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.

Issue link: http://nab.aba.org/i/629070

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N O R T H A M E R I C A N B I R D S 48 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 front or a warm front, a Siberian Express or a Super Typhoon, to bring in the birds: sometimes it just takes a weather eye on the bird records from the regions around you and a willingness to look more critically at the birds and habitats near home. Literature cited Armistead, G. L., and B. L. Sullivan. 2016. Better Birding: Tips, Tools, and Concepts for the Field. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. Behrens, K., and C. Cox. 2013. The Peterson Ref - erence Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight. Houghton Miffin Harcourt, New York. Blomdahl, A., B. Breife, and N. Holström. 2003. Flight Identifcation of European Seabirds. Christopher Helm, London. Brinkley, E. S. 2014. The Changing Seasons: 1000 words. North American Birds 68: 40-46. Dunn, J. L., and J. Alderfer. 2011. National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Sixth edition. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. Gibson, D. D., and J. J. Withrow. 2015. Inven - tory of the species and subspecies of Alaska birds. Western Birds 46: 94-185. Howell, S. N. G., I. Lewington, and W. Russell. 2014. Rare Birds of North America. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. Kaufman, K. 1990. Advanced Birding. Houghton Miffin, Boston, Massachusetts. -----. 2011. A Field Guide to Advanced Birding. Houghton Miffin Harcourt, New York. Lehman, P. E. 1983. The Changing Seasons: Au - tumn 1982, a "lackluster" season that wasn't, with some thoughts on lingering identifca - tion problems. American Birds 37: 150-154. ----. 1984. The Changing Seasons: The winter of 1983-1984: "The Siberian Express." Ameri - can Birds 38: 287-293. Olsen, K. M. 1992. De Jagers van het Noordelijk Halfrond. GMB, Haarlem, Netherlands. Olsen, K. M., and H. Larsson. 1997. Skuas and Jaegers: A Guide to the Skuas and Jaegers of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut. Roselaar, C. S., and G. J. Gerritsen. 1991. Rec - ognition of Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit and its occurrence in the Netherlands. Dutch Bird - ing 13: 128-135. Sullivan, B. L. 2004. The Changing Seasons: The Big Picture. North American Birds 58: 14-29. van Scheepen, P., and G. J. Oreel. 1995. Herken - ning en voorkomen van IJslandse Grutto in Nederland. Dutch Birding 17: 54-64. Vinicombe, K., and D. Cottridge. 1996. Rare Birds in Britain and Ireland: A Photographic Re - cord. Collins, London. n and carefully. A glance at the eBird map for Neo- tropic Cormorant shows that records from the Great Plains eastward cluster tightly along our "Southwest to Northeast" lines, with very few (and mostly recent) exceptions from Maryland/Virginia and New Jersey. With the species now nesting in small numbers in Florida, perhaps New England will soon see its frst, though hybridization with Double-cresteds should give us pause in the iden - tifcation of extralimital Neotropics. Even more than Neotropic Cormorant, Brown Booby seems to be an equal-opportunity vagrant lately, and the species is even more conspicuous. Birders across North America—from coast to coast—are asking, "What is going on with Brown Boobies?!" The population in coastal southern California (and northernmost Baja) may be near - ing 300 birds, smaller numbers are now semi- resident farther north on the Farallon Islands, one was in southwestern Arizona in 2014, they are oc - curring annually in small numbers in the Pacifc Northwest (about 10 birds this season), and both British Columbia and Alaska saw two birds each in 2014. To the east, singles are almost expected along the Texas Gulf Coast, at Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, and also in the Atlantic north to about New Jersey. This fall, Québec saw its frst re - cord along the lower St. Lawrence, as did Vermont at Lake Champlain! Any body of water larger than a mud puddle, whether fresh or salt, should be scrutinized for the species, assuming this remark - able trend continues beyond 2015. Likewise astonishing in recent years, Crested Caracaras continue to turn up just about any - where, with Pennsylvania and Virginia birders enjoying single vagrants this season. This is a con - spicuous species, unlikely to be overlooked, but is there a way to look for a vagrant caracara? Sure there is: check your local landfll (sure to have vultures), farm country with cattle and sheep, or that place where hunters or highway departments deposit deer carcasses and remains. And if you know that Common Cranes are turning up recently in Nebraska, among Sand - hill Cranes? Well, you check your own local Sandhills, as Texas birders did this season to fnd their state's frst Common Crane ever, one bird at Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge 18 November (with two there 22 November and later)—and as Jerry Oldenettel did at Roswell, New Mexico, where he found the state's frst photographed Common Crane 30 November. That state had only one prior report of the species, from 1961. We all occupy outposts, of some sort or other. And we are all surrounded by ornithological mysteries. Oftentimes, it just takes one person— a Golodoff, an Eckert, a Brumfeld, a Worming - ton, or an Oldenettel—to say "Hey, I wonder what's over there, just around the corner. Let's go check it out." It doesn't necessarily take a cold day? And, naturally, in such an environment, careless and erroneous reporting becomes diff - cult to distinguish from accurate. Was it a Cave Swallow, or was it a distant Tree Swallow in pret - ty evening light? Let's hope that at our current crossroads we won't allow the massive increase in data (includ - ing photographs), or duplication, or the minuti- ae of subspecifc identifcation, to send us into a purgatory of confusion and fruitless debate. We will need to adapt to the food of electronic re - porting with calm and with the expectation that wheat and chaff, babies and bathwater, cannot always be neatly separated. Our best efforts will contain numerous errors; indeed for many, the biggest challenge will be in learning to accept inevitable error as part of the new landscape, as part of the tradeoff for orders-of-magnitude in - creases in reports. Dispersers and vagrants: the home front While birders on islands in the Pacifc and the Atlantic, or at headlands like Neah Bay or Prov - incetown, have a high expectation of discover- ing off-course species, most birders who live in landlocked areas have different expectations. Instead of watching and waiting for the Bram - bling that probably won't come, birders inland watch for reports of irrupting and overshooting species in nearby areas. Snowy Owls and winter fnches are marvelous examples from recent win - ter seasons: birders watched the eBird maps daily, as the fights got closer and then at last reached their areas—and many were out looking in ap - propriate habitats well in advance of that frst arrival. In spring, most birders know to look for overshooting White-winged Doves, which appear almost anywhere, but birders along the Gulf coast also look for Inca Doves, showing evidence of a slow, local spread eastward. Fish Crows, expand - ing their toehold in the Great Lakes region, are sought after by birders just beyond this range, and the Lesser Goldfnch expansion in the West now means almost everyone needs to pay close attention to their goldfnches, almost any time of year. And in autumn, who doesn't see a record of Tropical Kingbird two states to the south and think "next stop, my patch"? Our strategies in the interior are much the same as for birders on islands, where learning habitat requirements for rarer species is often key to detecting them. In inland areas, we know Neotropic Cormorants are turning up in a num - ber of previously unfathomable northern locali- ties (into Canada), and their numbers continue to grow substantially in southeastern California, with smaller numbers west to coastal California and north to Nevada and Utah. So when we fnd Double-crested Cormorants on any inland body of fresh water, we now look through them, slowly

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