American Birding Podcast



Rare Bird Alert: January 8, 2016

The first week of the year has been a doozy, and has already provided a couple storylines that will likely go down as two of the most amazing bird-related stories of the year. Sadly, both involve the death of birds, but both are incredible nonetheless.

Before getting into that, here’s a quick round-up of continuing rarities in the ABA Area. The Brambling (3) in Ohio is still in place, as is the Redwing (4) in British Columbia.  Texas retains three of its recent notables, the Golden-crowned Warbler (4), at least one of the Crimson-collared Grosbeaks (4), and the long-staying Northern Jacana (4). In Florida, birders are still finding the gorgeous male Western Spindalis (3), and the Streak-backed Oriole (4) remains in Arizona, along with the Sinaloa Wren (5) which has made an appearance in this column because people are making an effort to find it the first days of the year.

On to the amazing birds of this week! In Duluth, Minnesota, a young Ivory Gull made headlines when it was found around the marina. Many, many birders braved the cold to see it, so it was especially disheartening when it was found dead across the state line in Superior, Wisconsin, thought to be a victim of one of two Gyrfalcons hanging around.

But wait, there’s more. Soon after salvaging the remains of the Ivory Gull and reporting its demise to the birding community, birders found it again. How can that be? It turns out that there were apparently TWO immature Ivory Gulls in the area, only no one ever saw them together. So there remains an Ivory Gull in Duluth to this day.

One of the Minnesota Ivory Gulls, the living one. Photo: Laura Erickson

One of the Minnesota Ivory Gulls, the living one. Photo: Laura Erickson

The other mind-bender for the week was in Pennsylvania, where a Corn Crake (5) was rescued from the jaws of a cat in Wayne. Remarkably, this is the 2nd record for the state (Pennsylvania must have the strangest rail list in the ABA Area, as it also boasts Spotted Rail). Unfortunately, the bird eventually succumbed to its injuries, and the specimen is on its way to a museum.

Two 1st records this week, both in the southeast. The first comes from South Carolina, where a cracking adult male Scott’s Oriole was visiting a feeder in Pickens.

Tennessee also picks up a 1st, with a  Lesser Goldfinch photographed in Lake. Also notable in the state, an Ash-throated Flycatcher in Montgomery.

Moving out west to pick up on the continued influx of Asian birds in the northwest of the continent, British Columbia sees another biggie in a Siberian Accentor (4) in Surry. I believe this is the province’s 2nd (correct me in the comments if not), and one of fewer than 10 records away from western Alaska.

In Utah, a Glaucous-winged Gull was found in Salt Lake, one of several in the Great Basin this fall/winter.

New Mexico had a Rusty Blackbird in Curry.

A Couch’s Kingbird in Vermilion, Louisiana, is a nice bookend pair with the Tropical Kingbird in the state last week (and still present).

Nice so far south, an Iceland Gull was at Lake Dardenelle, in northern Arkansas.

Mississippi had a Tropical Kingbird this week in Bay St. Louis.

In Florida, a Buff-bellied Hummingbird was seen by many birders in Miami-Dade. A Sprague’s Pipit was noteworthy in Seminole as well.

Georgia had a Couch’s/Tropical Kingbird on Hutchinson Island. If it is identified it would be either a 1st (if Couch’s) or 2nd (if Tropical) record.

In Virginia, a Say’s Phoebe was found in Russell.

Pennsylvania becomes the latest state to get Mountain Bluebird this season, with one in Bucks.

New York had a Pink-footed Goose in Suffolk this week.

Massachusetts’s 2nd record of Hammond’s Flycatcher was seen early in the week in Fairhaven.

In Maine, a Black-throated Sparrow was visiting a feeder in Winter Harbor.

Quebec had a Varied Thrush in Montérégie as did Ontario, near Guelph.

In Ohio, a Western Grebe was found at Caeser Creek Lake.

And in Wisconsin, a Slaty-backed Gull (3) was at a landfill in Jefferson.


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.