American Birding Podcast



Rare Bird Alert: November 10, 2017

It was an interesting week in the world of ABA Area rare birds, with a handful of false starts on the ABA Rare Bird Alert Facebook group. All understandable though, as November is traditionally an exceptional month for rarities continent-wide. In any case, the confirmed batch of new birds this week is full enough. Noteworthy continuing rarities include the Thick-billed Vireo (ABA Code 4) in south Florida, the long-staying California Blue-footed Booby (4) and an increasing number of Pink-footed (4) and Barnacle Geese (4) showing up to their now regular sites in the northeast United States and eastern Canada.

Most exciting bird of the week was without doubt a Corncrake (4) that made an appearance in Suffolk, New York. The combination of high-level rarity and convenience made for an exciting scene in western Long Island, where hundreds of birders were able to watch this Eurasian rail forage on the shoulder of a busy highway during the two days the bird was known to be present. The poor stopover choice eventually did the bird in, however, as it was found dead on the third day, the apparent victim of a collision with a passing car. The remains were removed to the American Museum of Natural History.

The New York Corn Crake in livelier times. This was the first record in the state since the 1960s. Photo: Felipe Pimentel/Macaulay Library

Things are looking exciting out west, where Washington birders have enjoyed that state’s 1st record of Zone-tailed Hawk at the extraordinary Neah Bay in Clallam.  And if that wasn’t enough, a Eurasian Skylark has also been seen in the area.

In British Columbia, a Northern Cardinal in Cranbrook would be a provincial 1st record if questions of provenance could be sufficiently answered. There are a number of Northern Cardinal records in western states and provinces, many of which have not been accepted though there are records from Alberta.

And also in the vein of notable but puzzling occurrences, a Rufous-collared Sparrow was recorded visiting a feeder in Yaak, Montana, this week. This is not the first time this widespread neotropical Zonotrichia has been found in the ABA Area. An individual spent many weeks in Colorado, notably also along the front range of the Rockies if a pattern is to be discerned from these two data points.

Up in Saskatchewan, a Red-bellied Woodpecker is a fine bird in Saskatoon.

Wyoming’s 5th record of Sedge Wren was photographed in Laramie this week.

Notable for California, an Eastern Wood-Pewee was seen by many in Monterey.

Arizona sees Ruddy Ground-Doves (3) returning in Maricopa and a smart adult HHeermann’s Gull in Pima.

Texas has seen a resurgence of Tamaulipas Crows (3) for the first time in nearly a decade with birds seen in Kleberg and Cameron. Also, the state’s 4th record of Red-footed Booby (4) was photographed on a Gulf pelagic in Kleberg.

Oklahoma hosted what may be the first Snowy Owl of the year in Covington.

Iowa had a Yellow-billed Loon in Cerro Gordo.

In Louisiana, yet another Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) to add to what has been a truly exceptional year for them in the ABA Area, this one in Jefferson.

Mississippi had a Smooth-Billed Ani in Biloxi. (UPDATE: This is a 1st state record)

In New Jersey, a White-winged Dove was seen at Cape May.

Good for Ontario, a Eurasian Tree Sparrow at a feeder in Wawa and a pair of Cattle Egrets near Whitby.

In Quebec, a Harris’s Sparrow has been regular at a feeder in Centre-du-Quebec.

Massachusetts had a Western Tanager in Arcadia.

Good for New Hampshire was a Townsend’s Solitaire in Hillsborough.

And in Newfoundland, at the suddenly hot Forteau Bay, Labrador, a Slaty-backed Gull (3).


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.