Twelfth Report of the Avian Records Committee of Connecticut
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Twelfth Report of The Avian Records Committee of Connecticut
by Jay Kaplan and Greg Hanisek
Connecticut Warbler - July 2006
The Twelfth Report of the Avian Records Committee of Connecticut (ARCC) of the Connecticut Ornithological Association adds six species to the Connecticut State Checklist. These birds are Cackling Goose, Sooty Shearwater, Snowy Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Collared Dove and Spotted Towhee. All, with the exception of Cackling Goose, were added as the result of careful documentation of exciting finds by a number of diligent birders. The Cackling Goose, which appears annually in small numbers, is added by virtue of its split from Canada Goose by the American Ornithologists’
The report continues an ongoing effort to maintain an accurate record and historical archive of
In assessing records, the committee urges birders submitting reports to carefully detail the bird’s physical appearance, calls or songs, and behaviors, as well as the habitat and conditions under which the bird was seen. The enormous growth of digital imagery has been most helpful in providing photographic documentation for a number of species. In fact, much of the committee’s work can now be done electronically. It is anticipated that this will eventually streamline the process and the bylaws are now being rewritten to reflect these new technologies. It is hoped that revised bylaws can be presented to the COA Board at its fall meeting.
ARCC reports become part of a historic archive, and accepted reports must stand the test of time so that a future generation of birders might reach the same conclusion with respect to the bird’s identity. This permanent record may be re-opened at any time in order to consider new information, including additional observer reports, newly recognized field characteristics or changes in status and distribution. Unaccepted records, as well as accepted ones, become part of the archive. It has recently been recommended that ARCC reports be archived at the
Finally, there has been some concern regarding the efficacy of the committee with respect to its review of unusual sightings within the state. The committee fully recognizes that there has been a longer than necessary delay between this report and the prior one found in the July 2002 edition of The Connecticut Warbler. The committee is taking steps to improve its efficiency, but it must also be noted that reports of unusual birds are not always submitted to the committee. Many of the reports submitted over the past several years have come from ARCC members, even though other persons made the initial discovery. There may be a perception that submissions are unnecessary if enough birders view a rare bird, or that if an ARCC member sees a bird a report is not required. Nothing is further from the truth, and it is hoped that the thirteenth report of this committee will be put to paper, complete with more new state records, in the not-too distant future.
STATE LIST AND REVIEW LIST
The state listed now stands at 414. The committee depends on observers to submit their reports of species on the Review List (these are species marked with an asterisk on the COA Checklist plus any species new to the state). The most recent State List and Review List can be viewed at the COA Web site at www.ctbirding.org. Submit written reports, along with documentary material, to Jay Kaplan, ARCC chairman (address below).
The committee periodically revises the Review List to reflect the latest information on the status of the state’s birds. In addition to adding the new state records listed in this report, the committee has removed the following species because the number of sightings has increased: Eared Grebe,
We thank the following observers who submitted reports of these species prior to their removal from the review list. All are now officially accepted:
Eared Grebe, 16 Jan 2003 in Groton (Dave Provencher); 22-23 March 2003 at Harkness State Park, Waterford (Glenn Williams); 23 April 2003, Cat Den Swamp, Eastford (Mark Szantyr); American White Pelican, 2 on 3 Nov 2003 at Lighthouse Point, New Haven (Greg Hanisek); Nov. 13-15 2005, Essex (Hank Golet); Swainson’s Hawk, 23 Sep 2002, Lighthouse Point, New Haven (Greg Hanisek); 1 Nov 2002, Caswell Cove, Milford (Nita Hamilton); Parasitic Jaeger, 15 Sep 2002, Eastern Point, Groton (Rickard Ignell); Black-throated Gray Warbler, 12 Oct 2000, New Milford (Angela Dimmitt). In addition, Mark Szantyr banded and provided details and photos on four Rufous Hummingbirds visiting feeders in
THE GOOSE QUESTION
Few birding conundrums become as contentious as the origins of unusual waterfowl. The committee has addressed the problem by creating a special category - Accept, Origin Uncertain. This allows acceptance of a species when the preponderance of evidence suggests wild origin, even though it can’t be proven with absolute certainty. This category was used for the first time in the eleventh report to add Barnacle Goose to the State List. In the tenth report, both Pink-footed Goose and Cinnamon Teal were accepted, based on the preponderance of evidence, in the traditional Accept category. However, the discussions about those two species led to creation of the Accept, Origin Uncertain category. It acknowledges that in most cases absolute certainty isn’t possible. The evidence used to accept a first state record for each of those species is spelled out in the Tenth (Pink-footed Goose and Cinnamon Teal) and Eleventh (Barnacle Goose) ARCC reports. Having established all three species as valid additions to the state’s avifauna, the committee has decided that, in most cases, it will not address questions of origin raised by subsequent records of those species. All of them can occur as either escapes or wild vagrants. One hundred percent certainty will never be achieved unless banding information establishing point of origin can be obtained. That was the case with the banded Cinnamon Teal acted upon in this report. The committee still encourages reports on rare waterfowl, such as the two Pink-footed Geese seen in
This report continues the format of previous reports. In the case of accepted records, only observers who submitted reports are listed, with the original finder listed first followed by an asterisk. Observers who submitted a photo are acknowledged with ‡ following their names. Hyphenated numbers (e.g. 02-01) following the observers are the ARCC file numbers. The species are listed in order according to the AOU Checklist. Multiple records of a particular species are listed chronologically. Months of the year are shortened to their first three letters.
SOOTY SHEARWATER (Puffinus griseus) A lone bird was seen at close range from a boat near
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) An immature was seen at close range from a fishing boat near the New York-Connecticut border in eastern Long Island Sound on 5 Sep 2001 (02-01 Mike Horn*). The observer’s familiarity with nautical charts assured that the bird was seen in
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) An adult was observed at
YELLOW RAIL (Coturnicops noveboracensis) The observer flushed the bird several times while mowing a field near Mitchell Pond in
SNOWY PLOVER (Charadrius alexandrinus) A bird discovered 1 Oct 2004 at Sandy Point in West Haven constituted a first state record and only the second for the coastal northeast (06-02 Julian Hough* ‡). It remained until at least 7 Nov and was seen by many observers. This is a wide-ranging species with races occurring from the
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) An adult male was found 21 Jun 2003 at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison at the newly created shorebird scrape (06-03 William & Claudia Ahrens*). An adult male was seen and well-described by a single observer on
BAR-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa lapponica) A shorebird survey at Harvey’s Beach, Old Saybrook, on 18 April 2001 proved spectacularly productive when the surveyor found this first state record (02-26 Dennis Varza* ‡). The bird could not be found by other observers, but photographs and a written description clinched the identification. This observation underscores the importance of field notes, even when photos have been taken. The photos were distant, but the field notes provided critical details, including the presence of a dark rump, which allowed assignment of the bird to the Asiatic race baueri. The addition of this bird to the state list was probably overdue, considering that
POMARINE JAEGER (Stercorarius pomarinus) A group of five observers on land had the good fortune to see a single bird fly directly overhead at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison on 11 May 2002 (02-33 Dori Sosensky*). The description and a sketch indicated the bird was an adult.
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE (Rissa tridactyla) From a boat off of Stamford the observer saw a group of three in first-winter plumage on 21 Oct 2005 (06-06 Al Collins*). Sightings appear to be increasing in Long Island Sound but to date few reports have been submitted.
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica) One appeared briefly in a yard in
CHUCK-WILL’S WIDOW (Caprimulgus carolinensis) A bird first heard calling on 28 April 2005 in Nehantic State Forest in Lyme continued to be heard, and occasionally seen, until at least 11 June (06-18 John Gaskell, * Glenn Williams). Most records have involved short-staying birds heard by a limited number of people. This species, perhaps the same individual, was present at the same location in May 2006 (GW et al.).
FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus savanna) One, the state’s second record for this spectacular Southern Hemisphere species, made a brief appearance on
TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE (Myadestes townsendi) One was discovered on
MACGILLIVRAY’S WARBLER (Oporornis tolmiei) One, representing a second state record, was found in a thicket at Silver Sands State Park on 12 Jan 2002 (02-27 Buzz Devine*). Despite a fairly brief look at the bird, the observer’s experience allowed him to home in on key features needed to distinguish this bird from similar species. The date of occurrence fit the seasonal pattern for this species but not for other Oporornis warblers. This discovery followed close on the heels of the first state record, a bird found on
SPOTTED TOWHEE (Pipilo maculatus) A first state record for this recently split species was established when one was found on 31 Dec 2005 at Groton Long Point on the New London Christmas Bird Count (06-08 Scott Tsagarakis*, Mark Szantyr ‡, Ryan Sayers ‡). It was seen my many observers until at least mid-February. Plumage details ruled out the identification as a hybrid with Eastern Towhee and suggested the bird was a first-year female of the
HARRIS’S SPARROW (Zonotrichia querula) An apparent adult wintered at a feeder in
BREWER’S BLACKBIRD (Euphagus cyanocephalus) One was found on
ACCEPT - ORIGIN UNCERTAIN
EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) One appeared in the Waterbury yard of David Coutu on 2 May 2004 and was photographed on 4 May, the last day it was present (06-07 Mark Szantyr ‡, Greg Hanisek). This is a first state record for a species with a fascinating history. After spreading westward across
RECORDS NOT ACCEPTED, identification questionable
PACIFIC LOON (Gavia
ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga) One was reported soaring high over
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus) Two birds believed to be an adult and an immature were reported from
GYRFALCON (Falco rusticolus) A report of a possible white Gyrfalcon on
BLACK GUILLEMOT (Cepphus grylle) One was reported off
BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER (Picoides arcticus) One was reported from
RECORDS NOT ACCEPTED, origin questionable
CINNAMON TEAL (Anas cyanoptera) A drake bearing a red leg band was in
RED-CRESTED POCHARD (Netta rufina) A male and a female were at
NUTMEG MANNIKIN (Lonchura punctulata ) One was seen on
The committee thanks Blair Nikula and Louis Bevier for helpful comments on the Bar-tailed Godwit and Eurasian Collared Dove, respectively.
Hanisek, Greg. 2005.
Hough, Julian. 2005. Snowy Plover at
Sibley, D.A. 2000. National Audubon Society: The Sibley Guide to Birds. Alfred A. Knopf,
Veit, Richard R., and Wayne R. Peterson. 1993. Birds of
Zeranski, J.D. and T.R. Baptist. 1990.
Jay Kaplan, 71 Gracey Road,