November 17, 2023

What a birding week for Texas, helpfully corresponding with the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival and its influx of birders from around the US and Canada. It’s been years since the region had a run of rarities as exciting as the one experienced last week.

The ABA’s 3rd record of Bare-throated Tiger Heron (ABA Code 5) was seen in Starr Co. This beauty was discovered on a RGVBF field trip on property that is not publicly accessible. Not one, but two(!) Roadside Hawks (4) were seen during the week, one in Hidalgo Co and a younger bird in Cameron Co. It’s been five years since the last individual Roadside Hawk was seen north of Mexico, and I can’t recall if there have ever been two at once.

The big shocker came farther north, however when a potential ABA Area 1st record of Cattle Tyrant was photographed in downtown Corpus Christi. This species has been on, if not the short list, then a slightly longer list of potential ABA Area firsts by virtue of its rapid expansion out of South America. Even so, there are no confirmed records of the species farther along in the Americas than Panama, and its presence near a busy shipping port does suggest ship assistance as a possible, if even likely, provenance. Presumption of ship assistance is not a deal-breaker for inclusion of a species on the ABA Checklist, but local committees have their own criteria on the matter. Previous species for which there is an assumption of ship-assistance (Tropical Mockingbird, Black Catbird) have not been accepted in the past.

Three years into this Limpkin invasion, New Jersey finally gets on the board when a Limpkin was seen in a private yard in Monmouth Co, closing a pretty significant gap in the northeast. Also good for the state, New Jersey’s 5th Sage Thrasher was seen in Atlantic Co.

One of the more surprising records of the week comes from the Derby Hill hawkwatch in western New York, where a Short-tailed Shearwater was seen over Lake Ontario, representing a 1st for the state and one of only a handful in the east.

Florida’s 1st record of Black Guillemot was photographed in Duval Co. This is, remarkably, the eight alcid on the Florida list.

Illinois had a Broad-tailed Hummingbird at a feeder in Champaign, which represents a 1st record.

In Saskatchewan, a Pygmy Nuthatch at a feeder in Regina is a 1st for the province, and another indicator of a significant movement of birds out of the Interior west this fall.

We got two unexpected potential 1sts from California during the period including an apparently pure Eastern Towhee in San Diego Co, though this species has been considered by the California committee in the past and determining acceptable levels of hybridization with resident Spotted Towhees is quite difficult. Maybe more shocking comes the report of what appear to be Cassia Crossbills in San Mateo Co, which would be a 1st. The extent to which this species wanders is unknown, but its specific status is determined mostly by the assumption that they are largely sedentary and localized to the South Hills of Idaho. Recent recordings that have placed these birds in Colorado and now, California, have thrown a little bit of a monkey wrench into the question of whether or not they should be split from Red Crossbill.

Elsewhere, in Washington, the state’s 9th Hooded Warbler was seen by many in Spokane Co.

Arizona had a Pomarine Jaeger, very rare in the desert southwest, in Pima Co.

Nevada’s 6th record of Groove-billed Ani was well-photographed in Clark Co.

Notable for Oklahoma was a White-tailed Kite near Glencoe.

Kansas had a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) this week in Reno Co.

Minnesota hosted a Sage Thrasher in Ramsey Co, likely another species driven by this interior west phenomenon we are seeing.

Indiana’s 5th Ferruginous Hawk, a sharp dark-phase bird, was seen in Jasper Co.

Mississippi became the latest state to host an American Flamingo when one was photographed in the Grande Batture Islands near the Alabama border.

Maryland’s 9th record of Black-throated Gray Warbler was seen for the second consecutive year at Accokeek.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hosted a couple of nice birds this week in the state’s 3rd MacGillivray’s Warbler and 10th Ash-throated Flycatcher.

Ontario had a wild week with both Ancient Murrelet and Dovekie being seen in Lambton Co. A Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch in London joins a spate of records of this species in the Great Lakes this month.

In Quebec, an Ivory Gull was seen at Rouyn-noranda.

Nova Scotia’s 2nd record of Tundra Bean-Goose was found in Milford this week, though there is still some discussion as to whether it’s a Taiga or a Tundra.

Dukes Co, Massachusetts, hosted both a Bell’s Vireo and a Townsend’s Warbler. 

And Rhode Island’s 3rd record of Bell’s Vireo was in Washington Co, while the state’s 4th Townsend’s Solitaire was in Newport Co.

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.