Alabama & Mississippi: Fall 2017

Fall 2017: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Greg D. Jackson
[email protected]

Recommended citation:

Jackson, G. D. 2021. Fall 2017: Alabama & Mississippi. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-9VB> North American Birds.

Fall 2017 was a time of storms and exciting avian discoveries, including three first regional records. Waterfowl were well represented this autumn, and large waders showed well in both states. Passerine migrant numbers seemed good in some inland areas, though relatively depressed on the coast; unusual flycatchers kept observers on their toes.

Temperatures were normal early and warm late; precipitation levels were variable. Three tropical systems passed through our territory this season, all weakened considerably by time of arrival; while catastrophic early in their passages, fortunately the physical impact here was brief and relatively small. Hurricane Harvey brought devastating rainfall in late August to the Texas coast, but passed through the northwest of our area only as a low-pressure system with heavy rain. Several shorebird sightings resulted in west Alabama with a single pelagic wrecked on the coast. Far more avian effects were noted from the remnant low of Hurricane Irma in early September, bringing quite a basket of feathered presents to north Alabama. After assaulting Central America, fast-moving Hurricane Nate arrived at Biloxi as a Category 1 storm, but soon degraded into a rain-producing low as it flew northeast; several interesting finds were associated with this system in west Alabama.

Contributors (subregional editors in boldface)

Skyler Abell, Rachael Adams, Jane C. Allen, Melinda Averhart, Katie Barnes, Andrew Bell, Charles W. Boley, Hilda Bracken, Jordan Broadhead, Nick A. Cantrell, Bala Chennupati, Karen Chiasson, C. Dwight Cooley, Holly Cox, Matthew Crunk, Abby Darah, Christy Dickinson, Lisa Downey, Lawrence F. Gardella, Ben C. Garmon, Jeff T. Garner, David P. George, Neil Gilbert, M. Scott Gravette, Andrew Haffenden, Tom M. Haggerty, R. Stan & Dana C. Hamilton, Ken Hare, Jeffrey Harris, Theresa Hartz, Yvette Haughney, Chuck Hill

Contributors (cont.)

Geoff E. Hill, Jim Holmes, Howard E. Horne, Sharon S. Hudgins, Debra G. Jackson, Greg D. Jackson (Alabama), Wes Jarnigan, Brian Johnston, Mary Johnston, Michael J. Jordan, Chris King, Rick L. Kittinger, Ron J. Kittinger, Nicole Koeltzow, Dwight Lammon, Michael Linz, Denise Littleton, Paul Mack, Tracy B. Madison, Rodney McCollum, Don McKee, Patty McLean, Leif Milliron, Linda Mirarchi, Ralph E. Mirarchi, Hal Mitchell, Matt Morrow, Sue R. Moske, Julia G. Muytoy, Jimmy Osborne, Kent Ozment, Larry Pace, Dianne & Jim Patterson, Wayne R. Patterson, Rick Remy, Emma Rhodes, Angela Rudolph, Scott Rush, Patsy Russo, Frank Sandford, Thomas W. Savage, Marion H. Schiefer, Terence L. Schiefer (Mississippi), Ashlee Schmitt, Don & Judy Self, Roi & Debbie Shannon, William Sharkey, Judy Shearer, Renea Simpson, Damien J. Simbeck, Eric C. Soehren, Lynette Spence, Collin Stempien, Mike Stewart, Lauren Stokes, Bill & Mary Stripling, Bill Summerour, Brandon Tate, Julie Taylor, Carrie Threadgill, Colt Tipton, Bryan C. White, James White, Chris Wiber.

Abbreviations

Blakeley I. (Blakeley Island, Mobile, AL); Dauphin (Dauphin Island, Mobile, AL); Ft. Morgan (Fort Morgan State Historical Park, Baldwin, AL); G.C. (Gulf Coast region, Mobile/Baldwin, AL); I.C.P. (Inland Coastal Plain region of south and central Alabama); M.R. (Mountain Region of north Alabama); Noxubee N.W.R. (Noxubee N.W.R., Noxubee/Oktibbeha/Winston, MS); O.C.L. (Oktibbeha County Lake, Oktibbeha, MS); T.V. (Tennessee Valley region of north Alabama); U.E.C.M. (Upper East Central Mississippi—seven-county region surrounding Starkville: Oktibbeha, Webster, Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee, Winston, Choctaw); Wheeler Dam (Tennessee River, Lauderdale/Limestone, AL); Wheeler N.W.R. (Wheeler N.W.R., Limestone/Morgan/Madison, AL); Wilson Dam (Tennessee River, Lauderdale/Colbert, AL); p.a. (pending acceptance).

Waterfowl through Shorebirds

Now quite scarce in our region, a Fulvous Whistling-Duck was discovered 5 Aug in Issaquena, MS (CD, TBM, ph., p.a.). The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck invasion continues unabated in Alabama. Rare but increasing in the I.C.P., up to 12 were at Eufaula N.W.R., Barbour 9 Aug–15 Sep (JT, LS et al., ph.), including an adult and 4 downy young 15 Sep (ph. JH) for a fourth documented non-coastal nesting. Additional inland nesting confirmation was provided by an adult and 10 downy young at a new site in Autauga, AL (ph. JH). Two Black-bellieds in Jefferson 30 Sep (SSH, DPG) gave the M.R. a third record. There’s even more whistling on the Alabama coast now, illustrated by up to 150 Black-bellieds se. of Foley, Baldwin (KC et al.) for a fall state maximum. Another species continuing to expand in our region, now a rare but expected and even locally uncommon winter visitor, is Ross’s Goose. An adult at O.C.L. 30 Oct (TLS) was the earliest arrival for U.E.C.M. Other unusual Ross’s encounters were of one bird in Chambers, AL 11 Nov (ph. JH), 2 spotted in Noxubee, MS 21 Nov (ph. JH), 2 near Marvyn, Lee, AL 25–29 Nov (ph. JH, RM), and up to 3 noted at two sites in Jackson, AL 8 Nov (ph. AR) and 26–27 Nov (R&DS et al., ph.). Of several sizable flocks of migrating Greater White-fronted Geese in s. Alabama 24 Oct, most significant were over 200 in Clarke (ph. LD) and 360 on Dauphin (KB, ER, AH, ph.). Nearly regular now at Wheeler N.W.R., a Cackling Goose was seen beginning 29 Oct (CWB, m.ob., ph.). A Tundra Swan, erratic in Alabama, was in Jackson starting 26 Nov (R&DS et al., ph.).

A male Cinnamon Teal, only occasional in the region and the fifth non-recurring individual for the Mississippi coast, was a surprise 6 Sep at Pascagoula River Marsh, Jackson (ph. BCW, BJ, AD, MA, p.a.). Another male, the seventh for Alabama, was at Blakeley I. 15–22 Oct (ECS, AH, m.ob., ph., p.a.). A gathering of 170 Northern Shovelers 21 Oct in Etowah (GEH) was the highest for the M.R. in fall and tied for any time. Another autumn M.R. top count was of 70 Redheads in Shelby 9 Nov (RJK), while 30 Greater Scaup 23 Nov in Shelby (RJK) provided an overall M.R. maximum. Scarce inland, a Surf Scoter was noted 9 Nov in Clay, MS (TLS). Another rare inland find, up to 2 Black Scoters were at Wheeler Dam 14–20 Nov (DJS, SRM, BC). Long-tailed Duck is always a treat, especially away from the coast; one was in Noxubee, MS 19 Nov (ph. JH). Significant Bufflehead observations were of 7 in Covington 11 Nov (TWS) for an early I.C.P. date, another 12 at Lee County L. that day (RM) additionally giving an autumn I.C.P. peak, and 25 on Dauphin 27 Nov (CS, WS) for a G.C. fall maximum. Four Common Goldeneyes 27 Oct in Colbert (RJK, RLK) offered the T.V. a new arrival mark. The count of 123 Hooded Mergansers 21 Nov in Clarke (GEH) was unprecedented for the I.C.P. at this season.

Topmost for the T.V. in autumn, 22 Wild Turkeys were tallied in three flocks 15 Sep in Lauderdale (GDJ). A G.C. fall high, 340 Rock Pigeons were a birder’s dream 20 Nov in Mobile (GEH). Rare inland in Mississippi, 2 White-winged Doves were seen 22 Aug in Leflore (ph. HB). At least six sightings of Black-billed Cuckoo inland in both states were unusual 19 Aug–2 Oct (KH, MSG, SRM, JB, JO et al.). An exciting first for the region, a Smooth-billed Ani was studied and photographed extensively 4–15 Nov in Biloxi, Harrison, MS (HC, m.ob., p.a.). Far more expected but still notable, a Groove-billed Ani was next door in Jackson, MS 13 Oct (ph. HC). A nearly white leucistic Ruby-throated Hummingbird haunted Lowndes, MS 18–25 Sep (LS, TLS, SR, ph.).

Earliest for the I.C.P., a Sora was in Perry 18 Aug (RLK, RJK); tallies of 10 Soras at Blakeley I. 19 & 22 Oct (KB, CS) gave the G.C. a fall maximum. Noteworthy n. Alabama Common Gallinule reports include 2 at Opelika, Lee 20 Aug (GEH), a single at Waterloo, Lauderdale 20 Aug (RJK), and 9 including large young 25 Aug at Wheeler N.W.R. (RJK, RLK, FS et al.). Three Sandhill Cranes in Noxubee beginning 21 Nov (ph. JH) were unusual for U.E.C.M. Rare inland American Avocets were in Lauderdale, AL 24 Aug (DJS) and at Wheeler N.W.R. 7 Sep (CWB). An American Oystercatcher at West Point L., Chambers 12 Sep (GEH et al., ph.) with Hurricane Irma was only the second inland in Alabama. Not often seen in U.E.C.M., 2 Black-bellied Plovers appeared 30 Aug in Oktibbeha (TLS, MHS, JH, ph.). Marking a late U.E.C.M. departure date, a Semipalmated Plover was in Noxubee 10 Oct (TLS). Conversely, the Upland Sandpiper in that county 2 Aug (TLS, MHS) set an arrival record. Whimbrel is only occasional inland in Alabama, so the individual 27 Aug w. of Florence, Lauderdale (ph. BC, SRM) was unexpected. At the same site 1 Sep (DJS), a Ruddy Turnstone was a rarity away from coastal haunts. Also unusual inland, though more frequently encountered, is Sanderling; 6 birds were noted at three T.V. and M.R. sites 4–17 Sep (JH, JW, PM, m.ob., ph.). Expected throughout the region in small numbers in early fall, at least 11 Baird’s Sandpipers were noted at five inland locales 8 Aug–18 Sep (DJS, GEH, NG, TLS, m.ob.). Rare in autumn in our area, a White-rumped Sandpiper was in Noxubee, MS 1–16 Aug (AB, m.ob., ph.). Buff-breasted Sandpiper is expected in the area in fall, sometimes in large concentrations on the coast, but usually noted in small numbers; of multiple reports, highest was of 5 in St. Clair, AL 12 Sep (GDJ, DGJ). Rare in the I.C.P., up to 8 Long-billed Dowitchers were observed in Hale 29 Nov–3 Dec (RJK, RLK, ph.). Unprecedentedly tardy, a Solitary Sandpiper dallied at Noxubee N.W.R. 23 Oct (TLS).

Skuas through Tubenoses

Any sighting of a jaeger inland is a treat. A Pomarine Jaeger was discovered 14 Nov at Wheeler Dam (DJS, p.a.), representing only the fifth inland and second fall inland in Alabama, and the third for the T.V. At Guntersville, Marshall, AL after Hurricane Nate 8 Oct, a jaeger distantly viewed was probably a Parasitic (GDJ). Following Irma 14 Sep, a probable Long-tailed Jaeger visited Wheeler Dam (DJS, MC, p.a.); there are four prior state records of Long-tailed, with only one from the T.V. A Black-legged Kittiwake at West Point L. 21 Sep (NK, PM, ML, ph.), likely was related to Irma; seldom found in Alabama, this was only the 10th, and earliest, away from the coast, and the second for the M.R. Another exciting waif, after the passage of Nate 9 Oct a Sabine’s Gull was spotted at Wheeler Dam (DJS, p.a.). The adult Little Gull at this site 12–18 Oct (NG, KH et al., ph., p.a.) was only the 13th for the state and third in fall. Rare but regular in the T.V., at Marshall up to 4 Laughing Gulls were noted 9 Aug–13 Sep (MM et al.). As many as 5 Laughing Gulls were at Wheeler Dam, a regular site, 20 Aug–14 Nov (DJS, SRM, BC, m.ob., ph.). At more unlikely Alabama locales, 3 were seen after Irma 12 Sep in Chambers (GEH, JB et al.), and 8 were located after Nate 8 Oct in Choctaw (D&JS) and Wilcox (GEH). Another regular Alabama rarity in autumn is Franklin’s Gull; this season saw reports of up to 6 birds at four spots in the T.V. and G.C. 9 Sep–10 Nov (SRM, DJS, CS, AH, LFG et al., ph.). Lesser Black-backed Gull continues a slow increase in Alabama, now expected in small numbers at multiple sites in the T.V. and G.C. Reports were from four localities of at least 13 individuals, with as many as 8 at Wheeler Dam 18 Oct (DJS). Great Black-backed Gull is expected at Dauphin, with up to 2 present through much of the period (AH, m.ob., ph.). More unusual were singles 15 Nov at Ft. Morgan (ph. LFG) and 20 Nov on the Mobile Causeway, Mobile (GEH).

Carried afar by Irma and Nate, Sooty Terns were found far inland in Alabama. Three gave the M.R. a seventh record at West Point L., Chambers 12 Sep (GEH, JB et al.), another 3 at Wheeler Dam 14 Sep (DJS, SRM) were the ninth for the T.V., and one Sooty was seen 8 Oct at Miller’s Ferry Dam, Wilcox (GEH) for a 12th I.C.P. occurrence. Of several inland Least Tern reports, most notable was one at Wheeler N.W.R. 11 Nov (CWB) for a late T.V. date. Another post-Irma stray was a Gull-billed Tern at Wheeler Dam 14–16 Sep (DJS, MC et al.), only the seventh inland for Alabama and second for the T.V. Following Nate, a Gull-billed Tern at Coffeeville Lock & Dam, Choctaw 8 Oct (D&JS) furnished a sixth I.C.P. report. The count of 83 Caspian Terns 15 Sep at Wheeler Dam (GDJ et al.) yielded a maximum for n. Alabama in autumn, and 2 in Sumter 21 Oct (RD) were the latest for the I.C.P. Local region departure marks for Black Tern were set 8 Oct by 4 in Choctaw, AL (D&JS) and 2 in Wilcox, AL (GEH), 9 Oct by one at Noxubee N.W.R. (TLS) and singles in Etowah and Cherokee, AL (GDJ), and particularly by the very tardy individual 29 Oct at Wheeler N.W.R. (CWB). A tally of 110 Forster’s Terns in Cherokee 9 Oct (GDJ) provided the M.R. a new high point. Occasional inland, with only five previous I.C.P. sightings, 2 Royal Terns were in Henry 12 Sep (GEH) following Irma; 8 birds associated with Nate 8 Oct in Choctaw (D&JS) surpassed prior inland totals. Yet another windborne stray, a Black Skimmer was at Coffeeville Lock & Dam, Choctaw 8 Oct (D&JS) after Nate.

At L. Harris, Randolph 20 Nov (JH), 77 Common Loons broke the prior fall M.R. high. Two Cory’s Shearwaters associated with Irma 12 Sep at W.F. George Dam, Henry (GEH) were the first for inland Alabama. A badly-battered storm-petrel wrecked at Orange Beach, Baldwin after Hurricane Harvey 31 Aug (fide NAC, ph., p.a.) appears likely to be the fifth Leach’s Storm-Petrel for Alabama, though is awaiting full specimen preparation and examination at Auburn University. Only the second inland for Alabama, a Band-rumped Storm-Petrel was a post-Irma treat 14 Sep at Wheeler Dam (DJS, MC et al.).

Begin S.A.

Hurricane Irma formed in early September off the west African coast, developing into a Category 5 monster surpassing prior storms in the open Atlantic in strength. Traveling just north of the Greater Antilles 6–10 Sep, the path veered northward through the Florida Keys to strike the west coast of Florida as a Category 3 storm. Weakening as it traveled up the peninsula into Georgia, Irma vectored northwest across central and north Alabama 12 Sep as a remnant low with heavy rain and approximately 25 knot winds.

Prior to Irma, the region had no records of Black-capped Petrel, but amazingly the storm deposited four separate unwilling passengers in Alabama! Of these (all 13–14 Sep, ph., p.a.), one was recovered alive in Etowah (fide RA) but soon expired, and another was found dead in Clay (fide CT, HEH, JAT, CT). Stranded Black-cappeds were discovered alive in Madison (JGM, fide RA) and Randolph (fide RA) and rehabilitated at the Alabama Wildlife Center near Birmingham. After weeks of specialized care, both were scheduled for release into the wild, but sadly “Randolph” suddenly expired just before this could occur. This left “Madison” as the lone survivor, successfully released off the Atlantic Coast of Florida.

This threatened species, also known as the diablotín (“little devil”) for its sinister nocturnal calls, probably has a population of fewer than 5000 individuals. The main breeding population is in the high mountains of Hispaniola, with smaller numbers breeding in Dominica. This is a regularly-encountered species on pelagic trips off the East Coast, especially from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Most separate into black-faced or light-faced morphs, though some are intermediate. These phenotypic groups have differing phenology and genetics, perhaps representing separate species. All four noted in Alabama after Irma were of the black-faced variety. The Clay petrel was almost directly along the path of the remnant center, but the others were to the north and east in the areas of maximal wind and rain. Within this same zone of passage, singles also were flung just beyond Alabama borders in Georgia and Tennessee.

Exasperatingly, not a single birder viewed a Black-capped Petrel in the field in Alabama! The three less fortunate birds will be housed in the collection at Auburn University. Hopefully “Madison” is still flying free in the Atlantic!

End S.A.

Storks through Raptors

Wood Stork is a regular and increasingly numerous visitor to the region in summer and fall, especially in the Black Belt areas of cen. Alabama and Mississippi and in the Delta country of w. Mississippi. Of many sightings this season, most notable was a count 11 Aug of 10,000 (!) storks by staff at St. Catherine Creek N.W.R. s. of Natchez, Adams (fide KO, B&MS). A single immature, rare but becoming regular in the T.V., was in Lauderdale 20–31 Aug (TMH, m.ob., ph.). The presence of 500 in Noxubee 19 Sep (JH) granted a maximum for U.E.C.M. Lingering for a late Alabama date, 1–2 storks were in Hale until 3 Dec (D&JS). Adding to the list of storm displacements, a Magnificent Frigatebird 12 Sep in Chambers (GEH et al., ph.) was only the seventh inland for Alabama, the second for n. Alabama, and the first for the M.R. Rare but becoming more frequent, Brown Boobies were on the Mobile Causeway, Baldwin, AL 12 Oct (ph. CW, m.ob.) and 12–16 Nov at Ft. Morgan (CH, AS, m.ob., ph.). Now expected in large numbers in w. Mississippi, an estimate of 2500–3000 Neotropic Cormorants was impressive 30 July & 11 Aug at St. Catherine Creek N.W.R., Adams (ph. B&MS, CK, JS). The situation to the east in Alabama is just the opposite, with a single Neotropic Cormorant 7 Sep at Wheeler Dam (ph. DJS, m.ob., p.a.) furnishing only the second for the state and the first inland. Unusual for the T.V., single Anhingas were in different Lauderdale sites 15 Aug (JTG) and 25 Aug (RJK, RLK); another in Lowndes 2 Nov (PM) was notable in U.E.C.M. At Weiss L., Cherokee 16 Nov (DPG), the tally of 987 American White Pelicans, still on the increase throughout the region, set a new M.R. maximum.

The Great Blue Heron horde at Wheeler Dam reached 150 individuals 12 Nov (KH, NG), providing at new high count for n. Alabama; the state inland peak for Snowy Egret was exceeded at that site by 75 birds 8 Sep (RJK, RLK, FS). Also at Wheeler Dam, an immature Little Blue Heron was the tardiest ever for the T.V. 14 Nov (SRM, BC). Rare inland in Alabama, 2 Tricolored Herons appeared in Escambia 20 Aug (ph. LM), and another 2 were in Barbour 15 Sep (JH, JF, ph.). Topping prior n. Alabama numbers, 2000 Cattle Egrets must have been impressive going to roost at Wheeler Dam 13 Sep (DJS, MC). For only a seventh U.E.C.M. record, the third in autumn, and latest ever, a White-faced Ibis was discovered at Noxubee N.W.R. 18 Oct (TLS et al.). Nearly regular now in the G.C., single White-faceds were observed 21 Oct–16 Nov at Blakeley I. (HEH, CS, m.ob.) and 24 Oct at Summerdale, Baldwin (ph. BS). Plegadis ibis are unusual inland in Alabama, especially in the north; a probable Glossy Ibis was at Wheeler N.W.R. 15 Oct–25 Nov (CWB, m.ob., ph.). Roseate Spoonbill is seen now in large numbers in the Delta region of w. Mississippi, and is rare but regular and increasing as a visitor through most of our area. Infrequent in U.E.C.M., six reports came from five sites 15 Aug–23 Oct (TLS, JH, JO, WJ, PM et al., ph.), with the count of 12 in Noxubee 2 Sep (PM) setting an area maximum. Continuing from the summer at Blakeley I. through 21 Nov, 10 birds 23 Aug and 5 Oct (LFG, m.ob., ph.) established a high for Alabama. Of four other Alabama coastal plain reports, most notable were up to 6 spoonbills in Hale 19 Oct (D&JS et al., ph.) for a new inland state peak.

Scarce in the M.R., 2 Swallow-tailed Kites were unexpected ne. of Birmingham in Blount 13 Aug (BCG). Mississippi Kite continues to increase in n. Alabama; of several reports, most noteworthy was one in Lauderdale 15 Sep (GDJ). Six Bald Eagles in Chambers 12 Sep (GEH, JB) set a new M.R. high count, and 14 in Marengo 25 Nov (D&JS) gave the I.C.P. a new fall maximum. The adult Harris’s Hawk at Chickasaw, Mobile beginning 29 Nov (BCG, PR, CS, m.ob., ph., p.a.) will stir a lively debate over provenance, recalling the Dauphin bird several years ago; Alabama has no accepted records of this falconer’s favorite. Rare and erratic, a light morph Rough-legged Hawk was a treat 29 Oct in Tupelo/Lee, MS (ph. WRP, p.a.), and a dark morph was in Tunica beginning 24 Nov (ph. HM et al., p.a.).

Passerines

Olive-sided Flycatcher is a rare but regular delight in fall, the star at the top of the tree. This autumn yielded seven reports 4 Aug–13 Oct throughout Alabama (RJK, DL, HEH, GDJ, REM, MJJ, m.ob., ph.) and one in Harrison, MS 11 Oct (ph. HC). More numerous at this season, but still at low levels, is Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. There were at least 14 reports 25 Aug–6 Oct throughout Alabama and U.E.C.M. An Acadian Flycatcher dallied until 14 Oct in Lowndes (PM, JO) providing a U.E.C.M. departure date. In the “out of the blue” category, a Gray Flycatcher was photographed 30 Oct at Grand Bay N.W.R./NERR, Jackson, MS (MS, YH, p.a.), the first for the region and one of few encountered in the East. A new maximum for the T.V., 81 Eastern Phoebes were recorded on the Wheeler N.W.R. area survey 30 Sep. Rare but regular on the coast, 3 jaunty Vermilion Flycatchers were noted at two adjacent sites s. of Mobile 18 Oct–10 Nov (CS, KB, HEH, m.ob., ph.), with another to the w. in Harrison, MS 22 Oct (ph. HC). An Ash-throated Flycatcher, nearly regular on the coast, was s. of Mobile 10 Nov (HEH, KB, ER, ph.). Mississippi’s third individual Tropical Kingbird, fortuitously vocalizing, graced Pascagoula, Jackson 14–16 Oct (BCW, m.ob., ph., p.a.). Rare inland, a Western Kingbird 24–25 Sep in Madison (CWB et al.) was the fifth for the T.V., and another was spotted in Geneva, AL 23 Oct (TH).

Latest for n. Alabama, a White-eyed Vireo was observed 20 Nov in Randolph (ph. JH). Of several Warbling Vireo sightings in Alabama, most notable was a rare I.C.P. occurrence 21 Sep at Tuscaloosa (NG). Now unusual in the I.C.P., and only occasionally breeding, the sighting of 3 Horned Larks on the early date of 12 Aug in Henry (GEH) suggests local nesting; another 2 were in Bullock 21 Nov (JH). Tardiest for the M.R. in fall, 3 Northern Rough-winged Swallows were in Lee 29 Oct (RM). The count of 180 Cliff Swallows 9 Aug in St. Clair (RLK, RJK) topped prior M.R. autumnal highs. Unlike the pattern in most of the East, Cave Swallow appears regularly on the Alabama coast only in spring; one in Mobile 29 Oct (RLK, RJK, ph.) provided the sixth fall record for the state and third for the G.C. An estimated 500 Barn Swallows in Colbert, AL 13 Sep (DJS, MC) set a seasonal state inland maximum. White-breasted Nuthatch is common in n. Alabama, but fades on reaching the coastal plain; in Tuscaloosa 26 Nov (NG), 6 birds were the most for the I.C.P. in fall. Four House Wrens in Birmingham 28 Nov (GDJ) were unusually plentiful so late. Exceeding another seasonal I.C.P. mark, 3 Sedge Wrens were in Hale 20 Oct (RJK, RLK, FS), and a G.C. autumn high was given by 13 in Mobile 20 Nov (HEH, KB, CS). Earliest for U.E.C.M., a Ruby-crowned Kinglet was noted 15 Sep in Oktibbeha (JH).

Establishing an I.C.P. peak, 70 Gray Catbirds were tallied in Covington 30 Sep (TWS). For Alabama fall regional maxima, 500 European Starlings were in Baldwin 29 Nov (ER, KB), 127 American Pipits were counted in Chambers 12 Nov (GEH), and 100 American Goldfinches were in Russell 23 Nov (BT). Of several Lark Sparrow submissions, most noteworthy was a sighting of 2 in Clay, MS on the late date of 17 Oct (D&JP). The Savannah Sparrow beginning 17 Sep in Madison (CWB et al.) furnished a new T.V. arrival date. A surprise in Shelby 16 Oct (ph. RJK), a Nelson’s Sparrow represented only the seventh inland Alabama sighting and the fourth for the M.R. Thirty Dark-eyed Juncos offered a seasonal I.C.P. high beginning 22 Nov in Tuscaloosa (DL et al.). Latest in autumn in Alabama, though occasionally wintering, a Yellow-breasted Chat remained in s. Baldwin to 28 Nov (ph. MJJ). Rare in fall, 5 Bobolinks were at Wheeler N.W.R. 30 Sept (CDC, MSG). The estimate of 100 Eastern Meadowlarks in Madison 17 Oct (SA) exceeded T.V. fall counts. In orange glory, a male Bullock’s Oriole was a star at Pascagoula, Jackson beginning 27 Oct (BJ, MJ, m.ob., ph., p.a.), the eighth individual for the Mississippi coast. Setting Alabama regional top marks at this season, 10,000 Red-winged Blackbirds were in Macon 24 Nov (ECS), and 30,000 were estimated in Mobile 30 Nov (LFG). Bronzed Cowbird is a rare visitor to the Alabama coast; up to 4 in s. Baldwin 30 Oct–30 Nov (LFG, m.ob., ph.) yielded a new state high.

Earliest for the M.R., and tying the state arrival date, 2 Orange-crowned Warblers were spotted together 8 Sep in Birmingham (RR); another 2 Oct in Lowndes (PM, JO) gave a U.E.C.M. early date. Similarly ahead of schedule, a Nashville Warbler at Wilson Dam 25 Aug (RJK, RLK, FS) provided a new state arrival record. Rare in the I.C.P., singles were at different sites in Tuscaloosa 23 Sep (NG) and 28 Sep (WJ). At the other end of the spectrum, Nashvilles were unusually tardy 2 Nov in Lowndes, MS (JO, PM, ph.) and 13 Nov in Bolivar, MS (ph. LP). Another lingerer, an American Redstart was the latest for inland Alabama 7 Nov at Opelika, Lee (REM, LM). Scarce in fall, a Cape May Warbler was at Dauphin 10–14 Oct (DM, m.ob.). Giving the M.R. a new autumnal peak, 4 Cerulean Warblers transited Birmingham 2 Sep (GDJ); another 16 Sep at Noxubee N.W.R. (JH) was noteworthy at this season for U.E.C.M. A zenith for inland Alabama in fall, and any time in the I.C.P., 35 Yellow Warblers were at Eufaula N.W.R., Barbour 17 Aug (RM). Rare but regular in n. Alabama, Black-throated Blue Warblers were treats 7 Sep in Marshall (MM), 7 & 18 Sep in Birmingham (GDJ, LFG) and 30 Sep at Wheeler N.W.R. (RS&DCH). The 120 Yellow-rumped Warblers 29 Nov at Dauphin (CS) represented a fall maximum for s. Alabama. Earliest for the T.V., a Canada Warbler was in Madison 11 Aug (RLK, RJK, FS) and a Wilson’s Warbler appeared in Colbert 25 Aug (DJS et al.). In contrast, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak lingering to 26 Nov in Macon (ECS) was the latest for the I.C.P. Furnishing an I.C.P. autumn high mark, 47 Blue Grosbeaks were in Pike 2 Oct (JW).

Report processed by Eric DeFonso, 12 Feb 2021.

Photos–Alabama & Mississippi: Fall 2017

Click on the caption to to view fullscreen with caption.