American Birding Podcast



ABA Checklist Committee adds Four More Species to ABA Checklist

In recent weeks, members of the ABA Checklist Committee (CLC) have added four additional species to the ABA Checklist. Three are vagrants from the Old World–Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka), Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus), and Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio). The fourth is a vagrant species from Middle America, Great Black Hawk (Buteogallus urubitinga),

Full accounts for these and other decisions made by the CLC since December 2017 will be featured in our next annual report, to be published later in 2018, but summaries for these four new species are included here.

Pied Wheatear: One bird seen at Cape Nome, Nome, Alaska, 5-31 July 2017 was accepted 7-1. The lone dissenting vote came from a committee member concerned with potential confusion of this bird with other, similar, Old World wheatears, notably Variable Wheatear. Because other committee members accepted the identification as Pied Wheatear, and were supported by comments from Old World authorities, that committee member did not request a second round of voting and the bird was accepted.

Mistle Thrush: One amazingly long-staying individual in and around a private residence in Miramichi, New Brunswick, from 9 December 2017 through 24 March 2018, was unanimously accepted. Photos of the bird incontrovertibly show relevant field marks and the arrival of this individual neatly fits into the established pattern of vagrant thrushes arriving in Iceland and northeastern North America. Special thanks is noted by the New Brunswick Bird Records Committee to the homeowners, Peter and Deana Gadd, for their exceptional cordiality in allowing so many birders to see this bird.

Photo: Mitch Doucet

Red-backed Shrike: One juvenile individual from Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, from 3-22 October 2017, was unanimously accepted. The committee notes, to an individual, that Old World Lanius shrikes offer a particularly tough identification challenge–a puzzle that is further complicated by the fact that an apparent Red-backed x Turkestan Shrike in northern California confounded birders for months in 2015 (and whose memory will likely haunt discussions of any subsequent Old World shrike in North America!). Solicited testimony from Old World birders helped to untangle this riddle and, in the end, the committee found the evidence that a hybrid could be safely eliminated convincing.

Great Black Hawk: One subadult individual from South Padre Island, Cameron County, Texas, initially found on 24 April 2018 and subsequently recorded a few days later, was unanimously accepted. Black hawk identification can be tough, but the committee notes that the excellent photos make this one pretty easy and the species is found regularly not far across the border. The recent discovery of a Great Black Hawk in Maine, and the subsequent revelation that the bird appears to be the same individual as this Texas record, will be explored in the ABA CLC’s annual report to be published later this year.

Photo: Javi Gonzalez

The ABA CLC traditionally awaits the decision of state/provincial records committees before tackling potential new additions to the ABA Checklist. The ABA CLC looks forward to completing their review of Black-backed Oriole in Pennsylvania and considering the Red Warbler in Arizona pending the decision by that state’s committee.

The updated ABA Checklist can be downloaded here >>