July 2, 2021
Continuing rarities in the ABA Area include Berylline Hummingbird (ABA Code 4) in Arizona and a pair of littles on opposites sides of the continent, Little Egret (4) in Maine and Little Stint (4) in Alaska. A Steller’s Sea-Eagle (4) first reported several months ago on St. Paul’s Island, Alaska also made a re-appearance this week.
Birders in the Last Frontier have wasted no time putting that state back on the rarity map as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wane. While not all of the birding outposts are manned as they have been in the past, other sites are seeing more spirited efforts including far northern Utqiakvik, where a stunning Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush was seen this past week, not only a 1st for Alaska but a a 1st record for the ABA Area. This species is found from western Europe all the way across to northern China and is highly migratory, a behavior that saw this bird overshoot the entire Asian continent and end up in Alaska.
Notably, this is not the first rock-thrush to be photographed in North America. A Blue Rock-Thrush was photographed in British Columbia in 1997, though that species was not accepted by the ABA Checklist Committee due to concerns about provenance.
The rock-thrush was not even the most stunning discovery of the week, which is certainly saying something. That came a few days later from New Brunswick, where an adult Steller’s Sea Eagle (4) was photographed in Restgouche, near the Quebec border. To say that this bird was a shock would be an understatement, though it did come after a similarly bizarre photograph of this same species taken in Texas earlier this year. New Brunswick seems slightly more plausible, but who can tell at this point? The bird was rediscovered and, as of the time of writing, is still being seen.
All that makes the find of an Ancient Murrelet in Sussex, Delaware, this week seem practically pedestrian. Though this would also be a state 1st record for this mostly north Pacific alcid. Ancient Murrelet, though, has a propensity to wander, and a track record of more than a dozen records throughout the Great Lakes and the north Atlantic coast. This Delaware record would not even represent the farthest south, that being a bird in Virginia in 2017.
Other birds of note include a flyover Gray Heron (5) photographed in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and not seen again.
Hawaii, having just boasted the ABA’s 1st record of Inca Tern earlier this year and present into the beginning of June on the Big Island, gets a second, this time up near Waikiki, Oahu, and definitively a different bird than the first.
West Virginia’s 2nd record of Roseate Spoonbills came in late June to Grant, in the form of a flock of five young birds.
And in Mississippi, a compelling record of an American Flamingo was reported from Jackson.
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.