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#ABArare – Garganey – California

On Sunday, November 26, birders reported a dingy immature Garganey (ABA Code 4) at Waller Park, in Santa Maria, California, Santa Barbara County. The bird has apparently taken in with the resident feral duck flock, which has led to a lot of speculation as to the bird’s provenance. However, there are birders who feel that the the timing of this discovery, along with the bird’s wear and age, make a compelling case for natural arrival. This is potentially the first record for California since 2003.

Waller Park is in Santa Maria, California, off Orcutt Expressway. Turn onto West Waller Lane, parking is available off Orcutt Road.

Garganey was formerly an ABA Code-3 species, but over the past few years the number of reports in the ABA Area has declined. This decrease is thought to be correlated to the decline in numbers from eastern Asia.  Between the 1970s and 2003, the total estimated population of Garganey in eastern Asia fell from 90,000 birds to 22,000 (ABA Checklist, 7th Edition, Pranty et al).

Most reports of the species come from spring when its distinctive plumage allows for ease in identification.  Fall reports come mostly from mid-September to early November. Birds have been reported south of the ABA Area in Sinaloa, Baja California Sur, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, and Barbados (ABA Checklist, 7th Edition, Pranty et al.).

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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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  • Wim van Dam

    Credit where credit’s due: This bird was found and reported by Mark Holmgren on Saturday November 25.

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