December 31, 2021

We were off due to the holiday last week, but back today with a special two weeks worth of rarities.

Texas continues to host an incredible array of continuing rarities headlined by the ABA’s 1st record of Bat Falcon (ABA Code 5) and the 5th Social Flycatcher (5), as well as continuing Golden-crowned Warbler (4) and Crimson-collared Grosbeak (4). The New Mexico Blue Mockingbird (5) is still being seen as well, as is a Little Stint (4) in California.

The saga of the wayward Steller’s Sea-Eagle (4) in the northeast of the continent continues in December as the bird, fresh off spending several months moving around Atlantic Canada, finally dipped into the Lower 48, turning up in Bristol, Massachusetts, for a few days among a local group of Bald Eagles, before heading off to the north. The shock of this bird’s presence is exceeded only by the ability of birders to refind it again and again. Yes, these sightings are scattered, but birders in the area are well aware of the possibility that this thing could turn up just about anywhere and as more and more people are tuned into the story, it becomes more and more likely that it will be spotted as it continues its circuit of the region.

And as if to drive that point home, just yesterday birders in Maine found the Steller’s Sea Eagle yet again, in the Five Islands area in Sagadahoc. As of the writing of this post, it it is currently on the wild central Maine coast, a part of the ABA Area where it could easily disappear for days or weeks. It should go without saying it represents a 1st record for both Massachusetts and Maine.

It wasn’t the only 1st of the period, however. In Maryland, a Mottled Duck in Montgomery represents a 1st record. Perhaps more notably, Maryland is currently the southern extent of a small irruption of Northern Lapwing (4) in the northeast with a bird in Queen Anne’s. 

Connecticut also had Northern Lapwing (4) in Milford, and that same Northern Lapwing was also seen across Long Island Sound in Suffolk, New York.

And New Jersey had two Northern Lapwings (4), one in Cumberland and one in Salem.

In Labrador, a Turkey Vulture turned up far to the north in Forteau.

St Pierre et Miquelon’s 4th record of Canvasback was seen this week.

In Quebec, a young Ivory Gull was briefly seen at Sept-Iles, and a Mountain Bluebird well-photographed in Chaudière-Appalaches.

Ontario hosted a pair of western raptors in the form of a Prairie Falcon in Clarington and a Burrowing Owl in Toronto.

Wisconsin’s 3rd record of Tufted Duck was seen in Milwaukee.

In Tennessee, the state’s 4th Bullock’s Oriole was conveniently visiting a feeder at a Wild Birds Unlimited store in Nashville.

Varied Thrush was a nice bird in St. Charles, Missouri.

Down to Alabama, where a Great Cormorant was a very good find in Baldwin. 

Adding to Texas’s current embarrassment of Mexican rarities, a Flame-colored Tanager (3) was seen at a private residence in San Antonio.

Always a nice find away from Alaska, a Yellow-billed Loon was seen at Union, New Mexico.

South Dakota had a report of a Golden-crowned Sparrow, though specifics are hard to come by.

Both Nevada’s 5th and 6th record of Winter Wren were seen at the same wetland in Clark. 

Good birds for California this week include a Great Crested Flycatcher in Orange and a Brambling (3) in Plumas. 

In Oregon, a Summer Tanager was visiting a feeder in Depoe Bay.

And nice finds in British Columbia include the province’s 2nd Blue Grosbeak in Tofino, as well as a Brambling in Quesnel and a King Eider in Victoria.

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.