North American Birds

VOLUME 69 NO2 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 12 of 139

Figure 3. Weather map for the North Pacific showing weather systems and their projected tracks at 1600 HADT, 3 October 2013. Map courtesy of the Ocean Prediction Center, National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 187 V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R 2 C O M M O N R E D S TA R T O N S T. PA U L I S L A N D, A K age, with darker gray underparts (Brazil 2009; J. Hough, P. Morris, pers. comm.). The most similar subspecies of Black Redstart to the St. Paul bird would be phoenicuroides, in which males are extensively black from the throat to the upper breast. Although this subspecies can have some white around the forehead, it is never as bold as on the St. Paul redstart and does not extend much, if at all, behind the eye (P. Kennerley, pers. comm.). Thus Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoe - nicurus) is the only species in this genus that displays the combination of a small black bib restricted to the throat and face, a fairly bold white supercilium, a mainly brownish mantle, and no white at the base of the tertials and sec - ondaries (Brazil 2009, Svensson et al. 2010). Ageing Common Redstart in the field dur- ing the autumn is difficult, as the feather tips masking breeding plumage can be variable at this time of year (Jenni and Winkler 2011), but based on the combination of fairly ob - vious broad pale/silvery fringes on the fore- head, face, and throat (producing a salt-and- pepper look), the lack of solid black lores, and an apparent molt limit in the greater coverts, the St. Paul redstart can reliably be aged as a hatch-year bird (Small et al. 2009, Svensson et al. 2010; M. Crewe, K. Mullar - ney, B. Small, pers. comm.). Identification to subspecies within P. phoe- nicurus can be difficult but may be possible in the case of the St. Paul redstart. There are two subspecies. Nominate phoenicurus breeds from western Europe to Lake Baikal, and sub - species samamisicus—often called Ehrenberg's 10 minutes of almost continuous viewing, through binoculars and several scopes, the group decided to approach the bird more closely for photographs. Schuette, Gochfeld, Hayward, Lehman, and Frey moved closer, and Gochfeld was able to obtain the superior photographs of the bird in flight. The bird was seen again by Schuette, Go - chfeld, Hayward, and Norm Budnitz at 1600 HADT on 9 October, again at the base of Black Diamond Hill. Later that day and for the next two days, passage of a storm exposed the east - ern flank of the hill to strong winds and rain. A brief search for the bird on 12 October, after the conditions improved, was not successful. Identification The bird was a small passerine that appeared to be a shorter and noticeably slimmer than a Catharus thrush (Figure 1). In flight, the most conspicuous feature was the richly colored or - ange/rufous tail, which appeared even longer than it was, owing to the coloration continu - ing through the uppertail coverts and rump. This coloration contrasted sharply with the grayish brown upperparts (Figure 2). The two central rectrices were mostly brown as well, with the orange coloration restricted to the bases. These brown central rectrices were not readily apparent in the field but are easily seen in photographs (Figure 2). While perched, the bird showed fairly rich orange/rufous smudging through the flanks, the markings being most distinct in the up - per flanks. The underparts were otherwise whitish. The bird also had a very prominent white supercilium extending from above the bill to just behind the eye. Blackish feather - ing scattered throughout the auriculars gave the cheek a dusky appearance, contrasting with the supercilium. Some of this darker, blackish feathering extended to the other - wise pale throat. The tertials were blackish, with fairly broad pale fringing that was ap - parent in the field. The lesser coverts were mostly gray (a little paler than slate gray), which contrasted with the rest of the brown - ish and blackish remiges. There was a thin but obvious wingbar formed by the pale tips of the greater coverts and a smaller and less noticeable second wingbar formed by pale tips of the median coverts. Examination of the photographs showed that the pale edging on the dark tertials and greater coverts (broader on the tertials than the greater coverts) was buffy, rather than white or whitish. In the photograph, similar but thinner buffy edging is also apparent on most or all of the secondaries. The combination of the orange/rufous tail and underparts, and the darkish face on a bird of this size and structure indicates a male of the genus Phoenicurus, an Old World redstart. Identification to species within the genus Phoenicurus can be problematic but is normally straightforward with a series of good photographs. Given the characteristics mentioned above, and known species distributions, only a few species merit consideration when identifying this individual. Daurian Redstart (P. auroreus) was previously considered the most likely species of this genus to be found in the Ber - ing Sea region of Alaska (Tobish 2000), as it breeds east through Amurland to Sakhalin, at the western edge of the Sea of Okhotsk (Bra - zil 2009). However, this species shows a large white patch across the bases of the tertials and secondaries, absent in the St. Paul redstart, that would have been conspicuous in both the perched and flying bird, as well as more ex - tensive orange on the underparts than shown by the St. Paul redstart (Brazil 2009). Hodgson's Redstart (P. hodgsoni), a seeming - ly very unlikely vagrant given that it is a short- distance migrant that breeds from the eastern Himalayas through central China, shows at least two features that distinguish it from the St. Paul redstart: a white wing patch (similar to that of Daurian Redstart but less extensive) and black extending onto the upper breast from the throat (Collar 2005). The various subspecies of the widespread Black Redstart (P. ochruros) lack the extensive white supercilium of the St. Paul redstart. Black Redstart is also generally duller in plum -

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