Hudson-Delaware Region: Fall 2022

Fall 2022: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Amy Davis
adavis@aba.org

Shaibal S. Mitra
shaibal.mitra@csi.cuny.edu

Robert O. Paxton
rop1@columbia.edu

Frank Rohrbacher
rohrbaf@aol.com

Recommended citation:

Davis, Amy, Shaibal S. Mitra, Robert O. Paxton, and Frank Rohrbacher. 2023. Fall 2022: Hudson-Delaware. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-gB4> North American Birds.

Fall 2022 was memorable for the number of state firsts discovered in the Hudson-Delaware region. Three new species were found in New York―Bermuda Petrel, Limpkin, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher―while New Jersey hosted an astounding seven firsts: Broad-billed Hummingbird, Bermuda Petrel, Eurasian (Western) Marsh-Harrier, Tropical Kingbird, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Brewer’s Sparrow, and Kirtland’s Warbler.

Of these, Bermuda Petrel, Limpkin, Eurasian Marsh-Harrier, and Brewer’s Sparrow were new to the Hudson-Delaware region, and the Eurasian Marsh-Harrier was almost certainly the same individual that earned the addition of that species to the ABA checklist after first appearing in Maine earlier in the season. As for the weather this fall, it was overall warmer and wetter than average. The remnants of Hurricane Ian swept pelagic species into shore in early Oct, and a massive lake-effect snowstorm pummeled northern and western NY in mid-Nov.

Waterfowl

Fifty years ago, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck’s range extended just into the ABA Area in southern Texas and southern Arizona. Since then, its range has been expanding rapidly north and east, and it has been annual in the Hudson-Delaware region since 2007. This season, there were sightings of the good-looking tree duck at Augustine Wildlife Area, New Castle Co, DE 14 Sep (Carolyn Holland) and Edwin B. Forsythe NWR, Atlantic Co, NJ 17−25 Sep (Bill Elrick, Johnny Votta). As many as 20−30 continued through mid-Aug in Smyrna, Kent Co, DE at the Amalfi Drive retention pond and nearby Wheatley’s Pond. This flock originated from escapees belonging to a nearby hobbyist and likely bred in the area last year. As of 2023, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck has been removed from both the DE and NJ review lists.

All this season’s reports of Ross’s Goose came from NY’s Great Lakes and St. Lawrence plains (Franklin, Duchess, Canandaigua, Monroe, Seneca, and Orleans Cos)―that is, except for two reports from Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE on 12 Nov and 25 Nov (Anthony Gonzon, Milton Collins, m. ob.). Ross’s Goose was considered a very rare vagrant in the Hudson-Delaware region through the late 1990s, but sightings have proliferated since.

Greater White-fronted Geese appeared in all three of the region’s states this fall. NY racked up records from ten counties―mostly from the I-90 corridor and coastal lowlands. In NJ, the species turned up mainly in the piedmont and highlands areas, in Somerset, Warren, Bergen, Sussex, and Hunterdon Cos. Interestingly, the Somerset Co, NJ record consisted of a nocturnal recording at Lord Stirling Park on the rather early date of 29 Sep. DE’s only sighting came from Bombay Hook NWR in Kent Co. Greater White-fronted Goose is scarce in the Hudson-Delaware region but has been increasing here and elsewhere in the Eastern U.S. and Canada for the last half century. Two forms may be identifiable in the field by careful observers. The expected “Interior” form (composed of A. a. frontalis, A. a. gambeli, A. a. elgasi, and A. a. sponsa) breeds in the ABA Area from Nunavut west to Alaska and generally occurs in the Hudson-Delaware region in the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes regions. The “Greenland” subspecies A. a. flavirostris breeds in (you guessed it) Greenland, and occasionally occurs in the Hudson-Delaware region’s coastal plain. Most are not identified to subspecies/population, but this season, “Greenland” geese were reported from Westchester and Suffolk Cos in NY.

The only Pink-footed Goose of the fall was found in Northport and Centerport, Suffolk Co, NY 27−28 Nov (Sam Clarke, m. ob.). After the region’s first (at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE, in 1953), there were no naturally occurring records until 2007. Pink-footed Goose has been about annual ever since, and its population is booming. Barnacle Goose went unreported this season, although it appeared just outside the region in Québec and Pennsylvania.

A “Black” Brant (B. b. nigricans) at Savages Ditch, Delaware Seashore SP, Sussex Co, DE on 22 Nov (Bruce Peterjohn) was likely the same individual found there the previous Feb. In past years, “Black” Brant appearing on nearby Indian River Bay returned for four or five consecutive winters. “Atlantic” Brant (B. b. hrota) is the expected subspecies in the East, and non-hrota Brant are very rare here.

A pair of Trumpeter Swans returned to Assunpink WMA, Monmouth Co, NJ for the tenth consecutive fall on 22 Nov and continued through the period (Bob Dodelson, m. ob.). These enormous brassy beauties have become established in upstate NY following a reintroduction program in ON and are widespread in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence plains.

A “Common” Green-winged Teal (A. c. crecca) was at Santapogue Creek, Babylon, Suffolk Co, NY on 28 Nov (Tracy Drake). The Eurasian subspecies is rare in the region in fall and winter, although out-of-range hens can’t be separated from the expected A. c. carolinensis.

Eurasian Wigeon is rare but regular in the Hudson-Delaware region in fall and winter. As with “Common” Green-winged Teal, almost all reports pertain to drakes due to the difficulty of separating hens from their American counterparts. A few Eurasian drakes turned up in NY’s Great Lakes Plain, in Seneca, Monroe, and Wayne Cos, but most of this season’s reports came from the region’s coastal plain (in Cape May and Atlantic Cos in NJ, and Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Cos in NY). The Nassau Co, NY bird returned to Oyster Bay for the third consecutive year.

NY hosted Tufted Ducks on the NY side of Lake Champlain at Port Kent, Essex Co 20 Oct (Stacy Robinson) and on Lake Erie at Buffalo’s LaSalle Park in Erie Co 23−29 Nov (Tom Kerr, Seaghan Coleman, m. ob.). This is the rarest of the Old World ducks regularly occurring in the Hudson-Delaware region. It has been about annual here since the mid-1990s, and records are (unsurprisingly) concentrated in Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes, and the coast. In the ABA Area, it is most frequently found in Alaska’s Aleutian and Pribilof islands and now winters in Newfoundland in small numbers.

King Eider’s ABA Area winter range reaches its southern limit in the Hudson-Delaware region. It frequently turns up on Barnegat Inlet in Ocean Co, NJ, and is less common further south. A “Queen” Eider seen from the Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch on 4 Nov (Jen Ottinger, m. ob.) was noteworthy in DE. A summering drake was unusual at Seaside Wildlife Nature Park, Richmond Co, Staten Island, NY, where it continued through 11 Aug (Anthony Ciancimino, m. ob.).

Grebes through Limpkins

Two Eared Grebes were a bit early at the Newark Reservoir, New Castle Co, DE on 30 Aug (Walter Bruhl). Others were found at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens Co, NY 11−14 Sep (Doug Gochfeld, m. ob.); Jarvis Sound, Cape May Co, NJ 16 Oct (m. ob.); and Glen Island Park, Westchester Co, NY 23 Nov (Kevin McGrath). Half a dozen more occurred in upstate NY, in the western Great Lakes Plain (Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genessee, and Monroe Cos) and on Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake. Eared Grebe is becoming more frequent in the region in fall and winter.

The season’s only Eurasian Collared-Dove was at Cape May Point SP, Cape May Co, NJ 8 Oct (Michael O’Brien, Michael Turso, m. ob.). Eurasian Collared-Dove has colonized the Caribbean, Mexico, and the southern and western U.S. in the last 40 years. It formerly had a toehold in the Hudson-Delaware region in extreme southern DE at Selbyville, Sussex Co, but has not been reported there since 2020.

At least one White-winged Dove was found around Cape Island, Cape May Co, NJ in Sep−Oct. Elsewhere in NJ, one visited a feeder in Upper Freehold, Monmouth Co 21−26 Sep (Evan Knudsen), and in NY, one turned up in a Bedford-Stuyvesant, Kings Co yard 22 Nov (Robert Colucci). White-winged Dove has been about annual in the region since 2000 and is expanding its range northward and eastward. As of 2023, it has been removed from the NJ review list.

A Calliope Hummingbird in Eastport, Suffolk Co 6−22 Nov (Darlene Massey, m. ob.) was NY’s sixth; there are over a dozen records of this tiny Rocky Mountain gem from NJ, and three from DE. Most have occurred within the last decade. Three Rufous Hummingbirds were found in Aug, and as is typical for these early arrivals, two of the three were adult males: one in Delmar, Albany Co, NY 5 Aug (Daniel Schlaepfer, Julie Hart) and one in Chenango Forks, Broome Co, NY 19−31 Aug (fide Linda Hall, m. ob.). The rest of the season’s records were from Orange Co, NY; Hunterdon Co, NJ; Cattaraugus Co, NY; Passaic Co, NJ; and Suffolk Co, NY, where there were two. A Rufous/Allen’s was in Cape May Co, NJ.

NJ’s first Broad-billed Hummingbird, a spectacular adult male, was in Leesburg, Cumberland Co 2−4 Nov (J. Crawford, m. ob.). Summer and fall 2022 were noteworthy for out-of-range Broad-billeds in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio, as well as the Garden State. The Hudson-Delaware region’s two previous records both occurred in 2006 in NY (Wayne and Tioga Cos).

A flyover Yellow Rail was expertly documented after sundown in Cape May, Cape May Co, NJ 18 Oct (Tom Johnson, Patrick Maurice, m. ob.). Another at Birdsong Meadows Farm, Candor, Tioga Co, NY 17 Oct (Aidan Troyer, m. ob.) may have been a returning bird; one was found at this farm in Oct 2021. A scarce migrant and winterer in the region, Yellow Rail is most often found in Sep−Oct, even though it may be easier to detect in spring by its distinctive nocturnal click calls. Researchers have recently documented previously unknown vocalizations given in winter, “bugling” calls recorded on the species’s usual wintering grounds in Texas (Butler et al, 2023); perhaps this call is also given in migration.

Limpkin seemed inevitable in the Hudson-Delaware region following its mind-blowing range expansion, but the region’s first was a bit incongruous in Lewiston, Niagara Co, NY 9−18 Nov (Frank Campbell, m. ob.); it was picked up by wildlife rehabbers on the latter date and released in a sunnier clime. A south Florida specialty in the ABA Area just five years ago, this species has been moving northward at a dizzying pace, appearing in no fewer than 21 states and provinces since 2020, as pioneers discover invasive giant apple snails and other food sources ever further north. Breeding has been documented in Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas so far.

Shorebirds

Black-necked Stilts at Sandy Hook, Monmouth Co, NJ 6 Aug (Christopher Hinkle), South Cape May Meadows, Cape May Co, NJ 12 Sep (Marilyn Stone), and Jones Beach, Nassau Co, NY 17 Sep (Miro Mut) dispersed north of their breeding range in DE. The northernmost records of American Avocet occurred at Wilson, Niagara Co, NY 8 Aug (Charley Horton, m. ob.); Woodlawn Beach SP, Erie Co, NY 9 Aug (Sue Barth, m. ob.); and Sherwin Bay, Jefferson Co, NY 11 Nov (Dick Brouse, m. ob.). There were at least a dozen reports of American Avocet from metro NYC and Long Island this season, and the species is becoming more regular in NJ in fall and winter, especially at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR in Atlantic Co.

A few Eurasian shorebirds made charming additions to the region’s shores, marshes, and turf this season. A Bar-tailed Godwit continued at Cupsogue Beach County Park, Suffolk Co, NY through 10 Aug (m. ob.). There were two records of Ruff, from Columbus, Burlington Co, NJ 24−26 Sep (Tony Masso, m. ob.) and Montezuma NWR in Seneca and Wayne Cos, NY 20−22 Oct (David Kennedy, m. ob.). A juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper graced Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE 3−7 Nov (Bob and Anne Watson, m. ob.); there are three or four previous records for DE and just a handful from elsewhere in the region.

Red Phalaropes were seen from shore during Hurricane Ian at Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co, DE 1 Oct (Bruce Peterjohn) and Montauk, Suffolk Co, NY 3 Oct (Mike McBrien). Several were found in the Buffalo area in Erie Co, NY: there were two at Unity Island on 26 Sep (Phil Mills, m. ob.), and three were at Black Rock Canal Park 21−22 Nov (Jim Pawlicki, m. ob.). Red Phalarope is fairly common offshore in winter but rarely seen from shore.

Jaegers through Terns

Pomarine Jaeger is found offshore and at the Great Lakes in migration but are rare elsewhere in the region. The species was seen from shore at Robert Moses SP, Suffolk Co, NY 13 Oct (Shai Mitra, Patricia Lindsay) and Cape Henlopen SP in Sussex Co, DE, on 27 Oct and 25 Nov (both Bruce Peterjohn). Almost all jaegers seen from shore in the region are Parasitic.

A Dovekie at Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co, DE was early on 29 Nov (Jen Ottinger), and a dead one washed ashore at Orient Beach SP, Suffolk Co, NY on 27 Nov (Luci Betti, Patrice Domeischel). There were widespread reports from shore in winter 2020 and 2021, presumably due to warmer ocean temperatures and scarce prey offshore.

There were several reports of Black-headed Gull from both NJ and NY. In NJ, one was at Island Beach SP, Ocean Co 19 Oct (Scott Barnes, Linda Mack, Steven Weiss, m. ob.), and another spent most of the fall in Ocean and Monmouth Cos on the Manasquan Inlet, where the species has been seen for the last three fall−winter seasons. Elsewhere in NJ, one was at Meadowlands IBA, Hudson Co and nearby Richard DeKorte Park, Bergen Co 4 Sep−29 Nov (Mike Britt, m. ob.). In NY, a continuing bird was at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens Co, NY through 6 Nov (m. ob.); it was joined there by a second bird in mid-late Oct. Other NY records came from Randalls Island, New York Co and Astoria Park, Queens Co 19−23 Nov (Dmitriy Aronov, Adam Cunningham, Tim Healy, m. ob.), as well as Setauket Harbor, Suffolk Co 27−30 Nov (Patricia Paladines, Doug Futuyma). Black-headed Gull is a European species first documented breeding in the ABA Area in Newfoundland in 1977; there is now a robust wintering population in that province. It is rare but regular south to the Jersey shore.

One Franklin’s Gull made several appearances in the Finger Lakes region of NY, around the north end of Seneca Lake in Seneca and Ontario Cos 21 Sep−3 Oct (Tim Lenz, m. ob.) and in the Ithaca area 4 Oct (Jay McGowan, m. ob.). There were also two records from Cape May Co, NJ, on 8 Nov (Gautam Apte) and 27 Nov (Nick Giordano). “Prairie Dove” is increasing in the region, and more than one has been found every year since 2019.

An Arctic Tern at Cliffwood Beach, Middlesex Co, NJ 13 Sep (Jason Denesevich) represented a very rare fall record. Most of the breeders in the eastern portion of the species’s ABA Area range head east across the North Atlantic in fall before going south to their Antarctic wintering grounds. Spring migrants take a more westerly route over the Atlantic—accordingly, almost all the region’s records are from spring.

A Sandwich Tern reached Barnegat Light SP, Ocean Co, NJ 8 Aug (Chris Thomas); the species was widespread in Cape May Co, NJ and in coastal DE from Cape Henlopen SP south to Bethany Beach this fall. Sandwich Tern has become a regular post-breeding wanderer in the region in the last twenty-five years.

NJ’s second Elegant Tern flew over Barnegat Light, Ocean Co on 27 Nov (Chris Thomas, Bob Leifeste). Elegant Tern’s breeding colonies are in southern California and Baja California, and the species’s winter range extends from California south to Chile. It frequently disperses north on the Pacific Coast. Atlantic Coast records are spread out from Virginia to Massachusetts. The region’s previous records are from Sandy Hook, Monmouth Co, NJ (2012); Suffolk and Erie Cos, NY (both 2013); and Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co, DE (2017).

Loons through Pelicans

In NY, a Pacific Loon was on Lake Ontario at Hamlin Beach SP, Monroe Co on 7 Nov (Andrew Guthrie) and another flew over Allan H. Treman State Marine Park, Tompkins Co on 20 Nov (Benjamin Hack, Jack Hutchison). Further south, single flybys were reported from Cape May, Cape May Co, NJ on 26 and 29 Nov (Andrew Marden, Tom Johnson, m. ob.), and one appeared across the bay at Cape Henlopen SP on 30 Nov (Jen Ottinger, m. ob.). Though there are only a couple previous records from DE, reports of Pacific Loon have increased in the last five years, especially south of Manasquan Inlet in Ocean Co, NJ.

Several pelagic trips encountered White-faced Storm-Petrels this season in NJ and NY waters. Two turned up off Suffolk Co, NY on 15 Aug (Doug Gochfeld, Amy Davis, Tom Johnson, m. ob.) and in NJ waters, singles were in Atlantic and Cape May Co waters on 27 Aug (Jason Denesevich, m. ob.). Another was photographed at the Hudson Canyon in Suffolk Co, NY waters on 4 Sep (Steven Weiss). White-faced Storm-Petrel is rare but regular offshore in the fall.

In early Oct, Hurricane Ian delivered several Leach’s Storm-Petrels to shore, where they are certainly a rare sight. Singles were reported from Raritan Bay Waterfront Park in Middlesex Co, NJ (Jason Denesevich), Montauk, Suffolk Co, NY (Mike McBrien), and Belden Point, Bronx Co, NY (Richard Aracil); all occurred on 3 Oct. Likewise, a Band-rumped Storm-Petrel was in Lewes Harbor, Cape Henlopen Point on 1 Oct (Bruce Peterjohn). Both these species are regular off the continental shelf; most seen from land are blown in by storms.

NJ’s first Bermuda Petrel wowed pelagic birders in deep water off Atlantic Co 27 Aug (Jason Denesevich, Andrew Marden, m. ob.). NY scored its first “Cahow” two months later, off Suffolk Co 17 Oct (Jason Denesevich, m. ob.). Since its rediscovery in Bermuda in 1951, the Cahow has been the beneficiary of heroic conservation efforts, and now numbers about 400 individuals. Most pelagic records are from North Carolina waters, where there is skilled, thorough coverage, but the species has been documented as far north as Nova Scotia.

There were several reports of the more expected Black-capped Petrel from the area of the Hudson Canyon in Suffolk Co, NY waters 15 Aug and 17 Oct. In NJ, the species was found off Ocean Co 6 Aug (Odysseas Froilán Papageorgiou) and Atlantic Co 27 Aug (Melissa Laurino, m. ob.). Black-capped Petrel is expected off the continental shelf in early fall.

Brown Booby has been approaching ubiquity in the last decade throughout the ABA Area, where it has appeared from Alaska to Arkansas. In the Hudson-Delaware region, half a dozen or more have been found every year since 2019. The season’s first was seen on the Delaware River from Gloucester Co, NJ on 1 Aug (Danny Ceravolo, Barb Bassett, S. Reynolds). There were multiple sightings in Cape May Co, NJ: one offshore on 24 Oct (Nick Giordano); one at Avalon on 25 Oct (Doug Whitman, Tom Reed); and singles at Cape May on 29 Oct and 4 Nov (both Gautam Apte). Elsewhere, two returned to Union Co, NJ, where they were present 30 Oct−28 Nov (David Bernstein, Jonathan Klizas, D. Hannay, m. ob.); two or three have turned up around Newark Bay every fall since 2020. Finally, there was a flyby at Montauk Pt., Suffolk Co, NY on 1 Nov (Ben Bolduc). Warming oceans are sending this pantropical species further north, and, belying the huge increase in out-of-range records, Brown Booby’s population is declining.

NY’s sixth Anhinga continued from summer on Lake Tappan in Rockland Co through 5 Sep (m. ob.). Most of the region’s 30+ records of “snakebird” are from NJ and have occurred in spring.

An American White Pelican was at Mannington Marsh, Salem Co, NJ 24 Aug (Scott Barnes, Linda Mack). In DE, there were sightings at Augustine Wildlife Area, New Castle Co 20 Sep (Lynn Jackson, Martin Seltzer) and Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, where there were as many as 24 on 5−6 Nov (m. ob.). A flock of eight was seen over Cape May Point SP, Cape May Co, NJ 12 Nov (m. ob.) and presumably the same eight birds dropped into Edwin B. Forsythe NWR, Atlantic Co, NJ about 45 minutes later (Brett Ewald, m. ob.); several continued at the latter location through the end of the period. Also in NJ, one was in Hunterdon Co at Spruce Run Recreation Area and Round Valley Recreation Area 25 Nov (Frank Sencher, m. ob.). The range of American White Pelican has been expanding, with breeding documented as far east as Lake Erie in the last few years. Sightings have become more frequent in the Hudson-Delaware region, especially in fall and winter.

Ibis through Caracara

White Ibis continues its northward expansion. The species was widespread in southern NJ this season and there were some half a dozen reports from the NYC metro area and Long Island. A count of 1230 was tallied at the Ocean City rookery, Cape May Co, NJ on 9 Aug (Tom Johnson); in 2022, the species was documented breeding there for the third year in a row. White-faced Ibis went unreported this fall.

A Eurasian (Western) Marsh-Harrier was a stunning find at Troy Meadows, Morris Co, NJ where it was present 8−18 Nov, representing a first for both the state and the Hudson-Delaware region (Chuck Hantis, Jeff Ellerbusch, m. ob.). Based on molt analysis, this bird is thought to have been the same one documented in Knox Co, Maine in late Aug 2022, an ABA Area first (barring a 1994 sight record from Virginia unreviewed by ABA-CLC). Eurasian Marsh-Harrier’s breeding range extends from western Europe to Mongolia, and the species winters mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and India. It has been documented as close to the ABA Area as Bermuda and the Caribbean, and there are out-of-range records from the Azores and Iceland as well. Regrettably, this bird met its end at Newark Liberty International Airport, where it collided with a plane on 19 Nov.

A Swallow-tailed Kite soared over Far Rockaway, Queens Co, NY 20 Aug (David Lichter); another was seen over Cape May Point SP, Cape May Co, NJ 24 Aug (Kirsten Hines). This elegant kite is annual in the region, but rarer in fall than spring.

Northern Goshawk returned to the DE review list following a precipitous drop in reports from that state. After an absence of several years, the species was observed from Cape Henlopen SP Hawk Watch, Sussex Co on four occasions between 30 Oct and 21 Nov (all Jen Ottinger, m. ob.). It was also seen at Ashland Hawk Watch, New Castle Co 9 Nov (David Brown, m. ob.).

Two lingering Mississippi Kites were in the region this fall, one at Ballston Lake, Saratoga Co, NY through 9 Aug (Cheyenne Lee) and one in Camden Co, NJ through 13 Aug (Kyle Gallagher). Also on 13 Aug, one was reported from Townsend, New Castle Co, DE (Nicholas Minnich), and elsewhere in that county, one flew over Brandywine Creek SP on 25 Aug (Andrew Ednie). Another was photographed over Green-Wood Cemetery in Kings Co, NY 17 Sep (Cole Winstanley), and multiple reports came from various locations in Cape May Co, NJ on 20 and 28 Sep (m. ob.). Mississippi Kite is a scarce migrant in the region, although it is more numerous here in cicada hatch years. The species bred in NY in 2010 (Montgomery Co) and 2012 (Orange Co), and in NJ from 2015−2020 (Ocean Co).

A Swainson’s Hawk was photographed over Braddock Bay, Monroe Co, NY 19 Sep (Ben Nieman, Rob Sielaff). The region hosted two others this fall, both in Cape May Co, NJ, on 20 September (Doug Gochfeld, Nick Giordano, Vince Elia, Tom Johnson) and 2 Nov (Tom Reed, Alex Humann, Roger Horn, Kathy Horn, m. ob.). This rare fall migrant has been about annual in the region for the last three decades.

An unusual juvenile sapsucker photographed at Island Beach SP, Ocean Co, NJ 9 Oct (Alex Tongas) appeared to be a hybrid involving Red-breasted and/or Red-naped. These species, as well as Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, frequently interbreed where their ranges overlap, and hybrids are occasionally found well away from overlap zones.

A Crested Caracara in Suffolk Co, NY was seen at Montauk 2 Sep (Elizabeth Ratner, Patrick Markee) and nearby Gardiners Island 7 Sep−11 Nov (Jim Weber, Andrew Farnsworth, Michael Scheibel). There are about twenty previous records of this oddball scavenger falcon in the region, all since 2007, and mostly from fall−winter.

Passerines

The region’s only Ash-throated Flycatcher this season was photographed at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings Co, NY 24 Nov (Terry Von Ploennies). Since 1985, the species has occurred about annually in fall−winter; at least half a dozen were found every fall from 2019−2021.

NY’s first Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher was a remarkable find at Wave Hill, Bronx Co 9 Oct (Gabriel Willow, m. ob.). The Hudson-Delaware region claims just one previous record, from (where else) Cape May Co, NJ in 2006. Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher’s usual ABA Area range is limited to southeastern Arizona; from there its range extends south through Mexico and Central America to Bolivia. Extralimital records are concentrated in California, the Southern Great Plains, and the Gulf Coast and Florida, with scattered reports from Michigan, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.

A Tropical Kingbird was an overdue NJ first at Cape May Point, Cape May Co on 1 Nov (Howard Weinberg, Michael O’Brien, m. ob.). There are several populations of Tropical Kingbird, and this individual’s low-pitched calls point to origins in eastern Mexico or Texas (per Michael O’Brien). DE and NY each boast three records of the species, and NY’s third occurred this season, at Breezy Point, Queens Co 28 Oct (Doug Gochfeld, Max Epstein, m. ob.). A Couch’s/Tropical Kingbird appeared briefly in New Castle Co, DE at Thousand Acre Marsh 28 Oct (Andy Ednie).

A Western Kingbird was noteworthy inland at Great Swamp NWR, Morris Co, NJ 10 Oct (Randolph Little, m. ob.). About half a dozen records came from coastal locations in Monmouth Co, NJ, and Richmond and Suffolk Cos in NY. The species is becoming more common in fall−winter, though there were fewer reported in 2022 than in 2021.

Gray Kingbird is about annual in the region, and two were found this fall, in coastal locations, as is typical: one at Miller Field, Staten Island, Richmond Co, NY 22 Sep (Maya Shikhman) and the other at Cape May Point, Cape May Co, NJ 17−21 Nov (Mark Garland, m. ob.).

NJ’s first Hammond’s Flycatcher was well-documented at Sandy Hook, Monmouth Co 28 Oct (B. Cenker, B. Diebold, M. Heine, P. Mandala). The region’s previous records occurred in DE, where a specimen was recovered from Woodland Beach, Kent Co in 1986, and NY, where there are records from Nassau, Westchester, and New York Cos, all since 2001. Eastern records are mostly coastal and have occurred from Nova Scotia south to Florida and along the Gulf Coast

A Western Flycatcher was banded at South Cape May Meadows, Cape May Co, NJ 19 Sep (J. Carbonell-Bierbaum, L. DiBiccari, V. Weber, A. Lamoreaux). Western Flycatcher was resurrected as a species in 2023 after having been split into Pacific-slope and Cordilleran following the 1989 discovery of interbreeding in a small contact zone in California. More recent research has determined that vocalizations previously accepted as diagnostic for Pacific-slope and Cordilleran are quite variable and don’t always match the morphological characteristics by which some individuals were identified in hand. The region’s dozen or so records were all identified as Pacific-slope or slashes.

DE’s third Bell’s Vireo was at Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co on 31 Aug (Bruce Peterjohn, Andrew Ednie). Another at Rea’s Farm in Cape May Co 27 Sep was NJ’s 14th (Aidan Griffiths, Harrison Hepding, Andrew Marden). Most of the region’s records are from NJ, and NY claims about seven records. All available documentation indicates that the region’s vagrants belong to the Eastern nominate subspecies, and all but two have occurred in coastal locations.

A remarkable total of four Loggerhead Shrike reports came from the region this fall. On 2 Aug, a Loggerhead Shrike was at Croton Point Park, Westchester Co, NY, where one was previously found in June (Larry Trachtenberg). Elsewhere, others turned up at Hannibal, Oswego Co, NY 2−3 Sep (Gregg Dashnau, m. ob.); Prime Hook NWR, Sussex Co, DE 5−6 Sep (Elizabeth Clements, m. ob.); and Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, Ulster Co, NY 9 Nov (Maryangela Buskey). This declining species formerly bred in NY’s grasslands but is now a very rare migrant―less than annual in the region for the last few decades. It retains an isolated breeding stronghold in southern Ontario, where it is well managed. Recent records are thought to originate in that population; a bird seen in DE annually from 2015−2017 was banded in Ontario.

Common Ravens continue to reclaim their previous range in the region’s coastal plain, and increasing records from DE are the latest sign of the species’s recovery. While Common Ravens are most frequently seen in DE north of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, they also occurred in Lewes and Cape Henlopen SP this season. Although there is still no indication of breeding in DE, Common Raven is a good candidate for removal from the state’s review list.

Cave Swallow has been annual in the region since the early 1990s. As is typical, this season’s Cave Swallows occurred in Nov, mostly in coastal areas and NY’s Great Lakes plain. Several reports came from Cape May Co, NJ, and the species also appeared in Niagara Co, NY 5 Nov (Willie D’Anna); Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co, DE 8 Nov (Jen Ottinger); Kings Co, NY 8 Nov (Ryan Mandelbaum); and Queens Co, NY 14 Nov (Doug Gochfeld, m. ob.). Reports from Lake Champlain, Essex Co, NY 6 Nov (Stacey Robinson) and Somerset Co, NJ 9 Nov (Ben Barkley) were unusual inland. Both the southwestern P. f. pallida and Caribbean P. f. fulva have been increasing for decades, and both subspecies have been documented in the region, with P. f. pallida expected in fall.

For the second fall in a row, NY hosted two Northern Wheatears, one at Hillview Reservoir, Westchester Co 7 Sep (Brendon Kelly, m. ob.) and another at Jones Beach SP, Nassau Co 21 Sep (Sam Jannozzo, m. ob.). The region’s forty-some records are about evenly split between NY and NJ, with just two from DE.

A Townsend’s Solitaire was at Oak Beach, Suffolk Co, NY 29 Oct (Arie Gilbert, m. ob.). The plain juniper dwelling thrush has been about annual in the region for the last fifteen years.

The Finch Research Network’s 2022−2023 winter finch forecast predicted movements of Bohemian Waxwing, Evening and Pine grosbeaks, Purple Finches, redpolls, “eastern Type 10” Red Crossbills, and Pine Siskins. Late in the season, a few Bohemian Waxwings were feasting on crabapples and other fruit in the Adirondacks, and Herkimer, Monroe, and Wayne Cos in NY. A lone Evening Grosbeak was reported from a Sullivan Co, NY feeder in mid-Aug (Marge Gorton, m. ob.), and by the end of Oct the species was widespread throughout NY and had reached New Castle Co, DE and Cape May Co, NJ. A few Pine Grosbeaks turned up in the Adirondacks as well as Monroe Co, NY late in the season. Not many Purple Finches passed through DE this fall. Common Redpolls started appearing around northern NY and a couple reached Cape May Co, NJ. A smattering of reports of Red Crossbill came from the NYC metro area, and a skimpy total of 13 was tallied at Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch in late Nov (Jen Ottinger, m. ob). A few Pine Siskins were in DE, and a flock of 23 at Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch on 9 Oct (Bruce Peterjohn) was noteworthy for the season.

NJ’s first Brewer’s Sparrow was beautifully documented at Mill Creek Marsh, Hudson Co 6 Oct (Rick Wright, Sandy Sorkin). It was a first for the Hudson-Delaware region, although the species has appeared nearby in Connecticut’s Hammonasset Beach SP. This remarkably subtle western Spizella sparrow rarely strays from its usual range, and other eastern records are from Québec, Nova Scotia, Maine, and Virginia. Although Brewer’s Sparrow can be abundant in sagebrush steppes, it is declining.

A confiding Henslow’s Sparrow was at Crestwood Park, Bergen Co, NJ 11 Oct (Lisa Potash, m. ob.). Formerly a common breeder throughout much of NY and NJ, the species has declined dramatically in the region over the last century. It hangs onto an isolated breeding territory in upstate NY, mostly around Fort Drum, and makes rare appearances elsewhere as a migrant in fall and winter.

Yellow-headed Blackbird is rare but regular in fall and winter in the region’s coastal and agricultural areas. Almost all this season’s records occurred in the Great Lakes and coastal plains. Reports came from Monroe, Westchester, Suffolk, and New York Cos in NY; Cape May and Hudson Cos in NJ; and Kent Co, DE. The obliging individual at Riverbank SP, New York Co, NY 8 Nov may have been a first for Manhattan (Augie Kramer, Vincens Vila, Dmitriy Aronov).

A Brewer’s Blackbird was at Sandy Hook, Monmouth Co, NJ 13 Nov (Christopher Hinkle, Oliver James, Angelo DelloMargio, m. ob.). Most of NJ’s records are from Cape May and Salem Cos. The species was seen more frequently in the Hudson-Delaware region in the 1980s−1990s but has been about annual for the last decade.

NJ’s first and second Kirtland’s Warblers were discovered on the same magical day in Cape May Co. The first was at Del Haven 29 Sep (George Armistead, Tom Johnson, m. ob.), and the second was at Garrett Family Preserve 29 Sep; presumably the same individual was also found at the latter location 10−12 Oct (Jesse Amesbury, m. ob.). The appearance of these birds occurred just after Hurricane Ian barreled through the species’s usual route to its Caribbean wintering grounds. There are six records from NY, all since 2010 and all from May−June. Kirtland’s Warbler breeds only in young jack pine forests but has been expanding from its Michigan stronghold into Wisconsin and Ontario. It was removed from the USFWS endangered species list in 2019.

Two western warblers have strayed to the Hudson-Delaware region about annually in the last couple decades—Black-throated Gray and Townsend’s. This season, Black-throated Grays appeared at Oceanside Marine Nature Study Area, Nassau Co, NY 15−16 Nov (Mike Farina, m. ob.) and Edwin B. Forsythe NWR, Atlantic Co, NJ 19−26 Nov (m. ob.). NY hosted Townsend’s Warblers at the Erie Basin Marina, Erie Co 29 Sep (Shelley Seidman) and Fort Greene Park, Kings Co 16−26 Nov (Doug Gochfeld, m. ob.). Although both species turn up in NY and/or NJ regularly, only one Black-throated Gray has been found in DE, and the Diamond State has yet to host a Townsend’s Warbler.

Western Tanagers are increasingly found in the region, especially in fall−winter, with multiple records almost every year since 2002 (although only three are from DE). This season, a total of six turned up, mostly in coastal migrant traps. The first three were at Cedar Bonnet Island, Ocean Co, NJ 22 Sep (J. Tell, E. Tell, T. Carruthers, N. Cooke, m. ob.); Fire Island Hawk Watch and Robert Moses SP, Suffolk Co, NY 9 Oct (Seth Ausubel, Mary Normandia, John Gluth, m. ob.); and Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings Co, NY 16 Nov (Menashe Lichtenstein). Two different individuals were in Cape May Co, NJ on 26 Nov, at Higbee Beach WMA (Harvey Tomlinson, m. ob.) and the Hawkwatch Platform (Steve Bauer, m. ob.); the former bird continued through the period. Finally, one was at Fort Tilden, Queens Co, NY 27 Nov (Corey Finger, m. ob.).

Addendum

We are grateful for Frank Rohrbacher’s invaluable contributions to Hudson-Delaware regional reports over the last 15 years.

References

Boyle, Jr., William J. 2011. The Birds of New Jersey: Status and Distribution. Princeton University Press.

Butler, C.J. T.W. Olsen, J.K. Wilson, J.O. Woodrow, Jr., C. Johson, T. Barron. 2023. Yellow rail auditory detection during the non-breeding season. https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.22368

Hatch, J. J., M. Gochfeld, J. Burger, and E. F. J. Garcia. 2020. Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.arcter.01

Hoar, Tyler. Finch Research Network. Winter finch forecast 2022−2023. https://finchnetwork.org/winter-finch-forecast-2022-2023

Hopping, A. Unraveling western flycatchers: a case against the split. 2022. North American Birds (73-1), 8−17.

Kauffmann, K. Greenland geese in North America. 2008. Birding (40-3), 46−56.

Levine, Emanuel, ed. Bull’s Birds of New York State. 1998. Comstock Publishing Associates.

Minetor, R. Limpkin range expansion and irruptions: another consequence of invasive apple snails. 2022. North American Birds (73-1), 5−9.

Radis, Rick. “The Return of the Raven.” https://ebird.org/nj/news/the-return-of-the-raven

Rotenberry, J. T., M. A. Patten, and K. L. Preston (2020). Brewer’s Sparrow (Spizella breweri), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.brespa.01

List of accepted records of rare birds in New Jersey. New Jersey Bird Records Committee. https://njbrc.com/index.php/state-and-review-lists/

List of adjudicated records. Delaware Bird Records Committee. https://www.dosbirds.org/citizen-science/bird-records-committee/

NYSARC historical database. New York State Avian Records Committee. https://nybirds.org/NYSARC/NYSARCActions.html

Rare Birds of California: Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. https://rarebirds.westernfieldornithologists.org/Sulphur-bellied_Flycatcher/Sulphur-bellied_Flycatcher.html

Sibley, David. “Distribution of Greater White-fronted Goose subspecies.” https://www.sibleyguides.com/2011/03/distribution-of-greater-white-fronted-goose-subspecies/

Sibley, David. “Identification tips for Greenland Greater White-fronted Goose.” https://www.sibleyguides.com/2008/11/identification-tips-for-greenland-greater-white-fronted-goose/

Sibley David. “More on identification of Greenland White-fronts.” https://www.sibleyguides.com/2008/11/more-on-identification-of-greenland-white-fronts/

“White pelicans extend their Great Lakes range, study finds.” https://greatlakesecho.org/2019/07/01/white-pelicans-extend-their-great-lakes-range-study-finds/

“A Tale of Two Novembers, and Leaning Warmer and Wetter Than Normal: November and Fall 2022 Recap,” Rutgers NJ Weather Network. https://www.njweather.org/content/tale-two-novembers-and-leaning-warmer-and-wetter-normal-november-and-fall-2022-recap

Report processed by José Ramírez-Garofalo, 28 Dec 2023

Photos–Hudson-Delaware Region: Fall 2022

New Jersey’s first Broad-billed Hummingbird turned up in Leesburg, Cumberland Co in early November. Prior to this bird’s appearance in New Jersey, Broad-billeds strayed to Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio in summer−fall 2022. 3 Nov 2022. Photo © Alex Lamoreaux.

For a couple years, birders in the Hudson-Delaware region watched a parade of Limpkin reports from ever-further north, knowing it was only a matter of time. New York hosted the region’s first in Lewiston, Niagara Co. 16 Nov 2022. Photo © Tim Healy.

This White-faced Storm-Petrel was one of two found off Suffolk Co, New York on 15 Aug 2022. Photo © Anthony Ciancimino.

New Jersey’s first Bermuda Petrel occurred off Atlantic Co and was followed by New York’s first later in the fall. Once thought extinct, the species has benefited from valiant conservation efforts on its breeding grounds. 27 Aug 2022. Photo © Andrew Marden.

A Brewer’s Sparrow at Mill Creek Marsh, Hudson Co was one of seven firsts for New Jersey discovered in fall 2022. Photo © Sandy Sorkin.

The discovery of New Jersey’s first Kirtland’s Warbler in Del Haven, Cape May Co was followed by the discovery of the state’s second elsewhere in the county on the same day. Hurricane Ian had just passed through the species’s usual migration route. 29 Sep 2022. Photo © Peggy Birdsall Cadigan.