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February 2020

Vol. 48, No. 1

Hot Birds: February 2020

Two different Townsend’s Solitaires appeared in the state on the same day, November 10! One of them, on Nantucket, apparently hung around for only a day after it was found, though the was long enough for several local Vineyard birders to drop in to see it. The other, at Halibut Point State Park, disappeared at first, then was relocated nearly two weeks later, and has disappeared and reappeared erratically since. It was still being reported up until press time. Photo on the right by Neil Dowling.


Painted Bunting, Chatham, by Tom Auer.


Painted Bunting, Sandwich, by Sean Williams.


Painted Bunting, Brewster, by Sue Finnegan.


Painted Bunting, Carver, by Chris Floyd.

One of the many amazing birding phenomena of the fall and winter of 2019 was an influx of Painted Buntings into the northeast. Massachusetts, in a roughly 2-month period, apparently had seven of them, all on or near Cape Cod, with birds photographed in Brewster, Dartmouth, Provincetown, Harwich, Sandwich, Carver, and Chatham! The event was not restricted to Massachusetts, with at least four more birds on Long Island NY, and several more around Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay. Most of the birds were visiting feeders; the bird in Carver was still being reported up until press time.


At the same time that the two Townsend’s Solitaires and the first of the seven Painted Buntings showed up, so did the first of at least five Western Tanagers! As with the buntings, most of the birds were visiting feeders in private yards, some of which did not allow visitors. Birders did manage to catch up with a couple of them, including one at Gloucester’s Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary. Suzanne Sullivan took the photo on the left.


The rarest bird of the period was sadly also perhaps the least cooperative. Carolyn Longworth (her photo is on the right) discovered a Northern Lapwing along a road through the marshes in Fairhaven just after Thanksgiving, but despite chases by numerous other birders, she was the only one who ever saw it.


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