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Rare Bird Alert: September 29, 2017

I’m reporting from the American Birding Expo this week, so we’ll keep things brief on the top end. Continuing birds include the Masked Duck (ABA Code 3) in Oklahoma and Blue-footed Booby in California. There are a handful of good bird lingering in Alaska, the best of which is probably the Kamchatka Leaf Warbler (5) on St. Paul.

Big news in California where one of the world strangest, and most desirable ABA Area vagrants, on the ABA list showed up on San Clemente Island in Los Angeles, California. A Eurasian Wryneck (5) was discovered and photographed by a Naval officer earlier this week. San Clemente Island is maintained by the US Navy and not publicly accessible, and the bird has not been seen again since its initial discovery.  Not only is wryneck an exceptionally strange bird, but it’s presence in the ABA Area is also filled with bizarre twists and turns, with this being only the 2nd living record in North America, the 1st from Gambell, Alaska, in 2003. Pending acceptance, this is a 1st for California.

Other good birds in California this week include a Nazca Booby (5) in San Diego, a 1st for that county, and a Hawaiian Petrel (4) offshore in Mendocino waters.

One of the more interesting phenomena in the last few weeks as been the incredible concentration of seabirds at Point Race, Cape Cod, in Barnstable, Massachusetts. In addition to the mind-blowing numbers of expected shearwaters inshore, a number of Massachusetts birds of note have been seen, including South Polar Skua (3), Franklin’s Gull, Masked Booby (3) and Sandwich Tern. Most impressive, though, is a state 1st Short-tailed Shearwater seen among the masses of Sooty Shearwaters, only the 4th or so for the Atlantic.

One additional 1st record to report, a Magnificent Frigatebird in Rowan, Kentucky, is almost certainly Irma waif lingering in the middle of the country.

Wisconsin had a Magnificent Frigatebird as well, in Wausau, and a Say’s Phoebe in Bayfield.

Michigan is the 3rd inland state this week with a Magnificent Frigatebird around Mackinac Straits, after the Wisconsin sighting and may have been the same bird. Also good for Michigan, a Tropical Kingbird at Whitefish Point in Chippewa.

In Ontario, a Magnificent Frigatebird was seen in Simcoe, and a Fork-tailed Flycatcher  seen by many near Toronto.

Minnesota, had a Clark’s Nutcracker this week in Isanti, the farthest east record of a species that is showing up in good numbers in the lowlands of states farther west.

In New Brunswick, a Crested Caracara was seen in Albert.

New York had a couple good birds this week, both in Suffolk, in the form of a Lark Bunting  and a Brown Booby (3).

In Alabama, two Black-capped Petrels were taken into rehab following Hurricane Irma, both from Shelby in the north of the state.

In New Mexico, a Blue-winged Warbler was found in Sierra.

Arizona’s 3rd record of LeConte’s Sparrow was seen this week in Pima, and a Philadelphia Vireo was photographed in Coconino.

In Colorado, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was banded in El Paso.

Good for Utah, a Ruff (3) was photographed at Farmington Bay.

A Nevada Grasshopper Sparrow was seen in Clark.

A good number of eastern strays were seen in Washington this week, including a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  in King, two Blackpoll Warblers in Whatcom and King, a Black-and-White Warbler in King, and an Orchard Oriole and a Chestnut-sided Warbler in Clallam.

Good for British Columbia, another Black Vulture was found in Victoria.

And in Alaska, a Jack Snipe (4) is a great find on St Paul, but a Western Tanager is raree on the island. Both a Red-flanked Bluetail (4) and the 4th Siberian Accentor (4) of the season were found on Gambell. And on Shemya in the Aleutians, a Oriental Cuckoo (4) was well-photographed.


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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Recent Comments

  • Steve Hampton, in #ABArare - River Warbler - Alaska... { Photo by Clarence Irrigoo! Great guy that makes birding on Gambell possible. }
  • Nate, in Rare Bird Alert: October 13, 2017... { That's fair about the weather timing. I recall the observers saying something about Hurricane Nate being involved, but how much is not clear. As to... }
  • Gary Bloomfield, in Birding with a Tricorder... { Great essay, Ted! Feel sorry for the guy in the photo who's wearing a red shirt, though. }
  • Steve Shultz, in Rare Bird Alert: October 13, 2017... { I believe the NC swift was seen on Saturday, October 7 (unless the date indicated by the observer on the photo was incorrect). Nate did... }
  • Rick Wright, in #ABArare - Yellow-breasted Bunting - Newfoundland & Labrador... { What a great bird! Sadly topical: }
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