November 20, 2020

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.

Continuing rarities in the ABA Area include both Northern Jacana (ABA Code 4) and, still after all these weeks, Eared Quetzal (4) in Arizona. A Black-faced Grassquit (4) is still being seen in Florida and a Garganey (4) in California.

Ontario hosts one of the most enigmatic vagrants on the ABA Area checklist, with a Variegated Flycatcher (4) dazzling birders near Toronto. This is about the 8th record for the ABA Area, and previous records are more or less patternless, akin to what you’d get if a blindfolded person threw darts at a map of the US and Canada. Funnily enough, though, the Toronto area has hosted an individual of this species before, making this Ontario’s 2nd.

That wasn’t the only notable bird around Toronto this week, as a Black-throated Gray Warbler was also discovered this week.

Staying in Canada for our round-up of the week’s 1sts, a Vermilion Flycatcher was discovered in Stephenville, Newfoundland, which represent’s a provincial 1st record. Also noteworthy was a young Red-headed Woodpecker at Codroy Valley, not a first but the first seen in many years.

British Columbia also had a provincial 1st this week, with a Common Pochard in Victoria showing well. Waterfowl tend to have questions of provenance asked of them, but this bird appears to be unbanded and, of course, has turned up at the time of year and place where an East Asian vagrant would not be unexpected.

Idaho also has a 1st record with Asian origins, a Common Crane in Fairfield.

And in Ohio, that state’s 1st Black-chinned Hummingbird, a long-anticipated visitor, was attending a feeder in Franklin. 

Shooting out to Hawaii, where the island’s 2nd American Pipit , likely of the east Asian japonicus subspecies, was seen on Midway. A Sora at Kukio Beach is the state’s 4th, and a Garganey (4) at Kona is notable.

In California, an apparent Tundra Bean-Goose (3) is among goos flocks in Sacramento. 

Arizona’s 4th record of Field Sparrow was seen in Cochise this week.

Good for Texas and seeing an impressive incursion into the ABA this year, was a Ruddy Ground-Dove (3) in Hidalgo. 

Kansas’s 7th record of  Yellow-billed Loon was seen in Russell. 

In Arkansas, that state’s 2nd record of Fork-tailed Flycatcher was seen in Desha. 

Illinois had its 4th record of Cassin’s Sparrow at Montrose Beach in Cook. 

Notable for Michigan was a Sage Thrasher in Washtenaw. 

In New Brunswick, a Northern Lapwing turned up in Maugerville, the second in as many weeks in Atlantic Canada.

Maine had a great week, with the state’s 3rd record of Brewer’s Sparrow in Bar Harbor and a Black-headed Grosbeak at a feeder in Ellsworth.

Connecticut’s 7th Bullock’s Oriole was seen in Ledyard this week.

In New York, a Say’s Phoebe was found in Essex. 

Pennsylvania had a Townsend’s Solitaire in Franklin. 

Good for Tennessee was an Allen’s Hummingbird, identified by a bander, in Anderson. 

South Carolina birding was concentrated in Charleston this week with both a Shiny Cowbird and the state’s 3rd Buff-bellied Hummingbird in the county this week.

And in Florida, a Cuban Pewee (5), perhaps one of the most accommodating individuals ever seen in the ABA Area, in Monroe. 



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.