North American Birds

VOLUME 69 No1 2016

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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Page 44 of 179

T H E C H A N G I N G S E A S O N S : O U T P O S T S V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 5 ) • N U M B E R 1 favorite records from over the years: White- eared Hummingbirds as far as the Great Lakes and Southeast, Green-breasted Mangos to Wis - consin and the Carolinas, and the famous Xan- tus's Hummingbird in British Columbia all have variously vied for top honors—though the April 2013 Bahama Woodstar in Pennsylvania has now likely stolen the show. Strong Michigan ad - ditions to the list of "honorable mentions" from autumn 2014 included a cooperative Berylline Hummingbird near Grand Marais 17-22 Sep - tember and a Costa's Hummingbird at Oneka- Atlantic and Gulf frontiers Some occurrences of Old World species in the Lesser Antillean islands continue to boggle the mind, with recent records of Common Shel - duck, Eurasian Spoonbill, European Bee-eater, Spotted Crake, and Little Ringed Plover. This season, it was once again the hardy crew on Guadeloupe that hit paydirt, with two Black- winged Stilts (possibly credited to Hurricane Bertha winds), a Green Sandpiper, and a Wood Sandpiper. Anthony Levesque, Frantz Delcroix, Eric Delcroix, Antoine Chabrolle, and others have been birding Guadeloupe intensely in re - cent years, and one has to assume that other islands of the "Leeward Islands" group have similar potential for vagrants but are simply not birded as intensely or perhaps lack the diversity of habitats found on Guadeloupe. Records of Eurasian vagrants in the Caribbean are more as - sociated with the "Windward Islands," and Bar- bados—considered part of the Windward group but lying 168 kilometers east of St. Vincent— intercepts the lion's share of such vagrants, with a Common Cuckoo this season. Other Old World Species reaching the eastern half of North America may be doing so from the opposite direction, and birders and ornitholo - gists have long hypothesized that some of the Curlew Sandpipers and (almost) all of the Bram - blings found in eastern North America probably commenced their journey in northeastern Asia, a belief bolstered by the past Atlantic regional occurrences of such Asian birds as Dark-sided Flycatcher (Bermuda), Siberian Stonechat (Nova Scotia), and Black-backed Wagtail (North Caro - lina). The February/March 2014 record of an Arctic Warbler wintering in Bermuda is equally astonishing, no matter what route it took. Let's face it: not all of us bird in the far corners of North America. Nevertheless, the migrant and vagrant potential of rarely visited barrier coasts and islands of many states are woefully under - appreciated and underbirded. While Louisiana's and Florida's Gulf islands have attracted more birders, and produced more records, in recent decades, the Mississippi coast has languished in the shadows, the result of relatively few observ - ers and of having most of their offshore barrier islands diffcult to access. But this year, several observers visited West Ship Island for several days in late October and were richly rewarded with a Say's Phoebe and a state-frst Sage Thrash - er. There's no question that islands offer bird- ers astronomically better odds for fnding a rare migrant in autumn; but not all islands are as far away as Guadeloupe or St. Paul. Hummingbird superlatives Almost every season seems to bring more way- ward hummingbird madness. We all have our number of visiting birders have documented a host of odd vagrants on the Ontario side of the Bay as well. Such sites as Moosonee, Moose River mouth, and Netitishi Point have been par - ticularly productive—though access to some of these sites is diffcult. A short list of late- summer and autumn highlights over the years there includes: numerous Northern Fulmars, a Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater, Leach's Storm- Petrel, four Northern Gannets, Great Cormo - rant, Purple Gallinule, Little Stint, Crested Ca- racara, Prairie Falcon, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Figure 16), Blue-winged, Yellow- throated, Prothonotary, and Hooded Warblers, and Lark Bunting. Farther to the south, the birding potential in autumn (and spring) along the shores of the Great Lakes is well known. Many superb sites throughout the region produce major concen - trations of migrants and provide excellent po- tential for rarities. One of those best-known areas is along the northwestern shore of Lake Superior around Duluth, Minnesota—and that concentrating effect continues eastward along the lake's north shore, through several lakeside towns, hemmed in by the lake on one side and by the boreal forest on the other. These ham - lets like Two Harbors and Grand Marais provide attractive late-season autumn habitat, such as fruit trees, gardens, and weedy areas. Farther east, into Ontario, the north-shore communi - ties of Thunder Bay, Marathon, and a suite of smaller towns and villages also have hosted a very impressive collection of both spring over - shoots and misoriented fall vagrants. Hailing from the opposite end of the Great Lakes region at famous Point Pelee, Ontario, Alan Worm - ington has departed Pelee during a number of years at the heights of migration there to make the long journey to Lake Superior's north shore. His and other observers' fndings there and at James Bay (above) are summarized as part of his working manuscript The Rare Birds of Ontario: A Catalogue of Distributional Records. A short list of some of the more spectacular autumn north- shore Superior discoveries includes: Sharp- tailed Sandpiper, Slaty-backed Gull, two Band- tailed Pigeons, two Common Ground-Doves, two Groove-billed Anis, Burrowing Owl, Dusky Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Clark's Nut - cracker, two Sage Thrashers, Virginia's War- bler, Cassin's and Black-throated Sparrows, and Scott's Oriole. The Say's Phoebe and Lark Bunting there in fall 2014 seem almost pedes - trian by comparison, but Peder Svingen, think- ing outside the box, suggests that the remains of Super Typhoon Nuri, which passed through this area 10-12 November, could well have been responsible for transporting three Pacifc Com - mon Eiders to the North Shore! Figure 17, 18. This troublesome Calypte hummingbird at the feeders of Rebecca Hayes in Sand Springs, Osage County, Oklahoma 11-29 (here 17) October 2014 was initially identifed as a Costa's, and seen by many. The signifcant red tones in the gorget and head, however, suggest that a Costa's x Anna's hybrid is a distinct possibility. Photographs by Joe Grzybowski. 43

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