American Birding Podcast



#ABArare – Fieldfare – Montana

Sometimes Eurasian vagrants show up in places you expect, the corners of the continent like Alaska, British Columbia, or Newfoundland. And sometimes they absolutely do not. This is a case of the second.

On December 19, during the Missoula, Montana CBC, Jim Brown discovered a stunning Fieldfare (ABA Code 4) just west of town. Pending acceptance this is a 1st record for Montana, and one of only a very small handful of records of this Asian thrush away from places like Alaska and Maritime Canada.


Photo by Alex Hughes.

According to observers today, the bird is being seen on and off on La Voie Lane, off of Mullen Rd just west of Missoula. It comes to berry trees in a yard with a yellowish trailer on the east side of La Voie, and frequently flies back into the cottonwoods along the Clark Fork on the west side of La Voie, where it is on private property and inaccessible. Regular updates from birders on the scene can be found on the Montana-Birds listserv.

Fieldfare is a nomadic Turdus thrush of northern Europe and Asia. They are regular winter visitors to Iceland, and as such the majority of records for the ABA Area come from Atlantic Canada. They can also come from the other direction, however, and there are also four accounts of Fieldfare in Alaska and one in British Columbia.

While this Montana bird is exceptional, it’s not the first time the species has turned up in the middle of the continent, A record from Minnesota in 1991 illustrates the ability of this species to wander quite widely.