American Birding Podcast



Rare Bird Alert: September 13, 2019

Continuing ABA Area rarities include the Thick-billed Vireo (ABA Code 4) seen again this week in Florida, as well as the Berylline Hummingbird (4) in Arizona. A Red-footed Booby (4) is on and off in California, and the Little Egret (4) in Maine continue their summer stay in the northeast. In Alaska, the Jack Snipe is still being seen with some regularity on St Paul Island, Alaska.

And it’s in Alaska where we start this week, specifically Gambell which had one of those legendary weeks that keeps people coming to the Bering Sea outpost. It started with one of very few records of Middendorf’s Grasshopper-Warbler (4), a special enough bird, which was followed in relatively short order by veritable suite of Asian goodies include the ABA’s 3rd living record of Eurasian Wryneck (5) and the ABA’s 6th Rufous-tailed Robin.

Still to come was the big one though, and not long after, birders on the island discovered an Alaska and ABA 1st record of Pallas’s Grasshopper-Warbler. The East Asian skulker is famously known as “PG Tips” in the UK, where it is an infrequent vagrant, due to the characteristic white tips on the tail. An extraordinary record and testament to Gambell’s track record as a beacon for ABA Area rarity hunters.

And that wasn’t all on Gambell this week. The aforementioned birds were the headliners, but a Little Bunting (4) and multiple Siberian Accentors (4) would be noteworthy in any year as well.

In British Columbia, a Scripp’s Murreletts were noteworthy, seen on at least two pelagic trips out of Tofino.

In California, notable birds include a likely “Siberian” Whimbrel in San Francisco, and a Connecticut Warbler in San Luis Obispo. 

Nevada had a Painted Bunting in Clark. 

Very exciting for Colorado, was a Groove-billed Ani seen by many birders in the Denver area, this is the 5th state record, but the first in a generation of birders. All previous records came from a brief period in the late 70s and early 80s.

Good for Arizona was a Purple Gallinule in Pima. 

In Louisiana, a Sabine’s Gull photographed in Cameron is the state’s 12th record.

Alabama had a pair of good birds in Baldwin county this week, a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) and a Bullock’s Oriole.

Tennessee’s 4th record of Brown Booby was seen at Pickwick Lake in Hardin this week. The lake straddles the border of Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, and it was seen in all three states.

Somewhat regular, but still noteworthy for Virginia was a Bar-tailed Godwit (3) at Chincoteague NWR, in Accomack. 

Rhode Island’s 2nd record Gull-billed Tern, likely a waif from Hurricane Dorian, was seen in Newport this week.

Birders on a cruise ship in Massachusetts waters had Barolo Shearwater (5) off Nantucket.

A Sandwich Tern in Saint Pierre et Miquelon this week was a likely hurricane-blown bird.

Nova Scotia had a Swainson’s Warbler at Hartlen Point, and a hurricane assisted Royal Tern in Halifax. 

Exciting for Newfoundland birders this week was a Brown Booby (3) that rode on the mast of a ship right into St John’s harbor. And the passage of the storm that was Dorian also dropped some southern terns on the island, including a Sandwich Tern at Witless Bay and a Gull-billed Tern in Pasadena.


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.