September 8, 2023

At this time last week, Hurricane Idalia had made landfall in Florida’s Big Bend, scattering American Flamingos across the state in unprecedented numbers in dozens of unexpected places. Little did we know that this was just the beginning.

The following weekend, a pair of American Flamingos (ABA Code 4) were seen in Warren Co, Ohio, not far from Cincinnati, shocking and delighting the birders that were able to enjoy them. This was, by a significant margin, the farthest north record of this species in the ABA Area and a 1st record that no birder in the state would have had on their long list, let alone their short one. It didn’t stop there.

We are now at 10 states that have recorded flamingo records in the wake of Idalia, and for most of them these records represent 1st records. A flock of 11, then 13, were seen in Dare County, North Carolina, with one wearing a band that placed its origin in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A single bird was also spotted in Wake Co.

Virginia also boasted a pair of American Flamingos, seen briefly at Plum Tree Island NWR near Newport News. South Carolina added two separate American Flamingo sightings, the state’s 2nd and 3rd, at Bull Island and at Cape Romain NWR.

In Tennessee, a small flock of American Flamingos in Wayne Co represent a 2nd record. The first came in the wake of Hurricane Barry in 2019.

Kentucky got into the fun with American Flamingos in Gallatin Co, a 1st record.

An single American Flamingo near Posey, Indiana, straddled the border between that state and Kentucky, where it was a 1st for the former and the 2nd for the latter.

And perhaps most outlandish, at least for now, a pair of American Flamingos in Franklin Co, Pennsylvania represent another 1st.

For more information on the hows and whys of this ongoing flamingo phenomenon, see the Field Ornithology column on Hurricane Idalia by Amy Davis.

Perhaps only hundreds of flamingos scattered across eastern North America could take the luster off of a potential ABA 1st record. A compelling candidate for Gray Gull (5) was seen and well-photographed in Walton Co, Florida. This the an Atacama Desert breeding species that is a common wintering species on the west coast of South America. Howell and Dunn in Gulls of the Americas suggest that this species is prone to significant expansions northward during strong El Niño years, and 2023 certainly qualifies. A previous account of this species, from Louisiana in 1987, was not accepted by state authorities.

Quebec also enjoyed a 1st this week, a Shiny Cowbird was photographed in La Pocatière. This is a second for Canada following a 1993 record in New Brunswick.

California’s second Swallow-tailed Gull (5) of the summer, and the state’s 6th record, was seen in San Mateo Co this week. It’s possible that this is the same individual that was seen farther south in Santa Barbara Co earlier this year.

And lest we forget the original wader explosion, a Limpkin was seen in the Chicago area, Cook Co, Illinois, this week.

Iowa’s 7th record of Roseate Spoonbill turned up in Dubuque.

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.