Over the past year, the New York State Avian Records Committee
(hereafter NYSARC or the Committee) deliberated on a total of 161 reports.
reports involved 91 separate sightings from 2002 and an additional 7
previous years. A total of 95 observers provided written descriptions
photographs, with one or more sightings reported from 26 out of the 62
in the state. Counties with the most reports were Monroe (50), Nassau
Niagara (13). In all, 145 reports (90%) were accepted, and this impressive
testifies to the high quality of the majority of the submissions. The
were not accepted because of insufficient documentation or because the
descriptions were judged as inconsistent with known identification criteria.
Multiple reports were received for 30 of the sightings, with 28 diligent
sending in two or more reports. Sightings for which there are multiple
submissions are invariably stronger than those supported by a single
Details in one account help fill in the gaps in another, and where the
overlap they provide confirmation of the specific details. Too often
assume that someone else will submit a detailed report and forego the
responsibility. As a result, well-watched birds may be poorly documented
reported at all.
All records are sight records unless otherwise indicated. For accepted
reports, the names of observers submitting documentation are given in
parentheses; the names of all contributors are listed in full at the
end of the report.
Occasionally, the names of the original finders (when known) are given
narrative that accompanies each species entry, but our emphasis is on
contributors. The records in this report are arranged taxonomically following
American Ornithologists’ Union’s Check-List of North American
edition (AOU 1998) and all Supplements through the 45th (Banks et al.
Those contributing photographs, video or sketches are given special mention
the narrative. With the rapid advances in affordable camera equipment,
seen a dramatic increase in the number of rare species documented by
photography or video. It is hard to overstate the value of photographs
both as tools
to identification and as a permanent record of the sighting. Photographs
need to be ‘magazine quality’ and a simple ‘snap’ taken
with an instamatic camera
can often capture critical information. This year we saw excellent examples
documentation often using unsophisticated camera equipment. The taking
photographs by holding a camera to the eyepiece of a telescope—a
known as ‘digiscoping’—can be remarkably effective.
cameras are particularly good for this, but the approach also works with
conventional single lens reflex (SLR) cameras. There are many web sites
offer advice on digiscoping, and we encourage readers to read the article
Stanford in an earlier issue of this journal (Stanford 2002). Digital
imported directly from the camera or from scanning of slides or prints,
can be sent
to the Committee via e-mail. We will also accept copies of video or audiotapes.
Please note that all forms of multimedia documentation should be accompanied
by a written report.
All of the records reviewed by NYSARC (including written descriptions,
photographs, videotapes, and audio recordings), irrespective of acceptance,
archived at Cornell University in Ithaca and are accessible to the public
request. The Committee may choose to revisit reports in the light of
Who should submit reports?
A common misconception persists that only the
initial discoverer of a bird should submit a report. In actuality, all
observers of a
rarity (even if it is seen by hundreds of people) should submit written
and/or other forms of documentation (e.g., photographs, video or sketches).
good rule of thumb, never assume that others will submit anything! A
number of multi-observer sightings go undocumented, and complacency may
partly to blame. We often receive minimal reports that presume that co-observers
will provide the missing details. Sadly, in some cases the more comprehensive
reports have not materialized, and the abbreviated reports are not complete
enough to stand on their own. Submission of multiple independent reports
provides a more compelling and detailed account of the sighting, increasing
likelihood of acceptance. Concern of over-burdening the Committee is
The review process
We are often asked how the review process works and why
it sometimes takes so long. The process itself is relatively simple.
by the secretary, all reports are duplicated and transmitted to the seven
members of the Committee, who write detailed commentaries (known as ‘review
sheets’) and cast their votes independently. These are returned
to the secretary,
and the votes are tabulated. At least six Committee members must vote
affirmative for an immediate accept; similarly, if there are five or
against, then the record is not accepted (see McGowan and Burke 2000).
consensus is reached, the reports are sent out again along with the seven
sheets for a second round of review. This allows each Committee member
consider the arguments made by the other six before casting a second
necessary, records may even be circulated for a third round of review.
Another common concern is the length of time it takes for a report
reviewed and for NYSARC to publish its decision. First, as indicated
NYSARC receives a large number of reports, and these take a considerable
amount of time for the secretary to compile, duplicate and distribute
and for each
Committee member to review carefully. For a fraction of the reports,
a decision is
not reached in the first round of voting, and these must be re-circulated
the Committee for a second and sometimes third round of review, thus
adding to the delay. Secondly, many reports are received weeks or months
after the sighting,
and so we generally cannot begin reviewing until well into the following
do our best to work quickly but carefully. Prompt submission, careful
of reports and, where possible, submission of multiple independent reports
help us keep the lag to a minimum. The continued cooperation of bird
Regional Editors in coordinating or encouraging submissions is greatly
How to submit reports
To learn how to prepare and submit a report, please visit
the NYSARC pages within the NYSOA web site:
The site now includes a special on-line version of the reporting form,
allowing observers to compose a complete report and attach up to five
image files electronically. The site also includes a list of species
NYSARC, information on the composition of the Committee, a gallery of
unusual birds photographed in the state, and copies of previous annual
NYSARC encourages observers to submit documentation for all species on
review list, as well as species previously unrecorded in New York State.
encourage observers to read the article by Committee member Willie D’Anna
the documentation and reporting process (D’Anna 2003). The Committee
grateful to Carena Pooth and Barbara Butler for redesigning and regularly
updating the NYSARC web site. Documentation (written and photographic)
correspondence for the Committee should be sent to:
Secretary for NYSARC
420 Chili-Scottsville Road
Churchville, NY 14428
At the end of December 2003 Dr. Kevin McGowan completed his current
term as voting member and rotated off the Committee. We miss Kevin’s
in the field and museum and wish him success as NYSOA President. The
position has been filled by Steve Kelling, another respected figure from
Ithaca/Cayuga Basin birding community. Steve is Director of Information
Technologies at the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology and
as Region 3 editor for The Kingbird and as regional editor
for North American
Birds. Lastly, the Committee wishes to thank Manny Levine for his guidance
the production of past annual reports and his many efforts to promote
the work of
this committee. We wish him well in his retirement as Editor of The
6 November 2004, NYSARC met at the Laboratory of Ornithology for its
meeting. Many items of business were discussed during the six and a half
meeting, including a number of changes to the review list and regional
designations. These will be summarized in a separate article.
Highlights of the 2002 Report
The highlights of 2002 included the first accepted record for NYS of
Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto), second records of Slaty-backed
Gull (Larus schistisagus), Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris
Calliope Hummingbird (Stellula calliope), and fifth record of Ross’s
Gull (Rhodostethia rosea). A most interesting and challenging record was provided
a Dendroica warbler that closely resembled a Hermit Warbler (D.
but was felt by the majority of the Committee to more likely represent
Hermit x Townsend’s Warbler (D. occidentalis x D. townsendi)—see
below. The AOU (Banks et al. 2004) has recently split the Canada Goose
species, separating out the smaller forms into Cackling Goose (Branta
Consequently, New York, by reason of having accepted reports of ‘Richardson’s’ Canada Goose in the past, now has a new species on its list. With the additions
of Eurasian Collared-Dove and Cackling Goose, the official state list rises
Ross’s Goose (Chen rossii)
2002-70-A One, Irondequoit Bay south, Penfield, Monroe, 18 Sep (Kurt
2002-81-A/B One adult, Zach’s Bay, Jones Beach, Nassau, 11-15 Nov
(Seymour Schiff, Sandy Spitalnik).
The Irondequoit Bay sighting is likely a record early date for Ross’s
Goose in the
state. The report was very thorough and completely allayed any concerns
possible hybrid Snow x Ross’s Goose. Excellent photos of the Zach’s
Bay bird by
Seymour Schiff and by Seth Ausubel establish the identification and rule
possibility of a hybrid. Both Ross’s Geese were associating with
though they are typically found with Snow Geese. Since the first accepted
for the state in 1983 (Griffith 1998, pp. 143-144), Ross’s Geese
dramatically in the East, and multiple birds are now seen annually in
Observers should identify this species with an eye toward ruling out
possibility of a hybrid Snow x Ross’s Goose, as these hybrids are
(see Roberson 1993 for further discussion). Although NYSARC plans to
this species from the statewide review list, descriptions should still
with all reports to Regional Editors.
Brant (Branta bernicla)
‘Black’ Brant (B. b. nigricans)
2002-45-A One, New Baltimore, Greene, 25 Oct (Richard Guthrie, photos
by R. Guthrie).
This record, documented with excellent photographs, is very unusual in
respects: among the small sample of Black Brant recorded in NYS, this
apparently the first juvenile and only the third recorded away from Long
Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)
2002-13-A Eight individuals, Cayuga Pool, Iroquois NWR, Genesee,
9 Mar (Michael Morgante).
2002-46-A Five individuals, Ring-necked Marsh, Iroquois NWR, Genesee,
2 Nov (Michael Morgante).
These reports were submitted and accepted prior to the AOU Check-List
Committee’s decision to split the white-cheeked geese into two
species: CacklingGoose and Canada Goose (Auk: 121: 985-995). The ‘Richardson’s’ form
(subspecies hutchinsii) of what is now called Cackling Goose has proven
visitor to western NYS and LI, and these well-documented reports of small
are a welcome contribution to our evolving understanding of the local
this newly elevated species.
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)
Eurasian race (A. c. crecca)
2002-12-A/B One male, Church Rd., Hamlin, Monroe, 18 Apr (Kurt Fox, Robert
This ‘Common Teal’ was found with ‘American’ Green-winged
Teal (A. c.
carolinensis) on a seasonal pool that had formed in a farm field and
careful study at relatively close range. These detailed reports carefully
the identification and, importantly, ruled out the possibility of a crecca x
carolinensis hybrid. Although reported annually from the marine portion
this subspecies is very rare elsewhere.
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
2002-58-A One adult male, Lake Champlain, Crown Point, Essex, 30 Dec
This duck was studied actively swimming and diving within a raft of 250
just on the New York side of the state line. Interestingly, a more sizeable
flock containing two adult male Tufted Ducks had been reported from Vermont
waters a few days earlier. The observer provided a detailed and convincing
description of an adult male, with no evidence of hybridization. Ageing
on the long, thick head plumes and solid white flanks.
King Eider (Somateria spectabilis)
2002-64-A One adult male, Cumberland Head, Clinton, 6 Oct (David Hoag).
Observed throughout the day feeding, loafing and occasionally flying
with a raft
of White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca). Although the three photographs
by the observer provided little supplementary information, they hinted
distinctive sail-like scapulars described in the written report. Although
considered a formal review species, eiders of any species are sufficiently
Lake Champlain to merit review.
Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)
2002-79-A One female, Lake Ontario, Webster, Monroe, 5 Nov (Robert Spahn).
This female eider was studied carefully as it flew along the lakeshore
female King Eiders (S. spectabilis). The Committee appreciated that only
limited amount of detail can be gathered during such fly-by observations
the difference in shape and darker brown coloration was sufficient to
Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica)
2002-52-A/B One, Lake Ontario, Wayne, 30-31 Oct (William Watson, Robert
2002-63-A/B One, Montauk Point, Suffolk, 14 & 24 Dec (Patrick Santinello,
Thomas W. Burke, photos by Gail Benson).
The Wayne Co. bird was observed on multiple dates at various distances
off the beach, with Common Loon (G. immer) and Horned Grebes (Podiceps
providing useful comparisons. The Suffolk Co. bird was discovered by
Burke on 14 Dec during the Montauk Christmas Bird Count and seen by a
of birders over the following weeks including Patrick Santinello, with
reported sighting on 27 Dec. The Pacific Loon was studied alongside Redthroated
(G. stellata) and Common (G. immer) Loons. At both locations, the
observers noted the absence of white markings on the black back implying
were adult birds and carefully described the crisp border between black
plumage, thin pointed bill, rounded head and dark smudgy line running
to side under the chin. Size and posture were also indicative of Pacific
latter feature and absence of a white flank ruled out Arctic Loon (G.
holding her single lens reflex camera to the eyepiece of a telescope,
was able to photograph the rather distant Suffolk Co. bird. Although
were very small, these provided useful confirmatory information for the
reports, showing the sharp color contrast and diffuse chin strap.
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)
2002-51-A/B One, off Wolfe’s Pond Park, Staten Island, Richmond,
(Seth Ausubel, Angus Wilson).
Initially discovered by Lauren and Chris Nuzzi, the grebe remained in
waters offshore until the 9th, during which time the bird was seen by
observers from NY and neighboring NJ. Both reports provided written
descriptions supported by photographs by the authors.
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
2002-65-A One immature, Hamlin Beach SP, Monroe, 23 Nov (Jessie Barry).
2002-71-A One immature, Irondequoit Bay north, Monroe, 5 Jan. (Kevin
Reports of this species on Lake Ontario are regular in the fall, with
in November and December. Only a fraction of the actual sightings make
it to the
Committee for review. Still, there have been 31 accepted records from
of the State since 1979, and, with many from Lake Ontario accepted by
Ontario Bird Records Committee, the NYSARC is considering removing this
species from the review list. The report from Hamlin Beach was accompanied
detailed field sketches by Jessie Barry. The Irondequoit Bay sighting
a new record late date for Lake Ontario in New York.
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
2002-21-A/C Three birds, mouth of Sandy Creek, Town of Hamlin, Monroe,
6 May (Kurt Fox, Robert Spahn), and Niagara Falls, Niagara River, Niagara,
(Willie D’Anna, photo by W. D’Anna).
2002-43-A Two birds, Myers Point, Lansing, Tompkins, 3 Oct (Mary Walters,
photos by Mary Walters).
Reports 2002-21-A/C pertain to a group of three birds seen at two widely
separated locations eight days apart. There were other reports on the
Bird Alert at intermediate locations and dates suggesting that all sightings
involved the same birds. Although most sightings of White Pelican in
have involved single birds, there have been occasional reports of multiples
over the years (Lauro 1998a). While birders need to be aware that escapes
species of white-plumaged pelicans do occur, the photos and descriptions
accompanying both of these reports indicated that our native species was
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
2002-32-A/C One, Sodus Point, Wayne, 21 Jul-8 Aug (Kurt Fox, Robert Spahn, Doug
Daniels, photo by Ray Ovelman).
2002-47-A/C One, Sandy Pond, Oswego, 27 Jul-1 Aug (Bernie Carr, Brenda Best,
2002-48-A One, Lake Ontario, City of Oswego, Oswego, 22 Oct (Barbara Herrgesell).
2002-56-A/B One Oswego Harbor, Oswego, Oswego, 24-25 Nov (Antony Shrimpton, Gregg
Dashnau, photo by Kevin McGann).
2002-87-A Two immatures, Lower NY Harbor, Staten Island, Richmond, 3 Jul (Andrew
|During the summer of 2002, there was a
great movement of Brown Pelicans into inland regions of Eastern North
America (North American Birds 2002). A detailed review of these sightings
by Alan Wormington (Wormington 2002) indicated that at least eight
individuals appeared around the Great Lakes, including three in New
York. The pelican at Sandy Pond and Sodus Point clearly pertained
to the same individual. Unfortunately, the documentation that the
Committee received for the Oswego Harbor bird was insufficient to
determine if there were two different individuals seen a month apart
or even if they were different than the individual seen at Sandy
Pond and Sodus Point. Fortunately, a photograph of the Oswego bird
in North American Birds (Kelling et al. 2002), taken by Jay McGowan
attributed to Willie D’Anna) clearly indicates a different individual,
lacking a white head patch that the Sandy Pond/Sodus Point bird showed. Wormington
considered the Brown Pelican reported on Cayuga Lake to be a third individual
but unfortunately, the Committee received no reports of this bird. Although this
species is apparently now regular along New York’s coast, the two birds
seen at New York Harbor are among very few documented sightings submitted to
Figure 1. Brown
Sandy Point, Oswego Co.,
28 Jul 2002. © Gerard Phillips
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)
2002-14-A One adult, Barnes Road, Walworth, Wayne, 30 Apr
(Tracie Shultz, photo by T. Shultz).
This adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron spent a day at a pond near the
home. Written details were supplemented with a color photograph (one
taken by the observer, who also mentioned taking videotape. The date
northward migrant that had overshot its normal summer range.
White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)
2002-82-A One, Cow Meadow Park, Freeport, Nassau, 6 Jul (Angus Wilson, photo
2002-83-A One, Jamaica Bay WR, Queens, 6 & 14 Jul (Angus Wilson, photo by
Both ibis were encountered briefly as they visited freshwater ponds to drink
and bathe in the company of Glossy Ibis (P. falcinellus). The Nassau Co.
bird was tentatively aged as a second-year, or possibly retarded third-year,
on the basis of partial winter-type feathering on the head and the presence of
a number of maroon lesser coverts. The Queens Co. bird, first found on the same
day as the observations of the Nassau Co bird, was thought to be at least three-years
old progressing rapidly towards winter-type plumage. In all three sightings,
the White-faced Ibis was only present for a few minutes before taking flight
and presumably flying back out to feed in the extensive saltwater marshes surrounding
both sites. The written submissions were supplemented by a copy of an article,
authored by Wilson, Andy Guthrie and Peter Pyle, on ageing of sub-adult Whitefaced
Ibis (Wilson et al. 2002).
Figure 2. White-faced Ibis,
Cow Meadow Park, Freeport,
Nassau County, 6 Jul 2002.
© Angus Wilson
Click image to enlarge
Mississippi Kite (Ictinia mississippiensis)
2002-20-A/D One sub-adult, Town of Ripley, Chautauqua, 5 May (Leonard
Melvin Freeborough, Sally Freeborough, David Feliciano).
2002-68-A One, Braddock Bay Park, Monroe, 30 May (Jason Guerard).
At spring hawk watches on the Great Lakes, this species is looked for
in late May/
early June. The bird at Ripley on 5 May was quite early but solidly documented
by four descriptions. The Braddock Bay bird was seen migrating at a great
distance, making plumage observation and age determination difficult.
Committee concerns were eventually allayed by the thorough description
shape and flight-style, along with appropriate consideration of all similar
Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
2002-19-A One adult light morph, Town of Westfield, Chautauqua, 18 Apr
2002-77-A One adult light morph, Lake Ontario Parkway, Town of Parma,
12 Apr (Robert Spahn).
The Chautauqua Co. bird was spotted as it glided in to join a mixed-species
of 130 hawks that was forming over Parker Road. The bird spent several
rising in the thermal, allowing careful study by DeFrancisco, an experienced
hawk watcher. This Swainson’s Hawk and the one observed six days
further east in Monroe Co. by the Spahns were both light phase adults.
identification features presented in the descriptions were whitish bodies,
underwing coverts and axillaries, dark flight feathers and solid dark
long, pointed wings further distinguished these birds from Red-tailed
jamaicensis) and Rough-legged Hawks (B. lagopus). Records of Swainson’s
Hawk have become more frequent in New York and eastern North America,
perhaps to range expansion and/or increased vigilance on the part of
observers. Spring hawk watches along the eastern shores of Lake Erie
southern shore of Lake Ontario remain the most likely places in the state
encounter this western prairie (and open farmland) specialist.
Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis)
2002-39-A One, East Quogue, Southampton, Suffolk, 15 Oct (Eric Salzman).
This small, short-billed rail was flushed twice from the salt marsh bordering
Weesuck Creek on the northern shore of Shinnecock Bay. During each short
flight, the rail revealed squarish white patches on the secondaries,
with the darker wings. Immature Sora (Porzana carolina) was considered
white trailing edges rather than the square patches described and illustrated
sketches supplied with the written report. The observer described a descending
cackling-like call heard at least twice—quite different from the
clicking call of Yellow Rail. However, several literature sources were
that describe a similar descending cackle from captive Yellow Rails.
King Rail (Rallus elegans)
2002-22-A One heard only, Hamlin-Parma Townline Road, Hamlin, Monroe,
23 & 26 May (Kurt Fox).
Two rails were heard calling in the early hours of the morning from within
cattail marsh on Brush Creek, close to the Lake Ontario shoreline. On
at least one King Rail responded vigorously to tape recordings of its
as well as other marsh birds. The descriptions of the calls seemed to
Virginia Rail (R. limicola), which was also present in the marsh, and
freshwater habitat made Clapper Rail (R. longirostris) highly unlikely.
Purple Gallinule (Porphyrula martinica)
2002-37-A/D One immature, Montezuma NWR, Seneca, 23 Sep-12 Oct (Bard Prentiss,
William Watson, Willie D’Anna, Kevin & Jay McGowan).
2002-40-A One immature, Town of Peru, Clinton, 24 Sep, (William E. Krueger).
2002-41-A One immature, Bashakill WMA, Sullivan, 17-23 Oct (John H. Haas).
|The third week of September witnessed a mini-invasion of juvenile Purple Gallinules
into NYS, and one has to wonder if the Sullivan Co. bird had been present in
the area for several weeks prior to its discovery. Indeed the finder, Haas, speculated
that a considerable rise in water levels following five days of heavy rains may
have brought the bird into sight. The Clinton Co. gallinule was first noticed
by Glen Drapeau as he attempted to photograph a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias),
and then independently the next day by Charles Mitchell and William Krueger.
This individual constitutes the northernmost occurrence in NYS, (see Drapeau
et al 2002 for more details). The Seneca Co. bird was discovered by Montezuma
refuge staff and subsequently enjoyed by many birders. As evidence of the season’s ‘gallinule
fever’, Haas estimated that well over a hundred observed the Bashakill
bird during its stay. All three gallinules were extensively photographed or video
taped, and convincing color photos of the Montezuma bird were submitted by Willie
D’Anna, Jay McGowan and Kevin McGowan.
Figure 3. Purple Gallinule,
Montezuma NWR, Seneca Co.,
12 Oct 2002.
Kevin and Jay McGowan
Click image to enlarge
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)
2002-16-A Two, Marine Nature Study Area, Oceanside, Nassau, 11 May
(Michael A. Farina, William N. Overton, photo by M. Farina).
These stilts remained until 25 May. The written description was supported
color photo. Another Black-necked Stilt was reported at nearby Cow Meadow
Preserve in Freeport 12-27 May but documentation was not submitted. It
possible this represents a third bird.
American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
2002-36-A Three, May’s Point Pool, Montezuma NWR, Seneca, 15 Aug
2002-75-A One, Sodus Point, Sodus, Wayne, 11 Aug (Doug Daniels,
photo by D. Daniels).
Undocumented reports of this species have occurred annually in recent
in Chautauqua County (Morgante 2003) and, even excluding Chautauqua County,
it appears to be annual in inland New York. Considering this, as well
distinctiveness of the species, NYSARC plans to remove American Avocet
the review list.
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)
2002-67-A One, Braddock Bay SP, Monroe, 15 May (William Symonds).
This brief description managed to hit all of the key fieldmarks including
slightly upturned bill, cinnamon underwings and absence of white uppertail
coverts. From these details, other godwits (Limosa sp.), Willet (Catoptrophorus
semipalmatus) and the superficially similar Long-billed Curlew (Numenius
americanus) could be adequately ruled out.
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata)
2002-38-A/E One juvenile, s. end Irondequoit Bay, Penfield, Monroe, 10-13
(Dominic Sherony, Kevin McGowan, Jay McGowan, Willie D’Anna, Bernie
Discovered by Dominic Sherony on the mud flats at the south end of Irondequoit
Bay feeding with a group of up to 50 juvenile Pectoral Sandpipers (C.
Excellent color photos detailing the critical field marks were provided
D’Anna, Jay McGowan and Kevin McGowan. The only previous accepted
record was of an adult at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on 18-24 July 1981
1998). Full details of the sighting are given by Sherony (2002).
4 & 5. Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Irondequoit Bay, Monroe
Co., 12 Oct 2002
© Kevin and Jay McGowan.
Great Skua (Stercorarius skua)
2002-61-A/F One (or possibly two) Montauk Point and Hither Hills SP,
13-14 Dec (Diana Teta, Shai Mitra, Joe Giunta, Betsy McCully, Brian Kane,
This remarkable record of a beached bird, discovered at Hither Hills
SP by Joe
Giunta and Betsy McCully and studied by many participants in the Montauk
Christmas Bird Count, occurred just one day after a skua was observed
it passed the Montauk Lighthouse. Collectively, these reports were very
challenging for reviewers, not only because of the well-known identification
difficulties posed by the skuas, but also because observers who saw both
concluded that two different individuals were involved. In view of the
extraordinary rarity of inshore skuas in NYS, reviewers eventually concluded
the descriptions were not adequate to resolve the question of whether
individual was in fact involved. In particular, the observation from
on 13 Dec involved brief views by two observers of a bird in flight.
identification of this bird as a Great Skua was based mostly on observers’ impressions of its large size; the interpretation that it was a different
individual than the one seen the following day was based at least partly
on observers’ impressions that it lacked the pale dorsal markings evident on the bird
of 14 Dec
(markings which constitute one of the most consistent distinctions between
and South Polar Skua). Given these ambiguities, reviewers concluded that
individual and specific identity of the skua seen on 13 Dec could not be
with confidence. Descriptions of the bird observed on 14 Dec were adequate
exclude South Polar Skua, but several reviewers raised the question of
this bird ought to be regarded automatically as an example of the boreal,
Great Skua. In view of recent evidence that austral ‘Brown’ Skuas
by the AOU as conspecific with boreal breeders) might occur in the North
(Votier et al. 2004; Hess 2004), several reviewers pointed to weaknesses
documentation for this record: lack of photographs, uncertainty regarding
bird’s age (its fully black bill suggested it was not a juvenile),
splotching less extensive than that expected for adults of the nominate
form. It is
entirely possible that austral ‘Brown’ Skuas will ultimately
be proven to occur
with some regularity in the North Atlantic, and that the AOU will come
recognize these as specifically distinct from boreal Great Skuas. Thus
Committee is unanimous in encouraging observers to document all observations
of skuas as thoroughly as possible.
Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus)
2002-86-A One juvenile intermediate or dark-intermediate type, Lake Ontario,
off Fort Niagara SP, Youngstown, Niagara, 30 Mar (Willie D’Anna).
This March sighting of a juvenile suggests that the bird may have over-wintered
on Lake Ontario, an almost unheard-of occurrence on the Great Lakes.
was observed for ten minutes chasing and being chased by first-winter
Gulls. The similar Parasitic Jaeger was ruled out by the observation
of white at
the bases of the greater primary underwing coverts as well as at the
bases of the
primaries and whitish uppertail coverts in combination with overall fairly
plumage. Although many birders typically identify jaegers mainly by jizz
shape, and flight style), David Sibley cautions, “The temptation
to use shape and
flight style for identification is almost overwhelming, but I am convinced
birders would be better off ignoring them entirely” (Sherony and
California Gull (Larus californicus)
2002-7-A/B One in adult basic plumage, Niagara River, Niagara, 5,13,
20, 26 Jan & 2, 18
Feb (Brendan Klick, Willie D’Anna).
2002-66-A/D One adult basic, one third-basic plumage, Niagara River,
Niagara, 23 Nov-
8 Dec (Willie D’Anna, Michael Morgante, William Watson, photos
by Willie D’Anna).
The adult seen in January and February may have been a continuing bird
documented in December 2001 (NYSARC 2003). It was last reported on 18
establishing a record late date for the Niagara River. The reports from
and December 2002 document an adult seen on 23 Nov and a third basic
several dates from 23 Nov to 8 Dec. This species has been reported every
the Niagara River since its initial occurrence in 1992. Most sightings
are at or near
the power plants, where these individuals were seen. However, sightings
around Niagara Falls are increasing, though most are only seen on the
side of the river at that location.
Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus)
2002-10-A/C One adult, Neversink Reservoir, Sullivan, 20 Feb (Valerie M. Freer,
Marge Gorton, Renee Davis, John Fritz, Shai Mitra; video stills by John Haas).
One adult, Seneca Meadows landfill, Seneca Falls, Seneca, 23 Feb (Jay and Kevin
McGowan; video still by Jay and Kevin McGowan and photo by Steve Kelling).
These well-documented records possibly
refer to the same individual, in which case they would collectively
constitute just the second record of this species
for NYS. For more details of these sightings see Freer et al. (2002) and McGowan
and McGowan (2002).
Seneca Meadows Landfill, Seneca County,
23 Feb 2002. © Steve Kelling Click image to enlarge
Ross’s Gull (Rhodostethia rosea)
2002-89-A One in adult basic plumage, base of Horseshoe Falls, Niagara
Niagara, 2 Dec (Willie D’Anna).
This bird was viewed in the gorge against the backdrop of Niagara Falls,
the second record for this gull on the Niagara River and fifth record
Unlike the Niagara River’s first, which was seen off and on for
over a month, this
individual disappointed many birders by staying only one day.
Least Tern (Sterna antillarum)
2002-34-A/B One adult, Woodlawn Beach SP., SW of Buffalo, Erie, 18 Aug
(Gerry Rising, William Watson).
Although Least Tern is not on the review list, it is exceptionally rare
on the Great
Lakes, as well as at most inland locations in New York. The Committee
reports of certain locally very rare species that are not on the review
Apparently, this tern had been ill, judging by its lethargic behavior,
Ontario birders reported finding it dead on 19 Aug (Dave Mudd, personal
communication to W. D’Anna). Unfortunately, the specimen was not
and subsequent searches were unsuccessful at finding it.
Thick-billed Murre (Uria lomvia)
2002-60-A One, Gerritsen Creek, Brooklyn, Kings, 21 Dec (Eric Salzman).
This Thick-billed Murre in basic plumage, seen at close range and for
an extended time period during the Brooklyn Christmas Bird Count, was
very well described.
The details of the bill, face, neck, the overall shape, and other field
out both Common Murre and immature Razorbill. The species has occurred
recently off Montauk Point Suffolk Co. but is much more unusual anywhere
in the state.
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
2002-26-A/F One, Walker-Lake Ontario Rd, Hamlin, Monroe, 9 Jun-11 Jul
Watson, Kurt Fox, Richard Guthrie, Kevin & Jay McGowan, Willie D’Anna,
Spahn, photos by K. McGowan and W. D’Anna).
The photos, description and calls leave no doubt that the bird found
by Brett and
Sheryl Ewald was a Eurasian Collared-Dove and not a Ringed Turtle-Dove
(Kingbird 53: 99-102). The Ewalds found this dove while searching
White-winged Dove (2002-27-A/E) discovered on the same day (8 Jun) by
Davids. Eurasian Collared-Doves have been reported in the state before,
the question of origin always remains an issue to be debated and studied.
had no obvious evidence of prior captivity, although its simultaneous
with a White-winged Dove and the lengthy stay of the Eurasian Collared-Dove
raised concerns among some Committee members. This species is commonly
kept by pigeon breeders, and there have been releases of caged birds
parts of North America. That said, the remarkable range expansion of
species in the past weighed heavily on the Committee’s acceptance
sighting as a vagrant for the first fully acceptable state record (see
and McEneaney 1999).
White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
2002-27-A/E One, Walker-Lake Ontario Rd, Hamlin, Monroe, 8-13 Jun (William
Watson, Kurt Fox, Willie D’Anna, Jeanne Skelly, Robert Spahn, photos
W. D’Anna and J. Skelly).
Mike Davids found this dove in a predominantly agricultural area of western
York on 8 Jun (Kingbird 53:100). This bird was also observed around
by many people and was well documented with descriptions and photos.
last reported on 18 Jun. Its occurrence is consistent with the increase
of this species in the state in the past decade and constitutes the first
for Region 2. The concurrent appearance of White-winged Dove and Eurasian
Collared-Dove in the same yard raised some concerns within the Committee,
but neither were banded and no captive source for the birds in the area
Calliope Hummingbird (Stellula calliope)
2002-44-A/B One immature male, Robert Wagner Park, New York, 19-24
(Arie Gilbert, Karen Fung, photos by K. Fung).
Female and juvenile hummingbirds are very difficult to identify. The
protruding beyond the tail of the sitting bird described by Arie Gilbert,
photographed by Karen Fung, plus other features, left no questions concerning
identification. Discovered by Ben Cacace, this is only the second NYS record
this species, which was added to the NYS list in 2001, following the acceptance of
two immature males found together in early December at Fort Tryon Park,
Manhattan, New York Co. (Kingbird 53:291).
Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)
2002-88-A One female, Lenoir Nature Preserve, Yonkers, Westchester, 28 Oct-29
(Michael Bochnik, photos by M. Bochnik).
The identification of female and juvenile Selasphorus hummingbirds is always
problematic, and the fact that Allen’s has not been recorded in NYS does
make it any easier because it has been found as a vagrant along the east coast.
bird was observed for a period of one month. The excellent photographs of the
bird combined with a thorough description of the tail feathers ruled out Allen’s
Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)
2002-8-A One, Camp Dudley Rd., Essex, 24 Feb (Jim Wilkinson).
This grayish flycatcher with a peach colored lower breast and black tail
on a late winter afternoon. The Committee accepted the record based on
quality of the description and sketch made at the time of the observation.
report is even more unusual in that it is later than the previous late
date for this
species of 9 Feb.
Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens)
2002-54-A One, Breezy Point, Queens, 25 Nov (David Klauber).
2002-59-A One, Jones Beach SP, Nassau, 21 Nov (John Fritz).
Late November is typical timing for this rare flycatcher. These
two reports were
similar in their descriptions and could possibly refer to the same
bird. The second
report was accompanied by an excellent photo by Al Wollin, showing
a very pale
breast, an all dark bill, and the overall shape of an Ash-throated
The undertail was also studied and indicated Ash-throated.
7. Ash-throated Flycatcher, Jones Beach, Nassau Co., Nov. 2002. © Al
Click image to enlarge
Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)
2002-84-A One, Grumman Airport, Suffolk, 15 Aug (Guy Tudor).
Discovered by Guy Tudor and Brian Cassie whilst searching for orchids
dragonflies on Grumman Boulevard where it borders the airfield. The shrike
studied as it perched on the fence line and flew out into the surrounding
in search of food. Remaining in the area until 18 Aug, this rarity was
many local birders. The description touched on the smallish size, darker
back, stubbier all black bill, and fairly wide mask. Although there are
summer records of Northern Shrike in the state, all shrikes should be
with care. Loggerhead Shrike has become extremely rare on Long Island
regional record in 1994), and the Committee was disappointed that only
report was received for this well-watched bird.
Cave Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva)
2002-49-A/C One, Niagara River at Goat Island, Niagara, 16-17 Nov (Michael
William Watson, Willie D’Anna).
2002-50-A One, Breezy Point, Queens, 24 Nov (Angus Wilson, photos by
Since the early 1990’s Cave Swallows have been annual late fall
visitors to Cape
May, NJ, and, in more recent years, to New York as well. The bird found
Island by Willie D’Anna was a first for the Niagara River and was
21 Nov, when it was reportedly seen on the Canadian side of the river.
submitted descriptions were thorough and, with accompanying photographs
Willie D’Anna of the bird perched, leave no doubt as to the identification.
bird associated with a flock of over 100 late Northern Rough-winged Swallows
and a couple of Tree Swallows. The Cave Swallow found at Breezy Point
Angus Wilson was accompanied by a single Tree Swallow and lingered for
one day. The description was accompanied by several diagnostic photographs
the bird in flight. Cave Swallows staged a major incursion into the Northeast
during the fall of 2002, with some 100 birds in Connecticut alone on
the day before the Breezy Point sighting. Despite these impressive numbers,
only two other coastal New York reports the same weekend, neither submitted
NYSARC. Another was reported at Hamlin Beach S.P. on Lake Ontario. Although
it is presumed that most late fall Cave Swallows belong to the Mexican
race, P. f.
pallida, subspecific identification in the field is very difficult (Curry
McLaughlin 2000; McNair and Post 2001).
8 & 9. Cave Swallow, Breezy Point, Queens Co., 24 Nov
2002. © Angus Wilson.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)
Audubon’s race (D. c. auduboni)
2002-25-A One male, Goat Island, Niagara Falls, Niagara, 27 Apr
(Willie D’Anna, Betsy Potter, video stills by Betsy Potter).
This singing bird was accompanied by over one hundred “Myrtle”Yellow-rumped
Warblers on Goat Island. The description and video stills indicate a
breeding plumage. This represents the second record of this western form
Region 1 (Lauro 1998b).
| Black-throated Gray
Warbler (Dendroica nigrescens)
2002-15-A/B One male, Kaiser-Manitou Banding Station, Monroe,
30 Apr & 1 May (Betsy Brooks, Charlie Eiseman, photos by Martha Zettel).
Superb digital color photos taken of the bird in the hand after being banded
allowed for easy acceptance by the Committee. The photos even show the tiny spot
of yellow above the lores. This warbler was trapped on three separate occasions
(twice on May 1) and aged as second-year (i.e., about ten months old) by bander
Charlie Eiseman. Most NYS records for this bird are from fall.
10. Black-throated Gray Warbler, Kaiser-Manitou
Monroe County, 30 Apr 2002. © Martha Zettel
Click image to enlarge
Townsend’s Warbler (Dendroica townsendi)
2002-11-A/C One male, Massapequa Preserve, Massapequa, Nassau, 14-18
(Andrew Guthrie, Rex & Birgit Stanford, Sean Sime, photos by A. Guthrie,
R. Stanford and S. Sime).
2002-72-A One female, West Spit of Braddock Bay, Hilton, Monroe, 13 Apr
The Massapequa bird was discovered by Pat Jones, remained until 19 Apr,
was seen by many additional observers during this time. Plumage characters
were consistent with a male in breeding plumage. Andy Guthrie’s detailed
carefully excluded Black-throated Green Warbler (D. virens) and Golden-cheeked
Warbler (D. chrysoparia). Even Hermit x Townsend’s hybrid (D.
townsendi) was considered and rejected, because no obvious indication of
ancestry was discernible. Written documentation was further strengthened
excellent color photographs from Andy Guthrie, Rex and Birgit Stanford
Sean Sime. The Monroe Co. bird was studied carefully for about 10 minutes
moved through a stand of deciduous trees and vines at the western edge
marsh at Braddock Bay. The relatively dark olive back, more solid face
yellowish wash to the flanks and underparts were consistent with a female
Townsend’s Warbler rather than a dull female Black-throated Green
Although tentatively aged as an immature (i.e., second-year), several members
the Committee felt that good photographs or more extended study would be
necessary for reliable ageing. Townsend’s Warbler is less than annual
in NYS and
the discovery of two individuals within a day of each other is notable.
Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica dominica)
2002-30-A One, N Quaker Hill Rd., Pawling, Dutchess, 11 May (Sibyll Gilbert).
2002-74-A One, Ellicott Rd., Chautauqua, 16 Nov (James Berry, Robert
The description of the Dutchess Co. bird included details of the throat,
belly, heavy black streaks on side of face and down sides of belly, prominent
white wing bars, and grayish upperparts and was deemed sufficient for
acceptance after two rounds of review. The more complete description
Chautauqua bird was convincing to the Committee, and the observation
of an “
entirely white supraloral stripe” suggests the interior subspecies,
Yellow-throated Warbler has established a pattern of late fall occurrences
northern USA and Canada, into which this bird fit nicely. Since first
in New York in 1984 (Baird 1984; Andrle and Carroll 1988, p. 384), Yellowthroated
Warbler has occurred irregularly in the summer months along the
Delaware River and at Allegany S.P. and somewhat regularly elsewhere
and late fall.
Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)
2002-29-A One male, Kaiser-Manitou Banding Station, Hilton, Monroe, 23
(Betsy Brooks, photo by Betsy Brooks).
This bird was captured, banded, and photographed at the Braddock Bay
Observatory. Plumage and measurements ruled out Hepatic (P. flava) and
Tanagers (P. olivacea).
Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)
2002-57-A One, Village of Atlantic Beach, Nassau, 14-15 Dec (Seth Ausubel).
The description clearly indicates a Clay-colored Sparrow, probably hatching
The description of the markings on the face and breast and the presence
median crown-stripe distinguish this sparrow from the principal contender,
hatching year Chipping Sparrow (S. passerina). The buffy supercilium
crown stripe separate this bird from the extremely rare Brewer’s
breweri). The late date is noteworthy as there are only two previous
records for NYS.
Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow (Ammodramus nelsoni)
2002-28-A One, Carncross Rd., Savannah, Wayne, 7 Jun (Kurt Fox).
2002-33-A/B One, Town of Champlain, Clinton, 30 Jul-1 Aug (Charles Mitchell,
William Krueger, photos by Suzy Johnson).
2002-90-A One hatching-year bird, Kaiser-Manitou Banding Station, Hilton, Monroe,
10 Oct (Betsy Brooks, photos by B. Brooks).
The Monroe Co. bird was caught, banded, and photographed by staff of the
Braddock Bay Bird Observatory. The Clinton Co. reports document a fascinating
and extremely significant event—the first evidence of breeding behavior
species in NYS. The initial reports were very brief and came close to going
unaccepted. Fortunately, follow-up information was obtained which offered
impeccable details concerning a persistently singing male observed along a
portion of the Lake Champlain shore on seven dates, 30 Jul through 24 Aug
(though silent after 9 Aug). Documentation includes descriptions of plumage and
song by observers familiar with both species of sharp-tailed sparrows, and useful
photographs by Suzy Johnson. The bird’s songs were compared directly in
field with recordings of both species of sharp-tailed sparrows as well as LeConte’s
Sparrow. Prior to the Clinton Co. reports, this Committee was unaware of any
breeding records of the Acadian race subvirgatus away from estuarine settings,
with the exception of some freshwater marshes close to the coast or lower St.
Lawrence Valley. Thus, we were stunned to learn that this taxon presently breeds
on Ile aux Fermiers, in the St Lawrence River, just 40 miles from the location
the present bird (Krueger 2002). These facts are significant not only on their
merits, but also in view of the new perspective they lend to the analysis of
of Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows in upstate New York. Heretofore, drab
specimens of this species from upstate New York were almost automatically
assigned to the race breeding on the Hudson Bay plain (alterus) on the (evidently
erroneous) assumption that subvirgatus was completely unexpected in the
interior. Assignment of the drabbest specimens to alterus has always been
problematic because most sources describe that race as closely resembling
nominate nelsoni from the northern Great Plains (e.g., Rising and Beadle 1996);
now the possibility that subvirgatus might occur regularly in the interior, at
in the Hudson and Champlain Valleys, must be considered very seriously.
2002-23-A/E One female or immature male, home of Chris Gates,
Greece, Monroe, 11-15 May (Kurt Fox, Willie D’Anna, Dominic
Sherony, Robert Spahn, Jeanne Skelly).
These thorough reports, supplemented with photographs by Willie D’Anna,
provided convincing evidence for the identification. Painted Bunting is extremely
rare in the western part of the state.
Fig. 11. Painted Bunting,
Greece, Monroe Co., 15 May. 2002. © Willie
image to enlarge
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)
2002-69-A/B One male, Townline Road at Moul Rd. Hamlin, Monroe, 8 Apr
(Dominic Sherony, Robert Spahn).
This male Brewer’s Blackbird was discovered by Steve Taylor near
a cattle pen at
a location where this species has been occasionally reported over the
years. The descriptions ruled out Rusty Blackbird (E. carolinus) and
Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula). Given the rarity of this species in the
potential confusion with other icterids, the Committee would like to
observers to photograph these birds whenever possible.
Hoary Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni)
2002-9-A One, Webster, Monroe, 17 Feb (Don Traver).
This bird was part of a group of 50 or so redpolls that frequented the
feeding station for a few days. The Hoary was identified by its overall
just a few thin wispy flank streaks, a buffy wash on the head, completely
unstreaked undertail coverts, and a “flat” face with a smaller
bill than shown by
Reports Accepted in Revised Form
This represents a new category of acceptance to accommodate
that were submitted as a particular species but, after deliberation by
Committee, could only be accepted under a broader banner.
Rufous/Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus/sasin)
2002-85-A One, Central Park, New York, 13 Nov (Sandy Spitalnik).
The vast majority of vagrant hummingbirds designated as ‘Rufous/Allen’s’ in eastern North America are individuals suspected to be Rufous (S.
for which the level of documentation is deemed insufficient to rule out
(S. sasin). In contrast, this record pertains to an individual that was
of Allen’s Hummingbird: its photographed rectrices appeared in
instances to be rather narrow and prompted an experienced hummingbird
from the Southwest to favor Allen’s. Even so, the bird was not
and the available details were otherwise judged insufficient to fully
first record of Allen’s for NYS. For additional discussion of hummingbird
vagrancy in NYS see Mitra and Bochnik (2001).
Shrike species (Lanius species)
2002-80-A One, Braddock Bay SP, Monroe, 7 May (Jason Guerard).
Originally submitted as a late occurrence of Northern Shrike (Lanius
the Committee felt that the description of this bird, viewed only at
distance, lacked sufficient detail to adequately rule out other shrike
particular Loggerhead Shrike (L. ludovicianus), a distinct possibility
at this date.
Warbler/Hermit x Townsend’s Warbler
(Dendroica occidentalis/occidentalis x townsendi)
|| 2002-42-A/G One hatching
year male, Jones Beach SP, Nassau, 28 Nov-1 Dec (Andrew Block, Arie
Gilbert, Richard Guthrie, Rex Stanford, John Moyle, Seth Ausubel,
Sy Schiff, photos by R. Stanford and S. Ausubel).
Studied by scores
of birders, copiously documented, and hotly debated, this Thanksgiving rarity
discovered by Andrew Block will long be remembered by birders in New York State
and beyond. The bird closely resembled a hatching-year male Hermit Warbler, but
the presence of some yellow on the breast below the black bib raised the possibility
of Townsend’s Warbler ancestry. In the days and weeks that followed, many
questions about the identification were raised on internet and elsewhere. DiCostanzo
(2003) summarized some of these early discussions, and the Committee wishes to
express its thanks to the many individuals who provided information, analysis,
and other kinds of assistance during the evaluation of these reports. Block and
Connor (2003) provide a description of the bird and an account of its discovery.
12. Hermit/Hermit x Townsend's Warbler,
Jones Beach, Nassau County, 30 Nov 2002.
image to enlarge
In evaluating these reports, NYSARC considered issues such as the
definition and characterization of hybrids, the limits of variation among
(‘pure’) Hermit Warblers, and the evaluation of the plumage
characters of the
Jones Beach bird in relation to both of these. Of the several characters
of the Jones
Beach bird that were invoked at one time or another as evidence of hybrid
ancestry (dorsal hue, crown pattern, flank streaking, ventral yellow),
only the last
proved, after careful analysis, to be really unusual among hatching-year
Hermit Warblers. The question became a probabilistic one, weighing the
likelihood of hybrid ancestry against a natural variation away from typical
plumage as explanations for this individual’s appearance.
Studies of hybridization between Hermit and Townsend’s Warblers,
as conducted by Rohwer and Wood (1998), have demonstrated that birds
various combinations of plumage features of the two species occur frequently
three hybrid zones in Washington and Oregon. Eckert (2001) presents a
excellent photos of such birds. To the best of our knowledge, first generation
hybrids probably show a combination of face and head pattern like Hermit,
breast and flank pattern like Townsend’s. This is the plumage that
attributes to ‘typical hybrids;’ it is a combination described
as frequent by Dunn
and Garrett (1997) and by Eckert (2001); and it is consistent with an
score on Rohwer and Wood’s (1998) quantitative hybrid index. But
individuals show just the opposite combination (face and head like Townsend’s,
breast and flanks like Hermit), and others show just about every other
permutation. We simply do not know how each combination corresponds with
particular kind of ancestry (e.g., first generation hybrids, later generation
and backcrosses between any of these and each parental form). Although
Jones Beach bird differed from the birds described and depicted as ‘typical
hybrids,’ the possibility remains that its plumage might be consistent
degree of Townsend’s ancestry. This situation is similar in many
ways to the
hybridization of Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers that occurs in
and elsewhere in the Northeast, which produces a variety of plumage combinations
that are impossible to attribute uniquely to particular parental
combinations (Parkes 1951).
Another important question is whether ‘pure’ Hermit Warblers
variation toward the appearance of Townsend’s Warbler. Rohwer and
(1998) collected reference samples for both species, consisting of breeding
individuals from the core of each species’ range, away from the
hybridization. They found that 3% of these Hermit Warblers showed plumage
features such that they would have been regarded as hybrids had they
collected near the contact zones. Analysis of study skins by NYSARC members
revealed the following: only one specimen (a hatching year male collected
California on 21 Aug 1896) among ca. 250 Hermit Warblers of all ages
American Museum of Natural History in New York City showed as much or
yellow on the breast as the Jones Beach bird (this specimen also showed
fairly dusky, broad streaks along the flanks, a further suggestion of
ancestry); two of ca. 35 hatching-year Hermit Warblers at the Field Museum
Natural History (FMNH) in Chicago showed yellow feathers on the breast
same location as the Jones Beach bird (although far less extensive);
and one adult
male out of ca. 45 adult Hermit Warblers at FMNH showed more yellow on
breast below the black bib than the Jones Beach bird, but less yellow
shown for adult male first-generation hybrids in Dunn and Garrett (1997).
last bird closely resembled a Hermit Warbler in all other respects.
On the basis of Rohwer and Wood’s research and our own museum
work, it seems that birds resembling the Jones Beach bird might occur
Hermit Warblers, but the possibility of hybrid origins in these variants
ruled out, a situation reminiscent of the Spotted Towhee vs. Spotted
Towhee hybrid discussed in last year’s Annual Report. In conclusion,
Jones Beach warbler could possibly have been an unusual variant Hermit
the Committee concluded that a hybrid origin was more likely and certainly
not be ruled out, and thus acceptance of this bird as NYS’ first
proved impossible. This uncertainty does not diminish the significance
record, which remains one of just a handful of documented occurrences
Warblers and Hermit-like hybrids in the East.
Reports Accepted but Origins Uncertain
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)
2002-3-A Two adults, three immatures, Little Sodus Bay, Fair Haven,
Cayuga, 18 Feb (Bill Purcell).
The Committee accepted identification of these five birds (two adults,
immatures) as Trumpeters but believe they are the result of introduction
Ontario and New York. Typically, though not always, birds from Ontario
banded and wing-tagged and are most frequently seen in Western New York.
Unmarked birds, such as these five, are more likely in Central New York.
Carroll and Swift (2000) for a discussion about these introduction efforts.
Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)
Small mainland Alaskan race (B. h. minima)
2002-6-A One, Waryas Riverfront Park, Poughkeepsie, Dutchess,
28 Jan (Chester Vincent, photos by Kenneth Fredericks).
Although Cackling Geese of the nominate form (hutchinsii) occur
regularly in NYS, there are very few documented reports of minima
from the Northeast. This sighting was supported by excellent photographs
documenting the goose’s tiny size, strikingly tiny bill, and generally
very dark plumage. Thus, the Committee regarded the identification as
well-substantiated. Nesting on the outer coast of western Alaska, principally
the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, the majority of minima winter in California’s
Central Valley. Small numbers have wintered in western Oregon in the last
few years. Minima are fairly common in captivity. In the absence
of an established pattern of vagrancy of this form to eastern North America,
the Committee felt that the possibility of captive origin could not be
excluded with confidence.
Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)
2002-1-A One, Marratooka Lake, Suffolk, 25 Jan (Paul H. Gillen, Jr.).
2002-1-B One, Grumman Pond, Suffolk, 1 Jan (Michael R. Wasilco).
These reports, which probably pertained to the same individual, received
support within the Committee for outright acceptance as naturally occurring
vagrants. The status of this species in the Northeast remains very contentious,
however, and several reviewers concluded that the possibility of captive
could not be excluded with confidence. Barnacle Geese were also reported
Iroquois NWR (Region 1) and multiple locations in Kings and Queens Counties
(Region 10) in early March, but no reports were submitted to NYSARC.
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
2001-81-A One immature, Lake Ontario, west of Irondequoit Bay outlet,
Monroe, 25 Dec. (Robert Spahn).
Immature Northern Gannets are seen annually on Lake Ontario during late
and early winter from Hamlin Beach SP and occasionally from other locations
along the lake as far west as the Niagara River. The observer provided
reasonable description of this immature Northern Gannet resting on the
Northern Parula (Parula americana)
2001-80-A One, Ellenville, Ulster, 3 Jan (Renee Davis).
The observer provided a thorough description of a Northern Parula, probably
immature female. The absence of any red feathering on the center of the
argues against a male, and the eye arcs and limit of the yellow on the
out Tropical Parula (P. pitiayumi). The date exceeds the previous latest
Dec) for NYS. The Committee wondered if recent mild early winters have
increased numbers of lingering Neotropical migrants.
Hoary Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni)
2001-84-A One Hamlin Beach SP, Town of Hamlin, Monroe, 12 Dec (Dominic
The bird was part of a large flock of redpolls that reportedly fed for
a few weeks
on the beach of this Lake Ontario park. It was first found by Dave Tetlow.
complete description ruled out the possibility that this was a pale Common
Redpoll (C. flammea).
2000 Reports Accepted
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
2000-32-C One adult, Pike’s Beach, Suffolk, 16 Jul (David Klauber).
Two previous reports on this bird were accepted by NYSARC, and for some
reason this report was not evaluated at that time. The NYSARC extends
apologies to the observer and thanks him for bringing the omission to
attention. The combination of dark legs, reddish face, and white chin;
of the spotting on the flanks and upper breast; the coloration of the
scapulars; and the bright white braces on the back—all indicate
that this was an
adult Little Stint. The observer’s description clearly eliminated
confusion species, notably Red-necked Stint (C. ruficollis) and Sanderling
alba). A Red-necked Stint was present at the same locality the day before,
Sanderling is frequently confused with both stints during fall migration.
Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea)
2000-84-A One, Energy Information Center, Lake Ontario, Town of Scriba,
29 Dec (Kevin McGann).
This belated report involved an immature seen by only one person but
vivid recollection was convincing to the Committee. There were three
sightings on Lake Ontario that same winter, all in Ontario (Roy 2002).
One of the
Ontario birds collided with power transmission lines, died, and the specimen
preserved at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Another was observed
very weakened condition and was assumed to perish as well. Ivory Gulls
do not stray far from the pack ice. In colder winters a few may venture
Canada and northern US. There is evidence that climate change is having
significant negative effect on the breeding success of Ivory Gulls in
arctic (Gilchrist and Mallory 2004).
Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)
1987-1-A One, Mashomack Preserve, Pine Plains, Dutchess, 12 Jan (Barbara
During the winter of 1987, a Gyrfalcon spent several weeks in northern
Co., and was observed by many people. Two written descriptions were submitted
to NYSARC, but unfortunately these lacked sufficient detail to support
identification to species and were not accepted. While researching a
book on the
birds of Dutchess Co., Barbara Butler discovered a photograph of the
taken by Jeff Kirk on 20 Jan 1987. This was submitted together with a
account written by Mary Key that provides more details of the bird. Taken
whole, the reports adequately describe an adult light-phase Gyrfalcon.
Several factors may contribute to a record being denied acceptance.
far the most common is that the material submitted was considered insufficient
too vague to properly document the occurrence and/or eliminate similar
For example, descriptions prepared entirely from memory (sometimes weeks,
months, or years) after a sighting are seldom voted on favorably, and
Committee cannot overstate the importance of taking field notes on uncommon
rare birds. If it is at all possible, these notes should be taken while
the bird is under
study or, if not, then immediately afterwards. It is very helpful to
photocopy of your field notes along with the typed or neatly written
helps the Committee to know what was seen at the time of the observation,
field guides or other sources of information were consulted. If you feel
handwriting is illegible, especially with the excitement of finding a
good bird, it
is a good idea to add a key with your report that explains or decodes
Crude field sketches are often very useful in illustrating what you saw
always be submitted as part of the report, even if they are drawn on
a napkin or a
Advice on report preparation is available on the NYSARC web site, and
in several published articles. We recommend the article by Willie D’Anna
as well as the benchmark article by Dittmann and Lasley (1992). The key
elements to a good report are (i) the description of the bird with as
much detail as
possible; (ii) the names and contact details of the observers; (iii)
location and date
of the sighting; and (iv) an explanation of how the identification was
last category is frequently omitted but is extremely important. Ask yourself
following questions: What features led you to this conclusion as to the
involved? What other species might this bird be confused with and how
these possibilities ruled out? By providing this type of analytical information,
invariably build upon the basic description and thus present a much more
compelling case. By necessity, the preparation of a good report takes
effort. It is not enough to scribble a few disjointed lines of description
it at that. Once the description of what you saw has gone down on paper,
it is a
good idea to consult reference books, audiotapes and so on. From the
details you recorded, can you determine the age and sex of the bird? Are
subspecies that might tell us where the bird came from? What similar
are there and how can these be ruled out from the details you recorded?
The latter is especially important. Sometimes it is worth considering
discussing exotic possibilities. Escaped waterfowl, birds of prey, parrots
finches are relatively common and can resemble North American species.
keep in mind that these reports form part of an archive of data that
visited by birders and researchers years from now.
It is relatively uncommon for records to be rejected because the bird
clearly mis-identified; more often reports simply fail to provide enough
information to exclude other possibilities. We make every effort to be
and objective as possible, but if the Committee is unsure about any particular
submission, it tends to err on the conservative side, preferring not
a good record rather than validate a bad one. We do not reject records
the observer is unfamiliar to us or has had records rejected in the past.
records, whether accepted or not, remain on file and can be re-submitted
the Committee if additional substantive material is presented. In such
please contact the Secretary at the address given above.
Reports Not Accepted
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)
2002-5-A Fifty-five individuals, Oneida Lake, Oswego, 12 Mar.
In recent years individuals and small groups of Trumpeter Swans have
seen in the western half of the State, the result of various introduction
Ontario and, to a lesser extent, in New York. The species is successfully
in the wild in Ontario and New York, but a flock of 55 birds would be
count several times over the previous high. At the same time, the locality
where these swans were seen is east of where the similar Tundra Swan
(C. columbianus) occurs in large numbers. At the time that these swans
found, internet reports identified them first as Trumpeter Swans, but
stated that they were Tundras. In the end, the Committee decided that
did not clearly rule out Tundra Swan and was therefore insufficient to
such an extraordinary number of Trumpeters.
Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)
2002-78-A One female, Hamlin Beach SP, Monroe, 8 Oct.
Three observers studied this duck for several seconds as it flew westwards
along the lake at a distance of 300 yards or more. The identification
Common rather than King Eider (S. spectabilis) was based largely on the
tapered profile of the head with little supportive information. Several
felt that the description was not adequate to separate the two expected
species of eiders and the discussion of other possible duck species had
Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)
2002-4-A One, Jamaica Bay, Queens, 11 May.
Observed briefly without optics as it flew past the observer. The Committee
that the description did not adequately eliminate immature Double-crested
Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), which can show a similar whitish throat
Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)
2002-17-A/B One, Ripley Hawkwatch #2, Chautauqua, 11 Apr.
This buteo was observed flying past the Ripley hawk watch, accompanied
Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura), three Red-tailed Hawks (B. jamaicensis),
Sharp-shinned Hawks (Accipiter striatus), and two American Kestrels (Falco
sparverius). Documentation was provided by a very experienced hawk watcher
and one other of the four observers present. Apparently, no photographs
were obtained. The bird was described as an immature, larger than a nearby
Hawk, with a white head, body, throat, belly, and unbanded tail and dark
commas near the “wrists” of the wings. The upperwings had
whitish “windows” across the primaries, white spots on the wings and back, and a white ”U” visible
at the base of the tail. The second observer noted dark bands and pinkish
tail. The discrepancy in the tail descriptions was a concern to Committee
members, and pinkish in the tail suggested the possibility that this
was a Krider’s
Red-tailed Hawk (B. jamaicensis kriderii), a rare but regular migrant
Lakes hawk watches. Though the Committee thought the detail in these
admirable, they decided that such an exceptional record needed even stronger
documentation. Ferruginous Hawk has never been recorded before in New
and it is extremely rare in the East. Wheeler (2003, pp. 300-301) lists
from only the following Eastern states and provinces: Alabama, Florida,
Indiana, Michigan, Ontario, and Wisconsin.
Thayer’s Gull (Larus thayeri)
2002-55-A One, Lake Edwards, Perinton, Monroe, 9-10 Dec.
2002-93-A One, Lake Edwards, Perinton, Monroe, 13 Dec.
2002-73-A One, Landfill near Fairport, Monroe, 6 Feb.
Identification of Thayer’s Gulls is a unique challenge to birders
in eastern North
America. The main problem is distinguishing true Thayer’s from
the dark end of
the Kumlien’s (Iceland) Gull spectrum. After considerable debate,
felt that none of these reports provided sufficiently detailed descriptions
rule out Kumlien’s. Several members of the Committee feel that
photographs are essential to adequately document both adult and sub-adult
Thayer’s Gulls out-of-range. The Committee appreciates that this
is very difficult
at top gull sites such as the Niagara River.
Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)
2002-62-A Two, Hamlin Beach SP, Monroe, 5 May.
These two Sterna terns were observed flying westward along the lakeshore
consequently allowed only brief study. The identification was based in
part on the
observer’s perception of a more compact structure than expected
for Common Tern (S. hirundo). However, the Committee members felt that
critical details of
the wing tip pattern were not sufficiently well described to establish
Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)
2002-18-A One, Lakeview Wildlife Management Area, Jefferson, 23 Feb.
This bird was seen for only a few seconds and without optics as it flew
in front of
the observer into a stand of conifers. The bird’s head was not
seen well, and the
identification was based in large part on the shape and color of the
Consequently, the Committee felt that other birds of prey could not be
given these limited details.
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)
2002-31-A One male, Attica, Wyoming, 13 Jun.
This bird appeared at the observers’ oriole feeders. It was described
as a male bird
that appeared quite different than the Baltimore Orioles (I. galbula)
frequented the feeders. A prominent black eye-stripe was noted, but there
mention of a black throat patch nor more white in the wings than on a
The bird was said to be more red-orange on the throat and breast than
Baltimore, but the Committee felt that this was not a helpful distinction,
there is variability in Baltimore in this feature. When studying a possible
Bullock’s Oriole in New York, birders must consider the great variability
Baltimore Oriole. Lee and Birch (1998) discuss the field identification
two orioles. The possibility of hybrid Bullock’s x Baltimore Orioles
Blue Grosbeak (Guiraca caerulea)
2002-35-A One, Binghamton, Broome, 4 Sep.
Although some of the details were consistent with an immature or possibly
female Blue Grosbeak, Committee members were concerned that Brown-headed
Cowbird (Molothrus ater) could not be ruled out from the information
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
2002-76-A One, Ellison Park, Monroe, 11 Jul.
Although Yellow-headed Blackbird is not on the review list, the Committee
appreciates reports of unseasonable occurrences of less than common species
such as this. This sighting is especially intriguing since Yellow-headed
has never been recorded breeding in New York. Unfortunately, this bird
only and the call only described as “raspy” and “whining”.
description is consistent with the call of this species, it also does
not rule out other
species. For example, Red-winged Blackbirds occasionally make calls that
be described similarly. The observers were paddling a canoe through a
marsh at the time, and despite some effort, were unable to see the bird.
no mention of any follow-up visits, which might have proved fruitful
had the bird
been on a territory. Yellow-headed Blackbirds are regular breeders in
within 200 miles of New York (James 1991).
Hoary Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni)
2002-2-A One, Hamlin Beach SP, Town of Hamlin, Monroe, 5 Jan.
2002-24-A One Westport, Essex, Jan.-Mar.
Although a Hoary Redpoll was documented at Hamlin Beach on 12 Dec 2001
(see 2001-84-A, above) and reported several times after that date, the
was not convinced that the present report referred to a Hoary Redpoll.
was brief and the statement that “the bird was not very light” was
of a Hoary Redpoll. The Westport bird was one of a group of redpolls
frequented the observer’s feeding station for much of the winter.
with the report were unconvincing, and some Committee members believed
the bird was actually a pale Common Redpoll (C. flammea). Birders need
aware that some Common Redpolls are paler and will stand out in a flock.
Thorough study and the observation of several field marks are usually
identify a Hoary Redpoll.
Report Not Accepted
European Goldfinch (Carduelis Carduelis)
1954-3-A One Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Kings, spring (possibly April).
This 48 year-old report included very few specific details. Although
population of European Goldfinches thrived on LI for several decades,
population was almost extirpated by the time of this observation. Furthermore,
this report does not pertain to the area inhabited by the last survivors
of the LI
population (southeastern Nassau/southwestern Suffolk Counties), but rather
urban NYC—which to this day still hosts individuals of this species
escaped from captivity. Given these various obstacles, there was limited
within the Committee for acceptance of this report.
NYSARC gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following observers
who submitted written and/or photographic documentation:
Seth Ausubel, Jessie Barry, Gail Benson, Andrew Bernick, James Berry,
Brenda Best, Andrew Block, Michael Bochnik, Betsy Brooks, Thomas W. Burke,
Barbara Butler, Bernie Carr, Doug Daniels, Willie D’Anna, Gregg
Renee Davis, Leonard DeFrancisco, William Dietz, Charlie Eiseman,
Brett Ewald, Michael Farina, David Feliciano, Kurt Fox, Melvin Freeborough,
Sally Freeborough, Valerie Freer, John Fritz, Karen Fung, Arie Gilbert,
Sibyll Gilbert, Paul H. Gillen, Jr., Joe Giunta, Marge Gorton, Kevin
Robert Grosek, Jason Guerard, Andrew Guthrie, Richard Guthrie, John H.
Barbara Herrgesell, Michael Higgiston, David Hoag, Suzy Johnson, Brian
Eugene & Rita Kautz, Steve Kelling, David Klauber, Brendan Klick,
William E. Krueger, Betsy McCully, Kevin McGann, Jay McGowan, Kevin
McGowan, Hugh McGuinness, Robert McKinney, Charles W. Mitchell, Shaibal
S. Mitra, Michael Morgante, John Moyle, Ray Ovelman, William Overton,
Gerard Phillips, Betsy Potter, Bard Prentiss, Bill Purcell, Gerry Rising,
Rusk, Eric Salzman, Patrick Santinello, Seymour Schiff, Dominic Sherony,
Antony Shrimpton, Tracie Shultz, Sean Sime, Jeanne Skelly, Sally Smith,
Robert Spahn, Jim Spencer, Sandy Spitalnik, Rex & Birgit Stanford,
Sundell, William Symonds, Diana Teta, Don Traver, Guy Tudor, Chester A.
Vincent, Mary Walters, Michael R. Wasilco, William Watson, Jim Wilkinson,
Angus Wilson, Al Wollin, Martha Zettel.
Submitted on behalf of the
New York State Avian Records Committee:
Angus Wilson (Chair)
Jeanne Skelly (Secretary)
Thomas W. Burke
Shaibal S. Mitra
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