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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V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R 2 205 T H E C H A N G I N G S E A S O N S : C A R B O N C O P Y ginia in December, but others are starting to break out of their roles as half-hardies in the deep Southeast and are rapidly becoming more numerous, and less shocking, in the Northeast and southern Ontario. Orange- crowned Warbler began that pattern more than a dozen winters ago, and this winter saw even more in New England and across southern Québec through southern Ontario. In New England, Pam Hunt writes: "Are Or- ange-crowned Warblers the next half-hardy to start becoming 'expected' in winter?" Its congener, Nashville Warbler, is now perhaps beginning to follow suit, with late birds in Michigan, Ohio, Ontario, and Long Island, New York (Figure 9). Adding to the list of occasional northerly lingerers from the old twentieth century (Ovenbird, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Prairie War- bler) and the essentially annual ones (Yel- low-throated Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Black-and-white Warbler, Common Yellow- throat), we are now seeing a weak pattern arise with Cape May Warbler (birds north to Nantucket, Nova Scotia, Québec, Ontario, Missouri, Maryland, Virginia this season), Northern Parula (Ontario), Tennessee War- bler (two in Massachusetts, one in Ontario), and Yellow Warbler (in Tennessee). For Yel- low and Tennessee Warblers, we had grown so accustomed to dismissing reports as refer- ring to misidentified Orange-crowned War- blers that we find ourselves having to break this old habit and keep the mind open. In the East, too, records of Townsend's Warbler have clearly increased in the twenty-first century, particularly along the coast; this season saw two Townsend's in the same place along the Northwest River, Newfoundland, the island's eighteenth and nine- teenth records, 6 December! American Redstarts remained in both Maine and Massa- chusetts this season, yet an - other species with little his- tory of lingering in winter in northern New England and one that is perhaps poised to appear more often. We simply cannot quan - tify some things about our avocation, things like how many of us there are and how much time we spend other series of relatively warm winters in the East and relief from the awful drought. In winter 2014-2015, the first part of De- cember was merciful (compared to the No- vember cold snap and to early January), and so we saw a remarkable variety of warblers— at least 20 species—north of 36º N latitude. Some of these were seen only as singles, such as the Chestnut-sided Warbler in central Vir- ly we are all better connected and more com- municative by a factor of—what, a million or more? So our collective interface with the bird world has transformed tremendously. Were these warblers and cardinalids always here in these numbers in early winter, and we birders just were still too few in number, and too little connected, to detect them and to know about them—and how to find them and, in many cases, what to feed them? The rise of birding and the age of backyard orioles, humming- birds, and other gaudy migrants in the temperate zones have seemed to co-occur, but we note that there are limits to these remarkable patterns: Rufous Hummingbirds wintering in the East are many fewer in winters 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 than in most previous winters, possibly an effect of very cold winters but certainly also an effect of the wide- spread, long-term drought across the West, where these birds would find both flowers and insect life needed for successful nesting in short sup - ply. It will be interesting to see what happens to their numbers in the next ten years, should we experience an - Figure 11. Nevada's first Couch's Kingbird was found 12 (here 14) January 2015 at Clark County Wetlands Park, Las Vegas. It lingered through 22 March and was enjoyed by many observers. This species is starting to appear in more and more U.S. loca- tions well away from Texas, including the California Central Valley, southeastern Arizona, Nebraska, Alabama, Mississippi, and in this season, western Maryland and Manhattan, New York! Photograph by Greg Scyphers. Figure 12. Certainly a surprise in wintry New Mexico, this adult male Summer Tanager visited a suet feeder at Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, 19 January through 28 (here 27) February 2015. Photograph by Amy Howard.

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