PO Box 9021, Wilmington, DE 19809, USA
E-mail: font@focusonnature.com
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With Caracaras, a Kingbird, Kelp Gull, and more

Armas Hill has presented the "Birdline", originally from Philadelphia, on the phone and internet for over 3 decades, and on the radio in Delaware for about 10 years.


A List & Photo Gallery of North American Birds, in 6 Parts

A List & Photo Gallery of North American Mammals  

A Chronological List of Upcoming FONT Tours     Other Birdlines/Naturelines

Photos here of some species referred to in this September 13, 2012 edition of the Birdline/Natureline:

Above: a Northern Crested Caracara
(photo by Howard Eskin) 
Below: a Southern Caracara
photographed during a FONT tour in Brazil


An adult Kelp Gull 
photographed during a FONT tour in South America.
(photo by Alan Brady)

The Birdline & Natureline for September 13, 2012:

Those of us who have been birding for a while have thought about CARACARAS (if we thought about CARACARAS) as usually being rather sedentary birds where they occur in North America, in Texas & Florida.

In the "National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America 5th Edition", published in 2006, it is said about the CRESTED (now NORTHERN CRESTED) CARACARA: Records from well outside the normal range are of "debatable origin".   

In the "Lives of North American Birds", by Kenn Kaufman, published in 1996, it is written: "Adults are typically permanent residents on territory. Young birds may wander considerable distances."    

But as far north as James Bay in northern Ontario? That's where one was for 10 days in July 2002. A TURKEY VULTURE has never even been seen that far north.
And that was the third record for Ontario.
Others were in July 1892, on a remote island in Lake Superior - that bird found dead after a storm.
And another July 1994 on Pelee Island (that's not Point Pelee) in Essex County, Ontario.

A couple weeks ago, another NORTHERN CRESTED CARACARA (living up to its new name) was reported in Canada in Quebec.

And more recently, this past week, a NORTHERN CRESTED CARACARA has been in the northeastern US, in New Jersey, about 10 miles northeast of Trenton, in West Windsor Township. It was discovered at a farm there on September 8, and has continued at times each day since.

Actually, CARACARAS have been noted in New Jersey twice previously:
one in Middlesex County in 1976, almost certainly an escaped bird, and
one at Sandy Hook in 2007, that was said possibly to have been of "wild provenance".

One (the same?) was seen further north in Massachusetts in 2007 - that was the 2nd time in that state.

There was a CRESTED CARACARA sighting in Indiana in June 2011.

In the western United States, it seems that during the last decade, the CARACARA has had a fairly strong pattern of vagrancy, with records in South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington State, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, and several in California.
There's been at least one occurrence in British Colombia, Canada.

In addition to the places already mentioned, records for CARACARAS have also been accepted, or are currently being considered in: Alabama (2), Georgia (1), Iowa (1), Minnesota (1), Mississippi (2), and New Brunswick, Canada (1).   

By the way, generally speaking, the SOUTHERN CARACARA occurs in South America, south of the Amazon.
The NORTHERN CRESTED CARACARA occurs generally north from the Amazon in South AmericaCentral America, and into the United States, and yes, now, on occasion, into Canada.
The SOUTHERN CARACARA could also be called the SOUTHERN CRESTED CARACARA. The SOUTHERN CARACARA is not the most southern of CARACARAS. The STRIATED CARACARA occurs at Cape Horn.

Not long ago, on August 28, another bird species normally in the far-southwest US & in Mexico, and not normally further north, appeared in Canada, a THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD at the Presqui'ile Provincial Park, near Brighton, Ontario.
The bird was photographed and it would be not only a first provincial record for Ontario, but a first for eastern North America, and the second record for Canada.

Another bird of the southwestern US & the Midwest, has appeared this week in eastern North America, a BELL'S VIREO in New York City, on Staten Island, at Mount Loretto. Seen September 11 &12, at least, it is a 3rd record for the species in New York State although there have been more sightings of it in recent years in the East, in New Jersey and Maryland among other places.

Probably the city in North America where the most species of GULLS have been found is Chicago, where at Montrose Harbor, on one occasion or another, these species have occurred (not in any particular order):

But watch out Chicago for Wheatley Harbor, Ontario, where this past week, on September 7, a KELP GULL was found - the 18th GULL SPECIES for that location by Lake Erie, just east of Point Pelee.
This September 2012 KELP GULL is, like the forementioned KINGBIRD, a first for Ontario. However, it is also a first for Canada.

Regarding the KELP GULL, the first in North America was back in 1989, when a bird was found on the Chandeleur Islands in Louisiana. In 1990, the species was found to be breeding there.
By 2004, all of the dark-mantled gulls on Chandeleur Island were either hybrids or backcrosses with HERRING GULLS.

Elsewhere in North America, there have been KELP GULLS in Indiana in 1996, in Colorado in 2003, in Florida in 2011, in Texas in 1996, 1997, & 2008, and in Maryland where there was one individual from 1998 to 2005 known as "Shrimpy".

Referring again to the Chandeleur Islands in Louisiana, that area was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and since then KELP GULL occurrences in North America have been very few.

More recently, with Hurricane Isaac, a GREAT SHEARWATER appeared in Michigan, in Benzie County, on Lake Michigan by the mouth of the Platte River. Seen on September 8, it appeared weak. The following morning, that first GREAT SHEARWATER ever in Michigan, was found dead. The specimen was donated to the University of Michigan.
Other GREAT SHEARWATERS, resulting from Isaac, were found in Bowie County, Texas and in Livingston County, Kentucky.

A juvenile SABINE'S GULL was seen this past week in Rhode Island, observed resting on rocks at the end of Napatree Point, before it flew away.
An adult SABINE'S GULL was in Virginia on September 6 at a wastewater plant near Mt. Crawford.
In Maryland, maybe it was the same bird from September 8 to 10 at the Tridelphia Reservoir in Howard County.

A single, but very vocal RED CROSSBILL was in pines at the Coatesville Reservoir in Chester County, Pennsylvania on September 9.

In New Hampshire, that day, September 9, a MISSISSIPPI KITE was still in Newmarket.

That day, September 9, in New Jersey, there a one-day record for BALD EAGLES at the Chimney Rock hawk watch in Martinsville, when 32 were counted.

The next day, September 10, at Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania, 2,806 MONARCH BUTTERFLIES were counted, the most ever counted there in a single day.

On September 11, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a birder having supper had the very good fortune to see a lifer outside her window. Her first GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, a male. Nice, and exciting.  

An most unusual bird in Lancaster County PA was seen, and confirmed by a photograph, on September 5 - a single PIPING PLOVER, with some other migrating shorebirds, on an island in the Susequehanna River at the place called the Conejohela Flats.    
PIPING PLOVERS are rarely seen seen in Pennsylvania away from the shore of Lake Erie (and there they are certainly not common).
In Lancaster County, from 1950 to 1970, there were only 6 PIPING PLOVER sightings. From 1970 to the present, there have only been 2 sightings: 1 in 2000, and 1 in 2002.
So, yes, the PIPING PLOVER is a most unusual bird in Lancaster County, PA.

Let's go, for our last report, from a river island in Pennsylvania to an island on the other side of the world in South Korea:

This week, on Tuesday, September 11, in a report presented to a global conservation forum on Jeju Island, in South Korea, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Zoological Society of London, unveiled a list of the world's 100 most threatened animals, plants, and fungi, noting that urgent action is needed to save them.
Among the BIRDS in that list is the SPOON-BILLED SANDPIPER of eastern Asia.
It is said that bird is perhaps hurtling toward extinction faster than any bird on Earth, with now probably fewer than 100 pairs remaining. Its population is in "free fall" and without that "urgent action that is needed", it could be gone within a decade.

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Another time here, we'll have more about the 100 threatened creatures and more about that particular bird, the SPOON-BILLED SANDPIPER, and maybe some day in the future (if I can be optimistic), some good news about it!

Now, some good news I can say is that in the Focus On Nature Tours website, we have reached a plateau of photographs of 1,600 different creatures among the nature in this world that we're lucky to have.
And among the photos are those of just over 1,000 species of birds. Also, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, moths, dragonflies and more.

sincere thank you to everyone who have has contributed photographs to our collection.
Not only do they show what has been and can be seen and experienced during tours, but also people at home and students at school can see what nature there is out there, either close to home, or further away.
A number of school teachers have expressed to us their appreciation that children have been able to see the photos, and thus learn about the various types of creatures just noted, from small moths and beautiful butterflies, to big animals and colorful birds.
If you'd like to take a look, please scroll down the left-side of the home-page in the link below:


The Birdline (and the Natureline) are affiliates of Focus On Nature Tours.

Armas Hill has presented the Birdline, originally from Philadelphia, on the phone and internet for over 3 decades, and on the radio in Delaware for 10 years.

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