September 29, 2023

As we head into the last few days of September, American Flamingos (ABA Code 4) continue to be seen in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and on the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana. The long-staying Steller’s Sea-Eagle (4) is still regular in Newfoundland, as is one of the Large-billed Terns (5) in Florida. Two Baikal Teal (4) remain on St. Paul Island in Alaska, and the small flock of Brown Jays (4) in Texas makes their appearance again here after a few weeks. Berylline Hummingbird (4) is still being seen in Arizona as it has been all summer.

It was certainly reasonable to think that, now 3 weeks after Hurricane Idalia’s passage through the southeast United States, that the flamingo situation might be beginning to ebb. But that is definitively not the case, as lost birds continue to turn up at new and increasingly absurd outposts in what is becoming one of the most unpredictable avian phenomenons in memory. This week, a flock of  American Flamingos (4) was found in Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Michigan in Ozaukee Co, where they delighted observers for several hours one afternoon before taking off in the evening sky. And if one thinks that these birds are not prone for even more incredible destinations, consider that the same flock was seen 100 miles west, in Adams Co, Wisconsin, the very next day.

But these birds are not just heading north, they are heading west too. Both Missouri and Kansas reported single American Flamingos this week, apparently two different individuals as they were both first noted on the same day. Shockingly, this is not a first record for either state. In Missouri, a flamingo in Smithville, north of Kansas City, represents a 2nd record after Hurricane Barry in 2019 brought a single bird up the Mississippi River where it stayed in the bootheel for a few days. And even more remarkably, Kansas boasts two previous records before this week’s discovery in Chase Co, a flock at Quivira NWR in the 1920s and a single bird in the 1970s.

Other 1sts to note this week include a state 1st Royal Tern in Stillwater, Minnesota, possibly an Idalia waif as well.

And in Mississippi, the state’s long-awaited 1st Western Flycatcher was photographed in Jackson Co, and all the more exciting without the onerous parsing of Pacific-slope and Cordilleran, as the two “species” were lumped this past summer.

And in British Columbia, one of the more exciting rarity finds of the year comes from Squamish, where a Pallas’s/Reed Bunting (5/5) would be a provincial 1st regardless of which species it is ultimately determined to me. Early consensus suggested Pallas’s, but some central Asian populations of Reed Bunting are apparently similar. Neither Pallas’s not Reed Bunting have ever been recorded from the North American mainland before. Also notable for BC, an Ash-throated Flycatcher was photographed in Terrace.

From Alaska, a Eurasian Hobby (4) on St Paul Island was a nice discovery, and the state’s 7th record of American Avocet was photographed in Juneau.

The 2nd record of Whiskered Tern for the Hawaiian Islands was photographed on Midway this week.

A Common Greenshank (4) showing week in Del Norte Co, California, is that state’s 2nd or 3rd record, depending on how one considers a past bird from Humboldt Co that was seen at roughly the same place over consecutive years in the early 2000s and is considered likely to be the same individual returning.

Not to be left behind by more dramatically out of range sightings, Louisiana also had an American Flamingo (4) this week in Plaquemines Parish.

Say’s Phoebe in Knoxville, Tennessee, is a notably find in the east.

Alabama had a nice pair of western vagrants this week, with the state’s 2nd Western Flycatcher captured at a banding station on Dauphin Island, and the state’s 3rd MacGillivray’s Warbler at a photoblind in Madison Co.

Georgia had a Green-breasted Mango (3) visiting a feeder in Thomas Co this week.

In North Carolina, both a Bell’s Vireo and a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (3), the state’s 3rd, were seen in Dare Co.

Noteworthy for Pennsylvania, a young Swainson’s Hawk has been seen by many in Northumberland Co.

And in Quebec, a small flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were seen at Laval, suggesting this species is still expanding its range.

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.