January 1, 2021

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.

Notable rarities sticking it out into the last week of the year include Northern Jacana (ABA Code 4) in Arizona, the Spotted Rail (5) in Texas, along with multiple Crimson-collared Grosbeaks (4) and Blue Buntings (4) in the same state, and the very very long-staying Cuban Pewee (5) and Black-faced Grassquit (4) in Florida.

The second half of 2020 has been a spectacular year for rarities in the ABA Area, and it has one more stunner to share before we turn the calendar over. In Yukon Territory, a Hawfinch (4) was seen in the town of Haines Junction. Hawfinch is a bird that shows up somewhat regularly on the Aleutians and the Bering Sea Islands, but has only been recorded on the mainland once before, near Anchorage, Alaska. This represents a 1st territorial record for Yukon and a 1st national record for Canada.

That wasn’t the only 1st for this week, as 2020 delivers right to the very end with a Delaware 1st Townsend’s Solitaire  in Lewes. This record means only four states in the Lower 48 remain without a solitaire record.

Tennessee also gets a 1st this week, with a  “Western” Flycatcher in Blount. Either Cordilleran or Pacific-slope would represent state 1sts.

And in Virginia, a Western Meadowlark in James City would represent a 1st, the eighth 1st record for Virginia this year.

Good for New Jersey, a Bullock’s Oriole at a feeder in Monmouth is the state’s 5th record.

Rhode Island had a Magnificent Frigatebird flyby at Galilee Harbor.

In Texas, an apparent Golden-crowned Warbler (4) was seen a Laguna Atascosa NWR in Cameron. 

Noteworthy for Washington was a Hooded Oriole in Pacific. 

And in British Columbia, an apparent Arctic Loon was seen offshore from Sechelt.



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.