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Rare Bird Alert: December 22, 2017

The comprehensive surveys of the Christmas Bird Count often mean good things for rarity minded birders. Outside of the typical bird movement seasons of spring and fall and the overshoots and migration mistakes that make up a big part of birding in those seasons, the winter is all about increasing coverage. More birders out in more places looking for birds, it stands to reason that good stuff would be uncovered.

First though, the ongoing rare birds for the week including the ABA 1st Mistle Thrush still sticking around in eastern New Brunswick. Birders have discovered a second Mountain Ash tree where the bird has been spending time so birders making the trek to see it have had good luck in its second week. In California, Nazca Boobies (ABA Code 4) are still being seen with some regularity in the south counties, and the Garganey (4) is sitting tight among its manky domestic brethren. A Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) is still present in Florida, and both Pink-footed Goose (4) and Barnacle Goose (4) are present in a couple sites each in the northeast.

The ABA’s 3rd record of Citrine Wagtail was blown into Yolo, California, this week where it made a brief appearance for those birders lucky enough to move fast. This will represent a 1st record for California, a big enough deal in and of itself. Unfortunately it has since vanished, not sticking around like the long-staying British Columbia bird from a few years ago.

More like the ABA’s 1st Citrine Wagtail than its long staying 2nd, this California bird was a two-day wonder. Photo: MarkSawyer/Macaulay Library

Also noteworthy for California this week, a Hooded Warbler was present in San Diego.

There was one other 1st record to note this week, a Black-crested Titmouse was photographed in Curry, New Mexico. The species is mostly sedentary, but comes quite close to the New Mexico in the Texas panhandle so it was not unexpected that one would slip across the border eventually.

Notable in Texas, a Trumpeter Swan was seen among Tundras in Tarrant.

Colorado had a LeConte’s Sparrow in Bent and a Long-billed Thrasher in Baca.

Utah’s 5th record of Dickcissel is represented by a bird in St. George.

In Nevada, a Purple Finch was a nice find in Reno.

Idaho also had a Purple Finch, this one in Moscow, as well as a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Boise.

Washington’s 5th record of Arctic Loon was found in Clallam, not far from the state’s 15th or so White-winged Dove.

A pair of White-tailed Kites was a nice find on a CBC on Fort Riley, Kansas.

Illinois had a Barnacle Goose (4) in McLean and a Gyrfalcon photographed in Lee.

In Ohio, a young Northern Gannet was seen in the Cleveland harbor in Cuyahoga.

A trio of nice birds in Ontario this week with a Eurasian Tree Sparrow at a feeder in Wawa, a Varied Thrush in Nipigon, and a Tufted Duck (3) at Mississauga.

Maine also had a Varied Thrush at Machias Seal.

As did New Hampshire, whose Varied Thrush was in Hancock. Also good, a Western Tanager in Dover.

In New York, a Mountain Bluebird was seen in Suffolk.

New Jersey’s 2nd record of MacGillivray’s Warbler was photographed in Monmouth.

In Florida, a White-cheeked Pintail (4) was seen in Miami-Dade, notably at a site that hosted an accepted record in years past.

And in Alabama, a Broad-tailed Hummingbird was visiting a feeder in Mobile.


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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  • Anya Auerbach

    I’m just idly curious as to how the ABA (and team ebird, for that matter) decided to consider Machias Seal Island part of Maine rather than New Brunswick.

    • Brandon Holden

      The ABA is working to MAGA by claiming ownership of disputed territory long managed/maintained by Canadians…

    • You’d have to ask the eBird people. I go by what is reported in eBird or on the listserv.

      • Dominic Cormier

        Maine birders consider it part of the US for better or for worse, but it is managed and maintained by Canadians. NB birders will just have to beat the Maine birders in reporting a rarity next time and use the MSI hotspot that registers in Canada. eBird has it in Washington Co. ME simply because that is what the google GIS layer dictates. They can’t manually change it I have been told so there is the second hotspot in the ocean just near the island for Canadiams to use. Regardless, objectively, Canada has a mich stronger claim.

  • Rick Wright

    A harlequin duck in Burt Co., Nebraska, is probably the most convenient individual ever seen in the state, a quick drive north from Omaha. The last one I remember, a very fancy drake, was up on the border with South Dakota the better part of a decade ago (there may have been some in the meantime, but this is still a very rare bird in the state).

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