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.

Issue link: http://nab.aba.org/i/705084

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V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R 2 255 N O R T H E R N G R E AT P L A I N S found on the 27 Dec Mitchell C.B.C. (fide Jeff Hansen), with single birds reported from Law - rence 9 Jan (DP) and Haakon 2 Feb (MM). Two locally rare Carolina Wrens were tallied on the 14 Dec Yankton, SD C.B.C. (RD). The Ruby-crowned Kinglet in Hughes, SD 9 Jan (KM) was the state's first Jan record. A Moun - tain Bluebird, both far east and late, was found on the 17 Dec Arrowwod N.W.R. C.B.C., Stut - sman, ND (Scott Baron); 2 other late birds were in Billings, ND 21 Dec (JLK). Most worthy of note was the Mountain Bluebird that overwintered successfully in Grand Forks, ND (fide CDE). A seasonally casual Hermit Thrush was on the 14 Dec Yankton, SD C.B.C. (RD). Casual statewide, a Varied Thrush was in Lincoln, SD 14 Feb (JC). Accidental in winter, a Chipping Sparrow was in Lincoln, SD 3 Jan (JC). The most unex - pected bird of the season was the Sooty Fox Sparrow that overwintered at Bismarck, 20 Dec+ (Doug Emerson, fide CDE, ph.). This was the third record of a Sooty Fox Sparrow from North Dakota. A feedlot bordering McKenzie Slough, Burleigh, ND supported 7 Yellow-head - ed Blackbirds, 15-35 Brewer's Blackbirds, 10- 17 Common Grackles, and 2 Brown-headed Cowbirds throughout the season (CDE, HCT, REM); all of these numbers are relatively high for wintering blackbirds in the state. Still casual in North Dakota, a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch was singing in Cottonwood Camp - ground, Theodore Roosevelt N.P., Billings 3 Jan (JLK). A flock of up to 60 Gray-crowned Rosy- Finches were on Bear Butte, Meade, SD 10 Dec (DP), where more expected. A Pine Grosbeak was in Burke, ND 20 Feb (ESR), while 6 were at Kenmare, ND 28 Feb (REM); the species is not quite an annual winter visitor to the state. In South Dakota, Pine Grosbeaks are seasonally rare but irregular winter visitors to the Black Hills and to the ne. corner of the state but casual elsewhere. Three Pine Grosbeaks were at Fort Pierre, SD 13 Dec (KM), whereas 5-7 were in the Mina Lake Recreation Area, Edmunds, SD 18 Dec – 25 Jan (BP, GO). Common Redpoll num- bers were unremarkable, with 2224 individual birds found on 17 Christmas Bird Counts, in - cluding a high of 608 on the Lostwood, ND C.B.C. 15 Dec (fide CDE). Hoary Redpolls re - ports included 7 individuals scattered among five C.B.C.s, and a high of 4 birds in Mercer, ND 7 Feb (CDE, REM, ESR). Evening Grosbeak winter flights into the Northern Great Plains have been mostly non-existent for the past 25 years, with many years passing without the re - port of a single individual. This year, lone Eve- ning Grosbeaks were reported in Mercer, ND 6 Dec (RF, REM), at Hope, ND 27 Dec (DLK), and at Bottineau, ND 30 Dec (LL). Cited observers (state editors in boldface): Snowy Owls in Mountrail 14 Feb (DD). A Long- eared Owl was found on the Denbigh, ND C.B.C. 4 Jan (fide CDE); the species was other - wise unreported in that state. Increased search efforts must explain at least part of the surge in Northern Saw-whet Owl reports; nonethe - less the 7 on the Medora, ND C.B.C. 27 Dec, 4 in Stanley, SD 12 Dec (KM), and 4 in Lincoln, SD 24 Jan (JC) were particularly high winter counts. Hardy Belted Kingfishers in North Da - kota are always an inspiring treat. The bird at isolated Sheep Creek Dam, Grant 28 (JDWF) & 30 Dec (KK) was particularly surprising, while one at Garrison Dam 30 Dec–1 Jan (REM) was somewhat more expected. The familiar story of expanding Red-bellied Woodpeckers contin - ued this season, with the 14 birds found on the Fargo, ND/Moorhead, MN C.B.C. 20 Dec being especially noteworthy, along with the far-west bird found on the 18 Dec Shadehill, SD C.B.C. (DNS). A tardy Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was at Jamestown, ND 4 Dec (MAS). The 16 Pileated Woodpeckers on the Fargo/Moorhead C.B.C. 20 Dec made an impressive total for that ex - panding species. It was a good year for Gyrfalcon sightings in North Dakota, with single birds reported in: Adams 6 Dec (CDE, FR), Dunn 26 Jan (KH), McKenzie 18 Jan (KH), Mountrail 3 Dec, 14 Jan, and 21 Jan (ESR), Slope 17 Jan (JLK), and Williams 11 Jan and 21 Feb (ESR). In South Dakota, the species was reported only from its traditional "hot spot" in the cen. part of the state, with about 5 birds scattered in Hughes, Jones, Stanley, and Sully 6 Dec–21 Feb (KM, RO, DNS, m.ob.). PASSERINES In corvid news, there were welcome signs that Black-billed Magpies continue their recovery from the recent population crash generally at - tributed to West Nile Virus. Black-billed Mag- pies were recorded on 13 North Dakota C.B.C. this season, with 159 individuals being count - ed, including an encouraging 43 on the 27 Dec Medora C.B.C. (fide CDE). As noted in previous winter reports, Com- mon Ravens continue to accelerate their long- delayed recovery from the wolf-poisoning cam - paigns of the 1880s. Common Ravens are now seasonally expected across much of the n. half of North Dakota; 29 birds were found on the 4 Jan Denbigh C.B.C. The single Common Ravens at Fargo 5 Dec (MAO) and in Burleigh, ND 21 Jan (ELM) were evidence of continued southward expansion. This winter, the species particularly pushed farther southward along the Little Mis - souri River corridor (fide Nancy Drilling); 15 were in Bowman and 3 were in Slope 22 Feb (CDE, REM). In recent years, Common Ravens have also been exploring South Dakota; 2 were Forks 13 Dec (SJA), and at Valley City 18 Jan (BJA); the species should now be considered seasonally rare. The Swainson's Hawk found 6 Dec in Minnehaha, SD (MZ) was record late. Ferruginous Hawk, first recorded as a wintering species in North Dakota in 2006, is now being found annually. This season, 3 were in Adams 6 Dec (CDE, FR), with single birds in Grant 30 Dec (KK) and in Bowman 22 Feb (CDE, REM). An impressive 20 Golden Eagles were found in sw. North Dakota 22 Feb (CDE, REM). Two American Coots on North Dakota's Val - ley City C.B.C. 18 Dec were a local first. Sea- sonally accidental throughout the Region, a Sandhill Crane was found on the 20 Dec Fargo ND/Moorhead, MN C.B.C. and persisted un - til at least 31 Dec (DWR). A flock of Sandhill Cranes was reported from Pennington, SD 19 Feb (Shirley Frederick, fide JB). The Fort Pierre, SD Killdeer that persisted until at least 25 Dec (DB, KM, RO) was no doubt a tough bird. Even more impressive, a Killdeer was near Halliday, ND 22 Dec–9 Jan (DBL), and a hardy Wilson's Snipe was in Montrail, ND 7 Feb (ESR). Both species are seasonally casual in North Dakota. Five Thayer's Gulls were at Garrison Dam 28 Dec (REM), with 3 lingering until at least 1 Jan (REM). In South Dakota, the peak of 4 Thayer's Gulls was found at Pierre, SD 16 Feb (RO). Three Iceland Gulls were at Garrison Dam 13 Dec, with a single bird remaining until at least 1 Jan (REM). Iceland Gull is not quite annual anywhere in the Region, even along the Missouri River corridor. A third-cycle Iceland at Pierre was photographed by many during its long stay 2 Dec+ (RO, DNS, m.ob.). A Lesser Black-backed Gull was at Garrison Dam 13-14 Dec (REM) and another at Pierre 25 Dec (RO). Three Glaucous Gulls were at Garrison Dam 6 Dec, with 8 birds there 14 Dec (REM); one per - sisted there until the end of the season (REM), providing the state's second overwintering re - cord. Glaucous Gulls were first noted this sea- son at Pierre on 1 Jan (KM), with 3 persisting through the end of the season (RO, m.ob.). It would be of great interest to track the midwin - ter movements of large gulls through the Re- gion and beyond. Rare anytime of the year in North Dakota, the Barn Owl found on the Valley City C.B.C. 18 Dec provided the state's first Dec record. Great Horned Owl typically begin nesting in North Dakota in late Feb or early Mar, mak - ing the optimistic bird incubating 8 Feb (CDE, REM) noteworthy. The winter of 2013-2014 saw a midwinter influx of Snowy Owls into the e. Dakotas. In winter 2014-2015, it was w. North Dakota that was particularly favored, though Snowy Owls were scattered throughout the Region for most of the season. The single- day peak tally in North Dakota was of 10

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