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Rare Bird Alert: November 30, 2018

It was a big week for vagrant raptors, not least of which because of the dramatic return of the Great Black Hawk (ABA Code 5) in Maine, rediscovered in a Portland city park eating squirrels after a multi-week absence. This bird is rapidly turning into the nuttiest vagrant of the year by virtue of its incredibly staying power. Other good birds still present include both Roadside Hawk (4) and Golden-crowned Warbler (4) in Texas, a Red-footed Booby (4) and a Little Stint (4) in California, and a Barnacle Goose (4) in New York.

Most visiting birders have been gone from the Bering Sea islands for weeks now, but the growing community of local birders there are increasingly turning up jaw-dropping late season rarities. That seems to be the case again this year when Barbara Lestenkof (who already has an ABA 1st Black Kite to her name), found an odd Eurasian Buteo on St Paul Island this week. The buzzard sp, has been tentatively ID’d as a Long-legged Buzzard, which would be nothing short of extraordinary as that species is primarily found in central Asia. Other species suggested include Upland Buzzard (Buteo hemilasius) and the east Asian subspecies of Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo japonicus). Regardless of what it is ultimately identified as, this would be a 1st ABA Area record.

Photo: Barbara Lestenkof

That wasn’t the only 1st this week, in Oregon a pair of Eastern Bluebirds near Portland would represent a 1st for that state. Also noteworthy, a as yet unidentified to species Bean Goose sp (3/4) is present near Corvallis.

Noteworthy for Colorado, a Snow Bunting was photographed in Grand.

North Dakota’s 3rd record of Yellow-billed Loon was seen at Lake Sakakawea.

St Pierre et Miquelon had an Eastern Phoebe this week.

Essex, Massachusetts, continues to be very productive this winter with the recent discovery of a Sage Thrasher.

In New Jersey, a Townsend’s Solitaire was found in Monmouth.

Maryland has had a Calliope Hummingbird visiting a feeder near Annapolis since the middle of the month.

In South Carolina, a Black-headed Gull (3) was seen in Georgetown.

Mississippi had a young Glaucous Gull in Madison.

And in Louisiana, Vaux’s Swifts are once again being seen at a swift roost in Baton Rouge.


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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