Because of rising COVID-19 cases in many states and provinces, the purpose of this report is to keep homebound birders caught up rare bird sightings across the ABA Area. 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 ongoing pandemic 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.
Notable rarities hanging on for yet another week include Red-footed Booby (ABA Code 4) and Garganey (4) in California. Florida boasts a number of Caribbean strays in continuing Cuban Pewee (5), Black-faced Grassquit (4), and Red-legged Thrush (5). The Northern Jacana (4) is still being seen in Arizona, as are both Blue Buntings (4) in Texas.
Florida is having a great December in the Keys, as in addition to the three rarities mentioned above, a Ruddy Quail-Dove (5) was seen this week at Fort Zachary Taylor at Key West, Monroe. This represents the 6th record for the ABA Area, all but one of which come from south Florida and all of those in the winter months.
There were two 1st records to note this week, with Tennessee hosting its state 1st Cassin’s Kingbird near Nashville. 2020 has been an exceptional year for vagrant flycatchers. Notably North Carolina also had a likely 1st Cassin’s Kingbird this year, though back in the summer.
And the District of Columbia nets a 1st record of Barnacle Goose (4), the farthest south record thus far for this species this season.
North Carolina’s 7th record of Vermilion Flycatcher was seen in Martin this week.
Georgia had a Rough-legged Hawk photographed in Thomas, quite unusual in the southeast.
Maryland had a Western Grebe, or at least a bird that looked Western Grebe enough, in Baltimore/
In New Jersey, a Townsend’s Warbler at Brigantine NWR in Forsythe.
Connecticut 7th or so Mew Gull, of the Old World subspecies commonly known as “Common” Gull, was seen in New London.
In Massachusetts, that state’s 3rd record of Pacific-slope Flycatcher was photographed in Cambridge.
Nova Scotia’s 3rd Rock Wren turned up in Halifax, following records last month in Maine and Prince Edward Island.
Arkansas’s 2nd Tropical Kingbird was seen in Jefferson this week, at precisely the spot where the state’s 1st record was seen last year suggesting that this is the same individual returning for a second successive winter.
Texas continues to see interesting Mexican species on the US side of the border with at least two Crimson-collared Grosbeaks in Hidalgo, including a stunning adult male.
Washington had two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in the state this week, one in King and another in Snohomish.
And in Alberta, a Black-legged Kittiwake was seen in Taber.
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.