American Birding Podcast



Rare Bird Alert: December 27, 2014

Happy Holidays birders, and thanks for the extra day to put this post together. Thursday holidays are always a real drag. This is the last weekly rarity roundup of 2014, and while this year hasn’t seen the mind-blowing vagrants of 2013 (no Rufous-necked Wood-Rail equivalent this year), it was a pretty exciting 12 months. George Armistead and I are currently putting together the annual 10 BEST post featuring 2014 vagrants so look for that in the next couple weeks.

Christmas Bird Counts continue to dig up interesting birds continent-wide, but December is typically the month for vagrant waterfowl and extralimital tyrant flycatchers in most places, and this week is no exception.

One of the more exciting birds this week was an ABA Code 4 Northern Lapwing found near St Martin’s, New Brunswick. It was seen by many birders up through Christmas before finally disappearing yesterday.

Photo by Hank Scrath, used with permission

Photo by Hank Scrath, used with permission

Three firsts for three states this week, two of which were the aforementioned extralimital flycatchers. In New York a Couch’s Kingbird took up residence in Manhattan, New York County. This is one of only a very few records of this species in the east, as the very similar Tropical Kingbird has had a much more established pattern of vagrancy over the years.

Which sets things up nicely for Mississippi, where a state first  Tropical Kingbird was found on a CBC in Hancock, along the Gulf Coast. 

And over to Kansas, where a likely Pacific Wren was videoed in far western Scott. Though extralimital records of “Winter-type” Wrens are alsu subject to much scrutiny, this one seems to match both in plumage and vocal aspects.

Elsewhere in the middle of the ABA Area, a Common Eider was found in Ottawa, Michigan, the latest of a remarkable influx of the species into the western Great Lakes this winter.

In Illinois, a Sage Thrasher was discovered in Putnum.

In Nova Scotia, both a Yellow-throated Warbler and a Western Tanager were found near Middleton, the former one of several discovered in eastern Canada and New England so far this winter.

In Maine, one of the now annual Pink-footed Goose (4) was found in Damariscotta.

A good bird for the northeast part of the ABA Area, a Ross’s Goose was discovered in Franklin, Massachusetts.

In Connecticut, a Painted Bunting was visiting a feeder in Stamford.

New Jersey had yet another rare goose this month, a Barnacle Goose (4) in Somerset.

Infrequent in the south, a Rough-legged Hawk was seen in Allegheny, North Carolina.

Fresh off the Say’s Phoebe and the Ash-throated Flycatcher last week, Miller, Georgia, had yet another vagrant Tyrannid, a Vermilion Flycatcher. A Black-chinned Hummingbird was also coming to a feeder in Macon.

It has been determined the previously reported Key West Quail-Dove (3) in Monroe, Florida, is represented by at least 2 and possibly three individuals in the same area.

Notable birds in Louisiana include a Lark Bunting at Natchitoches and a Black-throated Gray Warbler in New Orleans.

The second Fork-tailed Flycatcher of the season was found near Galveston, Texas, this week.

In New Mexico, a Thayer’s Gull was turned up in Bernalillo.

Good for California, a Le Conte’s Sparrow was discovered at Point Reyes NS in Marin.

Oregon had at least two more Brown Boobies (3) this week, one from Boiler Bay. A full half of the state’s records of the species have come from the latter half of this year. Also, at least two Scripp’s Murrelets were wrecked on the beach near Astoria.

Noteworthy birds in British Columbia include a Northern Mockingbird in Lillooet, a Slaty-backed Gull (3) in Fraser Valley, and the province’s 19th record of Snowy Plover at Wickannish Beach.

And in Hawaii, a Red-breasted Merganser at Kure Atoll is the first for the northwest islands.


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.