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Rare Bird Alert: October 20, 2017

The list of continuing ABA Area rarities has nearly faded into nothing, but this week sees the triumpgant return of a bird many probably though had moved on. The Tufted Flycatcher (ABA Code 5) in Arizona has been hanging around, unbothered by birders who have mostly stopped chasing it, an was seen again this past week. Who knows how long it will remain, or even if it will return to Mexico at all at this point. In California, the Blue-footed Booby is still being see in the vicinity of the Farallones, and in Alaska, the ABA 1st Red-backed Shrike is still hanging on in Gambell.

For once this month, the most exciting bird of the week isn’t coming from western Alaska, though it is of Eurasian origins. A Yellow-breasted Bunting (5) was photographed visiting a feeder in Forteau Bay, Labrador. This is a 1st provincial record for Newfoundland & Labrador (and finally an opportunity for Labrador to steal some attention from its extremely birdy island counterpart) and a 1st for Canada. This is also a first record for this species away from western Alaska, where there are a few records.

Yellow-breasted Bunting is rapidly declining across its vast range, which makes the discovery of an individual in Labrador even more surprising. Photo: Vernon Buckle

One 1st record to report this week, a Gray Flycatcher in Fairfield, Connecticut, that unfortunately only seemed to stick around for one day.

In Massachusetts, a Short-tailed Shearwater was photographed among the shearwater swarm at Race Point. It’s possibly the same bird seen last week, but it seems equally likely that there is more than one bird out there.

Rhode Island’s 2nd record of Hammond’s Flycatcher was found at Brenton Point State Park.

In New Jersey, a Gray Kingbird was photographed in Cumberland and a Black-throated Gray Warbler seen at Cape May.

A Brown Booby (3) followed a ship into Baltimore harbor in Maryland, where it was well documented.

North Carolina had a Say’s Phoebe in Beaufort. There are fewer than 15 records for the state.

In Mississippi, a Tropical Kingbird was found in Jackson.

A Purple Gallinule was picked up and taken to a rehabber in Licking, Ohio.

Notable for Wisconsin was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Bayfield.

In Texas, a Great Black-backed Gull was found in Bolivar.

There was a pair of very good birds in New Mexico this week, an Anhinga in Lea and a Yellow-billed Loon in Mora.

In Colorado, an Arctic Tern was found in Weld.

Idaho’s 12th or so record of McCown’s Longspur was photographed this week in Bonneville.

In Nevada, both a Brown Thrasher and a Prothonotary Warbler in Clark are good birds for the state.

In California, a LeConte’s Sparrow was seen in San Mateo.

British Columbia had a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Sechelt.

Alaska still continues to produce good vagrants, with new birds this week including a Gray Wagtail  (4), a  Rustic Bunting (3), and a Wood Warbler (5) on Gambell, and a Siberian Stonechat (4) at Colville Delta.

In Hawaii, a Nazca Booby (5) was photographed 70 miles off of Nihoa Island.


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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