December 18, 2020

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.

South Forida, south Texas, and south Arizona are tops on the list of best places to find ABA Area rarities and they continue to deliver as birds are sticking around. In Florida, both Cuban Pewee (ABA Code 5) and Black-faced Grassquit (4) can be found, while Texas hosts multiple Crimson-collared Grosbeaks (4) and Blue Bunting (4), with both Northern Jacana (4) and Streak-backed Oriole (4) continuing this week in Arizona.

The second half of 2020 has already been remarkable in terms of rarities around the ABA Area and that trend continues with the discovery of what is being called a Tundra Bean-Goose (3) in Delaware, Pennsylvania, a state 1st. Bean goose identification is difficult, and while both Taiga and Tundra have been tossed around as identifications for this bird, the latter seems to be gaining consensus due to the bird’s relatively shorter bill and squatter appearance, though these things can be subtle.

That wasn’t all to be found in Pennsylvania this week, and the Philadelphia area in particular has been absolutely rocking with great birds including Northern Wheatear in Berks and an Allen’s Hummingbird at a feeder in Delaware. A motivated birder in Philly can put together quite a day list right now.

Nova Scotia also had a 1st this week as an apparent Pacific-slope Flycatcher was photographed and recorded on Sable Island making a vocalization that should differentiate it from Cordilleran to the extent that is possible.

And in North Carolina, another Empid 1st with a likely Hammond’s Flycatcher coming out of a mist net at a banding station in Randolph. Notably the day before that same banding station had the state’s 2nd Pacific-slope/Cordilleran Flycatcher as well.

Staying in the southeast, a Glaucous Gull in Guntersville, Alabama, is a noteworthy bird down there.

New Jersey had a Calliope Hummingbird at a feeder in Ocean. 

New York’s 5th Anhinga was well-photographed in Monroe. 

In Rhode Island, a Varied Thrush visited a home in Chepachet.

Massachusetts had a Sage Thrasher, its second of the fall/winter, in Hatfield.

Noteworthy for the entire ABA Area, a Common Shelduck (4) was photographed in Forteau, Newfoundland.

Iowa’s 7th Yellow-billed Loon, and the latest in a mini-irruption of the species in the continent’s interior, was seen in Polk. 

Missouri’s 14th Barrow’s Goldeneye was picked out from among a flock of Common Goldeneye in Clay. 

Notable for Washington, a Common Grackle was photographed in King. 

California had a Black-headed Gull (3) in Stockton.

And in Hawaii, a Blue-gray Noddy, only the second for the main islands, was seen from Lānaʻi.



Omissions and errors are not intended, but if you find any please message blog AT 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.