September 11, 2020

Noteworthy continuing rarities include Berylline Hummingbird (ABA Code 4), Plain-capped Starthroat (4), and Eared Quetzal (4) in Arizona, Common Crane (4) in California, and Thick-billed Vireo (4) in Florida.

Fall migration is here, and after a summer of relatively slow summer of wandering birds we finally have a fat and happy list of rare birds from all corners of the ABA Area and even some parts in the middle.

We lead off with Massachusetts this week, where a Gray Heron (5) was photographed flying past Tuckernuck Island, a private island between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island. This represents not only a 1st record for the state, but a 1st for the Lower 48. Heretofore, Gray Heron had only been recorded in Alaska, Newfoundland, and earlier this year in Nova Scotia. More, there is some speculation that this is the same bird that was spending time on Nova Scotia this year.

We have an additional four 1st records to report this week, which is a haul we haven’t seen in a while. To start, Pennsylvania’s 1st Brewer’s Sparrow was pulled from a mistnet at Powdermill Nature Reserve in Westmoreland. And even better, the bird has been seen again in the region by birders post-banding.

In Vermont, a Common Ringed Plover in Swanton is a potential 1st record. The species has been seen more regularly on the east coast in recent years, though whether that is because they are turning up more often or because birders are getting more comfortable with what is a difficult identification is unclear.

Though it came from April, a Swallow-tailed Kite found deceased in Glenrock, Wyming, represents a 1st record, and notable given the irruption of this species into the middle of the continent this year.

And in British Columbia, a Bell’s Vireo of the eastern subspecies near Victoria is a provincial 1st record. That wasn’t the only good bird in the province this week, as BC’s 14th and 15th records of Curlew Sandpiper were seen in Parksville and Delta.

Despite the lack of birders on the traditional vagrant hotspots, Alaska is still seeing good birds. The latest, a pair of Gray-streaked Flycatchers (4) at Unalaska in the central Aleutians.

Down the coast, in Washington, a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel photographed off Westport is that state’s 5th.

Idaho’s 4th record of Buff-breasted Sandpiper turned up this year in Power. 

Notable for Colorado was a Ruff (3) in Larimer. 

An excellent bird for Arizona and the ABA Area, a young Northern Jacana (4) was seen by many birders in Pima. 

Minnesota had a pair of nice birds this week with a Long-tailed Jaeger in Lyon and the state’s 10th record of Black-throated Gray Warbler in Ramsey. 

Ohio’s 4th Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was found near the town of Medina.

Tennessee had a Black-headed Grosbeak at a feeder in Fayette. 

Ontario had its second Brown Booby (3) of the fall with one in Hamilton.

Good for Nova Scotia was a Golden-winged Warbler at Pubnico.

Maine’s 2nd record of Brewer’s Sparrow was found in Petit Manan NWR.

New York had a couple nice birds in the western part of the state, a Black-bellied Whistling Duck near Freeville and a Neotropic Cormorant in Genesee, along with the state’s 11th record of Black-throated Gray Warbler in Jamaica Bay in the southeast.

In New Jersey, a Little Stint (3) was found in Forsyth NWR.

Delaware’s 2nd record of Anhinga was seen soaring over Frederica this week.

And in North Carolina, a Black-throated Gray Warbler in Mecklenburg is the state’s 5th record.



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.