American Birding Podcast



#ABArare – Siberian Accentor – British Columbia

On January 3, George Clulow found an ABA Code 4 Siberian Accentor in Surrey, British Columbia. On January 6 he was able to photograph the bird and confirm what he suspected he’d seen days before. This is one of only a very few records of this species away from the Bering Sea.

Photo: George Clulow

Photo: George Clulow

The bird was seen in the blueberry fields at Gill Farm in Surrey. According to BC Bird Alert this is at 160th south of Colebrook Road. Reportedly, the best way to access this location is to park in front of Capella’s Farm and walk south on 160th. The bird was associating with a flock of Dark-eyed Juncos and was apparently very skittish. It has not been seen relocated since the word got out.

Siberian Accentor is semi-annual in the ABA Area, and all but a few records come from the Bering Sea Islands in fall. On the mainland, the species is very rare but has occurred as far south as British Columbia, Washington and Idaho, where overwintering birds have been attracted to feeders.

The only member of the Old World family Prunellidae to occur with any regularity in North America, it is part of the family that includes Dunnock, a common garden bird of western Europe. Accentors superficially resembles sparrows but their precise phylogenetic placement is not certain. Some recent research has put them near wagtails and pipits or weavers, and the bizarre Olive Warbler of southwest US through northern Central America is now thought to be the accentors’ closest relative.