October 30, 2020

Arizona leads with continuing rarities for yet another week, headlined by Eared Quetzals (ABA Code 4) and a Northern Jacana (4). Florida continues to host a Black-faced Grassquit (4)  and California has a Red-footed Booby (4).

What a week for rare birds with a pair of absolute stunners for the ABA Area. We’ll start with the one that many birders got to enjoy up in British Columbia. A Red-backed Shrike (5) in Powell River is the ABA Area’s 2nd record (or 2.5th depending on how you count the northern California hybrid from years ago). That first bird, seen on Gambell in Alaska, was shocking even there, for a bird that breeds no closer than Mongolia. It represents a BC 1st as well as a Canada 1st and is a strong contender for rarity of the year.

Also noteworthy for British Columbia, a Little Blue Heron in Fraser Valley is the province’s 4th.

The other mind-bender comes from North Dakota, not a state we get to point to often here. An apparent White-crested Elaenia was seen in Grand Forks, yet another state 1st, ABA 2nd double. This cryptic South American flycatcher is an austral migrant, and this would be the time of year you’d expect such a bird to und up 180 degrees from where it meant to be. Some birders have speculated that this bird looks to be the chilensis ssp of White-crested Eleania, which some authorities feel represents a full species, often called Chilean Eleania.

More 1sts to report, including in New York, where an apparent Tropical Kingbird in Westchester would be a state 1st. Also good for New York is a young Purple Gallinule in Franklinville.

Louisiana’s 1st record of Pacific Wren was briefly seen and, more importantly, recorded in New Orleans. 

And Michigan also gets its 1st Pacific Wren a bird photographed and recorded in Keweenaw. 

And in Pennsylvania, a potential state 1st Violet-green Swallow was reported on the Delaware River Philadelphia, though seen only briefly. Also good for the state, a young Northern Gannet was seen well inland in Lancaster.

Up to Nova Scotia, where a Northern Lapwing (4) was seen in Canso, and a nice Townsend’s Solitaire in Seaforth.

New Hampshire’s 2nd record of Chestnut-collared Longspur was showing well this week near the town of Hollis.

Connecticut also had a 2nd record this week, with a Townsend’s Warbler in East Haven.

Massachusetts also had a Townsend’s Warbler, which is having a mini-irruption eastward in Barnstable, along with a Franklin’s Gull in Northampton. 

A Curlew Sandpiper (3) in Harford, Maryland, was enjoyed by many birders before, sadly, dying later in the week. But a Tropical Kingbird found in Ocean City, will buoy birders feelings.

Alabama also had a Tropical Kingbird this week, seen in Fairhope.

In Wisconsin, a Black-throated Gray Warbler was a nice find in Dane. 

Oregon’s 7th record of Vermilion Flycatcher turned up in Linn. 

A pelagic out of San Mateo, California, intersected with a Streaked Shearwater (4), the first in the ABA Area in nearly 10 years. Also in California, a White Wagtail (3) in San Luis Obispo is the state’s third of the fall.

And good for Texas, was a Lawrence’s Goldfinch in El Paso, one of fewer than 20 records for the state.



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.