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Rare Bird Alert: June 1, 2018

With migration winding down birders around the continent are settling in for summer. That period of buggy, muggy birding highlighted by the occasional Breeding Bird Survey or documentation of nesting. Thankfully, it only lasts until the end of June when shorebirds begin heading back. Migration never really ends, it only slows.

Notable continuing birds include Little Egret (ABA Code 4) in Maine, and Tufted Flycatcher (4) and Sinaloa Wren (5) highlighting a handful of Mexican vagrants in Arizona.

Late May is great for Alaska and pelagics, and in North Carolina the latter came through in a big way with the mind-blowing Tahiti Petrel (5) seen in the Gulf Stream out of Hatteras. This is not only a state 1st, but a 1st for the entire Atlantic Ocean as this species breeds, as the name suggests, on forested South Pacific islands. Due to a small handful of records in Hawaii this stunner isn’t officially an ABA 1st, but if there is a more unbelievable record in the ABA Area this year I can’t think what it would be.

Photo: Kate Sutherland/Macaulay Library

A couple 1sts to report including one from the often overlooked District of Columbia, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher found earlier in the month. I apologize to the small but dedicated community of DC birders for letting this one fall off my radar a couple times.

Massachusetts also gets a 1st, though one that may end up being a more technical designation. A Trumpeter Swan in Worcester doesn’t represent the first time this species has been seen in the state, but with the growing Great Lakes population, it might be first that passes muster with the local committee, as similar birds have in recent years up and down the east coast.

With that out of the way, we can turn back to the far corner of the ABA Area where so many great birds have been seen in recent weeks. Reports are coming in from all over western Alaska, including far Attu where the ABA’s 4th record of Gray Bunting (5) is a fine highlight of that annual trip. Also on Attu, Gray-streaked Flycatcher (4) and Gray Wagtail (4) are worthy of note. On Gambell, the trio of Common House Martin (4), “Siberian” Stonechat (4), and Eurasian Bullfinch (4) have delighted visitors. St. Paul Island had a White-tailed Eagle (4) confirmed this week. On Adak, a Spotted Redshank (4) was a stunner, and on the mainland, a Lesser Sand-Plover (3) was at Nome.

Moving down to British Columbia, where a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was seen near Nelson.

In Oregon, a Lawrence’s Goldfinch in Jackson, is a nice bird for the state.

California had a Common Grackle  photographed in Mono.

An Anhinga was reported in Delta, Colorado, this week.

Arizona had a Glossy Ibis in Yuma.

A great find for New Mexico, a Black-capped Vireo was seen and well-photographed in a migrant trap in Roosevelt.

In Texas, a Black Swift was photographed passing over El Paso. This represents the first record of this species documented by more than a sight record.

In Kentucky, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were seen near Columbus, evidence of their annual summer expansion north and east.

Good for Minnesota, a Sage Thrasher was photographed in Duluth.

Ontario had a White-winged Dove near Ottawa and a pair of Black-necked Stilts at a water treatment plant in Blenheim.

Nova Scotia represents another outlier for Painted Bunting this spring, with one at Marble Mountain.

In Connecticut, a sharp-looking Red-necked Phalarope has been present for a few days near Portland.

In New Jersey, a Roseate Spoonbill was found in Warren.

And in Florida, the rather strange occurrence of a House Crow , which is not currently on the ABA Checklist, breeding with a Fish Crow in Sarasota. House Crow is a well-known ship rider and has been seen at ports around the world, even establishing populations in some places. It’s not clear what to make of this one, but it’s an interesting to note in any case.


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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