July 24, 2020

Because of COVID-19 related Stay-at-Home orders in many states and provinces, the purpose of this report is to keep homebound birders caught up rare bird sightings across the ABA Area during spring migration. 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 unusual time 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.

Noteworthy ABA Area rarities continuing into this week include the Gray Heron (ABA Code 5) in Nova Scotia, the Little Egret (4) in Maine, Common Crane (4) in Arizona and a Black-faced Grassquit in (4) Florida.

It’s been a long time coming in 2020, but we can finally boast the first ABA Area 1st record of the year from Texas, where a young Blue-and-White Swallow was photographed at a private residence in Hidalgo. This species has been on the short list of possible vagrants to the ABA Area for decades, but has not yet been documented almost certainly because of the difficulty in confirming identification for vagrant swallows. I think they’re seriously one of the underrated ID challenges on the continent. One stayed still long enough for Dan Jones to note it was not only something different, but to get a photo.

It appears to be of the highly migratory patagonica subspecies, found primarily in southern South America where it is an austral migrant. The location is not publicly accessible due to COVID-19 induced stay-at-home orders in south Texas, but it’s just as well. Close examination of local swallow flocks have yet to result in its rediscovery.

There is one other 1st state record to report, from Pennsylvania where a Pacific Golden-Plover was photographed in Dauphin. This appears to be a good time of year for this primarily east Asian species as a Pacific Golden-Plover was also found in Dare, North Carolina, this week where it would represent the state’s 2nd.

Tennessee’s 2nd record of Mexican Violetear was a one-day wonder at a private home in Clarksville, where it was at least banded.

Given Rhode Island’s recent rarity success, an Arctic Tern near Westerly is hardly huge news, but it still represents one of few records for the state.

In Alabama, a Limpkin was a nice bird on Dauphin Island.

In Georgia, a American Flamingo was reported flying by the coast at Harris Neck NWR. Given the increase in their Florida population and the spate of records of other mostly sedentary wading birds, this sort of thing perhaps can be expected up the coast. There is a relatively recent record from South Carolina, after all.

Missouri continues to do shockingly well with Neotropic Cormorants this summer, with the latest seen in St. Louis.

Good for Colorado, was a Long-tailed Jaeger in Morgan. 

Arizona boasts a Plain-capped Starthroat (4) at a feeder in Cochise this week.

In Saskatchewan, a pair of Snowy Plovers turned up in Moose Jay.

Notable for British Columbia was an Indigo Bunting in Darfield.

And in Washington, the state’s 8th record of Baltimore Oriole was photographed in Asotin. 



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.