April 2020

Vol. 48, No. 2

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for November-December

Neil Hayward


November–December 2014

A Ross's Goose was at Turners Falls, December 20–26, and a Tundra Swan spent almost two weeks in the Seekonk and Rehoboth area. Eared Grebes were reported from Mashpee and Quaboag Pond, Brookfield (the first inland record for 35 years). There were six reports of Rufous Hummingbirds on Cape Cod as well as Arlington and Roslindale. A Mew Gull was found on the Nantucket Christmas Bird Count on December 28. Ash-throated Flycatchers were reported from three locations and a Canada Jay (then known as Gray Jay) was at Gate 41, Quabbin, for almost two weeks. John Kirk Townsend had two eponymous species in the state: Townsend's Solitaires at Rockport and Marion, and a Townsend's Warbler at Marblehead Neck. Cape Cod hosted a Yellow-throated Warbler and a LeConte's Sparrow during mid-December.

Best sighting: Smith's Longspur, East Point, Nahant was the second record for the state, after a bird at Salisbury State Park on October 12, 1968.


November–December 2009

Two Tundra Swans were at Bartlett's Farm on Nantucket in December. A Wood Stork was found in Duxbury on November 3. Mew Gulls were reported from Gloucester and Swampscott. A White-winged Dove spent the end of the year at the Bird Store and More in Sturbridge. The Allen's Hummingbird first found on October 23 in Scituate survived until December 29 when the temperature dropped to the single digits. Two MacGillivray's Warblers were found during the period at the Boston Fenway Victory Gardens and at Wright's Pond in Medford. A Townsend's Warbler was in Brewster for three days. Cumberland Farms hosted the continuing LeConte's Sparrow until November 9 during which it overlapped with a Lark Bunting. A Henslow's Sparrow was in South Dartmouth on November 16. A Common Chaffinch showed up in Waltham at the feeder of Jason Forbes, where over a hundred birders managed to see it during December. There are only two previous records of this Eurasian species in the state.

Best sighting: Common Shelduck at Nahant on December 6–7. At the time, this species was not on the American Birding Association (ABA) checklist. In 2017, the ABA Checklist Committee added the species on the basis of two credible reports from Newfoundland in 2014 and 2009. The latter appeared just three weeks before our bird. Since 2009 there have been records in Nova Scotia and New Hampshire. A growing population in Iceland seems to be responsible. The Massachusetts record has yet to be accepted.

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