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Rare Bird Alert: December 2, 2011

The word of the week is irruption.  Specifically, irruption of Snowy Owls.  In what looks to be the second big owl movement of the year (those southbound Saw-whets just don't show up on the birding community's radar very well), the iconic Arctic owl has made what appears to be a significant push into southern Canada and the northern United States in the last few days with multiple reports rolling in from all the usual spots and many unusual ones, too.

In continental North America, Snowy Owls have been found as far south as central Kansas thus far, but the most amazing record of the period, and perhaps of the whole season, is a single Snowy Owl reported at the airport in Honolulu, Hawaii!  Sadly the bird was considered a safety hazard and shot by airport officials, but the winter will be hard-pressed to turn up a more remarkable Snowy report this season.

The only first record for the period was a long overdue bird for Louisiana this week, as a Pacific Loon, one of many notable individuals of this species at the end of November, was discovered in Union Parish. 

Arguably, the most remarkable all-around birding in the ABA Area this week came from Arizona, with Cochise County in the southwest part of the state hosting several great birds including 3 Ruddy Ground-Doves (ABA Code 3), a Rufous-backed Robin (4) and a Groove-billed Ani at Miller Canyon.  Elsewhere in the state were a female Eurasian Wigeon (3) in Pima County and a Lapland Longspur, one of fewer than 20 Arizona records, in Pinal County.

California has its share of great birds as well. most notably an Emperor Goose in Marin County and a Worm-eating Warbler in Imperial County.

An apparent McKay's Bunting, Oregon's 3rd record, in Coos County has birders reaching for their guides, as the bird was initially reported as a Snow Bunting.  Less contentious was a Brambling (3) in Scappoose, Columbia County.

After a pair of southern vagrants last week, British Columbia gets a visit from the other direction in a Hoary Redpoll near Vernon.

In the intermontane West, a Scarlet Tanager in Clark County, Nevada, was reported lingering into December.

A Streak-backed Oriole (4) was apparently a one-day wonder in El Paso County, Colorado.   Also in Colorado, a pair of Little Gulls (3) in Boulder County.

Unusual for New Mexico are a Brown Pelican and a Lesser Black-backed Gull in Sierra County.

A second Golden-crowned Warbler (4) was discovered this week in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, this time at Quinta Mazatlan WBC in Hidalgo County.

Johnson County, Kansas, hosted a Thayer's Gull this week, and a Common Ground-Dove has been seen on and off for the past few days in St. Charles County, Missouri. 

A well-photographed King Eider was easily seen behind the Art Museum in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

On opposite sides of Michigan, a Pacific Loon was discovered in Monroe County, and a Lark Sparrow in Chippewa County. 

A Pacific Loon was also present this week at Clear Fork Reservoir in Richland County, Ohio. 

Good anywhere in the center of the continent, a Red-throated Loon was in Adair County, Kentucky. 

Vagrant hummingbirds are still showing up all over the eastern half of North America, and Alabama has both a Broad-billed Hummingbird in Baldwin County and an Allen's Hummingbird in Mobile County.

In nearby Escambia County, Florida, a third hummingbird, a Calliope Hummingbird this time has been visiting a feeder, and a Broad-tailed Hummingbird is in Okaloosa County.

Non trochilids in Florida include a Brown-crested Flycatcher at Everglades National Park, an Ash-throated Flycatcher in Florida City, an American Tree Sparrow near Destin, and a Bahama Mockingbird (4) recently reported from Miami-Dade County.

A Vermilion Flycatcher has been present for the last few days in McIntosh County, Georgia, and a Pacific Loon was reported near Gainesville in Hall County.

Always good on the east coast is a Franklin's Gull in Chesterfield County, Virginia, and a Cave Swallow report comes from Picataway, Maryland.

In Pennsylvania, a Pink-footed Goose (4) was photographed in Bucks County, and a second Harris's Sparrow is in Berks County.  Also, an apparent first cycle Thayer's Gull was well-photographed near Philadelphia.

A Western Grebe was reported near Toronto, Ontario.

A Western Tanager was discovered at Barnegat Lighthouse in Ocean County, New Jersey.

Unusual even in the warmer months, a Yellow-throated Warbler has been present for a few days near Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec. 

A strange Tyrannus flycatcher in Essex County, Massachusetts, turned on closer inspection into the states; 4th Cassin's Kingbird.

And in Maritime Canada, another Nova Scotia Ash-throated Flycatcher was photographed at Antigonish Landing, and Prince Edward's Island's second ever record of Red-headed Woodpecker was visiting a feeder in North Granville. 

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