January 15, 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.

Lots of continuing rare birds this week, including the return of the Pennsylvania Tundra Bean-Goose (ABA Code 3), rediscovered the next county over. Common Shelduck (4) is still present in Labrador, as is Spotted Rail (5), Crimson-collared Grosbeak (4), and Blue Bunting (4) in Texas. Florida’s cup runneth over with rarities in Cuban Pewee (5), LaSagra’s Flycatcher (4), Red-legged Thrush (4), and Black-faced Grassquit (4), and the Northern Jacana (4) in Arizona.

No new ABA rarities this week, but a White-throated Swift in Hamilton, Tennessee, is one of the more interesting 1st records for the period. Notable at least for the quality of the photos as for the fact that it is a swift in the middle of the continent in January. This is one of a only a small number of records of this western species east of the Mississippi River.

Other 1sts of note include a Buff-bellied Hummingbird in Norfolk, Virginia, proving that Virginia’s incredible run of first state records in 2020 seems primed to continue in 2021.

And in Washington, a well-recorded and photographed Winter Wren in Orting is a 1st, and a nice bookend to the spate of Pacific Wren records in the east at the end of last year.

Always worth noting in the ABA Area, a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) was seen in Galveston, Texas.

Iowa’s 3rd record of Lesser Goldfinch was seen at a feeder in Polk. 

A very nice record for Ohio, a Northern Wheatear has been present for a few days in Sandusky. 

Scott’s Oriole in Grey, Ontario, much of last month represents a 2nd for the province and for Canada.

In New York, an adult Slaty-backed Gull (3) was seen at Niagara Falls.

In Massachusetts, a Varied Thrush was visiting a yard in Sudbury.

And Delaware had a Pink-footed Goose (4) at Prime Hook NWR.



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.