April 2018

Vol. 46, No. 2

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for November-December

Neil Hayward


November–December 2012

Up to four Western Grebes sat off Plum Island from the end of November through December. The state hosted two Allen's Hummingbirds, one continuing in Great Barrington and another on Martha's Vineyard. Two Northern Lapwings were found in Plymouth County in mid-November; the two individuals continuing on Nantucket brought the period count to an amazing four birds. A Black-capped Petrel was seen from Andrew's Point on December 21. A Little Egret spent over a month on Cape Cod. The passerine highlight was a Mountain Bluebird at Good Harbor Beach. The winter finch invasion was historic: Plum Island alone hosted 180 White-winged Crossbills, 180 Common and one Hoary Redpoll, and 30 Red Crossbills. Large flocks of Pine and Evening Grosbeaks roamed the state.

Best sighting: Black-browed Albatross, off Martha's Vineyard, December 2. Third state record and first photographed. Seen feeding within 20 feet of a boat, only four miles into Massachusetts waters (from Rhode Island).


November–December 2007

A Western Grebe was at Plum Island November 25–28. Western hummingbirds were abundant: four Rufous Hummingbirds were banded and a Black-chinned Hummingbird on Nantucket was the state's fourth. East Orleans hosted the state's latest American Avocet on December 14. A Gray Jay spent most of November on Mount Watatic. The winter will be remembered by many for the unprecedented invasion of Bohemian Waxwings; the Cape Cod Christmas Bird Count (CBC) tallied a record 983. The winter was also exceptional for Pine Grosbeaks, with flocks of up to 100 reported from 20 locations, and at least 11 Hoary Redpolls.

Best sighting: Slaty-backed Gull, Gloucester, December 23. Two individuals, found on the same day, constituted the first and second state records.


November–December 1997

A Bar-tailed Godwit at Plymouth on December 29–31 remains the only state record for that month. A Roseate Tern at Indian Lake, Worcester, on November 2–3 was the first inland record and the latest for the state, until one (the same bird?) appeared two weeks later on the Vineyard. A Sedge Wren appeared at Eastern Point, Gloucester, on November 28 and stayed long enough to participate in the CBC. Six "Oregon" Juncos were seen throughout the period.

Best sighting: Hermit Warbler, Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, December 21. This is the third confirmed record for Massachusetts. The bird stayed until the following March and was seen by many.


November–December 1977

Waterfowl put up some impressive numbers this winter: six "Whistling" (Tundra) Swans on Martha's Vineyard on December 17; 1,200 Canvasback at Assonet on December 11; 184 Redheads on Nantucket on November 26, and a raft of 8,000 Red-breasted Mergansers at Truro. Ten Fulvous Whistling-Ducks arrived at Plum Island on November 6, with one bird staying until November 25. Ten unidentified (but presumably Great) Skuas were present at Georges Bank throughout November. Up to ten Boreal Chickadees were visiting three locations in November. During the same month, there was a mild invasion of Varied Thrushes with five birds scattered throughout the state. A Black-throated Gray Warbler continued in Salem until November 23, and a Harris's Sparrow, found in Belmont on December 12, stayed two weeks.

Best sighting: MacGillivray's Warbler, Dunback Meadow, November 13–30. This represents the first state record.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Bird Observer logo

Our mission: to support and promote the observation, understanding, and conservation of the wild birds of New England.

Bird Observer supports the right of all people to enjoy birding and nature in a safe and welcoming environment free from discrimination and harassment, be it sexual, racial, or barriers for people with disabilities.
© Copyright 2024 by Bird Observer, Inc.