American Birding Podcast



#ABArare – Gray Heron – Newfoundland

On September 30, Bruce Mactavish photographed an ABA Code 5 Gray Heron that landed on an offshore supply vessel on which he was traveling about 30 km/180 nmi east of Cape Race, Newfoundland.

Photo: Bruce Mactavish via ABA Rare Bird Alert Facebook group

Bruce notes that this sighting followed three days of easterly winds from southern Europe generated by a post tropical depression stalled between the Azores and Newfoundland. This would suggest that this Gray Heron is not the only bird whose travels were arrested by this weather system and birders in Atlantic Canada and New England should be on the lookout for vagrants in coming days.

Gray Herons look very similar to Great Blue Herons. The most conspicuous difference is the lack of rufous thighs. In flight, the leading edge of the wing also lacks rufous but is instead white. It is also smaller than a Great Blue, with shorter neck and legs.

This is about the ninth record for the ABA Area, with the first coming from Newfoundland in 1996, though it wasn’t correctly identified until 2002 (at which point it was a specimen at Memorial University of Newfoundland). Another was found in Newfoundland in 2013 and again in 2016. There are also at least four records from Alaska (two from St. Paul, one from Umnak Island, and one from Shemya).