December 30, 2022

As we head in to the belly of Christmas Bird Count season, we watchers of rarities get to enjoy the bounty that comes from intensive coverage of normally underbirded parts of the ABA Area and the goodies that result from that effort. Plus, there’s the occasional rarity continuing long enough to be included on the local count, as is the case with the long-staying Southern Lapwing (ABA Code 5) of mysterious origin in Michigan.

The rarest of the Eurasian vagrant thrushes made an appearance in Newfoundland this week, when a Eurasian Blackbird (5) was photographed at a yard in Cartwright. This is the 3rd ABA Area record of this iconic European species, and the first found alive, as both previous records, one in Newfoundland and one in Quebec, both represented dead birds.

The Canadian maritimes have been on fire recently, as New Brunswick boasts both a Mountain Bluebird and the province’s 2nd Green-tailed Towhee near Sackville.

And to Nova Scotia, where a Golden-crowned Sparrow was seen near Canso and the province’s 3rd Black-tailed Godwit (3) turned up on the Halifax CBC.

Maine’s 2nd record of Sage Thrasher was well-photographed by many in Cumberland. 

Massachusetts has had a nice run of rare birds with a Varied Thrush in Pittsfield, an accommodating Smith’s Longspur in Hampshire, and a Northern Lapwing (4) in Essex.

In New York, a Short-billed Gull was seen in Manhattan, the first for the borough.  

One of the more interesting birds in the ABA Area of late comes from Pennsylvania, where a Common Shelduck (5) was seen in Lebanon. The species is commonly kept by private collectors and, as such, provenance is always a sticky issue for this species. But with the recent push of European birds in the northeast and the rapid increase of the Common Shelducks breeding in western Europe makes the natural occurrence of a strong-flying bird something to consider. Also in Pennsylvania, the state’s 3rd Common Eider has been seen in Crawford. 

Louisiana’s 2nd Prairie Falcon was photographed in Calcasieu this week.

In Texas, a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) was seen near Bayview.

A Red-headed Woodpecker in Maricopa is a nice find for Arizona.

California had not had a Snowy Owl in the southern part of the state in more than 100 years, and this month saw two. One in Los Angeles reported last time around, and another now in Orange. The state’s 4th record of Wood Sandpiper was also seen on a CBC in Riverside, and a pair of King Eiders are present in Ventura. 

Good for British Columbia was a Black Phoebe seen in Chilliwack.

And Saskatchewan’s 3rd record of Ivory Gull was seen at Turtle Lake this week.

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.