Wyoming: Fall 2016

Wyoming: Fall 2016

Fall 2016: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Matthew Fraker

Recommended citation:

Fraker, M. 2021. Fall 2016: Wyoming. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-9QF> North American Birds.


Jean Adams, Janice Backstrom (JB), Shawn Billerman, David Blue (DB), Aaron Brees (ABr), Adam Brubaker (AB), Jerald Britton, Will Britton (WB), Dave Buckles (DBu), Jackie Canterbury, Leigh Ann Carter (LAC), Holly Copeland, Kurt Countryman, Eva Crane, Charles Crawford, Kendra David, B. Deschamp, Cathy DiSalvo (CDS), Philip DiSalvo (PDS), Corey Finger, Judy Geiger, Larry Geiger, Caleb Gordon, Tim Griffith, Todd Jensen, Greg Johnson, Steve Kelling, Michael Kiessig, Tom Koerner, Steve Larson, Tony Leukering, Fern Linton, Chris Michelson, Del Nelson, Cody Porter, Neil Paprocki, Vic Samstag, Carlos Sanchez, Stacey Scott, Nicholas Sly, Craig Taylor, Molly Vaughan, Bruce Walgren, Martha Wild, Chris Wood.


WHR (Wyoming Hereford Ranch); YNP (Yellowstone National Park); GTNP (Grand Teton National Park).

Rare in the state generally, but more expected in fall, Wyoming’s second ever August report for Greater White-fronted Goose came at the remarkably early date of 2 Aug at Colter Bay, GTNP, Teton (MK). Wyoming’s fall Tundra Swan migration was once again very normal with nine reports spanning 29 Oct–19 Nov with counts from only two counties ranging from one to 17 birds (m.obs.). Although considered extremely rare in SW Wyoming, Wood Ducks continue to be a presence in Seedskadee NWR, Sweetwater, where a lone male was reported 15 Sep (TK), while a count of 29 near Buffalo, Johnson 10 Sep (CT) was exceptional. A count of 165 Blue-winged Teal 10 Sep at Keyhole S.P., Crook (CT) set a record high eBird count for Wyoming. Almost annual but still rare in Wyoming, there were three reports of Surf Scoters with a single in rural Casper, Natrona 7–10 Oct (SS), three on 15 Oct at Yellowstone Lake, Teton (NS), and three more on Lake De Smet, Johnson from 5–16 Nov (TJ).

Two Red-necked Grebes were seen on 5 Aug at Lewis Lake in YNP, Teton (CS), a date that may reflect early migrants yet at a location that tantalizes as a possible breeding locale, while a single at the JTL Ponds, Natrona 9 Oct (CM) was the second year in a row for this location. One of only six eBird reports for the state, and only the second modern fall report (there are two historical reports) for Wyoming was a record late Black-billed Cuckoo at Bixby Campground, Converse 23 Sep (JBr). Wyoming’s only fall report for Chimney Swift was a westerly bird at Wolf Creek Ranch, Sheridan 6 Aug (CW, SK). With very few reports statewide for the season, one of the three Wyoming Black-chinned Hummingbird observations submitted this fall may have been a first Albany record in Laramie, 11 Aug (CP ph.). Wyoming’s annual autumn epicenter of Sandhill Crane migration at Keyhole Reservoir, Crook topped out at an estimated 3000–3500 birds from 22–25 Oct (TJ). Very late for the state were three November reports in Wyoming of American Avocet with an outstanding 33 at the JTL Ponds, Natrona 3 Nov (BW), two at Keyhole Reservoir, Crook 4 Nov (KC ph.) and 11 at Ray Lake Marsh, Fremont 7 Nov (DN ph.). Both Wyoming fall reports of Black-bellied Plover were from west of 107 degrees latitude where rare with three at Jackson Lake, Teton 29 Aug (MW ph.) and a single at Beck/Alkali Lakes, Park 23 Sep (CC). A Wilson’s Phalarope found at Burlington Lake, Natrona 5 Nov (EC) was only the second November report for Wyoming and the second latest ever. Although considered rare after mid-September in Wyoming, recent years of eBird data suggest that Spotted Sandpipers routinely remain in the state up to 1 Oct (m.obs), while 117 counted along the Snake River in Jackson Hole, Teton 14 Aug (TG) set a record high eBird count for the state.

Around 75% of all Sabine’s Gull reports in Wyoming take place in Sep and this year was no exception with three reports involving five birds: one at Buffalo Bill S.P., Park 10 Sep (MV); two to three at Saratoga Lake, Carbon 23–25 Sep (SL); and one near the Jackson Lake Dam, Teton 24 Sep (DB). Rare in August in Wyoming, and a first eBird record for the month, a single Bonaparte’s Gull was reported from Blake’s Pond, Albany 12 Aug (VS ph.). Although not Wyoming’s latest report, a Caspian Tern photographed at the surprising location of the Commissary Ridge Hawk Watch, Lincoln on 7 Oct (WB, NP) provided Wyoming with its first October record. Continuing a recent dismal presence in the state, Wyoming had only two Black Tern reports involving seven birds with six at WHR, Laramie 6 Aug (GJ, CG) and a single noted at the Grizzly Overlook, YNP, Park (CF) on 5 Aug. Rare in Wyoming but more expected in fall, Wyoming hosted two Common Tern reports with two at Beck and Alkali Lakes, Park 27 Aug (NS ph.) and another two at Saratoga Lake, Carbon 23 Sep (SL).

Adding to about 48 fall reports for Wyoming, Pacific Loon singles were reported from the JTL Ponds, Natrona 3 Nov (BW) and from Keyhole Reservoir, Crook 15 Nov (TJ). The fall Common Loon migration was heavier in reports with about 49 but anemic in total numbers with under 100 birds and only a dismal seven as a regional maximum at Jackson Lake Dam, Teton 20 Aug (PDS, CDS). A carefully documented count of 532 Double-crested Cormorants at Glendo S.P., Platte 29 Oct (TL) provided the record high eBird count for Wyoming. 2014 was the first year that Wyoming had any American White Pelican reports of two or more birds in November. This year saw four November Wyoming reports involving two to 20 birds of this increasing species (m.obs.). Of four fall Wyoming Snowy Egret reports, a single on Fish Creek, Teton 22 Sep (LAC) was very unexpected that far NW, while a careful count of 22 at their Woodruff Narrows, Uinta stronghold on 25 Aug (WB) was a good showing. Wyoming’s 13th fall report of Cattle Egret was of two birds near Sheridan, Big Horn 23 Sep (JC ph.).

This year’s count of 96 Sharp-shinned Hawks at the relatively obscure Commissary Ridge Hawkwatch, Lincoln on 21 Sep (WB, NP) was the second highest count for Wyoming only to last year’s high count of 106 (mistakenly reported as “50” in the 2015 fall NAB). The same Wyoming location on the same date of 21 Sep had a count day of 68 Cooper’s Hawks, almost doubling last year’s record count of 36 at the same location (WB, NP). Wyoming’s fall Broad-winged Hawk movement was fairly standard, represented by 5–10 birds reported from three different counties between 26 Aug–27 Sep (m.obs.).

Likely very underreported in Wyoming but almost certainly present, a dead Barn Owl found south of Sheridan, Sheridan 22 Nov (JC) was only the 11th fall report and only the 29th overall for the state. Very rarely reported in the Teton-Yellowstone region of the state, a Burrowing Owl photographed in Hayden Valley, YNP, Park 21 Oct (AB) provided the first eBird record for that region. Wyoming’s sixth overall report of Red-bellied Woodpecker, and the third for fall, was of a bird present and photographed in Sundance, Crook 16–20 Nov (JA). A single Williamson’s Sapsucker was reported from Casper Mt., Natrona 16 Aug (SS), a location where they were only first reported in 2014.

Enigmatic in fall in Wyoming and likely underreported, Cassin’s Vireos are now not only expected in the western portion of the state during fall migration, but also in SE Wyoming as an uncommon migrant as has been demonstrated over the last several years with almost all records occurring from mid-Aug to the beginning of Oct (m.obs.). A Plumbeous Vireo reported from Laramie, Albany 7 Oct (CP) provided only the fourth Wyoming report for Oct.

Providing Wyoming’s 13th fall report was a Marsh Wren photographed at Hutton Lake NWR, Albany 8 Nov (JB). Very rare in Wyoming in October were two Blue-gray Gnatcatchers noted at WHR, Laramie 5 Oct (JB). Very rare in Wyoming in November, a late Gray Catbird was noted at Green River, Sweetwater on 1 Nov (FL).

Wyoming only had two reports involving three White-winged Crossbills with a single at Cabin, Carbon 22 Aug (JG, LG) and two birds in the Medicine Bow N.F., Albany 30 Aug (SB). Rarely reported in fall, Wyoming’s only Grasshopper Sparrow report came as a single near Laramie, Albany 11 Aug (BD). With little known about their fall migration in the state, Wyoming had a huge fall for Fox Sparrows with 14 birds reported from nine locations (m.obs) including a record high eBird count for the state with five counted on the Highline Trail, Sublette 23 Aug (ABr). Wyoming had a good fall for Harris’s Sparrow with 6–9 individuals seen in three locations between 30 Sep–30 Oct (m.obs.) while a very minimal 2–3 White-throated Sparrows were noted with 1–2 birds in Gillette, Campbell 28 Sep–10 Oct (TJ) and another bird in Johnson 27–28 Oct (KC). Very rare for November in Wyoming was a late Lincoln’s Sparrow at the JTL Ponds, Natrona 3 Nov (BW). Very rarely recorded during fall migration in Wyoming, two single Yellow-breasted Chats were noted this year with one at Greenhill Cemetery, Albany 26 Aug (SB) and one on Tongue River Rd., Sheridan 27 Aug (JC).

Wyoming’s 12th Worm-eating Warbler, and the first record not from spring, was a well-described individual in Gillette, Campbell 18 Aug (TJ). Wyoming’s fall movement of Northern Waterthrushes, a species scantily reported in the state during fall, had seven reports of seven birds all in the SE quadrant of the state from 23 Aug–5 Sep (m.obs). Expected annually but less so in fall than in spring, Wyoming’s only Black-and-white Warbler report was a photographed bird in Casper, Natrona 4 Sep (KD). Two Tennessee Warbler reports from SE Wyoming added to about 31 previous seasonal reports with singles in two different locations in Laramie, Albany on 26 Aug (SB) and 29 Aug (VS). An Orange-crowned Warbler found on 30 Oct in Laramie, Albany (CP) set a record late date for Wyoming by five days. Six reports of six Nashville Warblers made for a very strong fall showing in Wyoming, adding to about 26 previous seasonal reports (m.obs.). Two Black-throated Gray Warbler reports, a single in Lander, Fremont 12 Sep (HC) and one photographed near Cheyenne, Laramie 20 Sep (MG), were both rare as Wyoming September reports while the one in Laramie was rare also in location.

Wyoming’s 13th Scarlet Tanager, and the 6th for fall, was found near Cody, Park on the extremely late date of 2 Nov (DBu). A report with photographs of a mixed family group of seven Blue Grosbeaks, three females and four immatures, from WHR, Laramie 21 Sep (JB) was just two days short of a record late date for Wyoming.

Report processed by Eric DeFonso, 10 Feb 2021.