December 8, 2023

Texas continues to boast a spectacular lineup of ABA Area rarities this week with continuing Bare-throated Tiger Heron (ABA Code 4), Brown Jay (4), Gray-collared Becard (5), Roadside Hawk (5), and Golden-crowned Warbler (4). The Fieldfare (4) reported last week in Ontario continues into this period.

A new contender for the most exciting rarity of the year comes late in 2023 in New Jersey. A Red-flanked Bluetail (3), a highly migratory east Asian songbird, was discovered in an Ocean Co neighborhood, where it represents a 1st for the state. Red-flanked Bluetail is a rare, but annual, vagrant to the ABA Area, almost exclusively in western Alaska, though there are a small handful of records from the British Columbia to California, and even one inland to Wyoming and another as far south as Mexico. This record, however, will be the first for the eastern half of the ABA Area.

It may be impossible to determine which direction this individual came from, as the species is a rare but increasing vagrant to western Europe with several records now in Iceland, including two earlier this fall.

Nevada also boasts a 1st record this week, though it’s one that’s a bit more ambiguous. A Scaly-breasted Munia in Gerlach in the far northwest of the state, would be a 1st. These munias are an established exotic species in the ABA Area, with most of the population concentrated in southern California. There have, however, been a recent spate of records in the northern part of the state as far as Sacramento, so it’s not implausible that that could be the origin of this wanderer. The vagrancy potential and patterns of invasive species are, however, not well known.

A surprise in Florida comes in the form of the state’s 2nd Yellow-headed Caracara of the year seen in a suburban environment in Miami-Dade. This specie sis not officially on the ABA checklist, though it has been long considered to be a potential, if not especially likely, next first. Records in 2023 from Florida and Texas are interesting in that regard. Also in the state, a King Eider in Palm Breach Co is Florida’s 5th.

Louisiana’s first chaseable Mountain Plover, and its 2nd overall, was seen this week in Caddo Parish.

Connecticut’s 3rd Western Flycatcher in New London joins an influx of this species in the northeast this fall.

New Hampshire’s 3rd Virginia’s Warbler and 8th Ash-throated Flycatcher were both present at the exact same park in Rockingham Co.

Nova Scotia hosts a Black-headed Grosbeak near Halifax and a Gray Heron (4) in Yarmouth Co.

Quebec gets a Fieldfare (3) at Ste-Luce-sur-Mer and a Bullock’s Oriole at Roberval.

British Columbia’s 3rd Great Black-backed Gull, a smartly plumaged young bird, was seen in Penicton this week.

Texas adds Crimson-collared Grosbeak (4) in Hidalgo Co to the increasingly ridiculous list of rarities in the south of the state.

Arizona had a Rufous-backed Robin (3) this week in Camp Verde.

And in Hawaii, the state’s 8th Harlequin Duck, and the first for the main islands, was seen on Hawai’i.

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.