Saturday, July 9, 2016

Birds so close, birds so far - Nova Scotia edition

Yeah, yeah... there'll be more relevant/travel stuff here eventually. For now though, there's this.

This post is basically a rip-off of my friend Brandon Holden's series from 2011-2013 - see here: and scroll down to the "Rarity Hunting" section. The idea is to look at the states/provinces surrounding oneself and see what's on their lists that is missing from ours. If you were thinking of what to look for if you want to find a first for the province, this may be a good place to start! I'm limiting this to one post, so it's a combined list of all of our neighbours. To be thorough, I've included the northeastern US coastal states, Atlantic Canada other than NS, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and a few records from eastern Quebec. The more sane among you may be asking "Why?" - well it's a long story (but it's basically for a bet). Anyway, here's the list! I've excluded extinct/extirpated species as they're rather unlikely to turn up again... Species names reflect the 2016 taxonomy, order does not.

Whooper Swan - ME, NF, NH, NJ (escapes??)
Common Shelduck - MA, NF, NH, QC
Steller's Eider - MA, ME, QC
Masked Duck - MA
Smew - NY, RI
Wild Turkey - up to ME/NB border region - may invade eventually
Northern Bobwhite - up to northern MA - failed introductions to NS
Yellow-billed Loon - ME, NY, QC
Arctic Loon - VT
Clark's Grebe - ME
Trindade Petrel - ME, NY
Mottled Petrel - NY
White-chinned Petrel - ME
Buller's Shearwater - NJ
Gray Heron - NF
Wood Stork - CT, MA, ME, NB, NH, NJ, NY, QC, RI, VT
Lesser Frigatebird - ME
Neotropic Cormorant - NJ, NY 
Anhinga - CT, MA, NJ, NY, RI
Roseate Spoonbill - NJ, NY
White-tailed Kite - CT, MA, NJ, NY
Azure Gallinule - NY
Eurasian Coot - NF, QC
Eurasian Oystercatcher - NF
Pacific Golden-Plover - MA, ME, NF, NJ, NY, VT
Mountain Plover - MA
Lesser Sand-Plover - NJ, RI
Terek Sandpiper - MA
Gray-tailed Tattler - MA
(Wandering Tattler) - ON/NY border so close enough
Wood Sandpiper - NF, NY, RI
Common Redshank - NF
Red-necked Stint - CT, MA, ME, NJ, NY, QC, SPM
Surfbird - ME
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - CT, MA, NJ, NY, PE, QC
Jack Snipe - NF
Common Snipe - NF
Eurasian Woodcock - NF, NJ
Gray-hooded Gull - NY
Yellow-legged Gull - MA, NF, QC
Glaucous-winged Gull - NF, NH
Brown Noddy - MA, NJ, RI
Large-billed Tern - NJ
White-winged Tern - MA, ME, NB, NF, NJ, NY, QC, VT
Whiskered Tern - NJ
Elegant Tern - MA, NJ
Long-billed Murrelet - MA, NF, NJ, NY, RI
Ancient Murrelet - MA, ME, NB, NY, VT
Tufted Puffin - ME, NB
European Turtle-Dove - MA, NF
Common Cuckoo - MA, QC
Groove-billed Ani - NJ
Lesser Nighthawk - NJ
Black Swift - NJ
Common Swift - MA? (Apus sp.), QC, SPM
Mexican Violetear - ME, NJ, QC
Anna's Hummingbird - NF, NY, QC
Broad-billed Hummingbird - CT, MA, NB, NY
Allen's Hummingbird - MA, NJ
Williamson's Sapsucker - NY
Red-cockaded Woodpecker - NJ
Red-footed Falcon - MA
Eurasian Hobby - MA, NF
Prairie Falcon - VT
Gray Flycatcher - MA
Variegated Flycatcher - ME
Tropical Kingbird - CT, MA, ME, (NB), QC - NB bird last year was reported as COKI/TRKI but looked like a TRKI to me??
Thick-billed Kingbird - NB
Black-capped Vireo - QC
Cassin's Vireo - NJ, NY, VT, QC
Yellow-green Vireo - MA, QC
Steller's Jay - QC, VT
Brown-chested Martin - CT, MA, NJ
Common House-Martin - SPM
Tufted Titmouse - every northeastern state plus NB, QC
Brown-headed Nuthatch - NY
Siberian Stonechat - NB
Eurasian Blackbird - NF, QC
Song Thrush - QC
Sage Thrasher - MA, ME, NB, NJ, NY
Eastern Yellow Wagtail - NY
White Wagtail - NF, QC, SPM
Phainopepla - MA, RI
McCown's Longspur - MA, QC
Lucy's Warbler - MA
Kirtland's Warbler - MA, ME, NY, QC
Grace's Warbler - NY
Painted Redstart - MA, NY
Bachman's Sparrow - NJ, NY
Black-throated Sparrow - MA, ME, NB, NJ
Hepatic Tanager - QC
Hooded Oriole - QC
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch - ME, QC
Eurasian Siskin - ME, SPM
Lesser Goldfinch - ME
Eurasian Tree Sparrow - MA, NJ

So there you have it - 96 species which have occurred somewhat close to NS, but not within our borders. Let's break it down a bit here...

Insanely unlikely (but never say never)

Steller's Eider - old records and a declining species, but with the NW passage opened up who knows?
Masked Duck - what???
Mottled Petrel - old specimen from interior NY (surprisingly the TYPE specimen for this species!!!)
White-chinned Petrel - southern hemisphere species
Buller's Shearwater - pacific species
Lesser Frigatebird - surprisingly 4 inland records for NA of this south pacific seabird
Azure Gallinule - could happen, but not likely... there are also Spotted Rail and Paint-billed Crake records from PA and VA respectively showing that these south/central american rallids do turn up here!
Mountain Plover - I could see this turning up at Grand Pre...but probably really unlikely
Terek Sandpiper
Gray-tailed Tattler
Wandering Tattler
Surfbird - this whole group of Pacific shorebirds are unlikely as individuals but the chance of any one of them turning up probably isn't too bad?
Eurasian Oystercatcher/Jack Snipe/Common Snipe/Eurasian Woodcock - NF probably catches the majority of these, along with Gray Heron
Gray-hooded Gull - the NY bird was probably a ship-assist, so maybe not as unlikely as you'd think in the Halifax area...?
Large-billed Tern - old records from OH/IL/NJ
Whiskered Tern - Delaware Bay/Cape May has the monopoly on this one
European Turtle-Dove
Groove-billed Ani
Lesser Nighthawk
Common Swift
Williamson's Sapsucker
Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Red-footed Falcon
Black-capped Vireo - 3 relatively recent Canadian records now...
Steller's Jay - I have no idea on details of those 2 records
Common House-Martin
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Siberian Stonechat
Eurasian Blackbird
Song Thrush
Eastern Yellow Wagtail - these last 4 plus the House-Martin, Common Cuckoo, Common Swift and Turtle-Dove represent a 'group' of Eurasian passerines/near-passerines of which I'd almost expect at least one to turn up...but individually probably not
Bachman's Sparrow - decline in population

So that leaves us with 61. Of these, here are the ones I think are overdue/actually somewhat likely to turn up in the near future. The others not covered are in between possible and unlikely.

Common Shelduck - like many Eurasian waterfowl, seems to be gaining acceptance as an actual vagrant rather than an escapee - with records in 4 other states/provinces it's just a matter of time? Late fall/winter

Yellow-billed Loon - keep seawatching... most likely in winter/spring

Trindade Petrel - need a good hurricane or some very lucky seawatchers/pelagic-goers

Wood Stork - just about everyone else has one, why not us? most likely Jul-Sep (aka now!)

Neotropic Cormorant - this species is rapidly moving into the midwest, and has started to appear on the Atlantic coast - flyby in April or October

Anhinga - quite a few records up the coast, and I had one fly over my yard in Ontario! May-June

White-tailed Kite - we can get a Zone-tailed Hawk or two, why not this? anytime it's warm out really

Pacific Golden-Plover/Red-necked Stint/Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - how?? overdue! Jul-Sep for all 3

Yellow-legged Gull - with records from QC and MA and annual in NF, just a matter of time - Sep-Nov

White-winged Tern - again, everyone else has them... May-June or August

Long-billed/Ancient Murrelet - Oct-Dec in a harbour somewhere

Hummingbird sp. - we should get one of those 4 eventually with all the feeders in the province - Jul-Nov

Gray Flycatcher - we've had the other 3 western empids in recent years, eventually this'll turn up - Oct-Dec

Tropical Kingbird - well overdue - Sep-Dec

Brown-chested Martin - keep an eye on those swallows... Aug-Nov

Tufted Titmouse - may already be on the list? Amherst in Dec/Jan

Sage Thrasher - Oct-Jan skulking around a backyard or a thicket on Seal Island...

Black-throated Sparrow - that Beaubassin bird probably went into NS with the WTSP...

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch - irruptive into the east in winter just like TOSO, VATH, etc - bound to happen eventually, at a feeder in Feb/Mar

Eurasian Tree Sparrow - this species seems to be irrupting/expanding NW and NE recently - keep an eye on those HOSP flocks around Yarmouth

The next addition to the NS list? Probably not, but one never knows... (pic taken from internet to give this post some colour)

In addition, there are some birds which turn up in Iceland, but haven't made it over here yet - including quite a few waterfowl, raptors, shorebirds, Mediterranean Gull, Caspian Gull, Alpine Swift, Meadow Pipit, Yellow-browed Warbler and all kinds of other Eurasian passerines. Might be worth studying a European field guide or two...