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December 2020

Vol. 48, No. 6

Hot Birds: December 2020


Amy O’Neill found the rarest of this fall’s rarities, an Ancient Murrelet at Race Point on November 9. It was the second recorded from the Point, but only the fourth documented in the state, and the first since 1999. All of these have been one-day wonders, but a few birders were able to admire this one later in the day. Peter Flood took the image above.


While almost every other rare bird in the state this fall has vanished after only one day, some after just a few minutes, Brian Vigorito’s Loggerhead Shrike was an exception. Brian found the shrike in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, on November 6, conveniently just 50 miles east of the location of another bird that many birders were chasing in early November, the Common Cuckoo in Rhode Island. The shrike lingered through November 12, the cuckoo until the 8th, allowing some rarity-seekers to see both rare strays in the same day. Our state hosted two Loggerheads in 2019, but prior to those, only three had been documented here in 20 years. Andy Sanford took the photo above.


Jonathan and Matthew Eckerson found the next western stray on November 9. They were birding at Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary and hit the jackpot with the Spotted Towhee. They brought back the rest of their family and relocated it. Matthew Eckerson took the photo above.


While western Mass was being invaded by northern bird species in early November, the eastern part of the state was being sprinkled with vagrants from the western United States. On November 6, Peter Trull was sea watching from Race Point, and looked up from the water just in time to photograph a Mountain Bluebird (his photo is above). It was a one-minute wonder, not seen by anyone else at that time or afterwards.


An irruption of northern birds flooded the state this fall, especially the western end, which among the huge numbers of Pine Siskins, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Purple Finches, and Evening Grosbeaks had smaller numbers of Pine Grosbeaks, both species of crossbill, and even a couple of Boreal Chickadees. The best (so far) was a Canada Jay that appeared at a birdfeeder in Great Barrington on November 1. While the location was not made public, the homeowners are members of the Hoffman Bird Club, and invited several fellow club members over to see their visitor that day. It was gone by the next day. Rene Wendell took the above photo.


Kevin Barnes and Sasha Auer found a Barnacle Goose at Tri-Town Beach in Whately on October 12. It was accompanied by four other geese which appeared to be hybrids of Barnacle with Cackling. After being seen on and off through October 16, they relocated on the 17th to Paradise Pond on the campus of Smith College in Northampton, noticed there by Katie Doe. They were gone the next day, and found in Connecticut a few days later. Mary McKitrick took the above photo.


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