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 46 of 179

V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 5 ) • N U M B E R 1 45 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 ing of jaeger distribution of Lake Erie has been obscured for decades by our land-based detec - tion limits. Parasitic Jaeger, understood to out- number Pomarine Jaeger elsewhere in the Great Lakes, has always fallen short along the shore - line of Lake Erie." They credit the recent inland "pelagic trips" spearheaded by Jen Brumfeld for beginning to sort out the true status of Parasitic Jaegers there, where normally just a few are re - ported per season. In September 2014, Brum- feld and fellow birders found at least 14 Para- sitics on a single outing and 11 on another. It seems that Parasitics on Lake Erie might simply remain farther from shorelines, focusing their ef - forts on offshore focks of Common Terns. These Parasitics are exhaustively photographed, and the photographs are compared in an effort to determine the minimum number of individuals encountered. These sorts of efforts are not just commendable for clarifying the relative abun - dance of jaegers off Ohio; they have great value because they involve many people in the critical examination of these birds, both in the feld and through photographs. Nevertheless, Parasitic and Long-tailed Jaegers, especially non-adults, continue to pose identifcation diffculties for birders, as do Parasitics versus smaller-looking young Pomarines. In terms of photographic technology, times have changed radically since Kenn Kaufman's landmark Advanced Birding (1990), a necessity for the hardcore jaeger- meister of a quarter-century ago, and even since more recent books specifcally devoted to jae - gers (Olsen 1992, Olsen and Larsson 1997). For all birders, but especially those studying jaegers, the perfect paintings by Killian Mullarney and breeding range would be cause for scrutiny.) But these pitfall species are usually among the birds more easily weeded out by editors and re - viewers and committees; these days, eBird flters, if set judiciously, can catch honest mistakes— and also detect low-level, accurate trends, like record-early arrivals—so that both the overall erudition of participating birders increases and the accuracy, and granularity, of the data are re - fned. At least, that is the hope and the intention. But we are by no means out of the weeds, or the woods, as yet. Although we have begun to clear up incorrect notions of status/distribution, and clean up the most egregious of misidentifca - tions, in the case of some groups of birds, we still have much work to do. Take the situation with jaegers, for instance. After decades of drum-beat - ing by Jon Dunn and others, we now rarely see reports of juvenile Pomarine Jaegers in the Lower 48 states before late September (at the earliest), or reports of Long-tailed Jaegers after early Oc - tober. Birders doing lakeshore counts, seawatch stints, and pelagic trips are becoming more and more familiar with the identifcation and migra - tion timing of all three species, it would seem, at least based on these marked improvements. In particular, birders in the Great Lakes re - gion continue to push deeper into the world of jaeger migration. Veteran jaeger watchers in Minnesota (Duluth), Wisconsin (Wisconsin Point), Michigan (Whitefsh Point), Ontario (Van Wagner's Beach; Point Edward), Indiana (Miller Beach), and New York (Derby Hill) pass their knowledge and enthusiasm on to new devotees of these beautiful sea-falcons. As Vic Fazio and Tom Johnson write, "Our understand - beginning birders who did not appreciate the proper seasonal status of these species in North America. Since that time, undocumented reports of this sort have decreased, little by little. And we have indeed seen a small number of properly documented records of several of these species at this season (e.g., a mid-winter Blackpoll War - bler photographed in New York), some of which likely involved slightly injured or otherwise unft migrants that were forced to linger (e.g., Swain - son's Thrush and Veery with wing injuries). But it is very likely that we are seeing more of these late Neotropical migrants than we used to, per - haps connected to, or at least abated by, a chang- ing, usually warming autumn climate. Some species, of course, are reported suspi - ciously early in the fall season. Such very early arrivals—like the very late departures noted above—stand out statistically from the normal arrivals and thus merit much more scrutiny and careful documentation. Such very rare oc - currences certainly do exist, as they include a relatively small number of records that are well documented. But the lack of appreciation for the proper early-season status of many of these species by many birders results in a high num - ber of probably erroneous reports. Each region of North America will have its own list of po - tentially over-reported early arrivals (and late departures), but a few are rather widespread, among them Palm (and some Pine?) Warblers in late August and very early September, Blue- headed and Philadelphia Vireos during the same weeks, and Orange-crowned Warblers in the East/Midwest before late September. (Of course, only individuals found well outside the regular Figure 20. There are three previous records of Ruby-throated Hummingbird in southern Cali- fornia, but all have been immature males, so the identifcation of this adult male frequenting a feeder at a residence in Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo County 3-6 (here 3) September 2014 presented far less of an identifcation challenge. Photograph by Curtis A. Marantz. Figure 21. This Ruby-throated Hummingbird—present 24-26 (here 24) 26 August 2014 in the wilds some 50 kilometers north of Beaver Creek, Yukon—is astonishing given the extremely remote location. Photograph by Kate Warrick.

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