds moving across the continent in this busiest month of fall migration means lots of wayward individuals, and this week continues the trend of a lengthy RBA we started last week. First, though, continuing rarities are getting scarce with the perhaps never leaving Tufted Flycatcher (ABA Code 5) recorded again in Arizona this week, as well as the long-staying Blue-footed Booby (4) in California.

We start again with Alaska, where exceptional birds continue in the Bering Sea outposts. On St. Paul in the Pribilofs, a Dark-sided Flycatcher (4) was a highlight, along with at least 2 Gray-streaked Flycatchers (4), a Green Sandpiper (4), a Common Rosefinch (4) and a candidate for Kamchatka Leaf-Warbler (5). In the Aleutians, another Kamchatka Leaf Warbler (5) was well-photographed, as well as a Gray-streaked Flycatcher (4) on Adak. Gambell checks in with 2 Siberian Accentors (4).

The long bill and wings suggest that this bird on Adak, Alaska, this week is a Kamchatka Leaf-Warbler rather than the more expected Arctic Warbler. The status of this recently split population in the ABA Area is unclear, but it appears to occur irregularly in western Alaska. Photo: Franklin Haas/Macaulay Library

There were at least 5 potential 1st records this week, starting with South Carolina where a likely Irma-related  American Flamingo (4) was photographed in Charleston by a passing boat captain.

Another potential 1st with unknown, and possibly natural, origins came from Pennsylvania Common Shelduck was found in Luzerne. Some birders suggest that this could be the same bird seen earlier this season in New Hampshire.

Tennessee’s long awaited 1st record of Crested Caracara was discovered in Dyer, along the Mississippi River, this week. The bird was a 3 state rarity, as it was also seen flying into Mississippi, Arkansas and Pemsicot, Missouri, where it was a 2nd record for both.

In Oklahoma, a Masked Duck (4) was found in Tillman, for a 1st record. It has shown well for much of the week to the delight of visiting birders.

And in Colorado, a Tropical Kingbird in El Paso is a 1st record. Other good birds in that state include a Laughing Gull in Kiowa, a Painted Bunting in Adams, and a  Red Knot in Jefferson.

Moving over to British Columbia, a White-winged Dove at Maple Ridge and a Curlew Sandpiper (3) at Delta were both notable.

That same Curlew Sandpiper (3) might have shown up to the south in Boundary Bay, Washington.

In Oregon, an Orchard Oriole was found in Deschutes, the rare OROR in OR.

A Brown Thrasher was found in Boise, the latest of a nice run of southeast species there.

Good for Utah, an American Redstart was in Salt Lake and a Chestnut-sided Warbler in Davis.

September is a fantastic time of year for California, where notable birds include a Little Stint (4) in Monterey, a likely Arctic Warbler in San Luis Obispo, the state’s 3rd record of Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Sonoma, a Louisiana Waterthrush in Orange, and a Hawaiian Petrel (4) offshore in San Francisco waters.

Arizona had an incredible flock of 4 Roseate Spoonbills in Pima.

Kansas had a Frigatebird sp., likely Magnificent given the recent weather but unidentified to species, in Barton.

In Nebraska, a Great Black-backed Gull near Lemoyne was a nice find.

Ohio’s 2nd record of Sooty Tern was seen by many in Tuscawaras, one of the last Irma-related waifs to show up in the middle of the continent. 

In Ontario, an as yet identified Tropical/Couch’s Kingbird was found in Timiskaming.

Quebec ha a nice young Swainson’s Hawk in La Haute-Côte-Nord.

Many birders in Maine and beyond enjoyed a stunning Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) in Cumberland. Also in the state, a Painted Bunting was photographed on Monhegan Island and a Little Egret (4) has returned (remained?) in Falmouth.

In Vermont, a Northern Wheatear was photographed near Shaftsbury.

Massachusetts enjoyed a nice influx of western birds this week with a Black-throated Gray Warbler in Chatham, a MacGillivray’s Warbler in Orleans, and a Harris’s Sparrow in Minot.

North Carolina had a Ruff (3) in Carteret.

Unusual by range and season, a Black-legged Kittiwake turned up at a lake in Troup, Georgia.

And in Florida, a Zenaida Dove (5) was apparently a one-day wonder near Sebastian,


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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