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Check Out The Latest Rarity Photos from Around The States Here

By Cin-Ty Lee

Photos by;Julian Hough,, Dennis Malueg, Thomas Schultz, Angus Wilson (Angus's website)

The following informal round-up is just the highlights from the various national RBA transcripts. Apologies if you feel there are any ommisions but do feel free to e-mail us with any feedback, particularly if there any howlers!

February and March are typically considered the dullest birding months of the year, but this February hosted a number of unusual number of mega-rarities, some continuing from earlier in the winter and several new ones being discovered. Top birds of this month include ARCTIC LOON, GREATER SANDPLOVER, SMEW, ROADSIDE HAWK, PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT, GREEN-BREASTED MANGO, FIELDFARE, NUTTING’S FLYCATCHER, YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT, EURASIAN BULLFINCH, EUROPEAN GREENFINCH, BRAMBLING, and BLUE BUNTING.

Extralimital YELLOW-BILLED LOONS were reported from San Juan, NM and South Padre Island, TX. An ARCTIC LOON was discovered on the 7th at Nanaimo, Vancouver. The wintering LEAST GREBE continued through mid-February in Tucson, AZ. From South Carolina, came a report of a WESTERN GREBE on the 10th.

Arguably the most remarkable rarity of the month was a GREATER SANDPLOVER at Stinson Beach (seen through the 25th). Not only is this a first North American record of this species, but it also occurred at a remarkable time of the year since most Eurasian shorebird vagrants are found during spring or fall migration (See photos of this bird here). That being said, the only shorebird excitement of this month were the few wintering RUFFS/REEVES found along the Pacific Coast.

A SANDHILL CRANE was reported on the 23rd in Massachusetts, where it is considered casual. GREATER FLAMINGOS were reported from their regular haunts at the end of the SnakeBight Trail in Everglades National Park, FL. From New Mexico, came a report of an immature BROWN PELICAN on the 21st.

A BLACK-CAPPED PETREL was sighted of Hatteras, North Carolina on the 18th. The only inland sighting of a BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE came from New Mexico, while one offshore Alabama at the end of the month was unusually far south. LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were seen at the Salton Sea, California (two individuals), Washington, and Bodega Bay, California, where considered very rare but regular. Maryland’s KELP GULL continued at the Sandgates.

A MEW GULL in Lynn, Massachusetts was unusual. A wintering ICELAND GULL in Vernon, British Columbia continued to be seen through the 24th. Extralimital sightings of THAYER’S GULLS came from Texas, New Jersey, and Missouri. Four THAYER’S were spotted off Cape Point in the Carolinas on the 17th during stormy weather. GLAUCOUS GULLS were reported up and down both coasts (on the east, as far south as South Carolina), with a few scattered sightings in the interior United States (most remarkably was one in New Mexico). A possible BLACK-TAILED GULL was reported early in the month in New Jersey. While there were scattered reports of LITTLE GULLS along the east coast, the individual causing the most excitement was one wintering at Lake Perris, California (seen through the end of the month). A COMMON BLACK-HEADED GULL was reported from Vancouver.

Twenty-four ATLANTIC PUFFINS were reported on the 18th off Hatteras, North Carolina. THICK-BILLED MURRES were see along the eastern coast, as far south as NY.

A SMEW was discovered on the 26th at Malheur NWR, Oregon and was seen daily through the end of month. As usual, several TUFTED DUCKS were reported along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The southernmost report was from Lake Perris, CA where one adult male and a possible hybrid were regularly being seen. MASKED DUCKS were being regularly reported from south Texas this month. Colorado’s first HARLEQUIN DUCK in many years, originally found on the 20th of January, continued through the 23rd of February in Durango. Another HARLEQUIN DUCK was reported from New Mexico at the end of the month. WHOOPER SWANS were reported from the White Lake Unit in northeastern California.

Alabama’s first CRESTED CARACARA was reported on the 19th from Magnolia Springs. A wintering ZONE-TAILED HAWK continued in Santa Barbara, California. From south Texas, came word of a ROADSIDE HAWK. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK on the 18th in Georgia was unusually far south. GYRFALCONS were reported from Franklin County, Washington (Feb 15) and New Jersey (Feb 22). The latter was a white-morph individual.

NORTHERN HAWK-OWLS graced the Canadian provinces and the northern states, with reports coming from as far south as Maine, Minnesota, and British Columbia. GREAT GRAY OWLS also made their appearance in southeastern Canada. Several were reported from Ontario. BOREAL OWLS were reported from southern Canada and Minnesota.

The two LEWIS’S WOODPECKERS found earlier this winter in Texas, continued through at least mid-February. A wintering RUDDY-GROUND-DOVE was reported from Phoenix, Arizona (continuing through end of month). Extralimital sightings of WHITE-WINGED DOVES included on in Victoria, British Columbia and one in Georgia. EURASIAN COLLARED DOVES were reported from Arizona and New Mexico.

The hummingbird extravaganza this fall and winter continued. We had a belated report of a PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT in Madera Canyon on the 25th and 26th of January. As far as we know, there were no February reports. On the 9th of February there was a GREEN-BREASTED MANGO in a private residence in McAllen, Texas. A number of BLACK-CHINNED, BROAD-TAILED, CALLIOPE, RUFOUS, and ALLEN’S HUMMINGBIRDs were reported from the southern states and Texas. A VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD was reported on the 6th in Tucson, Arizona.

NORTHERN SHRIKES were widely reported this month, with sightings as far south as Maryland, New Mexico and southern California. Considered extremely rare in Texas, was the DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER at Sabal Palm Grove, Texas, which continued from last mont (seen through end of February). The wintering NUTTING’S FLYACATCHER in Orange County, California continued to be regularly seen through the end of the month (check out a photo here). New Mexico’s now-resident GREAT KISKADEE was seen again at Eddy. From Florida came a report of a CASSIN’S and a WESTERN KINGBIRD. Two WESTERN KINGBIRDS were seen in Georgia at the end of the month. A COUCH’S/TROPICAL KINGBIRD was also reported from Florida. The wintering THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD continued in Pomona, California. A LEAST FLYCATCHER was seen in Carpinteria, California.

New Brunswick’s wintering FIELDFARE was still present as of March 2. The wintering RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN was seen again in Phoenix, Arizona.

A BLUE-HEADED VIREO was reported from Oxnard, California. CAPE MAY WARBLERS were reported from Oregon and California (Marin County). A MAGNOLIA WARBLER was seen in Continental, Arizona. CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS were reported from Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, California. A YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER was reported on the 7th in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The wintering GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER in Lompoc, California continued at least through the 16th of February. Wintering PINE WARBLERS included on in Maine and one in Long Beach, California. A WILSON’S WARBLER was reported on the 19th from Georgia, and a HOODED WARBLER was seen mid-month in New Mexico. A LUCY’S WARBLER was found in San Mateo County in northern California, where it is considered very rare. Rare anywhere in North America during winter came reports of a wintering LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH at Patagonia Lake, Arizona (seen through at least the 26th) and a NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH in New Mexico (mid February). The RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER from last month continued at French Joe Canyon, Arizona through at least the 20th. An unusually far north wintering SUMMER TANAGER was reported from Oregon.

West coast RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were reported from southern California and Oregon. A GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE was reported from Kelowna, British Columbia, where this bird is considered very rare. Extralimital COMMON GRACKLES were reported from Los Angeles, California and Apache Lake, Arizona. Unusual sightings of HARRIS’S SPARROWS came from Blythe (CA), Orange County (CA), Washington state (three), and Kelowna, British Columbia. A wintering Dickcissel in Maine was unusual.

The YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT found at Everglades National Park, Florida was last seen on the 5th (see photo of this bird here).

On the 24th, a EURASIAN BULLFINCH was discovered at Fairbanks, Alaska. A BRAMBLING was seen in North Vancouver between the 7th and 10th. A EUROPEAN GREENFINCH was reported from Washington County, Maryland on the 24th and was frequenting feeders. The wintering BLUE BUNTING at Bensten State Park in south Texas, was being seen regularly through the end of the month.

Visit for more details from local RBA transcripts

Black-throated Sparrow, Deforest, WI, Jan 6th-20th © Thomas Schultz

The seventh record for Wisconsin and a continuation of the "long streak of western strays from the fall..." T. Schultz

Quite a bizarre photo for those birders whose memory of this species is usually associated with the baking heat of the southwestern deserts!

About Some of This Month's Photos

Thick-billed Murre, Montauk Point, Suffolk County, Long Island 4th Feb 2001 © Angus Wilson

Visit Angus's website for more photos and discussion.

Harlequin Duck, Durango, Colorado 2001 © Joey Kellner

This is the first Harlequin to be found in Colorado since 1976 (and that record was the first for the twentieth century)

First-winter Ivory Gull, Amherst Island, Kingston, Ontario, January 2001 © Julian Hough

Great Gray Owl Bracebridge, Ontario February 2001 © Julian Hough

One of several birds in the area.

Northern Hawk Owl, Sax Zim Bog, Minnesota, February 18th 2001

© Dennis Malueg

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