North American Birds

VOLUME 69 NO3 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/778845

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N O R T H A M E R I C A N B I R D S 468 A L A S K A for this very rare but annual visitor come in fall from s. Southeast. Unusual for spring from the North Gulf was the first-cycle Ring-billed Gull at Kodiak 8 May (ph. RAM). Caspian Tern reports were light, but the lone bird at Gusta - vus 16 Apr (NKD) eclipsed the Region's earliest spring arrival by four days. Of the few Snowy Owl reports, the lone bird at Skagway 13 Apr (JM) was very late for winter records and casual for spring in Southeast. Well to the n. of the species' normal distribution, which lies mostly s. of the Talkeetna Mountains, rarely beyond upper Cook Inlet, was a calling Northern Saw-whet Owl near Talkeetna 23 Mar (CM). With the average spring arrival at mid- May, Vaux's Swifts showed up in numbers more than a week ahead of schedule in Juneau, in - cluding 2 on 5 May, one on 9 May, and 11 on 11 May (PS, GBV, ACC). It was a similar early theme for Rufous Hummingbird arrivals. A male at Ketchikan 20 Mar (BH) was that local - ity's second earliest ever; Juneau had a very early bird 27 Mar (SKS). A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Gustavus 5 May (ph. NKD) provided a long overdue first for Southeast. This boreal forest nester is found with regularity e. of the Coast Range as close as nw. British Columbia and s. Yukon. The trend of discovering very early Red- breasted Sapsuckers continues in Southeast, exemplified by a Juneau sighting 1 Mar (PAR, GVB, MWS). A Black-backed Woodpecker at Skagway 6 Apr provided a first local observa - tion of this casual Southeast species, where there have only been about 15 reports since Bai - ley collected 2 in Juneau in Apr 1920. PASSERINES The Eastern Phoebe documented at Barrow 24 May (ph. BM) was remarkable for the North Slope and for such an early date; this marks the second Alaska record from the n. end of the Region. Warbling Vireos were distinctly early across Southeast, including one at Ketchikan 4 May (SCH, AWP) that established a new re - cord arrival by five days, followed by another at Gustavus 9 May (ph. NKD), where this South - east breeder is casual. Also noteworthy was the 22-28 May (FH, BH) and 2 at Shemya 24 May (DS). Notable Bar-tailed Godwits included an extreme early arrival of 10 May at Gambell (CI) and one at Gustavus 16 May (NKD), only the fifth ever in spring in Southeast. Also un - usual was the Marbled Godwit at Sitka 13 Apr (MRG), a new local record date and one of the earliest for the Region. A lone Ruddy Turn - stone found at Kodiak 5-6 Mar (BB, ph. RAM) represented the second winter record for the archipelago. Quite surprising was the wayward Surfbird at St. Paul Island 28 May (St. Paul Tour), just the fourth for the Pribilofs. South - east locales produced excellent high counts of most peep this season, including 4000 Dun - lins at both Gustavus (NKD) and the Stikine River mouth (GSB); 2500 Least Sandpipers at Gustavus 29 Apr (NKD); and 30,000 West - ern Sandpipers at Gustavus 3 May (NKD). A large mixed dowitcher flock at Kodiak 8 May included 25 Long-billeds, which had been re - corded at this offshore location only once in the previous 20 years (RAM). This year's Wil - son's Phalaropes, which continue a long trend of annual showings in very small numbers, included 3 at Gustavus 30 May (BBP), one at Anchorage 11 May (PS et al.), and a single near Goose Bay, Upper Cook Inlet 10 May (CS), fol - lowed by 2 there 23 May (DC). Most unusual were small groups of Common Murres mov - ing northward 6-8 Mar in Upper Cook Inlet, where locals found small groups of 2-8 off Anchorage's Point Woronzof and Ship Creek (SS, PS, EF, RP). Common Murres are casual beyond mid-Cook Inlet, mostly in winter. Because most northbound Sabine's Gulls remain in pelagic zones, this spring's wide - spread reports offered one of the best show- ings in years. Highlights include singles from the Kenai Peninsula area from Anchor Point 10 May (NW), near Kenai 22 May (BB), and out in Resurrection Bay 31 May (MvdZ). Eight observations for the season were tallied around Kodiak, including a local record-early group of 8 on 17 Apr (RAM). A lone Sabine's at Gam - bell 14 May (CI) was extremely early for the n. end of the Bering Sea, while a count of 55 from Snow Passage in n. Southeast at the Sumner and Clarence Strait confluence 25 May (PEL) was the season's high. The first-cycle Bonapar - te's Gull on Kodiak's Mission Lake 23 Mar (ph. RAM) had to have been a bird that successfully wintered in the North Gulf coast, as most show up towards late Apr. An early Feb bird from 1999 is the only other local winter record. The second-cycle Ross's Gull at St. Paul Island 24 May (St. Paul Tour) was a very rare find for the season from the s. Bering Sea. The ad. Franklin's Gull at Sitka 12-22 May (ph. MRG) was the season's only account and on the early end of the few spring records—most reports This species is a very rare and local migrant and breeder in Mainland Southeast. A Sand - hill Crane nest with two eggs discovered in a Thorne River area marsh on Prince of Wales Is - land 26 May (ph. JFB) adds to the dozen or so previous nest reports from s. Southeast. These birds belong to the subspecies tabida. SHOREBIRDS THROUGH FALCONS Shorebird diversity, including a good showing of Asian species, and staging concentrations seemed above average from the past several spring seasons. A single Black-bellied Plover at Gustavus 23 Mar (NKD) was extremely early and had likely wintered in the Region. The first migrants were also on the early side, with 10 at Glacier Bay 10 Apr (NKD), while the estimated 750 near Juneau 16 May (BAA) represented one of the highest counts from Southeast. Up to 7 Lesser Sand-Plovers represented a strong tally for the season at Shemya Island 25 May (DS). The only Terek Sandpiper was a little farther e. than usual, at Adak Island 25 May (FH, BH). Single Common Sandpipers at Adak Island 26 May (FH, BH) and Gambell 27-28 May (fide JLD) were the only ones found. Four Common Greenshanks represented the season high at Shemya 25 May (DS). More newswor - thy were singles from from Adak Island 22-24 May (fide FH, BH), St. Paul Island 21-24 (St. Paul Tour), and Gambell 26-28 May (Wilder - ness Birding). Wood Sandpipers fell out dur- ing a strong storm passage in the Aleutians, beginning with one at Adak 18 May; numbers built to 30 there through 28 May (FH, BH). At St. Paul Island, the first one was found 17 May, with the peak of 10 birds 24-27 May (St. Paul Tour). Finally, 3 singles reached Gambell 22 May, 27-31 May, and 4-5 Jun (CI, Wilder - ness Birding). Very rare in spring for Southeast was the lone Upland Sandpiper n. of Juneau 20 May (MWS). The count of 83 Whimbrels near Juneau 16 May (BE) established likely the highest single tally for Southeast. The late May storm dropped Black-tailed Godwits in the Aleutians, where rare, with one at Adak Well out of range was this Rusty Blackbird in willow thickets at Unalaska, Alaska on 27 March 2015, a very early date. This marks a first documented report for the Aleutian Islands, following a 17 March 1991 sight record from Adak. Photograph by Suzi Golodoff. This overshooting Eastern Phoebe was far from home on the tundra near Barrow, Alaska 24 May 2015. It provided a second North Slope record for this casual visitor. Photograph by Moe Bertrand.

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