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.

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V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R S 3 / 4 367 Hudson-Delaware and Bald Eagles at a few open areas. At one of these in Oswego, a dozen dead diving ducks were found 9 Mar (Greg Dashnau). In contrast to their more widespread presence through some recent mild winters, Blue-winged Teal were entirely absent from the n. half of the Region by the latter half of Feb 2015. The absence of nearby overwintering birds sharp - ened the outlines of the species' sudden and widespread arrival, n. to the Great Lakes, 26-29 Mar. As occurred last season, Red- necked Grebes moved southward in response to freezing of the Great Lakes, with the most convincing examples of dispersal involving birds appearing on early Mar dates (prior to northbound migration) and in inland up - state New York (which typically records small numbers, mostly during migration). A pelagic trip to Wilmington Canyon, Cape May, NJ 25 May yielded many notable records, including 2 Audubon's Shearwaters and 3 Leach's Storm-Petrels (DGo, m.ob.). Very unusual inshore, especially so far s., a Northern Fulmar was seen from the Cape May–Lewes ferry 8 Mar (Roger L. Horn, Kathleen Horn). Among the season's most notable birds were 2 Neotropic Cormo - rants: one near Clinton, Hunterdon, NJ 26 Mar (Frank Sencher, Jr.) through the end of the season (m.ob.); and another at Fredonia, Chautauqua, NY 23 Apr (Jim Pawlicki), New York's second record. The former appeared in the same area that was frequented by an in - dividual of this species last spring. The latter, amazingly, was detected in flight as Pawlicki drove the New York State Thruway! Fortu - nately, the bird was subsequently re-found a few km away in the Town of Pomfret by Gale VerHague and Sue Barth. American White Pelicans were reported from Prime Hook, Heislerville, and Brigantine but not from ar - eas farther north. There were many reports of single Brown Pelicans during the latter half of May, from Lewes, DE to Ocean, NJ, but none farther north. New York's long-anticipated first Little Egret was finally recorded. Fittingly, it was discovered by a native of the Old World, Pete Morris, but in his own Long Island patch, at Bay Shore, Suffolk, NY 20 May. The bird was seen again the next day but not thereafter. A White Ibis at Little Creek, Kent, DE 15 Apr (Susan Gruver) was unique in the Region this spring, but several White-faced Ibis appeared in New Jersey. These included at least one in the Jake's Landing area, Cape May 19 Apr (Ste - van Rodan, Tom Reed) through 23 May; one at Brigantine 14 (Jesse Amesbury) through 31 May; one at Barnegat, Ocean 2-9 May (m.ob.); and one at Island Beach S.P., Ocean 20-21 Apr (Chris Brown, Skyler Streich). far fewer total records. For example, the Bar- tailed Godwit at Jamaica Bay this spring was the seventh for New York but the first since 2004. It is an interesting exercise to put one - self in the place of a keen witness to the sixth record in 2004 and to imagine one's expecta - tions for the future from that not so distant vantage point, at a time when there were still zero committee-accepted New York records of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Pink-footed Goose, Barnacle Goose, Neotropic Cormo - rant, Little Egret, and Crested Caracara. All of these species, like the godwit, occurred in New York this spring, but most were in some ways less unexpected. Abbreviations: Bombay Hook (Bombay Hook N.W.R., Kent, DE); Braddock Bay (Braddock Bay B.O., Rochester, NY); Brigan - tine (Brigantine Unit, Forsythe N.W.R., At- lantic, NJ); Cape May (Cape May, Cape May, NJ); Central Park (Central Park, New York, NY); Derby Hill (Derby Hill Hawkwatch, Oswego, NY); Hamlin Beach (Hamlin Beach S.P., Monroe, NY); Heislerville (Heislerville W.M.A., Cumberland, NJ); Jamaica Bay (Ja - maica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Gateway National Recreation Area, Kings & Queens, NY); Jones Beach (Jones Beach S.P., Nassau, NY); Mon - tezuma (Montezuma area, including Mont- ezuma N.W.R., Seneca, NY, Savannah, Wayne, NY, and Montezuma W.M.A., Cayuga, NY); Moriches (Moriches Inlet & vicinity, Suffolk, NY); Prime Hook (Prime Hook N.W.R. and Prime Hook W.M.A., Sussex, DE); Robert Mo - ses S.P. (on Fire Island, Suffolk, NY). WATERFOWL THROUGH IBISES A Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at Wilson, Niagara 29 May (Charles Horton, ph.) was the fourth record for New York's Niagara Frontier, and given the species' accelerating pattern of occurrence, no one expects it to be the last. As has become the norm, all the rare and scarce geese were recorded. The rarest were single Pink-footed Geese at Riverhead, Suffolk, NY 1 Mar and Lake Takanassee, Monmouth, NJ 11 Mar (Dave Saunders, ph.). Two Barnacle Geese at Riverhead, Suffolk, NY through 13 Mar (DR et al.) were also notable. Greater White-fronted Geese were scarcer in w. New York than in most recent years but were re - corded elsewhere in New York and New Jer- sey, as usual, and both Ross's and Cackling Geese were recorded widely, with examples in all three states. The overall patterns of regular occurrence for all of these formerly very rare species are unmistakable. After the intense and prolonged cold of Feb, almost all fresh water remained frozen in upstate New York, concentrating waterfowl Shaibal S. Mitra Robert O. Paxton Tom Reed Frank Rohrbacher –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– SPRING –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– R ecalling 2014, spring 2015 began as the continuation of a memorably severe winter. March was about 4º F below average across New York, and the cold and ice delayed northbound migration for water - fowl and other early season migrants. Other direct effects of the cold included reduced survival of various half-hardy landbirds and another waterfowl die-off in western, central, and northern New York, recalling last year's even larger event. The account below focuses mostly on rarities but also on the survival of half-hardy species following the harsh winter season. As in other spring reports from recent years, special attention is devoted to the dates and locations of spring vagrants in relation to where and how these birds spent the preced - ing winter. Among the rarities, it is worthwhile to ex - amine each species' history in our Region from two perspectives. Whereas the total number of occurrences is the simplest measure of rar - ity, changes in the pace of vagrancy, especially recent and rapid increases in rates of occur - rence, produce a very different impression in many cases. A very large proportion of the very rarest species recorded this season represent species that are undergoing dra - matic increases in vagrancy to our Region and might not be considered rare for much longer. Meanwhile, other species with long track re - cords of rare occurrence in the Region, such as Purple Gallinule and Bar-tailed Godwit, are actually being perceived as more novel than various recently ascendant species that boast

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