American Birding Podcast



Rare Bird Alert: September 1, 2017

The weather scene in North America was dominated this week by the landfall of Hurricane Harvey, a massively powerful and incredibly wet storm whose impact on the Texas Gulf Coast is going to take a long time to fully realize. Alongside that low, both meteorological and emotional, came the first serious movements of fall migrants in the eastern half of the continent, and the first hints of what could be a good rarity season in the western half.

Before we get to all that, the continuing rarities, many of which have stuck around for much of the summer, are beginning to clear out. The Blue-footed Booby (ABA Code 4) is still being seen in California, along with the Tufted Flycatcher (5) and Common Crane (4) in Arizona and the Black-faced Grassquit (4) in Florida.

The first mega of the fall comes from Washington, where an ABA Code 5 Swallow-tailed Gull was found, conveniently, in a city park in Seattle, King. This represents the 3rd record for the ABA, both previous records are from California, and a 1st for Washington.

The ABA’s 3rd record of Swallow-tailed Gull is also the farthest north record of this Galapagos Islands near-endemic breeder. Photo: John Puschock

That was hardly the only 1st record this week, and not even the only record of a primarily Galàpagos breeding bird. In Alaska, a Nazca Booby (5) was photographed just south of the Kenai Peninsula, representing an incredible 1st for that state. It was not that long ago that Alaska added Red-footed Booby to the state list. Though I erroneously labeled a Nazca Booby seen in northern California last week as the farthest north for this species, I think I can conclusively give this individual that honor. It will certainly be easier now to refrain from making that mistake.

Another 1st came from Maryland this week, where a smart-looking Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (3) was seen in Anne Arundel. This species has begun to arrive in good numbers in western Alaska in the last week or so, but this is quite an overshoot.

Yet another 1st record came from Idaho, where a Great Crested Flycatcher was seen on Camas NWR in Jefferson.

And in British Columbia, a Piping Plover photographed in Delta, is a confirmed provincial 1st, though there have been sight records of this species in the province at least twice before.

In California, a Golden-winged Warbler in Humboldt was a nice find, as it is traditionally of the more infrequent eastern warblers there. The offshore scene was very busy this week, with Hawaiian Petrel (4) offshore in Monterey, and both Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel (4) and Townsend’s Storm-Petrel  (5) in San Diego waters.

Up in Alaska the usual fall vagrants have been trickling in. A Pechora Pipit (4) in Gambell was a noteworthy early highlight, and a Brown Booby (3) was photographed offshore near Kodiak Island.

Good for Arizona was a Red Knot in Pinal, also the state’s 8th Mourning Warbler was photographed in Coconino.

Long-tailed Jaeger is a regular migrant this time of year over most of the continent, but they very rarely stop long enough for people to note their presence. One in Park, Colorado, this week was an exception there.

Kansas had an incredible influx of Roseate Spoonbill this week, with a single bird in McPherson and a trio in Stevens.

Perhaps thrown off from Hurricane Harvey, a South Polar Skua (3) took to shore on Marco Island, Collier, Florida.

In North Carolina, a Fea’s Petrel was seen well off Hatteras.

Pennsylvania had pair of unrelated, but equally thrilling aerial predators, a Swallow-tailed Kite in Snyder and a young Long-tailed Jaeger in Lycoming.

In New York, a Northern Wheatear was a nice bird in St. Lawrence.

Unusual in Connecticut’s Long Island Sound, a Cory’s Shearwater was photographed off Stratford.

In Newfoundland, another Common Ringed Plover for the fall at Mobile Beach.

And in Nova Scotia, a Masked Booby was found off Chebucto Head.


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.