American Birding Podcast



Rare Bird Alert: May 1, 2015

It’s finally May, the month every birder dreams of during the fallow weeks of March. The birds are arriving in waves now, warblers and tanagers and thrushes and such. There’s no better time to get out and get birding, at least in the eastern half of the continent. Fall is still where it’s at out west.

Continuing rarities have winnowed down to one, the incredibly long-staying Eurasian Siskin on Unalaska Island, Alaska. The bird has been there, with its attendant flock of Pine Siskins, since November.

Most interesting rarity of the week is also untwitchable, unfortunately, but no less exciting because of it. It’s been a banner year for the storm-petrel researchers on Southeast Farallon Island off San Francisco, California. They’ve already found what is likely to be the ABA Area’s second confirmed record of Tristram’s Storm-Petrel, and this week they snagged another big one.

Into the nets came an ABA Code 4 Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel, this would be the 9th for California and the first for the island.

The ABA Area's 3rd Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel, mist-netted on SE Farallone, California, photo via Point Blue Conservation

The ABA Area’s 9th Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel, mist-netted on SE Farallon, California, photo via Point Blue Conservation

Two potential firsts this week, one older and one new. The former first, in Washington, a Red-flanked Bluetail (ABA Code 4) was photographed on private property in Whatcom in late March through early April. Access to the site was restricted so it wasn’t made public until now. This is only the 4th record of the species away from Alaska.

And the more recent first comes from Colorado, where a potential state 1st Vaux’s Swift was photographed in Pueblo.

Also in Colorado, other good birds include a Hudsonian Godwit in Otero, a Lucy’s Warbler in La Plata, and a Baird’s Sparrow in Larimer.

In Oregon, a stunning White Wagtail of as yet to be determined subspecies, in Polk, and three Hawaiian Petrels (4) was seen offshore from a repositioning cruise in Curry waters.

Noteworthy finds in Nevada include a Hutton’s Vireo in Clark and the state’s 7th Grasshopper Sparrow in Elko.

In Arizona, a Short-tailed Hawk and a Rufous-backed Robin (3) were in Pima.

Texas had a run of notable birds highlighted by a Slate-throated Redstart (4) in Cameron. Others include a Rose-throated Becard (3) in Hidalgo, a Black-legged Kittiwake on High Island, and a Short-tailed Hawk at Big Bend NP.

In Oklahoma, a Say’s Phoebe was photographed in Canadian.

Kansas had a Painted Redstart in Ford.

Notable for Iowa was a Glossy Ibis near Louisa.

In Illinois, a Black-throated Gray Warbler was photographed in Lawrence.

In one of the more fascinating examples of the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect recently, a Curlew Sandpiper (3) and a Ruff (3) were found in the fame series of wet fields in Gibson, Indiana, that recently hosted a Black-tailed Godwit.

Good for Michigan was a Tricolored Heron in Monroe.

In Alabama, a Cave Swallow was photographed on Dauphin Island.

Tis the season in Florida for Bahama Mockingbird (4), and one was found this week in Monroe.

In New Jersey, a Bar-tailed Godwit was found at Forsythe NWR in Atlantic.

Newfoundland had a Black-tailed Godwit (3) at Deer Lake, and way offshore, a Eurasian Hobby (4) was photographed following a ship heading towards the province.

In Quebec, a small flock of five Piping Plovers were found at Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine.


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.