On 28 April India Bowles photographed an ABA Code- 4 Black-vented Oriole (Icterus wagleri) at Scarlet Colley’s yard on South Padre Island, Texas.
In the ABA Area, Black-vented Oriole was first recorded from Big Bend National Park, Texas, from 27 September 1968, on-and-off to October 1970 (ABA Checklist, Seventh Edition, Pranty et al., The Texas Ornithological Society Handbook of Texas Birds, Lockwood and Freeman).
Black-vented Oriole is a resident of Mexico, south to northern Nicaragua with two subspecies, I. w. wagleri and I. w. prosthemelas, but called I. w. castaneopectus in New World Blackbirds, Jaramillo and Burke). It is found in arid scrub from central Sonora to southern Nuevo Leon and the southern subspecies, I. w. wagleri, is from the highlands of western Mexico to northern Nicaragua (The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World). Black-vented Oriole wanders seasonally, but the extent of its wanderings is unknown (The Birds of Mexico and Northern Central American, Howell and Webb). I. w. prosthemelas (castaneopectus) is found in the northern parts of the species’ range having a more extensive band of chestnut where the black meets the orange-yellow underparts (New World Blackbirds, Jaramillo and Burke).
On 27 April Renaud Pintiaux observed an ABA Code-4 Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) in Tadoussac, Quebec, (France’s first trading post on the mainland of New France) on the northwest shore of the St. Lawrence River at the confluence with the Saguenay River (cold fresh water meets the warmer salt water of the St. Lawrence creating habitat for an abundance of krill and thus whales).
Although most thrushes are solitary during the breeding season, in Scandinavia at least, Fieldfare nests semi-colonially where they employ a group mobbing technique against corvids and raptors that includes directional defecation (Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 10). Luckily American Robins do not use that technique.
Fieldfare is casual in eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S. It has bred in western Greenland and is a regular winter visitor to Iceland. The breeding range includes Greenland and the Palearctic region including northwestern and central Europe to Kazakhstan and the southwestern Russian Far East. It winters south to North Africa, the Middle East, and northeastern Iran (ABA Checklist, Seventh Edition, Pranty et al.).
On 26 April John Hutchison and Russ Titus found an ABA Code-3, La Sagra's Flycatcher (Myiarchus sagrae) in Boca Raton, Florida, at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.
The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America has four photographs of La Sagra’s Flycatcher from the Bahamas of the subspecies M. s. lucaysiensis. The Myiarchus genus is numerically diverse with 22 species, but morphologically they are very similar in appearance, therefore voice recognition is the best clue for identification. Besides voice, (huit call notes) La Sagra's is often identified by its unusual forward-leaning posture and flat-headed appearance (Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 9). LaSagra’s has relatively short wings for a Myiarchus flycatcher and therefore most are resident or partially migratory.
Although not considered threatened, the entire range of La Sagra's Flycatcher is the Bahamas, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands (Birds of the West Indies, Raffaele et al.).
An excellent treatment of La Sagra’s Flycatcher can be found in the 1992 issue of Birding 24:294−296, by Smith and Evered. La Sagra's Flycatcher was first reported in the ABA Area in 1963 in Orrville, central Alabama, thought to be of the Cuban race, M. s. sagrae. Since the first report of this species in the ABA Area, at least 12 records and numerous reports have been recorded, all from south Florida, and these birds are thought to be of Bahamian origin, M. s. lucaysiensis, (ABA Checklist, Birds of the Continental United States and Canada, Fifth Edition).
On the afternoon 24 April professional guide, Jeri Langham, found an ABA Code-3 Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) on the San Diego Bay mudflats at the end of J Street/Marina Parkway to the delight of his clients.
Curlew Sandpiper is a Eurasian species and in alternate plumage one of the more beautiful shorebirds. Although no subspecies are recognized, females from northeastern Siberia are less darkly barred than females in the western parts of the range. This long-distance migrant breeds in two separate areas. They arrive in their breeding grounds in early June, often leaving their wintering areas in late April. Like many shorebird species, many one-year-old birds remain in their wintering areas throughout the summer (coastal sub-Saharan Africa, India, Australia, and southern Asia). In the ABA Area, Curlew Sandpipers are more frequently reported from the Atlantic than from the Pacific coast but they have bred in Alaska (The Shorebird Guide, O’Brien et al.).
The recently discovered "Cox's Sandpiper" has been shown to be a hybrid between Curlew Sandpiper and most probably Pectoral Sandpiper (Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 3). Another aberrant Calidris, "Cooper's Sandpiper", is now thought to be a hybrid between Curlew Sandpiper and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Mitochondrial DNA of "Cox's Sandpiper" has been shown to be identical to that of Curlew Sandpiper and since mitochondrial DNA is inherited, the female parent was a Curlew Sandpiper. Curlew Sandpiper has also hybridized with White-rumped Sandpiper (HBW, Volume 3).
On 16 April birders from Fort Worth Audubon reported an ABA Code-4 Slate-throated Redstart (Myioborus miniatus) from Boot Spring in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park, Texas. After viewing it for five mintes the bird moved out of sight. Records of this species in the ABA Area are from New Mexico, Southeast Arizona, and Texas with at least three records from Big Bend NP and two of those from Boot Spring on 2-3 May 2003 and from 2 May 2006 (ABA Checklist, Pranty et al.).
If the wood-warbler phylogeny is changed as proposed (“News and Notes” Birding 43:2 p. 25), the Myioborus genus is proposed to remain, unlike our familiar Dendroica, Parula, Wilsonia, and Oporornis genera.
Slate-throated Redstart, like its congener, Painted Redstart, is a very active bird frequently fanning its tail to reveal white patches while frequently drooping and spreading its wings. This redstart species is a common, variable, and widespread, ranging from northern Mexico south to southern Bolivia. The subspecies from northern Mexico has red on its breast and belly. In Guatemala the red is replaced by orange-red underparts grading to yellow in Panama south (Warblers, Dunn and Garrett).
On 15 April Steve Walter found and photographed an ABA Code-3 Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savanna) near Evergreen Cemetery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The tropical species, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, is known for far-ranging migrations. Some Fork-tailed subspecies are sedentary but the nominate, T. s. savanna, is an austral migrant in northern South America, wintering north to Central America and the West Indies, while T. s. monachus from southern Mexico and Central America is mostly resident. As far as is currently known, all ABA records are representatives of the nominate race, usually immature birds with shorter tails.
Fork-tailed and Scissor-tailed flycatchers have long thought to be each other’s closest relative based on both possessing long tail streamers, but this affinity is not supported by molecular-sequencing data. Fork-tailed Flycatcher is now thought to be most closely related to Couch’s and White-throated kingbirds. During winter and in migration, Fork-tailed Flycatchers occur in large harmonious flocks but they become very aggressive on their breeding grounds where males use their oversized outer tail feathers in spectacular spiral displays (Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 9).
On 14 April an ABA Code-4, female Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) was found in the willows in Tana Ellis’s Petersburg, Alaska, yard and is perhaps the same individual found there on 22 March.
The first ABA-area record of Eurasian Bullfinch occurred along the Yukon River at Nulato in January 1867 (ABA Checklist, Seventh Edition, Pranty et al.). It is primarily recorded in the spring in the western Aleutians. However, there are records from Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, from Nunivak Island, one from the Priblof Islands and 9 from the Alaskan mainland. Eurasian Bullfinch is a Palearctic breeder with the majority of birds wintering in Europe south to the Mediterranean region, North Africa, the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, South Korea, and southern Japan.
On 9 April Adam Byrne found, and others photographed, an ABA Code-3 White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) at Point Mouillee SGA, Monroe County, Michigan. As of mid-morning, today, Sunday, the bird is still being seen in Cell 3 of the Vermet Unit.
The subspecies of the Michigan bird has not yet been discussed on-line. At least 11 subspecies of White Wagtail have been recognized, some having been recognized as species in the past (Black-backed Wagtail, e.g.). Widespread integration occurs where subspecies meet and multiple subspecies co-occur in winter ranges. M. a. ocularis has bred in western Alaska (Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 9).
Northern and eastern White Wagtail subspecies are long distant migrants. In Japan, winter flocks of the subspecies lugens has been found in roosts of 2,000−7000 individuals. White Wagtail is a common species in most of its Eurasian range with over 12 million breeding pairs estimated for the European population
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PEEPS is written by Bill Maynard, Editor of Winging It, a publication of the American Birding Association.