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Purple Gallinules, a Violetear, 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 Green Violetear
photographed during a FONT tour
in Costa Rica.
(photo by Rosemary Lloyd)
Below, in the text, references
to Green Violetears as strays
in North America.

The Birdline for October 21, 2011:

Last time, here, and also in the Birdline prior to that, PURPLE GALLINULES were noted as being in the area of the Great Lakes.
First, at the beginning of October, by Lake Ontario, at Sodus Point, New York.
Then, on October 9, by Lake Erie, at Presque Isle, in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Also, a PURPLE GALLINULE was at Port Weller, Ontario, on October 10 & 11.
And yesterday, October 20, not by a Great Lake, but near the great port of New York City, an immature PURPLE GALLINULE was found in Bayonne, New Jersey, by the Lefante Walkway.
PURPLE GALLINULES are normally further south in places like Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.

Normally even further south is the hummingbird called the GREEN VIOLETEAR. One was in Cecil County, Maryland, recently, but only for a short while, and not seen by many people. It was, however, photographed.

The GREEN VIOLETEAR is a Neotropical species, most often in the highlands, from Mexico south to northern South America. Most occurrences in the United States have been in the Hill Country of Texas, where it is nearly annual. It has also occurred rarely in eastern North America and elsewhere in the US.

Since the 1960s, there have been over 40 records of the GREEN VIOLETEAR in eastern Texas, with as many as 4 during one season. These have been in the Edwards Plateau (or the "Hill Country" as just noted), and along the Gulf Coast and in the lower Rio Grande Valley. All of the occurrences of the species north of Mexico in the spring have been in Texas.

Accepted records of the GREEN VIOLETEAR, in addition to those in Texas, have been in these US sttes and Canadian provinces:
Alabama, Alberta, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi. North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Ontario, Wisconsin.

These north-of-range records have been from mid-April through mid-December, with most from early May to late July, and with a minor peak in late August and early September.
This seasonal pattern may be of adults and young birds following the spring breeding season or the dispersal of young adults prior to the summer breeding season.
Many sightings are "one day wonders", but the average sighting period has been 2 weeks. The longest sighting period at a single location was 18 weeks.

Anyway, add Maryland to the above list of states, and plug in October for the month.

Last time, here, a sighting was mentioned of a BELL'S VIREO in Maryland, along the seacoast, at Assateague Island, on October 8.

This past week, there was another BELL'S VIREO found in Maryland on October 17. It was in the same county as the VIOLETEAR, Cecil County, in extreme northeast Maryland. The BELL'S VIREO was at a place called Turkey Point, at the top of the Chesapeake Bay.

The BELL'S VIREO occurs, during its breeding season, in shrubby habitats in the midwest and southwest US, and northern Mexico. In the winter, most, in fact nearly all, are further south along the Pacific coast of Mexico.
Since the 1960s, the population of the species has declined by more than 50 per cent. It is now classified as "near-threatened" by Birdlife International. 

Last time, here, a NORTHERN WHEATEAR was told of in Pennsylvania.

On October 11, another NORTHERN WHEATEAR was found in New Hampshire, near the summit of Mount Moosilauke. Now that's quite a name.
Also seen there that day, at that New Hampshire mountain, were:

Back in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, where last week's WHEATEAR was, 221 AMERICAN PIPITS were counted at a pond by Mount Pleasant Road. One can assume that was not an estimate.

Also in south-central Pennsylvania, a BLACK RAIL was found in Cumberland County on October 16. In a small wetland, after the bird was flushed, it fluttered, and glided, and disappeared, not to be seen again.

In northwest Pennsylvania, a couple birds normally further west were seen this past week: a FRANKLIN'S GULL on October 17, and a WHITE-WINGED DOVE, the previous day, October 16, both at Presque Isle, in Erie.

Jekyll Island, along the seacoast in Georgia, must be a place quite different than Presque Isle, Pennsylvania. But another WHITE-WINGED DOVE was there, on October 15.

A bird in the East, from the West, was an ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER at a place called the Villas near Cape May, New Jersey, on October 17.
Another ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER has recently been in Winthrop, Massachusetts.

In the East, a westerner, a YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD was on Long Island, New York, on October 19, at the Captree State Park.
Another YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD has continued at Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey.

Now, going west, to the other coast of the continent, actually slightly beyond, offshore on the Pacific, another WHITE-CHINNED PETREL was found on October 16 at Cordell Bank, off California, sitting on the ocean with a flock of NORTHERN FULMARS. It was the second WHITE-CHINNED PETREL off California in the last few months.

Also offshore from California, there have been reports recently by fisherman of SHORT-TAILED ALBATROSS, off Bodega Bay.

Back east, of course SANDHILL CRANES are not as common as they are at various places in western and central North America, but there has been a sprinkling of them, here and there, including up to 5, recently, at Wareham, Massachusetts, in cranberry bogs.

Sometimes, banding has shown that birds travel afar. Sometimes not. A SANDHILL CRANE in western Pennsylvania, at the Pymatuning State Park, in Crawford County, on October 18, was seen to be banded.
That band indicated that the bird was banded outside Cambridge Springs, also in Crawford County PA, on June 26, 2011.

On the opposite side of Pennsylvania, a SANDHILL CRANE that was found in Northampton County back in mid-July, was found again this past week, on October 18.

Now, some notes about BIRD MIGRATION now underway:

At Presque Isle, in Erie, Pennsylvania, on the shore of Lake Erie:
On October 17, well over a thousand BONAPARTE'S GULLS passed by, heading west.
and on October 20, there was a large movement of 3,560 LESSER SCAUP, between 7:30 & 7:45am.

From the State Line Lookout in New Jersey, atop the Palisades, about 2,000 BRANT were seen migrating south along the Hudson River, on October 20, between 9am & 3pm. They were in multiple waves.

More than 30 PARASITIC JAEGERS were seen from the Seawatch at Avalon, New Jersey on October 14.

In the area of the Great Lakes, there were PARASITIC JAEGERS recently in Buffalo, New York, with 5 seen at once, and also by Lake Erie, there were 18 JAEGERS at Hamburg, New York, on October 15.
That same day, at Squaw Island, in Buffalo, there was a BLACK-HEADED GULL and 2 LITTLE GULLS among numerous BONAPARTE'S GULLS.

In far upstate New York, on October 13, PINE SISKINS were in Wanakona, feeding on the heavy cone crop in balsam fir and tamarack trees. But not just in Wanakona, they have been elsewhere in northern New York as well.  

Along the Maryland coast, there have been two twosomes of CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS:
On October 14, two were at Assateague Island, with other SPARROWS, mostly WHITE-THROATED and some WHITE-CROWNED.
On October 19, two were by Sunset Park in downtown Ocean City, Maryland.

A threesome of AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS was seen along the Delaware coast on October 14, at Cape Henlopen, flying north.
Across the Delaware Bay from Henlopen is Cape May, New Jersey, and those who have birded there may have known Dick Turner, who recently passed away.
He was a keen birder and photographer who would, as noted in a very impressive obituary this past week in the New York Times, "often leap up, grab his camera and run out the front door of his house in Cape May when he got word of a rare sighting. He spent much of his time at the Cape May Bird Observatory, where he was a volunteer. He was also a director of the New Jersey Audubon Society and the Pineland Preservation Alliance."  
But, as noted in that impressive obituary, he was much more, including being an expert on the Florentine Renaissance, with his landmark 1983 study, "Inventing Leonardo" in which he traced the protean outlines of Leonardo da Vinci through his interpreters over the last 500 years. "There was a 1550 Leonardo", Turner wrote, "an 1800 one, an 1850 one, and so on".
A. Richard Turner wrote extensively about Renaissance Italy, especially Florence. If you're interested, check it out.
I would write now, that when we meet someone in the "birding world", we might think we know him or her, but we really don't. 

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

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

There have a number of recent updates in the FONT website. If you haven't visited lately, you are welcome to do so: www.focusonnature.com

By the way, the answers to the Bird Trivia Questions here last time:

2 bird species that nest in Canada, but not normally the US: the Harris's Sparrow, and the Common Ringed Plover.

The US state said to be with the most dragonfly species in one county: New Jersey, the county Sussex.  

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