American Birding Podcast



Rare Bird Alert: October 11, 2013

The seasons march inexorably on in mid October. In the northern hemisphere, the days are getting shorter and colder. On the Bering Sea islands of western Alaska, the days get colder and shorter still, but the intrepid guides working St. Paul Island in the Pribs just keep finding great birds. This past week, they struck solid gold.

A first ABA, first North American, first Alaskan record of Common Redstart was discovered and well-photographed on St Paul. A breeder from Europe east to Central Asia, one might expect this one to turn up Newfoundland or far eastern Quebec before Alaska – which is a full 2500 miles east of its core breeding range – but if we’ve learned anything about Bering Sea birding, its that expectations are constantly and consistently being upended. An incredible bird and an incredible and well-deserved find.

Photo by Doug Gochfeld.

The ABA Area’s first Common Redstart on St Paul, AK, Photo by Doug Gochfeld.

But this was not the only state/provincial first in the ABA Area this week. An Ontario first Brown Booby (ABA Code 3) was found on Lake Erie at the head of the Niagara River. The bird has been crossing the international border between Canada and the United States with impunity, and has been seen from Buffalo in New York and from Fort Erie in Ontario.

On the west coast of Canada, British Columbia comes up with a provincial first as well, a Dovekie photographed on a seabird survey east of Haida Gwaii.

Elsewhere in BC, a Tropical Kingbird was seen in Victoria and another Red-throated Pipit (3) record comes from Sooke.

The amazing run of Great Shearwaters in the north Pacific continues. This past week a pair were seen in off of Westport, Washington, and another individual off Monterey , California.

In Utah, the state’s second Thick-billed Kingbird was discovered in Garfield.

A gorgeous Rufous-backed Robin (3) was discovered and photographed in Roosevelt, New Mexico.

Colorado hosted a pair of rare gulls this week, a Little Gull in Pueblo and the state’s second Western Gull in Larimer.

Good for Texas was a Red Phalarope in Hedspeth.

Especially good in the middle of the continent, a Ruff (3) was seen at Quivira NWR in Stafford, Kansas.

A review species in Nebraska, a White-eyed Vireo was photographed in Douglas.

In Minnesota, a Spotted Towhee was in Anoka.

Two states in the Midwest had Arctic Terns this week. One in Wisconsin was photographed in Marathon, and one in Illinois in McLean. Also in McLean, Illinois, was a Say’s Phoebe.

A Red Phalarope stopped over in Washtenaw, Michigan.

Tennessee’s 5th record of Ash-throated Flycatcher was found in Marion, and a small group of White-faced Ibis in Hamilton are always good east of the Mississippi River.

Good for Florida, a Yellow-belled Flycatcher turned up in Fort Lauderdale.

In Georgia, notable birds include a Swainson’s Hawk near Macon and a Cinnamon Teal in McIntosh.

Loggerhead Shrike in Delaware used to be regular breeders, but one found in Sussex this week is only the 11th modern record, which is surprising and a little depressing.

Newfoundland’s second provincial record of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was recorded from Torbay this week.


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.