Alabama & Mississippi: Fall 2022

Fall 2022: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Greg D. Jackson
g_d_jackson@bellsouth.net

Recommended citation:

Jackson, G. D. 2024. Fall 2022: Alabama & Mississippi.<https://wp.me/p8iY2g-h3S> North American Birds.

The fall season of 2022 was kind to birders in our region, with moderate numbers and variety of regular migrants and a nice assembly of rarities to add a little fire to the mix (including a first regional record). Particularly noteworthy categories included the continued explosion of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks and Limpkins, numerous shorebirds, plentiful and varied flycatchers, and an odd juxtaposition of western/southwestern vagrants with significant numbers of some easterly migrants.

August was unusually wet in the southern part of the region, drying considerably in September; October was slightly cooler, and November was warmer with a mild increase in precipitation. We were spared direct tropical storm activity this year. Hurricane Ian lashed the Atlantic coast beginning 29 September with resultant strong east winds in our area, and the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole brushed the eastern side of Alabama 10–11 November.

Sub-regional Compilers

Greg D. Jackson (Alabama), Terence L. Schiefer (Mississippi).

Abbreviations

Blakeley I. (Blakeley Island, Mobile Co, AL); Dauphin (Dauphin Island, Mobile Co, AL); Eufaula NWR (Barbour Co, AL units); Ft. Morgan (Fort Morgan State Historic Site, Baldwin Co, AL); G.C. (Gulf Coast region, Mobile/Baldwin Cos, AL); I.C.P. (Inland Coastal Plain region of south and central Alabama); M.R. (Mountain Region of north central Alabama); Noxubee NWR (Noxubee/Oktibbeha/Winston Cos, MS); Ross Barnett (Ross Barnett Reservoir, Madison/Rankin Cos, MS); T.V. (Tennessee Valley region of north Alabama); Sardis L. (Sardis Lake and Sardis Lower Lake, Lafayette/Panola/Marshall Cos, MS); U.E.C.M. (Upper East Central Mississippi—seven-county region near Starkville: Oktibbeha, Webster, Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee, Winston, and Choctaw Cos); Wheeler Dam (Tennessee River, Lauderdale/Limestone Cos, AL), Wheeler NWR (Limestone/Morgan/Madison Cos, AL), Wilson Dam (Tennessee River, Lauderdale/Colbert Cos, AL); p.a. (pending acceptance by state bird records committee); acc. (accepted by state bird records committee); ph. (photographed); vt. (videotaped); v.r. (voice recorded); b. (banded).

Waterfowl through Limpkin

The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck stampede shows no signs of abatement. Locally abundant on the coast, large numbers are also now found at multiple locales in the inland coastal plain; even scattered northern areas in both states regularly have occurrences now with sporadic breeding. This season the most noteworthy reports were of nine (including seven juveniles) well north in Grenada Co, MS 22 Aug (Gene C. Knight, Kitty Smith), and up to 144 providing an inland Alabama maximum in Geneva Co 27 Oct (Odis H. Johnson) at a continued I.C.P. breeding site. The 270 Green-winged Teal at Blakeley I. 24 Nov (Collin Stempien, Mike Stempien) set a maximum for south Alabama. A Surf Scoter in Montgomery Co 27 Oct–23 Nov (Sonya Auer, m. ob., ph.) was only the seventh for the I.C.P. Rare but regular in the region, a White-winged Scoter appeared in Jackson Co, MS 2 Nov (ph. Curtis Makamson). Of several coastal Black Scoter reports, most notable was the observation of 175 at Gulf Shores, Baldwin Co 31 Oct (Keith McMullen, Mark Seiffert) providing a new high count for Alabama. Far less frequent inland, one was in Lowndes Co, MS 9 Nov (Terence L. Schiefer, Dianne Patterson, Jim Patterson, Jeffrey Harris, Marion H. Schiefer, ph.). Locally unusual, an Eared Grebe was spotted in Hattiesburg, Forrest Co, MS 12 Nov (Larry Basdan, Logan Firmin). An estimate of 300 Rock Pigeons near Alfalfa, Marengo Co 21 Aug (David P. George) yielded a fall maximum for the I.C.P. Slowly increasing in southern portions of the region, an Inca Dove appeared in Forrest Co, MS 11 Sep (ph. Lillie Gibb). Rare and erratic on the Alabama coast, a Groove-billed Ani was at Ft. Morgan 10 Oct–7 Nov (Eric Haskell, m. ob., ph.). More usual along Mississippi shores, a Groove-billed was at Pascagoula, Jackson Co 29 Oct (Abby Darrah, Collin Stempien, Gary Herritz, Brian Johnston, m. ob.) and another was at Seaman Road Lagoons in that county 10–17 Nov (Brian Johnston, Lucy Jacobson, Collin Stempien, Abby Darrah, ph.). Infrequently documented inland, a Black-billed Cuckoo was photographed 14 Oct at Huntsville, AL (Herbert Lewis).

Two Lesser Nighthawks coursed low on Dauphin 8–13 Nov (Cynthia Freeman et al., ph., p.a.) providing Alabama an eighth record. An exciting tropical visitor, the third Mexican Violetear for Alabama (and second this year), came to a feeder east of Abbeville, Henry Co 1–3 Oct (Gary Picard, b. Fred Bassett, ph., vt., p.a.). Mississippi’s 17th Broad-tailed Hummingbird graced feeders in Petal, Forrest Co 4–14 Nov (Lillie Gibb, Duncan Gibb, m. ob., ph., acc.). Black Rail probably is regular locally along the coast in winter but is rarely detected; one was spotted 5 Sep in Jackson Co, MS (Gary Herritz, acc.). At least partly spurred by the spread of exotic apple snails, though appearing to consume native mussels in our northern locales (J. T. Garner pers. comm.), Limpkins ranged throughout the region in small but increasing numbers. In Mississippi, individuals were noted 21 Aug–4 Sep at three coastal sites in Jackson and Harrison Cos (Anna Sabree, Brian Johnston, Lucy Jacobson, David Reed, Missy Dubuisson, ph., acc.); four Limpkins were at three inland locales in Adams, Hinds, and Clay Cos 16 Aug–20 Nov (Seth Blitch, Gene C. Knight, Kitty Smith, Terence L. Schiefer, Marion H. Schiefer, m. ob., ph., acc.). Inland Alabama observers found four Limpkins at three areas 6 Aug–22 Nov in Covington, Barbour, and Limestone Cos (Thomas W. Savage, Jim Holmes, Thomas V. Ress, ph.); singles were at three localities in the G.C. 1–20 Nov (Lawrence F. Gardella, Nick Williams, Christopher Davies, Bonita Davies, m. ob., ph.).

Shorebirds

Rare but becoming habitual in the T.V., three Black-necked Stilts were in Madison Co 11 Aug (ph. Amy Helser). Setting a U.E.C.M. maximum, up to 38 continued in Lowndes Co through 23 Aug (Terence L. Schiefer, Marion H. Schiefer, Jeffrey Harris, Chris Withrow). Stilts rarely breed in north Mississippi away from the Delta region, so 17 adults and juveniles were noteworthy 9 Sep in Grenada Co (Gene C. Knight). American Avocet is infrequent in inland Alabama; singles were in Colbert Co 21 Oct (Ron J. Kittinger, ph. Rick L. Kittinger, Louise Hewlett) and 27 Oct in Chilton Co (ph. Todd DeVore). Notable sightings away from the coast in Mississippi included 33 giving U.E.C.M. a high count 12 Nov in Noxubee Co (Jeffrey Harris, Terence L. Schiefer, Marion H. Schiefer, ph.), nine avocets in Lowndes Co 9 Oct (Paul Mack, Terence L. Schiefer, Dianne Patterson), and three at Sardis L. 10 Oct (Gene C. Knight, Gary Herritz). A fall Atlantic migrant and sparse in our area, three American Golden-Plovers were seen near Florence, Lauderdale Co, AL 3 Nov (ph. Jeanene Daniels), and one was spotted 5 Nov at Wheeler NWR (C. Dwight Cooley, Wayne Baumgartner, m. ob.). In Mississippi, two were at St. Catherine’s Creek NWR, Adams Co 10–11 Sep (Lucy Jacobson et al., ph.) and golden-plovers were photographed again there and at three coastal localities 2–27 Oct (Gary Herritz, Barry Tillman, Brian Johnston, Lucy Jacobson, Timothy Guida). Rarely found away from the coast in our region, a Piping Plover was in Yazoo Co, MS 30 Aug (Gene C. Knight, Kitty Smith). Long-billed Curlew is a scarce treat along the coast; one dominated a Hancock Co beach 9 Oct–4 Nov (Robert Wheat, Collin Stempien, Gary Herritz et al., ph.). Six Stilt Sandpipers 2 Nov in Noxubee Co (Jeffrey Harris) tied the U.E.C.M. departure date.

Sanderling is rare but recurrent in fall in the T.V., and one–two were near Florence 7 Aug–6 Sep (Jeanene Daniels, Todd DeVore et al., ph.). Though Baird’s Sandpiper is a low-level autumn transient throughout the region, eight described in Lowndes Co, AL 28 Aug (Geoff E. Hill) were unusually plentiful. Much less expected in this season is White-rumped Sandpiper, normally migrating well east of our area. Lone birds were photographed 5 Oct on Dauphin (Mason Currier et al.) and in Noxubee Co 8 and 13 Oct (Terence L. Schiefer, Marion H. Schiefer, Jeffrey Harris), the latter providing only the 4th U.E.C.M. fall record and by far the latest. The Long-billed Dowitcher 2 Aug in Lowndes Co (Terence L. Schiefer, Marion H. Schiefer, ph.) was the earliest for U.E.C.M., and 50 in Limestone Co 21 Nov (ph. Rick Remy) gave inland Alabama a new top count. The 10 Spotted Sandpipers at Eufaula NWR 7 Aug (Geoff E. Hill) equaled an Alabama maximum away from the coast. Matching a previous U.E.C.M. final date, a Solitary Sandpiper was in Noxubee Co 23 Oct (Jeffrey Harris). Rare but regular in the T.V. in migration, a Willet was found in Morgan Co 24 Sep (C. Dwight Cooley, M. Scott Gravette). Wilson’s Phalarope is not often sighted in U.E.C.M.; singles were observed at a site in Noxubee Co 14 Sep (Terence L. Schiefer, Jeffrey Harris, ph.) and 26–27 Sep (Jeffrey Harris, Terence L. Schiefer, Marion H. Schiefer, ph.). Red Phalarope is an occasional visitor to our area; one was a surprise from the ferry at the mouth of Mobile Bay, Baldwin Co, AL 15 Oct (ph. Geoff E. Hill).

Gulls through Cormorants

Though still scarce, reports of Black-legged Kittiwake have been increasing in Alabama in the past few years. Two different first-cycle birds were photographed in Marshall Co 11 Nov (Rick L. Kittinger, Ron J. Kittinger, Louise Hewlett) and 21–22 Nov (Greg D. Jackson, Debra G. Jackson et al.), providing the 10th and 11th T.V. records. Locally unusual, Laughing Gulls were spotted 9 Sep and 25–29 Sep in Yalobusha Co (Gene C. Knight, Kitty Smith). Franklin’s Gull is an expected late fall wanderer to Alabama though numbers fluctuate annually. Of several reports this season, the most noteworthy were 11 on the Mobile Causeway, Baldwin Co 13–14 Oct (Eric Haskell, Craig Litteken, ph.) and 28 on the lower Wheeler Reservoir 16 Oct (Damien J. Simbeck). A single Franklin’s 14 Oct in Lowndes Co (Paul Mack) was rare for U.E.C.M.

Alabama has had the lion’s share of increasing Lesser Black-backed Gull records in the past (especially in the T.V. and G.C.), and this year followed the trend. Of several reports, most notable were of an early individual 11 Aug at Wheeler Dam (ph. Sue R. Moske), eight on the lower Wheeler Reservoir 16 Oct (Damien J. Simbeck), and up to six in Marshall Co 12–21 Nov (ph. Greg D. Jackson, Debra G. Jackson). Lesser Black-backeds have also increased in Mississippi in the far north and on the coast. This season there were four coastal reports beginning as early as 2 Aug in Harrison and Jackson Cos (Collin Stempien, Trenton Voytko, Stephen Dunaway, ph.) and three were observed at Sardis L. beginning 25 Sep (Gene C. Knight). Great Black-backed Gull is quite scarce in most of the region but continues to be attracted to Dauphin; at least one adult was present beginning 1 Sep (Olivia Morpeth, m. ob., ph.). Rare for the I.C.P., a Least Tern was at Eufaula NWR 7 Aug (Geoff E. Hill); the adult 9 Aug in Grenada Co (Gene C. Knight) and three juveniles 20 Aug at Sardis L. (Gene C. Knight) were unusual for that area of Mississippi. Although there are three winter records of Least on the coast, one described 28 Nov at Gulf Shores, Baldwin Co (Robert Hickie) was the latest in the fall period for Alabama. Similarly, a Caspian Tern 29 Oct–13 Nov in Limestone Co (Todd DeVore, K. C. Nishant, David P. George et al.) provided a departure date for north Alabama, with a previous December sighting.

Only the fourth for the I.C.P., a Pacific Loon was reported from Henry Co 20 Nov (Geoff E. Hill). Though Wood Stork can be abundant in many areas of the region, it is still scarce in north Alabama and the G.C.; singles were noted 20–22 Aug in north Lee Co (Sonya Auer et al.), 21 Aug in east Colbert Co (Michael Ezell), and quite tardy 29 Nov in central Baldwin Co (Eric Haskell). Tallies of 350 storks 2 Aug in Lowndes Co (Terence L. Schiefer, Marion H. Schiefer, ph.) and over 400 in Noxubee Co 3 Sep (Gene C. Knight, Kitty Smith) were unusual in U.E.C.M. In the past decade the rare Brown Booby has appeared more frequently in the region, though is unpredictable and often wide-ranging. One was a surprise well inland 7 Aug at Logan Martin Dam, St. Clair/Tallapoosa Cos (ph. Tucker Trowel et al.), the fifth for inland Alabama and only the second for the M.R. Another Brown Booby south of Long Beach, Harrison Co 1 Sep (Kenny Shiyou, Randy Green, Joe Doyle, ph., acc.) gave Mississippi a ninth occurrence. A Great Cormorant 28 Nov at Fairhope, Baldwin Co (ph. Allison Graves, p.a.) represented the 21st for Alabama.

Herons through Woodpeckers

A Least Bittern lingered at Wheeler NWR to 9 Nov (William Galloway, Robert Goss, ph.) establishing a departure date for inland Alabama. The white morph of Great Blue Heron is an occasional vagrant to the region; Alabama’s 18th was at Gulf SP, Baldwin Co beginning 10 Sep (Eric Haskell, m. ob., ph.). Sparse inland in Alabama, though nearly annual in the I.C.P., a Tricolored Heron was at Eufaula NWR 7 Aug (ph. Geoff E. Hill). The 32 immature White Ibis in Lawrence Co 12 Aug (Rick L. Kittinger, Ron J. Kittinger, Louise Hewlett, ph.) yielded a high count for north Alabama. Rare inland Plegadis ibis were noted 6–15 Aug in Lawrence Co, AL (J. Milton Harris, Robert Goss et al., ph.), at three sites in U.E.C.M. 13 Sep–25 Oct (Jeffrey Harris, Marion H. Schiefer, Terence L. Schiefer, Paul Mack, ph.), and 29 Oct in Limestone Co, AL (Todd DeVore, David P. George, K. C. Nishant, ph.). Roseate Spoonbill is an expected visitor now to most parts of the region. The species can be numerous in west Mississippi in the Delta, but less common farther east in the state; this autumn up to 10 were seen in Yalobusha Co 13 Sep–8 Nov (Gene C. Knight), two were in Monroe Co 18–25 Sep (ph. Wayne C. Patterson), and one was sighted in Marion Co 17 Oct (Ed Putnam). South Alabama produced five reports of six spoonbills 5 Aug–6 Sep (Ron J. Kittinger, Rick L. Kittinger, Christopher Davies, Augusta Herre, Lawrence F. Gardella, Henry Halgren, m. ob., ph.) and as many as five birds were in the T.V. 6 Aug–1 Sep in Lawrence and Colbert Cos (J. Milton Harris, Robert Goss, m. ob., ph.).

The White-tailed Kite 7 Sep south of Magnolia Springs, Baldwin Co (David Plumb, ph. Bill Summerour, p.a.) was the 13th and earliest for Alabama, and the first since 2011. Swallow-tailed Kite is rare though increasing in most of north Alabama. In the M.R., where only regular in the far southeastern portion in late summer, there were five reports of 19 Swallow-taileds 9 Aug–5 Sep including Talladega (Fred Carney), Lawrence (M. Scott Gravette), Randolph (Cathy Lawrence), and Jackson (Rebecca Chalker) Cos. Largest group in this section was nine in Tallapoosa Co 13 Aug (Krista Blanton). Even less frequent in the T.V., two Swallow-taileds were found in Morgan Co 13 Aug (ph. Gary Warner) and three were in Madison Co 26 Aug (ph. Megan Brown). A tally of 15 Red-shouldered Hawks on the Wheeler NWR area count 24 Sep exceeded prior T.V. numbers in fall. Swainson’s Hawk is expected in late autumn locally at the coast; one was seen in south Baldwin Co 16 Oct (ph. Craig Litteken). Inland Swainson’s are only occasional; one at Wheeler NWR 22 Oct (David P. George, Todd Harvey, v.r.) represented the 10th for inland AL and the first since 2000. Beyond surprising was the appearance of a Flammulated Owl, Alabama’s third, sunning on a beach chair at Orange Beach, Baldwin Co 30 Oct (Julie Lesznar et al., ph., p.a.)! On the Wheeler NWR area count 24 Sep, 16 Belted Kingfishers tied the prior fall T.V. maximum, and the four Hairy Woodpeckers in north Baldwin Co 14 Sep (Michael J. Jordan) gave the G.C. a new autumn high count.

Flycatchers through Wrens

An exciting first for Mississippi, a Great Kiskadee delighted observers beginning 25 Nov at Pass Christian, Harrison Co (Jeanne Kuehn, Holly Cox, Lori McDonald, Sheila Murphy, David Reed, m. ob., ph., acc.). There have been numerous prior reports in Louisiana with occasional nesting, including several in the southeastern part of the state, but our region had lacked an occurrence. Though regular along the coast, far inland Western Kingbirds are scarce; one at Birmingham 24–25 Sep (Greg J. Harber, Grace Simms et al., ph.) was the 12th for the M.R. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher breeds sparingly in scattered inland areas of the region and is regular in migration in coastal zones. More unusual were records of up to eight in Noxubee Co, MS 31 Aug–25 Oct (Vicki Maples, Jeffrey Harris, Darlene Luke, Terence L. Schiefer, m. ob., ph.) and 3 Oct in Bolivar Co, MS (ph. Larry Pace). Olive-sided Flycatcher is a rare but recurrent early fall transient through the region. This season saw five reports of singles 17 Aug–19 Sep in Mississippi, mostly in coastal counties, and nine reports 15 Aug–4 Oct throughout Alabama. An Eastern Wood-Pewee described 19 Nov in central Baldwin Co (Craig Litteken) furnished a late date for Alabama.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher appears in the region in small numbers in autumn; this year there were at least 14 individuals at 11 widely-scattered sites 15 Aug–7 Oct. The Acadian Flycatcher at Fairhope, Baldwin Co 1–4 Nov (ph. Duane Miller) was the latest for Alabama. Alder Flycatcher likely is regular in fall though is not often specifically identified; vocalizing birds were in Oktibbeha Co, MS 21–25 Aug (Marion H. Schiefer, Terence L. Schiefer, Dianne Patterson, v.r.) and 8 Oct on Dauphin (Amanda Keevan, Hayley Keevan). More consistently reported to species, there were three vocalizing Willow Flycatchers in the G.C. 28 Aug–4 Sep (Geoff E. Hill, Ben C. Garmon, Patsy Russo, Lawrence F. Gardella, Craig Litteken, ph.). Alabama’s potential second Hammond’s Flycatcher was photographed on Dauphin 7 Oct (Bob & Sandy Sipes, p.a.). Rare in the region but increasing mildly in recent years, a Say’s Phoebe was a treat in Bolivar Co, MS beginning 3 Oct (Larry Pace, m. ob., ph., acc.). Though a few Vermilion Flycatchers usually appear on the coast in autumn, this was a banner year for this lovely sprite. In Mississippi coastal counties, seven were present 25 Sep–30 Oct (Holly Cox, Brian Johnston, Lucy Jacobson, Mark Woodrey, Jesse Parker, m. ob., ph.). Alabama coastal birders enjoyed an amazing 11 Vermilions at eight sites beginning 30 Sep (Mason Currier, Franklin Chalk, James Dugger, Ben C. Garmon, Lawrence F. Gardella, Augusta Herre, Amanda Keevan, m. ob., ph.); this included four setting a state maximum at a regular location in Foley, Baldwin Co from 15 Oct (Ellen Crotty, m. ob., ph.).

Bell’s Vireos, occasional inland, were discovered 1 Sep in DeSoto Co, MS (ph. Q. B. Gray, acc.) and 11 Sep in Lafayette Co, MS (Gene C. Knight, p.a.). Almost periodic in fall on the Alabama coast, one was singing at Daphne, Baldwin Co 2 Sep (Ben C. Garmon, Patsy Russo). Up to two Philadelphia Vireos were the second-earliest for Alabama 29 Aug–1 Sep at Monte Sano SP, Madison Co (ph. Robert Goss, J. Milton Harris). Providing a third Alabama record, a Yellow-green Vireo was banded 30 Sep at Ft. Morgan (Emma Rhodes, Kyle Sheppard et al., ph., p.a.). Well ahead of schedule, a Red-breasted Nuthatch 1 Sep at a feeder in Oktibbeha Co (ph. Joby Czarnecki) gave U.E.C.M. an early date. Nine White-breasted Nuthatches 13 Sep in Bibb Co (David P. George) presented the I.C.P. a new seasonal maximum, and the tally of 204 Carolina Wrens on the Wheeler NWR area count 24 Sep did the same for the T.V. Premature for the I.C.P., a Marsh Wren was noted in Tuscaloosa 12 Sep (Satchell Watts-Kerr).

Thrushes through Blackbirds

The Wood Thrush 3 Nov in Oktibbeha Co (Marion H. Schiefer) was the latest for U.E.C.M. A Purple Finch 22 Oct in Madison Co (Sue R. Moske) was earliest for the T.V., and 15 in Bibb Co 17 Nov (Eugene Huryn, Satchell Watts-Kerr) represented a I.C.P. a fall maximum. Though periodic on the coast in autumn, inland Clay-colored Sparrows are rare; one was in Forrest Co, MS 7 Nov (ph. Lillie Gibb). The immature Harris’s Sparrow 26-27 Nov at Ft. Morgan (Bill Summerour, Kathy Hicks, David P. George et al., ph.) was the 18th for Alabama and the eighth and earliest for the G.C. Only occasionally detected in the T.V., and providing an early record, a Henslow’s Sparrow was at Swan Creek WMA, Limestone Co 23 and 29 Oct (Sue R. Moske et al., ph.); another was spotted 1 Nov at Paint Rock, Jackson Co, AL (ph. Amber Hart). A Lincoln’s Sparrow beginning 29 Sep in Oktibbeha Co (Terence L. Schiefer, Marion H. Schiefer) tied the U.E.C.M. arrival mark, and one in Montgomery 14 Oct (Alban Guillaumet, Evelyn C. Guillaumet) was earliest for the I.C.P.

Yellow-headed Blackbird is regular in small numbers along the coast in autumn and appears to be increasing in incidence. Two were on Ship I., Harrison Co, MS 17 Sep (Olivia Graves, Gary Herritz, Rhonda Plitt, Lori McDonald, David Reed, m. ob., ph.); a total of four visited a property in south Baldwin Co, AL 1–14 Oct (Donald Dehm, Becky Humpries et al., ph.). Rare but recurrent in fall in Alabama, 15 Bobolinks were noteworthy in Calhoun Co 2 Oct (Susano Medina). Western Meadowlark is unusual in most of the region but more frequently noted in the Mississippi Delta; two were in Tunica Co 26 Nov (Gene C. Knight, Kitty Smith). An Orchard Oriole 19 Sep at Montgomery (Alban Guillaumet, Evelyn C. Guillaumet) set a departure date for the I.C.P., and the second latest for Alabama was photographed 31 Oct at Ft. Morgan (Joe Wujcik). Rare but increasing and now anticipated, two brilliant adult male Bullock’s Orioles returned to a yard in Foley, Baldwin Co beginning 17 Oct (Michael J. Jordan et al., ph.). Feeders at Ashford, Houston Co repeatedly host multiple wintering orioles, and the count of 14 Baltimore Orioles 23 Nov (Renea Simpson) established a fall I.C.P. maximum. Bronzed Cowbird has increased recently on the Alabama coast though is not quite annual; up to three were at feeders in Bon Secour, Baldwin Co beginning 19 Sep (Donald Dehm, Becky Humphries et al., ph.). More frequently seen on the Mississippi coast, one was in Jackson Co 6 Nov (Brian Johnston, Mary Johnston, ph.). Rare but increasing inland in southeast Alabama, Boat-tailed Grackle is becoming regular at Eufaula NWR; a male was present 14–30 Sep (David P. George et al.).

Warblers through Cardinalids

A delinquent Worm-eating Warbler 8 Oct at Birmingham (Cheryl Killingsworth) furnished a late date for inland Alabama. Nearly annual in the I.C.P., a tardy Nashville Warbler was found in east Montgomery Co 25 Oct (David P. George). The Nashville at Birmingham 5 Nov (Greg J. Harber) gave the M.R. a departure record, and one lingering to 23 Nov in Baldwin Co (Michael J. Jordan) was the latest in the period for the state (though there are five winter reports). Mourning Warbler is rare and not quite annual in the M.R. in fall; one was observed at Birmingham 1 Sep (R. Stan Hamilton, Dana C. Hamilton). Another spotted in Oktibbeha Co 17 Sep (Terence L. Schiefer) was rare for U.E.C.M. and only the seventh at this time of year.

Though expected in spring migration, the dainty Cape May Warbler takes a more easterly path in autumn to the Caribbean wintering grounds. It is usually rare at this season in Alabama, more often seen on the coast. Fall 2022 was extraordinary for the species, with 31 documented individuals at multiple widespread sites in the state 9 Sep–23 Oct. Approximately two thirds of these were discovered in the first two weeks of October, more concentrated than prior records. It is probably not coincidental that Hurricane Ian and the subsequent extratropical low coursed along the Atlantic coast for several days beginning Sep 29. This is through the primary migration path of Cape May, and the strong leading easterly winds from that cyclone may have caused significant westward displacement.

Several occurrences were especially noteworthy. An immature female 9 Sep at Monte Sano SP, Madison Co (ph. Robert Goss) set an early T.V. date. The I.C.P. previously had only four fall records. An adult male was north of Bertha, Dale Co 3 Oct (ph. Robert Gene), one–two males were in east Montgomery Co 10–15 Oct (ph. William Callbeck), an immature female appeared in Shorter, Macon Co 15 Oct (Eric C. Soehren), and a male was spotted at Montgomery 16 Oct (Alban Guillaumet, Evelyn C. Guillaumet, ph.). Even more scarce farther west in Mississippi, a male was photographed 8 Oct at Hattiesburg, Forrest Co, MS (Lillie Gibb); a Cape May was found dead 15 Oct west of Starkville, Oktibbeha Co (Vicki Maples, *MMNS), providing U.E.C.M. a seventh in autumn.

A count of 24 Northern Parulas 13 Sep in Elmore Co (Geoff E. Hill) gave the I.C.P. a fall peak; individuals set local departure marks 31 Oct at Wheeler NWR (ph. Robert Goss) and 5 Nov at Birmingham (Jonah Cohen). Magnolia Warblers in Madison Co spanned the T.V. occurrence range, with two tying the early record 20 Aug (Ron J. Kittinger, Rick L. Kittinger, Louise Hewlett, Jamie Dalton) and one matching the terminal date 1 Nov (ph. Herbert Lewis). Well ahead of the pack, a Bay-breasted Warbler 1–5 Sep at Monte Sano SP, Madison Co (J. Milton Harris) provided a new arrival mark for inland Alabama and tied that for the state. The Blackburnian Warbler in Mobile Co 27 Oct (Michael J. Jordan) was latest for the G.C. Up to 25 Chestnut-sided Warblers 24 Aug–1 Sep (Robert Goss, J. Milton Harris) in Madison Co passed the prior T.V. seasonal high. Blackpoll Warbler is only occasional in fall inland in Alabama, normally transiting well to the east. The seventh in this period for the M.R. was discovered at Opelika, Lee Co 6 Oct (ph. Charlie Hagan) and another documented 24 Oct at Wheeler NWR (M. Scott Gravette, v.r.) was the seventh in autumn for the T.V. A female Black-throated Blue Warbler, another East Coast migrant rare in northwest Alabama, was observed 1 Oct in Colbert Co (Damien J. Simbeck). The Palm Warbler 11 Sep in Calhoun Co (Laura Meeds) yielded an M.R. early date, as did a Wilson’s Warbler for the G.C. at Ft. Morgan 15 Aug (Franklin Chalk).

Furnishing a late record for the T.V., a Blue Grosbeak lingered to 26 Oct in Jackson Co (Sean Fitzgerald). Eclipsing prior I.C.P. departures, Blue Grosbeaks were found 4 Nov in Tuscaloosa Co (Rick L. Kittinger, Ron J. Kittinger, Louise Hewlett, ph.) and 2–6 Nov at Montgomery (Alban Guillaumet, Evelyn C. Guillaumet). Providing a G.C. seasonal maximum, three Painted Buntings were at Blakeley I. 6 Aug (ph. Eric Haskell). One was locally rare 5 Oct in Forrest Co, MS (ph. Logan Firmin), and the Painted in Lee Co 11–14 Nov (ph. Jared Schiller et al.) was the fourth, and latest, in fall for the M.R.

Photos–Alabama & Mississippi: Fall 2022

Erratic in fall on the Alabama coast, a Groove-billed Ani was seen by many at Fort Morgan, Baldwin Co 10 Oct–7 Nov 2022 (here 14 Oct). Photo © Stephanie Pluscht.

Groove-billed Ani is rare but regular in coastal Mississippi, with this gangly individual showing well at Seaman Road Lagoons, Jackson Co 10–17 Nov 2022 (this image 10 Nov). Photo © Brian Johnston.

Only the third for Alabama, though surprisingly the second in 2022, a Mexican Violetear was a stunner at a feeder along the shores of Walter F. George Reservoir, Henry Co 1–3 Oct. Photo © Fred Bassett.

A Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Mississippi’s 17th, appeared in Petal, Forrest Co 4–14 Nov 2022. Photo © Lillie Gibb.

Part of the ongoing Limpkin invasion, one was spotted at Jackson, Mississippi 19 Aug 2022. Photo © Skipper Anding.

Standing above the crowd, this Long-billed Curlew was a scarce visitor to the Mississippi coast 9 Oct–4 Nov 2022 (here 30 Oct). Photo © James Randolph.

This Least Bittern at Wheeler NWR, Limestone Co remained to 9 Nov 2022 (here 22 Oct) beyond prior inland Alabama occurrences. Photo © William Galloway.

The white morph of Great Blue Heron is occasional to the Alabama-Mississippi region. This long-staying individual was enjoyed by many at Gulf SP, Baldwin Co, Alabama beginning 10 Sep 2022 (here 2 Jan 2023). Photo © Greg D. Jackson.

Rare but now regular in Alabama, a juvenile Roseate Spoonbill was at Dauphin I., Mobile Co 7–27 Aug 2022 (this image 12 Aug). Photo © Andrew Haffenden.

Not observed in Alabama since 2011, this White-tailed Kite 7 Sep 2022 south of Magnolia Springs, Baldwin Co provided the 13th and earliest record for the state. Photo © Bill Summerour.

A Flammulated Owl, Alabama’s third, perching in bright sunlight on a surfside beach chair 30 Oct 2022 at Orange Beach, Baldwin Co wins the prize in the Most Unexpected category! This wayward bird was captured and taken to a local rehabilitation center. Photo © Julie Lesznar.

Long overdue in the Alabama-Mississippi region, a Great Kiskadee filled that gap beginning 25 Nov 2022 at Pass Christian, Harrison Co, MS. Photographed here 27 Nov, this flashy vagrant delighted many observers through 23 Mar 2023. Photo © Timothy Guida.

Inland Alabama rarely hosts Western Kingbirds. One was at the airport at Birmingham 24–25 Sep 2022. Photo © Greg J. Harber.

Pending records committee approval, an Empidonax photographed 7 Oct 2022 at Dauphin I., Mobile Co, AL would give Alabama only its second record of Hammond’s Flycatcher. Photo © Bob and Sandy Sipes.

Rare in the Alabama-Mississippi region but increasing in recent years, a Say’s Phoebe was a great find at Pace, Bolivar Co, MS beginning 3 Oct 2022. Photo © Larry Pace.

This Bell’s Vireo, occasional inland in Mississippi, was spotted 1 Sep 2022 at Walls, DeSoto Co. Photo © Q. B. Gray.

Alabama’s third Yellow-green Vireo was a surprise 30 Sep 2022 at Fort Morgan, Baldwin Co. As with the prior occurrences in the state, this bird was captured during a banding operation along the coast of that county. Photo © Augusta Herre.

The immature Harris’s Sparrow at Fort Morgan, Baldwin Co 26–27 Nov represented the 18th for Alabama and the earliest for the Gulf Coast region of that state. Photo © Kathy Hicks.

Rarely detected in north Alabama, a Henslow’s Sparrow was a prize 1 Nov 2022 at Paint Rock, Jackson Co. Photo © Amber Hart.

Rare but regular in fall along the northern Gulf, two were discovered 17 Sep 2022 on Ship I., Harrison Co, MS. Photo © Gary Herritz.

Increasing recently on the Alabama coast but still rare, this Bronzed Cowbird was one of three visiting feeders at Bon Secour, Baldwin Co beginning 19 Sep 2022 (here 8 Oct). Photo © Grace Simms.

An East Coast migrant in autumn, a Cape May Warbler was unexpected as far west as Hattiesburg, Forrest Co, Mississippi 8 Oct 2022, one of two reported for the state that fall season. Photo © Lillie Gibb.

Though with more records than Mississippi to the west, the eastern migrant Cape May Warbler is rare in autumn in Alabama. Fall 2022 was astounding for the species in the state, with at least 31 individuals reported, most in the first two weeks of October. This male was at Huntsville, Madison Co 11 Oct. Photo © Charles W. Boley.