December 25, 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.

Lots of familiar faces among continuing rarities in the ABA Area this week, with Northern Jacana (ABA Code 4) holding on in Arizona, Cuban Pewee (5), Red-legged Thrush (5), and Black-faced Grassquit (4) in south Florida, and multiple Crimson-collared Grosbeaks (4) and Blue Buntings (4) in Texas. Add to this crew the Common Shelduck (5) seen last week in Labrador, at least through the beginning of this week.

Technically speaking it isn’t a 1st ABA Area record, but the Spotted Rail (5) discovered at Choke Canyon State Park in McMullen, Texas, certainly feels that way. This is the ABA’s 4th record of this widespread, if reclusive, bird but the 1st that has been accessible to birders. The first two records, from Pennsylvania in 1977 and Texas in 1979 were dead birds, both of which made their way to museum collections. A third, from 2015 further up the Texas coast towards Houston, was brought into a bird rehabber.  It was nursed to health and released in Texas, but unsurprisingly never seen again. So the fact that this bird is alive and showing so well are certainly exciting developments, despite this being Texas’s 3rd.

We have two legitimate 1st records to report this week, with an Allen’s Hummingbird in Green, Wisconsin, one of a surprising influx of this species in the east this year, following birds in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

And Nevada has its 1st Hutton’s Vireo near Reno, representing the interior subspecies.

And one of the more fascinating rarity stories in a year that has been full of them comes from South Carolina where a bird that was identified in the field as a Little Stint was photographed on a CBC in Charleston. However, the bird has a band from the Riksmuseet in Stockholm, Sweden, that suggest it could be a possible Temminck’s Stint.  In any case, that band could both hold the clues to its identity and its past. We await with bated breath, but either would represent a 1st for the state.

UPDATE: The band confirms the bird’s ID as Little Stint. A state 1st for South Carolina and a fantastic story of a bird banded in Sweden and recovered in the United States.

Scooting over to Alaska, where both Asian vagrants and birders are undeterred by the lack of attention to the traditional rarity hotspots, a Siberian Accentor (4) was seen in Homer.

British Columbia boasts the 2nd provincial record of Common Pochard with Parksville, which just happens to be the 2nd of the season thus far as well.

Idaho had a Yellow-billed Loon in Gooding. 

To California, where a Least Flycatcher in San Francisco provides a nice counterpoint to all the western Empids found in the eastern part of the continent this fall/winter.

In Iowa, a Barrow’s Goldeneye was found in Story. 

Ohio has a trio of exciting birds this week with a Varied Thrush in Holmes,Say’s Phoebe in Wayne, and the state’s 2nd record of Brown-headed Nuthatch in Warren. 

Up to Ontario, where a handsome Glaucous-winged Gull was photographed at Algoma.

New Brunswick had a Bullock’s Oriole visiting a feeder at Kent. 

In New Hampshire, a Sage Thrasher was seen near the town of Hinsdale.

Notable for New York was a LeConte’s Sparrow at Westchester. 

North Carolina’s second Black-throated Gray Warbler of the year was photographed on a CBC in Dare. 

And to Alabama, where a Say’s Phoebe was discovered in Barbour. 



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.