North American Birds

VOLUME 68 NO4 2015

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

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N O R T H A M E R I C A N B I R D S 472 T h e c h a n g i n g s e a s o n s : o d d d u c k readily and we could communicate about the need to get out and look for corpses. There are eBird Alerts that are sent auto- matically to people in search of new spe- cies for a list—perhaps birds marked as dead or moribund could trigger a similar Alert to interested parties? Mysteries like the appearance, and deaths, of Black Sco- ters on southerly shores could be solved more effciently. Stupendous, subtle, sublime Birders out and about found shorebirds moving in early June and again in July, a few of them far out of range. A Snowy Plo- ver at Presque Isle State Park, Erie County, 1-4 July hung around a Piping Plover, pro- viding just the ffth record for Pennsylva- nia. We received belated report of a Com- mon Ringed Plover at Cedar Island Ferry Terminal, Carteret County, North Carolina 15 May, a stealth vagrant that possibly passes through undetected (its distinctive vocalizations are good to learn). A remark- able European Golden-Plover at a sod farm near Pittstown, Hunterdon County, New Jersey 19-20 July made only the fourth re- cord for the United States anywhere (two of those being from Alaska!), but of course fair numbers of the species are recorded in Newfoundland in spring during strong 10 years or so. We know that birders walking beaches for corpses found doz- ens of them, mostly in the Great Lakes after Hurricane Fran of 1996. In the Pa- cifc Northwest, where hurricanes are almost unknown, a huge cadre of coor- dinated volunteers, nearly 1000 strong, regularly combs beaches in search of ail- ing or dead seabirds. The COASST proj- ect, which stands for Coastal Observa- tion and Seabird Survey Team, began in 1999, and already it has published some very important articles on seabird mor- tality and on harnessing the power of citizen science—and even a feld guide to beached birds! The East Coast regrettably has nothing similar; state wildlife agen- cies are generally charged with gathering data and corpses when beached birds are found in numbers, and data are very hard to come by. It's understandable that bird- ers and researchers in the East have not organized yet into a group like COASST: the bird biomass is far smaller than in the Pacifc Northwest, and one encounters fewer dead birds on Atlantic shores unless there is an oil spill or epidemic of avian cholera or other disease. Nevertheless, it would be fantastic if we had a way—per- haps in eBird—to report dead birds, so that trends would become apparent more easterly blows. All reporting regions of this journal are arguably underbirded in some corners, but some have more potential for ornitho- logical discovery than others. Florida, that giant peninsula jutting into the subtrop - ics in the United States, is slowly begin- ning to get some of the birding coverage it deserves, and each regional report brings new and sometimes puzzling records. What does one make of the state's frst Oregon Junco at North Anclote Bar, Pasco County on 30 June, or its frst Lesser Gold- fnch at Melbourne 15-26 July? We looked at the eastward shift of western birds in spring 2014 in the previous essay, and Or- egon Junco was certainly among them in springtime. But 30 June near Tampa? Wandering kingbirds are a staple of summer season reports, but each sum- mer seems to up the ante. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers have expanded their breeding range a bit, and vagrants this season made it to Pohénégamook, Québec 1 June, Cap- des-Rosiers, Québec 8 June, and Kruzof Is- land, Alaska 19 June, that state's sixth ever. Tropical Kingbird, now nesting in Florida (fedging young in Sarasota County again this year), is also upping the ante: Nevada recorded its frst at Miller's Rest Area 17 June, and one turned up at Magpie, Qué- Figure 8. Two kayaking birders were surprised to encounter this Sooty Tern on 3 July 2014 at the south end of Long Beach Island, Ocean County, New Jersey, in tranquil weather (Tropical Storm Arthur passed well ofshore two days later). Photograph by Sam Galick.

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