Rare Bird Alert: September 30, 2016


The last week of September was a very good week for vagrants in North America, with a number of exciting finds coming from all corners of the ABA Area. First to check in with our continuing birds, the now very familiar Little Egret (ABA Code 4) in Maine, the Crimson-collared Grosbeak (4) in Texas, and the Jack Snipe (4) on St. Paul Island in Alaska were all present into this past week.

Most notable this week, from a rarity and twitching perspective, is the Variegated Flycatcher (5) discovered Wednesday on South Padre Island, Cameron, Texas. Not only is this only the 7th record of this austral migrant in the ABA Area, it’s the 1st for Texas. Variegated Flycatcher has always been an odd species, with records widely distributed around the ABA Area in places like Washington, Maine and Ontario, for instance, but never in Texas, arguably the most natural destination for neotropical vagrants, until now.

Photo: Susan Strasevicz via Macauley Library

Variegated Flycatcher in Texas is a 1st for that state and the 7th for the ABA Area. Photo: Susan Strasevicz via Macauley Library

From a purely rare perspective, the most exciting bird of the week was an apparent Eurasian Sparrowhawk on Adak Island, a potential first record for the ABA in addition to one for Alaska. Sadly, the bird has not been refound and may no longer be on the island, but at least there are photos.

Other notables from western Alaska include a pair of Red-flanked Bluetails (4), and a briefly seen Yellow-browed Warbler (4) on St. Paul, and the third Siberian Accentor (4) of the fall on Gambell.

Perhaps the most bizarre sighting of the period was a completely unexpected for any number of reasons Gray Wagtail (4) photographed from the deck of a pelagic birding boat off of Grays Harbor, Washington. This is not only a 1st record for the state, but only the 2nd record of this species in the Lower 48.

South Carolina also had a mind-bender of a 1st record this week, when a Yellow-green Vireo was captured by a banding operation on Kiawah Island in Charleston.

Up in North Carolina, the bird of the fall was a young Kirtland’s Warbler, photographed in Yancey. It is the state’s 6th record.

Ohio had a nice Harris’s Sparrow visiting a feeder at Black Swamp Bird Observatory in Ottawa.

In Michigan, a nice find was a California Gull in Berrien.

Louisiana begins to fill in its annual array of winter flycatchers with a Say’s Phoebe in Vermilion.

New Mexico had a wayward Blackpoll Warbler in Las Cruces.

Increasingly expected in Arizona is a Ruddy Ground-Dove (3), this one in Pinal.

September in California is always great for vagrants, and highlights of the week include the state’s 11th Dusky Warbler in San Mateo, a Mourning Warbler in Mendocino, the state’s 11th Smith’s Longspur on San Clemente Island in Los Angeles, and a Hawaiian Petrel (4) seen from SE Farallon Island.

Good for Alberta was a sharp Black-throated Blue Warbler in Canmore.


Omissions and errors are not intended, but if you find any please message blog AT aba.org 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 <aba.org/nab>, the richly illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the ABA.


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