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Rare Bird Alert: December 15, 2017

This is the last rare bird update before Christmas Bird Count season begins. The annual count period typically produces a handful of great birds across the ABA Area, the result of thousands of motivated birders thoroughly covering patches from coast to coast (and increasingly around the world). Birders are likely hoping that the lingering rarities in the ABA Area will stick around for their respective count days, as any bird of the type mentioned here is a real feather in the cap of a count circle.

Those birds include a Green-breasted Mango (ABA Code 4) in south Texas which, along with continuing Tamaulipas Crows (4) make for a tempting 1-2 punch for visiting birders. A Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) is still hanging tight in Florida, as is a Barnacle Goose (4) in Pennsylvania and the Garganey (4) in California.

The best bird of the period, and undoubtedly on the short list for best of the year in the ABA Area, was an ABA 1st record Mistle Thrush, found in Miramichi, New Brunswick, where it is also a provincial and national 1st as well. The Maritimes are no stranger to the occasional vagrant European thrush, but Mistle Thrush was an unexpected one, not least of which because it is still a fairly rare visitor even to Iceland. The bird has stuck around most of the week, though reportedly the Mountain Ash berries that have been sustaining it are running low.

European thrushes are not without precedence in Atlantic Canada, but Mistle Thrush was on few birders’ radars. Photo: Alain Clavette/Macaulay Library

Mistle Thrush wasn’t the only provincial 1st for Atlantic Canada this week. In Newfoundland, a well-photographed and even better documented Willow Flycatcher near St. John’s is a 1st confirmed record for the province, the third in a series of long-expected 1st records for Newfoundland this month.

Another 1st came from Louisiana, where a surprise snowstorm dropped a female Lucifer Hummingbird at a feeder in New Iberia. The bird was present for less than a day before moving on.

Another outlier in the ongoing Snowy Owl irruption came from Horry, South Carolina, where a bird was photographed feeding on a pigeon. It was eventually taken in by a rehab facility.

In Pennsylvania, a Bullock’s Oriole was seen in a yard in Allegheny.

Connecticut adds to the Barnacle Goose (4) tally in North America this season with a bird in Avon.

Rhode Island’s 5th record of White-winged Dove was seen in Middleton, and the state’s second Townsend’s Warbler of the season was seen in North Kingstown.

Maine had a Western Tanager in Kennebunk.

A pair of western strays were in Nova Scotia this week, a Black-headed Grosbeak at Glace Bay and a Bullock’s Oriole at Cape Breton.

In Wisconsin, a Slaty-backed Gull (3) was seen in Kenosha and a Townsend’s Solitaire at the UW-Madison campus in Dane.

Good birds in Texas include a Violet-crowned Hummingbird at a feeder in Terrell, two individual Golden-crowned Sparrows, one in Hansford and another in Guadalupe. A Northern Wheater was found in Colorado, and a Greater Pewee returned to the Houston area this year.

In New Mexico, a Black Scoter was seen in Cibola.

Colorado had a Harris’s Hawk in Larimer, the state’s 5th or 6th record.

Arizona’s 2nd record of White-winged Crossbills, a pair of birds, were seen in Apache.

In San Diego, California, a near flock of Nazca Boobies (4) were seen from shore with at least 3 confirmed and 2 other unidentifiable birds farther out. At the opposite end of the state, White-winged Crossbills were seen in Del Norte.

Oregon had yet another Short-tailed Albatross (4) this week, this one from a normal pelagic out of Newport rather than a repositioning cruise. Also, a Eurasian Kestrel (4) was seen briefly in Curry by birders looking unsuccessfully for a recent skylark.

In British Columbia, a Brown Thrasher was photographed in Cranbrook, and the province’s 7th record of  Summer Tanager was seen in Victoria.


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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