August 7, 2020
Because of COVID-19 related Stay-at-Home orders in many states and provinces, the purpose of this report is to keep homebound birders caught up rare bird sightings across the ABA Area during spring migration. We do not endorse the pursuit of rare birds beyond your local area. The ABA urges readers to respect state, provincial, and local restrictions on non-essential travel. The ABA’s Recording Standards and Ethics Committee has released guidelines on how birders should approach this unusual time and we urge birders, whether they are members of the ABA or not, to consider them when deciding whether to travel to see a rare bird. Stay safe and healthy, everyone.
Continuing rare birds in the ABA Area include Plain-capped Starthroat (ABA Code 4) in Arizona, a Little Stint (4) in Rhode Island, and the near constant Little Egret (4) in Maine.
The major weather phenomenon of the week was the passage of Hurricane Isaias, which clipped the east coast as a Category 1 storm. The hurricane was not a particularly birdy one, due likely to the fact that it did not strengthen to a hurricane until quite late, though it did bring Sooty Terns north to places like Connecticut and Massachusetts and deposited a small handful of Cory’s Shearwaters in Long Island Sound. Most exciting was a skua sp, seen near the Philadelphia airport in Pennsylvania.
We start this week in Alabama, where the amazing discovery of a South Polar Skua on a beach in Baldwin likely represents the 1st for that state. It’s not clear whether any storm system brought this primarily pelagic species to shore, but it’s exceedingly fortunate for Alabama that it found the relatively small target of Alabama waterfront and that birders where there ready to document it.
The rest of the rarity landscape played out primarily in the continent’s interior. We move to Saskatchewan, where a Curve-billed Thrasher photographed near Saskatoon represents the 2nd for the province and the 8th for Canada.
Ontario had a Swallow-tailed Kite in Dufferin this week, one of many around the Great Lakes in the last few days.
Michigan’s 4th record of Wood Stork was found in Saginaw, but it also represented the first record of this species that wasn’t a one-day wonder since the 60s.
Good birds in Wisconsin include a Swallow-tailed Kite in Lincoln and a Mexican Violetear (3) at a feeder in Crawford.
Oklahoma had a trio of Swallow-tailed Kites in Pushmataha.
The 2nd record of Roseate Spoonbill for Iowa was a young bird in Johnson.
Massachusetts had a Curlew Sandpiper (3) in Plymouth.
Notable for Arizona was a young Tricolored Heron in Pima.
And in Colorado, a Zone-tailed Hawk was seen in Custer.
Omissions and errors are not intended, but if you find any please message blog AT aba.org and I will try to fix them as soon as possible. This post is meant to be an account of the most recently reported birds. Continuing birds not mentioned are likely included in previous editions listed here. Place names written in italics refer to counties/parishes.
Readers should note that none of these reports has yet been vetted by a records committee. All birders are urged to submit documentation of rare sightings to the appropriate state or provincial committees. For full analysis of these and other bird observations, subscribe to North American Birds, the richly illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the ABA.
I have to say that I’m surprised that all the Sooty Terns in the Hudson Valley of New York as well as the photographed South Polar Skua at the George Washington Bridge didn’t make this report.