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Rare Bird Alert: April 20, 2018

All the rare bird action of the last couple weeks seems to be centered on Arizona. And why not? Spring is a great time for overshooting migrants, even those short-distance or altitudinal migrants of western Mexico who take up with ABA Area breeders and slide into the southeastern corner of the state. In the last month, returning Tufted Flycatchers (ABA Code 5), Flame-colored Tanager (4), Streak-backed Oriole (4), and Sinaloa Wren (5) have returned to sites where they have occurred before. All continue this week, and provide a baseline on which to compare the extraordinary birds that have been seen more recently. But Arizona isn’t having all of the fun, Tamaulipas Crows (4) are still being seen in south Texas, having been joined by a couple noteworthy birds of their own. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

It’s hard not to begin in Arizona again, and while the Red Warbler’s stay was all too brief, it as been replaced by a couple additional Middle American warblers, including an exceptionally confiding Fan-tailed Warbler (4) that belies the species’s skulking reputation to shamelessly parade about in a yard in Cochise. In the same county, and gettable in the same day for the ambitious warbler-chaser, a Slate-throated Redstart (4) has also been seen.

Fan-tailed Warbler is without doubt a vagrant par excellence for Arizona and the ABA Area. Photo: Chris Rohrer/Macaulay Library

There is one 1st record to report, exciting despite not coming from the neotropics. In Maine, a Violet-green Swallow in Bar Harbor represents a 1st record for that state, and one of an increasing number of records for the east.

But back to the southern vagrants, in Texas an adult Northern Jacana (4) was seen in Nueces, and a Blue Bunting (4), the second of third of the year, was seen in Cameron.

In California, a Marsh Sandpiper (5), the state’s 4th record, returned to Yolo. This is almost certainly the same bird that was seen at this same site in 2016.

British Columbia’s 5th record of Great-tailed Grackle, a female, was discovered in Vancouver.

In North Dakota, a subadult Great Black-backed Gull was photographed in Burleigh.

South Dakota had a Eurasian Wigeon at Badlands National Park in Pennington.

An Evening Grosbeak, the first in several years, was seen in Mahaska, Iowa.

Ohio had a Western Tanager in Richland, and a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in Hamilton.

New York’s 3rd record of Wood Sandpiper, and one of only very few records on the Mid-Atlantic, was found in Suffolk. Also in the state, a “Common” Mew Gull was found in Schenectady, and a Western Meadowlark was seen in Wayne.

Massachusetts had a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) in Barnstable.

And in Florida, a Bananaquit (4) in Brevard likely represents the farthest north this species has even been recorded.


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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