The ABA’s “Field Ornithology” posts allow for quick dissemination of ornithological news. They are meant to complement North American Birds, which is the longstanding “journal of ornithological record” for birders across North America, from Alaska to Panama and the West Indies. The journal’s mission has been to provide an overview of the changing panorama of the continent’s birdlife—that is, avian status and distribution. More recently, the journal’s scope has expanded to include taxonomy, identification, and behavioral issues, making North American Birds a more holistic journal of North American field ornithology. If you have a topic of interest for possible inclusion as a web-post or as an article in North American Birds, please contact Editor Michael Retter.

  • A Red-flanked Bluetail was a stunning find in Whiting, New Jersey in early December 2023. The bird’s discovery has attracted hundreds of birders from all over the East Coast and beyond. Patient observers were rewarded with quick views of the hyperactive little Old World flycatcher in bluebird drag as she flitted around low to the ground and bobbed her tail.

  • In fall 2023, an amazing total of ten vagrant Ancient Murrelets turned up well inland in the ABA Area, from the Snake River in Oregon to Chickamauga Lake in Tennessee. This remarkable incursion followed months of record-high ocean surface temperatures in the species’s North Pacific range, as well as a bomb cyclone and an ice-free Northwest Passage through the Arctic.

  • Clark’s Nutcracker, Pinyon Jay, and Pygmy Nuthatch are on the move in fall 2023. All three species are occurring on the coast and in the desert at lower elevations than usual, as well as out of range. Clark’s Nutcrackers reached Minnesota and Wisconsin, Pinyon Jays pushed eastward, especially in Colorado, and a Pygmy Nuthatch turned up in Saskatchewan.

  • Ever witnessed thousands upon thousands of warblers streaming overhead nonstop? In early October, birders in Chicago experienced a migration spectacle that they won’t soon forget. Nathan Goldberg, Marky Mutchler, and Jacob Drucker report on this megaflight, what caused it, and how birders made sense of the chaos, as well as the sad reality of the window-strikes that resulted and what you can do to help.

  • There is no gaudier or more glorious storm bird than American Flamingo, and perhaps no more absurd place for a pair of them to show up than Ohio. After Hurricane Idalia hurtled into the Florida panhandle, gawky hot pink waders began appearing as if in a nationwide yard flocking prank―in Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Ohio, and elsewhere.

  • After combing through hundreds of photos of vagrant Sandwich Terns in North America, David Sibley discovered that many were of European origin. In this article, Sibley shares new artwork and discusses field marks to help us identify them.

  • Marine ecology is complicated, yet there is one pattern that is quite consistent: cold water has more food than warm water. So when waters warm in an El Niño, such as is occurring now, birds move to find food. Read on for details about what exciting birds are showing up, and where.

  • Reverse Migration, Overshoots, and the Concentrating Effect of Oceanic Islands on Migrating Birds
    Oceanic islands are well known for the occurrence of extralimital vagrants, and Bermuda may get more than most, as it is located between the two American continents.

  • One of the great things about birding is that some birds are incredibly challenging to find, requiring skill, patience, and, maybe most of all, luck. The ABA and Birding magazine are dedicated to helping birders increase their chances of finding the ABA Area’s most difficult birds by providing tips and tricks by top birding experts. That’s the philosophy behind the new Codebreakers series, of which Heather Hill’s column on finding Black Rails is the first entry.

  • Some folks lament the transition into cold weather seasons, as days grow shorter and nights dip toward frigid temperatures, but for many birders, fall and winter provide an opportunity to observe a fascinating and sometimes unpredictable phenomenon: dispersal and migration following the breeding season.

  • While the tern complex does not contain as many species as the gull complex and therefore is not as confounding, the identification of Thalasseus terns nonetheless can be challenging. In addition to the normal variation in body size and coloration of bare parts such as bills and legs, identification can be hampered by continent-crossing vagrants that may breed with related species in both North America and in Europe, creating hybrids and back-crosses.

  • An important goal of almost every birder is to identify birds correctly. To that end, one of the joys of birding is that there is always more to learn. As we study and gain experience in the field, we become more attuned to look for the best marks that lead to proper identifications.

  • Four Red-legged Honeycreepers were discovered in Louisiana and the Florida Keys on the same day in mid-Oct 2022 in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Karl. Subsequently, reports kept surfacing until an astonishing total of eleven locations in three Gulf Coast states and The Bahamas had played host to the species.

  • Hurricane Fiona tore through the West Indies before heading north all the way to Canada’s Atlantic Region, where it was the strongest recorded storm for the latitude. It brought with it Canada’s first Trindade Petrels, as well as Sooty and Bridled terns, White-tailed Tropicbird, Black-capped Petrel, and Magnificent Frigatebird.

  • An ABA-Area first Icterine Warbler at Gambell tops off an amazing early fall in Alaska thus far. This misoriented migrant may have made an incredible over-Arctic journey from its breeding grounds in Scandinavia to St. Lawrence Island, where it joined an already spectacular roster of vagrants found in September 2022.

  • A 1,000-Kilometer Journey to the Wintering Grounds
    A sense of wonder has stayed with me since seeing those Thick-billed Murre chicks jump at Prince Leopold Island on my first expedition cruise to Nunavut, as well as on subsequent trips until the most recent one in Aug. 2019.

  • The 2021−2022 invasion of Northern Lapwing into the ABA Area continues into spring as several more reports of this striking Palearctic plover occurred in Mar 2022. Read all about the lapwings that turned up from Newfoundland and Labrador south to Virginia, as well as the weather phenomenon that brought them to the ABA Area.

  • The arrival of Bat Falcon in south Texas was only a matter of time: the species has undergone a dramatic northward range expansion, but that fact made its discovery at Santa Ana NWR no less exciting.

  • On 26 Nov 2021, Susan Zelek photographed an unusual bird at Waukegan Beach, Lake Co, Illinois. It turned out to be a Small-billed Elaenia—the fourth ever for the ABA Area, following two other ABA Area records in 2021 and the ABA Area’s first, also in Illinois, in 2012!

  • This is a detailed, comprehensive report of bird records from the Mexican state of Guerrero. It treats 94 species, of which 41 are first records for Guerrero. Nine species are resident, and 53 species are described as either data deficient, or their status is currently misrepresented in print.

  • A potential ABA Area first, a Lesson’s Seedeater, appeared at Pointe-aux-Outardes, Québec, an intriguing location where a misoriented South American migrant might be expected to turn up. As always with out-of-range seedeaters, especially the striking adult males, provenance must be considered, but could this bird plausibly be a wild vagrant?

  • Hurricane Nora walloped the Pacific coast of Mexico, making landfall 28 Aug 2020 south of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. ABA Area birders realized the impact of Hurricane Nora in the form of a trifecta of spectacular out-of-range storm birds: two Yellow-footed Gulls and a Magnificent Frigatebird.

  • Fall 2021 has been exciting at Gambell. Highlights from late Aug through mid-Sep include a “Siberian” Common Chiffchaff (representing one of no fewer than four Phyllloscopus species present) and an especially cooperative Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler. Common Snipe, Willow Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Little Bunting, and Mountain Bluebird were also notable.

  • Hurricane Ida slammed into Louisiana on 29 Aug 2021, then veered northeast toward New England and the Canadian Maritimes. In the following days, storm-chasing birders encountered the usual post-cyclone waifs such as Sooty Tern and Magnificent Frigatebird, plus astonishing records of Bulwer’s Petrel and Wedge-tailed Shearwater.

  • When Dianne Doherty spotted a Roseate Spoonbill near the Androscoggin River Dam in Gorham, New Hampshire on 30 Jul 2021, the sighting became the state’s first record for the species. It was far from an isolated incident, however.

  • While this year has been a tough one for many of us, birders in the eastern United States and southeastern Canada are receiving a welcome surprise as we experience a banner year for irruptive boreal birds, including remarkable records and a “superflight” of finches.

  • by Alec Hopping Every year as summer wanes, birders across North America eagerly turn read more >>

  • When we arrived at midnight, we found a macabre scene. Several hundred Violet-green Swallows were strewn across the bank of the Rio Grande. Dozens of birds had stuffed themselves into the few natural cavities, and many more were dead amongst the vegetation.

  • Weather, and its effects on birds, has long been a key point of focus for many birders. There is perhaps one weather-related birding event, however, that piques birders’ interests more than any other...

  • SEAZ Birds: The Missing Tracks is a 117-track, 75-species, five-disc digital collection. It includes regular species with missing calls (such as Crissal Thrasher), regional specialties and subspecies (such as Elegant Trogon), rare birds (such as Rufous-capped Warbler), and long-expected state-firsts not yet on the Arizona Checklist (such as Rusty Sparrow).

  • Disc 1: Hawks to Flycatchers by Diana Doyle ⇐ Click the ZIP icon to download the entire read more >>

  • Disc 1: Warblers to Grosbeaks by Diana Doyle ⇐ Click the ZIP icon to download the entire read more >>

  • Disc 1: Euphonias to Orioles by Diana Doyle ⇐ Click the ZIP icon to download the entire read more >>

  • Disc 3: Vireos to Mockingbirds by Diana Doyle ⇐ Click the ZIP icon to download the entire read more >>

  • Disc 1: Quail to Hummingbirds by Diana Doyle ⇐ Click the ZIP icon to download the entire disc read more >>

  • The Mexican Duck, Anas [platyrhynchos] diazi, is considered by the American Ornithological Society and the ABA to be a subspecies, but many ornithologists believe it probably warrants full-species rank. This article reviews the basic natural history and field identification of this little-known member of the ABA Area’s avifauna.