October 29, 2021
On the cusp of the greatest rarity finding month of the year, Novem-bird, we have an exception week of birds to report. But before we get to all that, continuing continental rares in the ABA Area include Inca Tern (ABA Code 4) in Hawaii, Little Egret (4) in Nova Scotia, and Thick-billed Vireo (4) in Florida,
Quebec, no slouch when it comes to great fall birding, had a week for the ages in this period. It started with the mysterious appearance of a Lesson’s Seedeater, a South American austral migrant and potential ABA Area 1st record in Pointe-aux-Outardes. A lot of digital ink has been spilled discussing whether this is possibly a natural vagrant as opposed to an escaped cage bird. A case can be made for either obviously, but the case for natural vagrancy is not quite as out there as one might think (more on that here). In any case, the bird is still being seen.
Not long after that seedeater, another long-distance austral migrant made an appearance. A Small-billed Elaenia was captured in a mist net at Tadoussac. This is also a potential ABA 1st record, as it is not currently on the ABA Checklist, though a bird Illinois in 2012 is widely considered to be this species (but was not accepted by the ABA CLC at the time) and another Small-billed Elaenia was photographed on the Upper Gulf Coast of Texas earlier this year. It’s hard not to look at these two birds together, not too far off as the austral migrant flies, and think that something is going on.
Those were hardly the only 1st records this week, which was an exceptional one as I mentioned before. The southeast did particularly well. Starting in North Carolina, where a Thick-billed Longspur in Dare is a 1st record and completes the longspur slam for the state.
South Carolina got into the fun as well, as a Bar-tailed Godwit (3) in Charleston represents a long-awaited 1st for the state.
And down in Georgia, where a Rock Wren in White north of Atlanta is a 1st, and fewer than 50 miles from both North and South Carolina, both of which have not recorded this species.
And continuing down the coast to Florida, where the absolutely bonkers record of Gray-tailed Tattler in Monroe, Florida, which is not only a 1st for the state, but only the 3rd record of this East Asian shorebird on the Atlantic coast.
And over to Saskatchewan, which had a Quebec-esque week itself, with 1st records of Crested Caracara at Paradise Hill and a Phainopepla near Zealandia.
Staying in the west, Nevada’s 3rd record of Rufous-backed Robin was discovered in Clark this week.
Arizona had a Yellow Grosbeak (4), sadly a one-hour wonder, in Sedona.
In western Kansas, a Harris’s Hawk in Gray was a noteworthy find.
Texas has reported Tamaulipas Crows (4) back at the Brownsville landfill in Cameron, and a Hook-billed Kite (3) in Hidalgo, just in time for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival.
Louisiana’s 3rd record of Cassin’s Kingbird was photographed in St. Mary.
In Tennessee, a Limpkin in Humphreys is the state’s 5th record, and the latest of what was a significant movement of this species this year.
Ontario’s 8th record of Groove-billed Ani was at a private residence in Perth.
In New Jersey, a smart Vermilion Flycatcher was a good find in Cape May.
And Connecticut had a great week, with the season’s first Pink-footed Goose (4) in Hartford, along with the state’s 10th Black-throated Gray Warbler at Hammonassett, and 13th LeConte’s Sparrow in Fairfield.
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.