American Birding Podcast



Rare Bird Alert: August 9, 2013

Backs against the wall once more, and the streak survives in fairly epic fashion this week. While there was no report of a state or provincial first record last week, this week sees two of them, pending record committee approval.

Beyond those new birds for the states of Oklahoma and Utah shorebird season continues apace into August, and Old World stints continue to be discovered a various places with most reports, as expected, coming from the Pacific coast. The shorebird show from Alaska to southern California is exciting, indeed.


South Polar Skua in OK, photo by Joe Grzybowski, used with permission

Headlining the week’s rarities is undoubtedly Oklahoma first South Polar Skua (ABA Code 3) seen near Oklahoma City just yesterday. This is not only the first for the state, but only the fourth or fifth for the interior of the continent (depending on the veracity of an odd record from Nevada). In any case, the unexpectedness of the bird is matched by the bird’s charisma, as it has reportedly been driving Cattle Egrets into the water where it drowns and consumes them. This is a bird who knows how to make an entrance.

Another first record from the interior of the continent comes from Utah, where a Bar-tailed Godwit was seen at Willard Bay in Box Elder. This is the first record which is fully documented, apparently, as at least two prior reports of this species for Utah did not pass muster.

A possible Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (3) was reported in St. Louis, Missouri. The bird has not been confirmed, but a Tricolored Heron at the site was well-photographed.

Notable Asian strays in western Alaska this week include a Long-toed Stint (3) and a Common Snipe (3) on St. Paul Island.

Repositioning ships off of British Columbia continue to provide a platform for excellent records, most recently a Great Shearwater, the province’s 3rd, and a “Scripp’s”-type Murrelet. A Red-necked Stint (3) was also found at Boundary Bay near Vancouver.

California’s second Lesser Sand-Plover (3) in as many weeks was discovered in Santa Cruz, a Rufous-necked Stint (3) was seen in San Bernadino and a pelagic trip out of Monterey Bay had an encounter with a Hawaiian Petrel (4).

4 Brant seen near the town of Fallon are good birds for Nevada.

A Sooty Shearwater, Arizona’s 2nd record, was seen well inland on Mittry Lake in Yuma. Birders subsequently looking for it found Arizona’s 10th Brown Booby (3).

A Short-tailed Hawk was observed at a hawkwatch in Hidalgo, Texas, and Tamaulipas Crows, few and far between in the ABA Area for the last several years, were reported this week from the Brownsville Dump in Cameron.

In Quebec, a Roseate Tern was seen at Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

A Brown Booby (3) was seen just offshore from White Head Island, New Brunswick.

Maine’s third record of Mew Gull was seen near Thomaston. No word on whether the subspecies was the slightly more expected “Common” Gull of the Old World, or Maine’s first record of the western “Small-billed” population.

In New Jersey, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was seen in Burlington.

And in Virginia, a Bar-tailed Godwit has been seen by several birders over the last few days at Chincoteague NWR in Accomack.


Omissions and errors are not intended, but if you find any please message blog AT and I’ll 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.