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Rare Bird Alert: April 27, 2018

The next couple weeks will see the biggest push of northbound migrants into the ABA Area, which generally correlates with a ton of birders out in the field and the opportunity for some of them to find some cool things. But this post is for the really unusual birds, and we’ve had some excellent ones in the past week.

First, those rarities that are continuing into this week. Arizona hosts the largest number of continuing rarities, highlighted by the Slate-throated Redstart (ABA Code 4) first discovered last week. Other noteworthy birds include Streak-backed Oriole (4), Flame-colored Tanager (4), Sinaloa Wren (5), and Tufted Flycatcher (5). The Fan-tailed Warbler (4) from last week stuck around into the beginning of this week but disappeared soon after, and the same can be said about the Marsh Sandpiper (5) in California. In Texas, the Northern Jacana (4) stuck around and Tamaulipas Crows (4) continue to be seen into this week.

Texas hosts the bird of the week, and one that certainly makes the short list for vagrant of the year. A juvenile Great Black Hawk was photographed on South Padre Island in Cameron. Great Black Hawk is a very wide-ranging neotropical raptor that comes as close to the ABA Area as southern Tamaulipas in Mexico, and thus was long-considered to be a good candidate to occur in Texas at some point. A wandering youngster certainly fits the bill, though it has not been refound despite some intensive searching.

No less extraordinary for being somewhat expected, a young Great Black Hawk on South Padre Island is a potential 1st for Texas and the ABA Area. Photo: Alex Lamoreaux

Also noteworthy for Texas, a Violet-crowned Hummingbird is visiting a feeder in Nueces.

Yet another Ruff (3) shows up in the middle of the continent, this time in Tillman, Oklahoma.

In Arizona, a Berylline Hummingbird (4) was seen in Cochise.

Good for Oregon was a Cassin’s Kingbird in Clatsop.

In British Columbia, a Black Phoebe was photographed in Coquitlam.

Missouri had a number of good birds this week, with the state’s 9th Green-tailed Towhee in Dallas as the most notable. A Burrowing Owl was also seen in Dade.

In Illinois, a Tufted Duck (3) in Brown represents another outlier for this Old World species in the ABA Area this year.

Ohio had a Black-throated Gray Warbler in Holmes, one of fewer than 10 records for the state.

In Indiana, an adult Brown Pelican was seen in Putnam.

Ontario also had a Ruff (3) this week, in Kinburn.

In Pennsylvania, a LeConte’s Sparrow was seen in Lycoming.

Right on time, European Golden-Plovers (4) were seen in Newfoundland, in Bonivista and at Deadman’s Bay.

In Massachusetts, a Bullock’s Oriole was seen in Essex.

Always a nice find in the east, a Boreal Owl was seen in Monroe, New York.

In North Carolina, a Bar-tailed Godwit (3) and a Shiny Cowbird (3) were both found in Carteret.

And in Florida, the first Bahama Mockingbird (4) of the spring was found in Miami-Dade.


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.