May 21, 2021

Both the US and Canada are seeing significant drops in COVID-19 cases and, especially, deaths in many states and provinces. Current CDC guidelines state that outdoor activities in the US are safe and encouraged, and as such, we will no longer be including a COVID-19 disclaimer on this column going forward. Though we do note that Canada still maintains a public health order banning non-essential travel until May 25. We encourage birders to take advantage of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and to abide by local, state, or provincial restrictions where they still exist. 

First, a look at continuing birds in the ABA Area starting with the triumphant return of the Hawaii Inca Tern, an ABA 1st record, discovered back in March and still hanging around though not always in places where birders can find it. Over to Arizona where a Plain-capped Starthroat (ABA Code 4) joins the long-staying Northern Jacana (4). Texas still hosts Tamaulipas Crows (4) at the Brownsville Landfill, and Florida has had Bananaquit (4) for a second week along with the Black-faced Grassquit (4).

As the temperature heats up, birds from south of the ABA Area are creeping north across the border. In Arizona, at least two Tufted Flycatcher (4), one in Pima and another in Cochise  were seen this week, along with a Berylline Hummingbird (4) visiting a feeder in Santa Cruz

And it was a bird normally seen in southern Arizona that leads off the rundown of 1st records this week, as a female Broad-billed Hummingbird in Lancaster, Nebraska would represent a 1st for that state.

In Iowa, a Swainson’s Warbler singing near the town of Ames would be a state 1st, suggesting a northward push of this species this summer as at least four have been discovered in Pennsylvania in the last couple weeks.

North Carolina also boasts a 1st this week, a Yellow-green Vireo found in Dare. This follows at least two records of this species for New Jersey and one for South Carolina in recent years.

And in Oregon, where a Garganey (4) in Polk was exciting from a continental perspective, but it was a Black Vulture along the southern coast in Curry that represents a long awaited 1st record for the state.

Birders are heading back to the rarity-rich outposts of western Alaska this spring and so far the good birds include a Steller’s Sea-Eagle (4) on St Paul and Lesser Sand-Plover (3), Tundra Bean-Goose (3), and Falcated Duck (4) on Shemya Island in the Aleutians.

Notable for California was the discovery of a White Wagtail (3) in San Francisco and a Mourning Warbler in Los Angeles. 

Wyoming’s 6th record of Painted Bunting, a stunning male bird, was discovered in Lander.

In South Dakota, a Cerulean Warbler was a notable find in Minnehaha. 

Minnesota had a Wilson’s Plover in Duluth.

Good for Texas was a Gray Kingbird in Cameron. 

Indiana’s first Tricolored Heron in more than a decade was seen this week in Greene. 

Virginia’s 2nd record of Mottled Duck was photographed in Stafford. 

New Jersey’s 3rd record of Pacific Golden-Plover was seen in Ocean, completing the golden-plover slam for that state this year. A Curlew Sandpiper (3) at Brigantine was also a nice find.

Connecticut had a Chuck-will’s-widow this week in Stamford.

A Chuck-will’s-widow was also documented in Hancock, Maine.

In Nova Scotia, a King Rail was photographed my many at Cape Breton.

Newfoundland had a European Golden-Plover (4) at Goose Bay.

And good for Nunavut, an American Coot was found at Chesterfield Inlet.



Omissions and errors are not intended, but if you find any please message blog AT 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.