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Yellow-faced Grassquit, Eco Pond, Everglades, Florida, 27th January 2001 © Lee Snyder

Visit Lee's Website to see lots more great photos of this bird.

Only the second record for Florida of this Mexican, Caribbean and Central American species. "Of the (approx) 8 sightings of this bird in NA, the 6 in s. Texas (etc) were of the mainland subspecies found in Mexico etc. while the previous Florida sighting (and this one) are of the Caribbean subspecies." Lee Snyder

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By Andy Birch

Photos by; Dennis Malueg, Lee Snyder (Lee's Website), John Idzikowski, Christopher Wood (St. Louis 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!

January really kicked 2001 off to a great start for many birders who wanted to chase vagrants. There were some real star birds that delighted birders across the nation. A drake SMEW in Missouri, a NORTHERN LAPWING and FIELDFARE in NF, REDWING and FIELDFARES in New Brunswick, a PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT at Madera Cyn AZ, a BRAMBLING in North Vancouver, BLUE BUNTINGS in Texas, a YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT in Florida. And let's not forget the NUTTING'S FLYCATCHER still overwintering in southern California or the SANDPLOVER in northern California that turned up at the end of the month (and still present at time of writing) that has several eminent birders scratching their heads and musing whether it could, in fact, be North America's first GREATER SANDPLOVER?

In Austin. TX, a RED-NECKED GREBE is a good local bird wintering at Lake Austin.

On the West Coast, pelagic birders braved the winter seas. A GREATER SHEARWATER was off Monterey mid month, as were several MANX SHEARWATERS. Westport, WA birders were not to be outdone, logging a fine SHORT-TAILED ALBATROSS at the end of the month.

A Massachussett's birder must have been asking "Who says lightning doesn't strike twice?" when they found an adult NORTHERN GANNET in Hadley flying down the Connecticut River just south of the Coolidge Bridge. Remarkably, in January of 1990 the same observer saw a NORTHERN GANNET from the same location!

From Arizona, there was a REDDISH EGRET at Kino Springs at the beginning of the month and another one was in San Diego, CA.

An adult and two immature WHOOPER SWANS are now wintering in the White Lake Unit of Lower Klamath NWR.

Star of the month for Missouri was undoubtedly the striking black and white drake SMEW at the Riverlands Environmental Conservation area. It even made the national newspapers. The internet mailing lists have been pretty busy pondering its origin, captive or wild, but it's in great company with a BARROW'S GOLDENEYE also there. In Massachussetts, the male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE first reported in December was still being seen on the Connecticut River between Holyoke and Chicopee. It is with a flock of COMMON GOLDENEYES.

From the source of the Niagara River, a female KING EIDER was reported off Fort Erie, Ontario. In Connecticut, a female KING EIDER was discovered in Long Island Sound at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison on January 29th and 30th. This bird may possibly be the same KING EIDER found at this location late last year.

A pair of birds thought possibly to be STELLER'S EIDERS were seen in Active Pass
Vancouver. BC at the beginning of the month.

Ohio also scored rare waterfowl in the form of a HARLEQUIN DUCK, first discovered on December 30th at the Maumee River Rapids in Grand Rapids and seen again in January. A female HARLEQUIN DUCK was also found in Durango, Colorado, the first to be found in this state since 1976 (that record was the first for the twentieth century
C.Wood pers comm).

TUFTED DUCKS continued in Washington, OR and northern CA amongst other states

From the Oregon RBA, a GYRFALCON was reported occasionally, south of Klamath Falls. In Iowa, a gray morph GYRFALCON was discovered in Boone County and another in Wisconsin was being seen in the Duluth/Superior harbor. According to the RBA, this is the first time in a number of years that a Gyrfalcon has been seen with any regularity in this harbor.

A rather large-billed Sandplover at Stinson Beach in northern California at the end of the month has birders scratching their heads and wondering if it is a GREATER SANDPLOVER and a first for North America. (See photos of this bird here)

The NORTHERN LAPWING was last seen on Friday, Jan. 5th in Ferryland, NF. Birders looking for the departed Lapwing had mega compensation when they discovered a FIELDFARE whilst viewing the marsh on the 12th! Unfortunately, despite much searching, this bird could not be re-found. A RUFF reported at El Canelo Ranch, TX checked its calendar and then departed on January 1st thwarting attempts for others to "year-tick" it.

An immature ICELAND GULL was reported in extreme southern Monroe, Co, Missouri in early, January. In Utah, a bird showing characteristics of both Iceland and Thayer's Gull ,was at the Bountiful Landfill

Massachussetts had some interesting gulls, including YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS at Nantucket and a MEW GULL at Carson Beach in South Boston. Another MEW GULL was found at the Galveston County Trash Dump TX.

LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were widely reported, with birds seen in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, an adult in Alabama, up to three at Lake Nockamixon, BC and a massive seven at the Elliot Landfill in Corpus Christi, TX. A third-winter LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was observed with hundreds of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls on the Arkansas River, OK.

The BLACK-HEADED GULL was reported from its usual location of 36th west of 72nd in Delta. BC. Also, the SLATY-BACKED GULL was reported from the large gull roost off Burns Drive in Delta, BC.

In Pinellas County, FL the long-staying HEERMANN'S GULL was at Ft DeSoto County Park, obviously finding the Florida climate much to its liking despite being on the wrong coast.

Maryland's KELP GULL was said to be "looking handsome" as it sat on the pier at the Sea Breeze Restaurant, in Sandgates for most of the month.

An adult LITTLE GULL in winter plumage was at Lake Perris, Riverside, CA.

An INCA DOVE was coming to a feeder in Ft Collins, CO from December 20th through January.

Owls were certainly the news of the week in the Ottawa area during January. A BOREAL OWL was found in a deciduous tree on the front lawn of a residence in Marathon village That bird was only seen for a short period of time and then flew off. There were, however, at least 7 NORTHERN HAWK OWLS in the Ottawa area. A GREAT GRAY OWL was also seen on a number of days.

In Vermont, a GREAT GRAY OWL was reported from Moose Bog. The bird was seen very well by an observer who was looking for BARRED OWLS. The previous record of this species for the state was from November 1997 and there are only 8 accepted records dating back to 1984.

A NORTHERN HAWK OWL was discovered in Ottawa and another NORTHERN HAWK OWL was being seen in Vilas County, Wisconsin and yet another was being seen daily at the Whitefield Airport, NH.

Up to 4 SNOWY OWLS were in the Milwaukee area, WI.

Best hummingbird of the month was a PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT at Madera Canyon on the 25th and 26th.

Missouri feeders hosted a SELASPHOROUS SP hummingbird in Waveland

An immature male CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD was near Clay, northeast of Birmingham, AL

A LEWIS'S WOODPECKER was still present in early January in Abilene at the State School.TX

A TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE was in Kewanee County at the Scarboro Wildlife area, WI.

From Irvine, Orange County, a wintering TROPICAL KINGBIRD was one of a number seen this month.

Up to three SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHERS were also present together at San Joaquin Marsh in Irvine, CA

The overwintering 3rd for North America NUTTING'S FLYCATCHER attracted a steady stream of admirers at Mason Regional Park in Irvine, CA. In the Rio Grande Valley, TX the DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER continued at Sabal Palms and another was at Bentsen State Park. An ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER was at Safe Harbor Dam on the lower Susquehanna River PA

The EASTERN PHOEBE continued to winter at the Big Sur River Mouth area, CA

An adult NORTHERN SHRIKE was found in Montgomery Co, MD and another was in San Bernadino County, CA which is unusual.

The RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER continued at French Joe Canyon through January, tempting many a year-lister to make the trek. A GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER continued to winter at Lompoc, CA.

Also from Arizona, and virtually unheard of during the winter, a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT was seen near the San Pedro River near San Pedro House.

The VARIED THRUSH was last seen at the feeders in Buxton, Maine on January 7th. Another VARIED THRUSH was seen in Naperville,IL. In Minnesota and yet another VARIED THRUSH was reported from North Oaks on the 25th.

The downtown Phoenix RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN continues to be happy eating fruit from the fig trees at the Calvin C. Goode Municipal Building, AZ.

As mnetioned earlier, birders at Ferryland, NF on Jan 12th, looking for the Lapwing discovered a FIELDFARE. Hot on the heels of New Brunswick's first REDWING, present one day only on January 1st, came a FIELDFARE in Fredericton. The bird, was feeding with a flock of about 100 American Robins in coniferous and mountain-ash trees in and at one point was seen in the same tree with a VARIED THRUSH!

A GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE was discovered in western MD's Allegany Co on Jan 1st. The bird, which would be a first state record, was "foraging actively along the roadway with a sizable mixed sparrow flock."

A male PAINTED BUNTING was visiting a feeder in White Stone, Lancaster Co, VA, with reports through Jan 1st. This is not far from where a SNOWY OWL was being seen. A bizarre mix of birds to see in one place!

In Dallas County, Iowa, the male winter-plumaged LARK BUNTING continued at a feeder.

A female BLUE BUNTING was being seen sporadically at Bentsen State Park, TX and another was reported at San Ygnacio, TX

In Coconino County, AZ a flock of about 70 BLACK ROSY-FINCHES continue to come to some seed put out last month.

In Minnesota, a GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCH was discovered in Duluth at the
Cargill grain elevator in the port terminal.

A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was seen at Peace Valley Park.PA

A HARRIS'S SPARROW continued to be found west of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Another HARRIS SPARROW had been present in Putney VT for at least a month. It was seen on the 16th December for the Christmas Count and was still there New Years Day. Another was also at Mason Regional Park in Irvine, CA.

From Florida, only negative news at Spanish River Park in Boca Raton,where the female WESTERN SPINDALIS (Stripe-headed Tanager) was not seen in the second week of the month.

A male HOODED ORIOLE was confirmed coming to a Hummingbird feeder in Richmond, BC

Another fine visitor to the BC area was a BRAMBLING that flashed its white rump for visitors at a backyard feeder in North Vancouver.

A TAMAULIPAS CROW was reported from Sabal Palms, TX

And rounding out the month and no doubt one of the best birds was in Monroe County, FL where a YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT was found at the EcoP Pond area. Only the 8th record for North America.

Visit for more details from local RBA transcripts

About some of this month's photos:

Snowy Owl, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, November 26th 2001 © John Idzikowski

Smew, West Alton, Missouri, January 2001 © Christopher Wood

This first for Missouri was discovered on January 13th by birders looking at a Barrow's Goldeneye!

See more photos of this bird at the St. Louis Website

Gray-crowned Rosyfinch, Duluth, Minnesota, 28th January, 2001

© Dennis Malueg

This bird continues to delight Minnesota birders. In the afternoons, a Gyr Falcon can often be seen perched atop the elevator that this bird feeds under!

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