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#ABArare – Citrine Wagtail – California

On Friday, December 15, Maurice Demille discovered and photographed an ABA Code 5 Citrine Wagtail at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in Yolo County, California. This is the 3rd record for the ABA Area and a potential 1st for California. It was seen by a handful of birders the next day but has not been seen since though conditions have been very difficult.

Once one of the great head-scratchers in the ABA Are with a single record in Mississippi, Citrine Wagtail has occurred twice in the ABA Area in recent years, both along the west coast. Photo: Maurice Demille/Macaulay Library

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area lies directly between West Sacramento and Davis, California, just off of I-80. To access the area, take the “County Road 32A East Chiles Road” exit immediately west of the Yolo Causeway, turn right at stop sign and head south under freeway to west levee access. The bird was seen in the vicinity of Parking Lot B. Notably, this is not the first continental rarity seen at this site. A Marsh Sandpiper occurred at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in spring of 2016.

Citrine Wagtail is part of the confusing “yellow wagtail” species complex along with Eastern and Western Yellow Wagtail, breeding in north-central Asia and wintering in south Asia. It has occurred twice in the ABA Area before, the 1st a two-day wonder in Starkville, Mississippi, in 1992, hardly a place where one expects to find rarities of such magnitude. In November 2012, an individual was found on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where it remained into early January 2013.

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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.
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