September 23, 2022

A Thick-billed Vireo (ABA Code 4) leads off the continuing rarities in the ABA Area this week, most of which come from Alaska in the form of Little Stint (4), Baikal Teal (4), and Eurasian Bullfinch (4). That focus on Alaska will turn out to be a theme this week.

What a monster week for the Last Frontier! Birders in Alaska has experienced one of the best periods on record in terms of both duration and quality of vagrants. It’s not clear whether this had anything to do with the passage of the remnants of Typhoon Merbok, as birds were coming both before and after the storm, but clearly something exceptional is happening from the Aleutians all through the Bering Sea recently.

It started, however, on the mainland, where Alaska’s 1st, and the ABA’s 4th Citrine Wagtail (5) was seen at Seward. This species has long been one of the great head-scratchers in the ABA Area when North America’s 1st turned up in Starkville, Mississippi in the early 80s. More recent records have shown a pattern more expected from an east Asian vagrant with subsequent records from California and British Columbia before this one.

But it was on the western Alaskan islands where the real fireworks went off, as can be expected this time of year. Shemya in the central Aleutians benefitted from regular cover with the ABA’s 8th Yellow-breasted Bunting (5), Tree Pipit (4), the ABA’s 3rd Red-backed Shrike (5), and a Garganey.  Saint Paul on the Pribilofs boasted a Middendorf’s Grasshopper Warbler (4), Taiga Flycatcher (4), and another Garganey (4).

But the big money was on Gambell, where the ABA Area’s 1st record of Icterine Warbler was seen and well-photographed. This Eastern European breeder should be on its way to Southern Africa right now, but one clearly went the wrong direction, possibly even over the top of the globe to turn up on one of North America’s most well-known vagrant traps. What a bird!

Down to the relatively quiet Lower 48, where a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) was seen in St. Louis, Minnesota.

New York also had a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3) this week in Dutchess. 

New Jersey’s 5th Pacific-slope Flycatcher was mercifully captured at a banding station in Cape May rather than found in the field to befuddle would-be identifiers.

In Iowa, a Black Vulture was seen in Hitchcock and a Rock Wren in Polk

Colorado’s 4th record of Thick-billed Kingbird was found in Mesa. 

And in Texas, a Northern Jacana (4) in Valverde, was the first seen in the ABA Area in several years.

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.