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February 2021

Vol. 49, No. 1

Second Report of the Rhode Island Avian Records Committee

Shaibal S. Mitra, Chair, Doug Wilson, Secretary, Robert Emerson, Rachel Farrell, Richard Ferren, Paul L’Etoile, Peter Paton, Christopher Raithel, and Scott Tsagarakis


Little Stint, Charlestown Breachway, Washington, July 4, 2012. © Carlos Pedro.

The current report describes the Committee’s evaluation of 224 records from 1998 to 2015, involving 80 species, plus the species pair Rufous/Allen’s Hummingbird. We extend our deepest appreciation to Richard Ferren and Christopher Raithel for their hard work and expertise on behalf of the Committee, and we welcome Paul L’Etoile and Peter Paton.

Highlights of this multi-year compendium include eight additions to the state list: Trumpeter Swan, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Calliope Hummingbird, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, Zone-tailed Hawk, and Swainson’s Warbler. Also notable are two additions to the list of species documented to breed in Rhode Island: Black Vulture and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

The Committee recognizes its indebtedness to the birders of Rhode Island and gratefully acknowledges their contributions of written descriptions, photographs, and other kinds of information concerning unusual birds in the Ocean State. Reports are always welcome, even long after an observation, but reports prepared promptly after an observation tend to be more detailed and more reliable. Guidelines for preparation of reports are presented at our website. A report should express clearly who saw the bird, where and when it was seen, exactly what features were observed and which of these were regarded as diagnostic, whether photographs, audio recordings, or drawings document the observation, and how similar species were ruled out. Although the Committee welcomes reports in any format, Microsoft Word documents and jpeg images are the most convenient and can be sent to Doug Wilson, Secretary of RIARC, at Secretary@RI-AvianRecords.org.

Unlike the first report (Mitra et al. 2010), which was organized by year of occurrence, the current report is organized by species in the following format:

Common name (Scientific name) (a, b, c)
RIARC Record Number (RIARC Committee members vote: Accepted-Not Accepted-Natural Status Uncertain), # of birds reported; location; date(s); reporters (I = initial observer, R = report submitted, P = photograph submitted).

The definitions of the numbers in parentheses following the species names are as follows:

a the number of historical records accepted for the period 1900–2002. This number is derived principally from the Checklist of Rhode Island Birds (RIOC 2002), which represents a synthesis of information from Ferren (in litt.), Conway (1992), and records accepted by a pre-RIARC committee of reviewers for Field Notes of Rhode Island Birds through 2002 (Raithel 2001, 2002). The historical totals are imprecise but presented here to summarize each species’s history of occurrence in Rhode Island. A “++” is used to represent relatively frequent historical occurrence where it is not possible to estimate the total number of records.

b the number of accepted records from 2003 to 2007, including those published in the first report of the RIARC (Mitra et al. 2010), plus additional records from this period published here. None of these records pertains to 1900–2002.

c additional accepted records published in the current report from 2008 to 2015. Records published here but dating from 1900 to 2002, or from 2003 to 2007, are counted under categories “a” or “b,” above. Thus, the sum of these three numbers represents the total number of accepted records from 1900 to 2015.

Reports Accepted


Ross’s Goose, Bristol, Bristol, March 11, 2011. © Dan Finizia.

Ross’s Goose (Chen rossii) (1, 0, 2)

2011-4 (7-0): One; Bristol; March 8–12, 2011; Joe Koger (I,R), Dan Finizia (P), Sue Talbot (P), Bob Weaver (P).

2013-21 (6-0): One; Exeter; November 23 to December 1, 2013; Sue Talbot (I,R), Dan Finizia (I,R,P), Rey Larsen (P), Danielle Crudden (P).

These records reflect this species’s ongoing increase in occurrence in the Northeast. Ross’s Goose was removed from the Review List in New York State in 2005 (Wilson et al. 2005) at a time when Massachusetts had only three accepted records (MARC 2019).

Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis) (5, 1, 1)

2014-2 (6-0): One; Middletown; January 9–19, 2014; Paul Champlin (I), Dan Finizia (P).

Like other Greenland-breeding geese, this species continues to increase in our region. Continued review is justified to assess the potential for escapes from captivity and to clarify the numbers of individuals involved when there are multiple reports from different sites within a given season.

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii) (0, 1, 3)

2008-3 (7-0): Four; Hundred Acre Pond, South Kingstown; February 2, 2008; Paul L’Etoile (I,R), Scott Tsagarakis (R).

2009-1 (7-0): Five; Newport Country Club, Harrison Road, Newport; January 18, 2009; Jeanette and Derek Lovitch (I,R,P).

2012-1 (7-0): One; Gardiner’s Pond, Middletown; January 7, 2012; Jim Sweeney (I,R,P).

Although “Richardson’s” Cackling Goose (B. h. hutchinsii) has been proven to be a regular visitor to the Northeast, distinguishing it from Canada Goose, and especially from other potentially occurring forms of Cackling Goose, is a challenge. Thus, the Committee will continue to collect data on its occurrence.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) (0, 0, 1)

2014-1 (6-0): One; Seekonk River, Providence; May 11–20, 2014; Ben Shamgochian (I,P), Dan Finizia (P), Barbara Sherman (P), Hans Bucht (P).

This bird appeared on the Seekonk River on May 11 and is the first accepted record of Trumpeter Swan in Rhode Island. Nesting populations in New York State have been regarded as established in the wild since 2013 (NYSARC 2013).

“Eurasian” Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca crecca) (++, 1, 4)

2008-12 (7-0): One; Quonochontaug, Charlestown; April 5, 2008; Scott Tsagarakis (I,R), Carlos Pedro (P).

2011-3 (7-0): One; Weekapaug, Westerly; February 15–19, 2011; Jan St. Jean (I), Phil Rusch (R), Glenn Williams (R).

2013-7 (6-0): One; Weekapaug, Westerly; March 23–24, 2013; Dan Finizia (I,R,P), Sue Talbot (I,R).

2013-8 (6-0): One; Braman’s Lane farm pond, Portsmouth; April 7 to May 7, 2013; Tom Auer (I,R,P), Rey Larsen (P).

Rhode Island has many records of this taxon since the first record in 1946, some pertaining to long-lived individuals returning repeatedly to traditional wintering sites.

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) (10, 1, 6)

2003-8 (6-0): One; February 15 to March 9, 2003; India Point, Providence; Mark Lynch (I,R,P).

2008-2 (7-0): One male; East Providence Reservoir, East Providence; January 21, 2008; Rachel Farrell (I,R,P).

2008-15 (7-0): One male; Ten Mile River Greenway, East Providence; December 30, 2008, to January 8, 2009; Ed Slattery (I,R,P).

2009-3 (7-0): One male; Apponaug Cove, Warwick; January 11 to February 2, 2009; Jan St. Jean (I), Mark Lynch (R), Sheila Lynch (P).

2011-2 (7-0): One; Conimicut Point, Warwick; January 15, 2011; Doug Wilson (I,R).

2014-4 (6-0): One; Seekonk River, Pawtucket; January 27 to February 3, 2014; Mark Lynch (I,R,P), Sheila Carroll (I,R), Michelle St. Sauveur (P), Tom Auer (R).

2015-4 (6-0): One; Seekonk River, Providence; February 19–28, 2015; Dan Finizia (I,P), Sue Talbot (I).

Reports have been almost annual in recent years. Some records may involve individual birds returning to favored sites from year to year.

Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) (28, 0, 1)

2013-18 (6-0): One; Bullock Cove, East Providence; September 27, 2013; Harriet Moore (I,R,P).

Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) (8, 0, 2)

2012-3 A,B (7-0): One; A: Beavertail State Park, Jamestown; February 18, 2012; Chris Loscalzo (I,R). B: Narragansett; April 8–15, 2012; Buffalo, New York, Group (I), Shai Mitra (P), Robert Weaver (P).

2013-2 (6-0): One; Sachuest Point, Middletown; January 15, 2013; Geoff Dennis (I,R,P).

The Committee concluded that the reports from Jamestown and Narragansett in 2012 were consistent with a single individual that moved between these nearby sites.

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) (0, 0, 1)

2012-5 (7-0): One; Matunuck Schoolhouse Road, Charlestown; April 14, 2012; Nancy Harvey (I,R), Jim Harvey (P).

At about 8:00 am Nancy Harvey noticed a large, chunky dove feeding on the ground with several Mourning Doves in the backyard of her home. Between 8:00 am and noon the bird was observed on the ground, in flight, and perched in a tree. Jim Harvey’s photos, along with a written description that ruled out similar-looking domesticated turtle doves, established this first record of Eurasian Collared-Dove for Rhode Island.

White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) (1, 1, 0)

2004-2 (6-0): One; Block Island; June 18, 2004; Michael Wagner (I,R,P).

This White-winged Dove photographed by Michael Wagner was just the second documented record for the state.

Chuck-will’s-widow (Antrostomus carolinensis) (++, 0, 2)

2010-4 (6-0): One; Little Compton; May 11, 2010; Kirsten Fletcher (R,P).

2012-23 (6-1): Two; Ministerial Road, South Kingstown; May 12–29, 2012; Hope Leeson (I,R), Geoff LeBaron (R), Chris Raithel (R).

The 2010 bird was found injured at the base of a chain-link fence on Old Stone Church Road in Little Compton. It was brought to Kirsten Fletcher for rehabilitation, and Kirsten photographed the bird. In 2012, Hope Leeson reported a Chuck-will’s-widow calling nightly along Ministerial Road in South Kingstown. Based on birders’ subsequent reports, the Committee accepted two individuals, although one member accepted only one.

Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) (1, 2, 3)

2005-5 (7-0): One; West Warwick; November 20, 2005, to April 20, 2006; Carole Simas (I), Geoff Dennis (P).

2006-4 (6-1): One; Snug Harbor, South Kingstown; October 27, 2006, to January 26, 2007; Wayne Davis (I,R,P), Geoff Dennis (R,P), Chris Raithel (P).

2009-16 (5-1): One; Wakefield; October 17, 2009; Geoff Dennis (P).

2011-23 (6-1): One; Hopkinton; late October to December 30, 2011; Denise Gautreu (I), Dan Finizia (P), Sue Talbot (P), Rufus Abdullah (P), Alan Straus (P), Grace DaSilva (P), Robert Weaver (P).

2012-20 (7-0): One; Jamestown; November 14, 2012 (banded); Tom Mackie (I), Anthony Hill (R,P).

See discussion below, under Rufous/Allen’s Hummingbird.

Rufous/Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus/sasin) (0, 5, 6)

2003-11 (6-0): One; Little Compton; November 1, 2003; Geoff Dennis (I,R,P).

2004-3 (6-0): One immature male; Little Compton; October 15, 2004; Geoff Dennis (I,R,P).

2004-4 (6-0): One immature female; Little Compton; November 10, 2004; Geoff Dennis (I,R,P).

2005-4 (6-0): One; Warwick Neck, Warwick; November 1, 2005, to January 17, 2006; Henry Coupe, (I), Geoff Dennis (P).

2005-6 (6-0): One; Wakefield; November 4, 2005; Barbara Chaves (I), Geoff Dennis (P).

2012-21 (7-0): One; Kingston; October 25 to November 9, 2012; Linda Gardrel (I,R), Carlos Pedro (P).

2012-24 (7-0): One; Jamestown; November 27, 2012, to January 15, 2013; Homeowner (I), Paul L’Etoile (R,P).

2012-25 (7-0): One; Newport; November 28, 2012, to March 14, 2013; Charles Carlson (I,R,P).

2012-26 (7-0): Two; Little Compton; October 10–16, 2012; Geoff Dennis (I,R,P).

2015-21 (6-0): One; Little Compton; October 18, 2015; Geoff Dennis (I,R,P).

2015-22 (6-0): One; Little Compton; October 19, 2015; Geoff Dennis (I,R,P).

Given Rhode Island’s small size and the fact that its first Rufous Hummingbird record was documented as recently as 1995, an astonishing number of Selasphorus hummingbirds were reported here from 2003 to 2015. Most of these records came through the efforts of Geoff Dennis. The Committee has taken a conservative approach by accepting reports of these birds as Rufous/Allen’s, with a subcommittee charged with researching criteria that might allow determination of species.

Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope) (0, 0, 1)

2013-23 (7-0): One; Little Compton; October 21, 2013; Geoff Dennis (R,P).

First state record.

Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis) (14, 2, 0)

2006-9 (6-0): One; Succotash Marsh, South Kingstown; October 7, 2006; Phil Rusch (I,R), Glenn Williams (I), Scott Tsagarakis (I), Doug Wilson (R).

A majority of Rhode Island records of this difficult-to-detect species were shot by hunters and collectors, but this record was the product of a purposeful search.

Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis) (3, 0, 1)

2015-7 (6-0): One; Weekapaug, Westerly; May 29 to June 10, 2015; Glenn Williams (I), Phil Rusch (I), Tom Auer (I, Audio).

Three birders detected a Black Rail calling from a marsh at the east end of Maschaug Pond in Westerly on the evening of May 29. Tom Auer’s recording is on the website: xeno-canto.org, under the number XC247260, supporting this first documented record of a Black Rail in Rhode Island since 1988.

Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) (9, 0, 0)

1998-2 (6-0): One; Little Compton; June 11,1998; Stephen Merriman (I), Geoff Dennis (P).

Unlike many species whose rates of occurrence in Rhode Island have changed markedly over time, Purple Gallinule has been rare throughout the historical record. Pioneering Rhode Island field ornithologist Newton Dexter collected the first two specimens in 1857 and 1875, and added a third in 1889, among a total of seven pre-1900 specimens (Howe and Sturtevant 1899). This record from 1998 joins two from 1991 and another from 1993, marking the 1990s as an unusually productive decade for this species.

Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) (14, 2, 7)

2005-8 (6-0): One; Schartner Farms, Exeter; February 1, 2005; Doug Wilson (P).

2009-14 (7-0): One; Route 77, Little Compton; December 19, 2009; Carlos Pedro (I,R,P).

2010-2 (7-0): Two; Block Island; April 2, 2010; Kim Gaffett (I,R,P).

2012-4 (7-0): Two; Tiverton; March 26, 2012; Geoff Dennis (I,R,P).

2013-4 (6-0): One; Seapowet, Tiverton; January 27 to February 28, 2013; Marjorie Bradley (I,R), Jim Spears (P), Robert Weaver (P).

2013-15 (6-0): One to Two; Cottrell Farm, West Kingston; June 17, 2013, to March 5, 2014; Susan Boyce (P), Dan Finizia (P).

2014-20 (6-0): One; Great Swamp Management Area, South Kingstown; September 26, 2014; Shai Mitra (I,P).

2015-16 (6-0): One; Seapowet, Tiverton; October 10, 2015, to March 17, 2016; Multiple Observers.

As Sandhill Cranes continue to expand their breeding range into the Northeast, the species has been occurring annually in Rhode Island. This trend will probably continue, but records remain few enough to warrant review.

Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) (8, 1, 1)

2003-6 (6-0): One; Charlestown Breachway, Charlestown; May 22, 2003; Jan St. Jean (I), Curtis Marantz (R).

2008-9 (7-0): One; Jamestown; June 9–10, 2008; Chris Powell (I,R,P), Wayne Munns (P).

The dates and coastal locations of these rare occurrences in Rhode Island are consistent with the species’s pattern of occurrence in nearby states.

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) (2, 0, 1)

2013-5 (6-0): Two; Treaty Rock Farm, Little Compton; February 1–7, 2013; John Park (I,R,P), Robert Weaver (P).

John Park found the two Northern Lapwings on a private farm. A major incursion of this species to northeastern North America occurred in late fall 2012 following Hurricane Sandy.

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) (++, 3, 2)

2003-14 (6-0): One; Napatree Point, Westerly; May 4, 2003; Blair Nikula (R,P).

2006-5 (7-0): One; Great Swamp, South Kingstown; April 12, 2006; Dan Finizia (I,P), Sue Talbot (I).

2011-11 (7-0): One; Quicksand Pond, Little Compton; August 16, 2011; Bob Emerson (I,R).

2012-10 (7-0): One; Rhode Island Country Club, Barrington; October 23–27, 2012; Ben Shamgochian (I,R,P), Robert Weaver (P), Rufus Abdullah (P), Jan St. Jean (P).

Less than annual in Rhode Island and deserving of review, this species has occurred regularly in the state since Newton Dexter collected the first at Sakonnet Point on July 3, 1900 (R. L. Ferren, in litt.).

Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) (8, 1, 1)

2004-5 (6-0): One; Charlestown Breachway, Charlestown; July 15, 2004; Jan St. Jean (I), Pete Capobianco (P).

2011-6 (7-0): One; Charlestown Breachway, Charlestown; May 21–22, 2011; Paul L’Etoile (I,R,P), Barbara Sherman (P).

Curlew Sandpipers have long histories of occurrence on Long Island, New York, and in Massachusetts, but all eight Rhode Island records prior to these two occurred in the relatively short period 1973–1992.

Little Stint (Calidris minuta) (0, 0, 1)

2012-7 (7-0): One; Charlestown Breachway, Charlestown; July 4, 2012; Carlos Pedro (I,R,P).

On July 4, Carlos Pedro noticed this small, bright-reddish sandpiper in a group of shorebirds on the mudflats at Charlestown Breachway. Carlos suspected Little Stint because he was familiar with this species, though not in this bright breeding plumage. His photographs documented this first record of Little Stint for Rhode Island.

Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) (++, 0, 4)

2009-11 (6-1): One; Sachuest Marsh, Middletown; December 1–8, 2009; Rey Larsen (I,R,P).

2011-19 (7-0): One; Quicksand Pond, Little Compton; September 13, 2011; Barbara Gearhart (I,R), Dan Finizia (I), Sue Talbot (I), Rey Larsen (P).

2015-13 (6-0): One, Scarborough, Narragansett; October 3, 2015; Carlos Pedro (I,R,P), Dylan Pedro (I,R,P), Barbara Sherman (I), Linda Gardrel (I).

2015-14 (6-0): Two; Trustom Pond, South Kingstown; October 6, 2015; Rey Larsen (I,R,P).

Although Long-billed Dowitcher occurs regularly in the Northeast, it is difficult to distinguish from Short-billed Dowitcher and prefers habitats that are scarce in Rhode Island. The small number of documented records justifies retention on the Review List.

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) (0, 0, 1)

2012-9 (7-0): One; Marsh Meadows, Jamestown; October 13–30, 2012; Carlos Pedro (I, R, P), Dan Finizia (P), Hank Golet (P), Rey Larsen (P), Keith Mueller (P), Robert Weaver (P).

Carlos Pedro detected an unusual shorebird behind a tuft of grass at Marsh Meadows in Jamestown. He called other birders over and they eventually determined it was a Wood Sandpiper, the first state record and one of few documented in eastern North America. It remained for two and a half weeks, and many birders from around the country observed it. The bird was last reported on October 30, the day after Hurricane Sandy struck Rhode Island.

South Polar Skua (Stercorarius maccormicki) (++, 1, 3)

2009-7 (7-0): One; Mud Hole; August 4, 2009; Scott Tsagarakis (I), Doug Wilson (I), Carlos Pedro (P).

2013-14 (6-0): One; Cox’s Ledge; May 27, 2013; Carlos Pedro (R,P).

2013-25 (7-0): One; Cox’s Ledge; August 4, 2013; Paul L’Etoile (P).

These photo-documented records are welcome contributions to our knowledge of large skuas in the western North Atlantic. In Rhode Island waters, South Polar Skua occurs rarely but regularly in late spring and summer, whereas there are very few proven records of Great Skua.

Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus) (++, 0, 2)

2010-9 (7-0): One; Block Canyon; September 10, 2010; Nick Bonomo (R), Scott Tsagarakis (R), Tom Auer (R), Carlos Pedro (P), Paul L’Etoile (P).

2013-27 (7-0): One; 50 miles south of Point Judith, Narragansett; September 3, 2013; Paul L’Etoile (P).

It is a testament to the difficulties posed by jaegers and skuas that Howe and Sturtevant (1899) knew the family in Rhode Island from just two specimens of Pomarine Jaeger and a statement from Newton Dexter that Pomarine Jaegers were “rather common offshore in the summer.” These two records of Long-tailed Jaeger are valuable in documenting the species’s status in the state.

Thick-billed Murre (Uria lomvia) (++, 1, 5)

2005-9 (6-0): One; Weekapaug, Westerly; January 30 to February 27, 2005; Brian Sweisford (I,R).

2014-17 (6-0): One; pelagic, Cox’s Ledge; December 14, 2014; Keith Mueller (I,R,P).

2014-18 (6-0): One; pelagic, Cox’s Ledge; December 31, 2014; Keith Mueller (I,R,P).

2015-1 (6-0): One; pelagic, Cox’s Ledge; January 14, 2015; Keith Mueller (I,R,P).

2015-2 (6-0): One; Cliff Walk, Newport; February 4–5, 2015; Matt Grimes (I), Robert Weaver (P), Rey Larsen (P), Jack Kelly (P).

2015-23 (6-0): One; pelagic, 20 miles southeast of Block Island; December 30, 2015; Keith Mueller (I,R,P).

Whereas Common Murre is a regular winter visitor to Rhode Island’s offshore waters, very few Thick-billed Murres have been documented in that context; therefore, these reports from Keith Mueller are significant. Records from Weekapaug in 2005 and Newport in 2015 are more consistent with the species’s status as an irruptive visitor to our rocky shores.

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) (10, 1, 4)

2003-2 (6-0): One; Block Island; March 22, 2003; Alex Von Arx (I,R,P).

2009-2 (7-0): One; six miles south of Block Island; March 28, 2009; Jan St. Jean (I), Phil Rusch (R).

2013-3 (6-0): Two; seven miles southeast of Block Island, Cox’s Ledge; January 21, 2013; Paul L’Etoile (I,R,P).

2013-13 (6-0): One; Second Beach, Middletown; January 31, 2013; Chris Raithel (R,P).

2015-19 (6-0): One; 20 miles southeast of Block Island; December 30, 2015; Carlos Pedro (I,P), Keith Mueller (P).

The Middletown bird of 2013 was found alive but weakened on Second Beach. It was brought to a rehabilitation facility, but subsequently died. The skin was prepared and submitted to the American Museum of Natural History.

Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea) (1, 1, 1)

2010-1 A,B (7-0): One; A: Quicksand Pond, Little Compton; January 23, 2010; Geoff Dennis (I,R,P). B: Easton’s Pond, Newport; January 26–27, 2010; Matt Grimes (I), Robert Weaver (P), Rey Larsen (P).

Geoff Dennis found this adult Ivory Gull at Quicksand Pond in Little Compton late in the afternoon near sunset. The gull spent much of its time on the Massachusetts side of the pond but moved to the Rhode Island side. What was probably the same bird was found on Easton’s Pond three days later by Matt Grimes.

Sabine’s Gull (Xema sabini) (12, 1, 1)

2005-7 (6-0): One; 25 miles south of Block Island; September 11, 2005; Paul L’Etoile (P).

2012-8 (7-0): One; Napatree Point, Westerly; September 6, 2012; Dan Finizia (I,R,P), Sue Talbot (I,R,P).

Dan Finizia and Sue Talbot found a juvenile Sabine’s Gull at Napatree Point in Westerly resting with a group of terns on the northwestern corner of the spit. It remained for only about two minutes starting at 10:55 am and then it flew away toward the ocean. This species is very rarely detected from land on the East Coast.

Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus) (++, 1, 3)

2011-5 (7-0): One; Sakonnet Point, Little Compton; May 16, 2011; Bob Emerson (I,R).

2011-20 (7-0): One; Easton’s Beach, Newport; September 29, 2011; Jack Kelly (I,R,P).

2011-27 (6-1): One; Cox’s Ledge; March 19, 2011; Thomas Dorazio (I,R,P).

Bob Emerson was scoping fishing traps off the Sakonnet Point parking lot when he picked this bird out of a group of eight or so Common Terns feeding 100 to 200 yards offshore. Jack Kelly observed this unusual small gull on Easton’s Beach in Newport. He photographed the bird and Rey Larsen identified the bird as a Little Gull from the photographic prints.

Franklin’s Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan) (5, 1, 3)

2005-10 (6-0): One; Succotash Marsh, South Kingstown; November 3, 2005; Jan St. Jean (I,R).

2009-5 (6-1): One; North End, Block Island; July 8, 2009; Tom Magarian (I,R).

2015-17-1 (6-0): Four; Block Island; November 13, 2015; Shai Mitra (I,R,P), Pat Lindsay (I,R).

2015-17-2 (6-0): One; Quonochontaug, Charlestown; November 14, 2015; Dan Finizia (I,R,P), Sue Talbot (I,R), Carlos Pedro (P), Robert Weaver (P).

A major incursion of Franklin’s Gulls reached the Northeast November 13–14, 2015 (Reed 2017).

Bridled Tern (Onychoprion anaethetus) (5, 0, 3)

2011-14 (7-0): Two (one adult, one juvenile); Briggs Beach, Little Compton; August 28, 2011; Bob Emerson (I,R,P), Geoff Dennis (P).

2011-15 (7-0): Two; Narragansett; August 28, 2011; Drew Wheelan (I,R,P).

2015-10 (6-0): Five; pelagic, Block Canyon; September 3, 2015; Carlos Pedro (P), Paul L’Etoile (P).

Hurricane Irene displaced many Onychoprion terns, including two Bridled Terns found by Bob Emerson at Briggs Beach and two found by Drew Wheelan near the entrance to Point Judith Pond, all on the day of the storm. Offshore, five Bridled Terns were found perched on pieces of driftwood near Block Canyon on September 3, 2015.

Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) (23, 1, 5)

2006-6 (7-0): One; Green Island, Warwick; August 2, 2006; Doug Wilson (I,R).

2008-8 (7-0): One; Sachuest Point to Third Beach, Middletown; July 5–6, 2008; Rey Larsen (I,R,P).

2011-16-1 (7-0): Two; Narragansett; August 28, 2011; Richard Ferren (I,R,P).

2011-16-2 (7-0): One; Succotash Marsh, South Kingstown; August 29, 2011; Robert Weaver (I,R,P).

2011-16-3 (7-0): Three; Charlestown Breachway, Charlestown; August 29, 2011; Carlos Pedro (I,R,P).

2013-12 (6-0): One; Third Beach, Middletown; May 23, 2013; Rey Larsen (I,R,P).

Three of these records occurred during Hurricane Irene, August 28–29, 2011, which displaced many Sandwich Terns to neighboring Long Island (Mitra 2011), but oddly none to Massachusetts (MARC 2019). Most remarkable was one found by Doug Wilson in a large group of terns roosting on Green Island in Warwick, far from the ocean coast.


Red-billed Tropicbird, off Little Compton, Newport, May 30, 2008. © Richard L. Ferren.

Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus) (2, 0, 1)

2008-7 (7-0): One; off of Little Compton; May 30, 2008; Richard Ferren (I,R,P), Chris Raithel (I,R).

During their annual Narragansett Bay Colonial Seabird Survey, Richard Ferren and Chris Raithel found this bird flying about one-half mile east of East Island, off Sakonnet Point. It then flew east toward Goosewing Beach and Westport, Massachusetts. It was different from the one at Matinicus Rock in Maine four days later, which had a tail over twice as long as the Rhode Island bird. Two previous records in Rhode Island were from downtown Providence in 1973 and at Green Hill Beach, South Kingstown, in 1975, both of which are now preserved as specimens, leaving this bird as the only one that got away.

Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) (++, 1, 11)

2008-5 (7-0): One; Great Salt Pond, Block Island; November 7, 2008; Patricia Lindsay (I), Shai Mitra (R,P).

2009-8 (7-0): Four; southwest corner of Block Island; April 30 to May 6, 2009; Tom Magarian (I), Dan Finizia (P).

2009-15 (7-0): Four; western shore of Block Island (West Beach Road, Dorrie’s Cove, Grace’s Cove); November 12–14, 2009; Robert Emerson (I,R), Patricia Lindsay (I), Shai Mitra (I,R).

2010-15 (7-0): Four; Block Island; November 12–13, 2010; Shai Mitra (I,R,P), Patricia Lindsay (I).

2011-29 (7-0): One; Block Island; November 9, 12, 2011; Shai Mitra (I,R,P), Patricia Lindsay (I).

2012-29 (7-0): One; Block Island; November 11, 2012; Shai Mitra (I,R,P), Patricia Lindsay (I).

2012-30 (7-0): Two; Block Island; December 20, 2012; Shai Mitra (I,R).

2013-6 (6-0): One; Newport; February 15 to March 6, 2013; John Magill (I,R), Dan Finizia (P), Rey Larsen (P), Paul Champlin (P).

2013-22 (6-0): One; Point Judith, Narragansett; December 21, 2013; Phil Rusch (I,R), Glenn Williams (I,R).

2013-31 (7-0): One; Block Island; November 9, 2013; Shai Mitra (I,R), Patricia Lindsay (I).

2014-21 (7-0): One; Block Island; November 20, 2014; Shai Mitra (I,R,P), Patricia Lindsay (I).

The regular occurrence of Pacific Loons in Rhode Island generally, and off Block Island in particular, concurs with or exceeds the patterns noted for this species off Long Island, New York, and Massachusetts, where one to two records per year have been documented recently.

White-faced Storm-Petrel (Pelagodroma marina) (4, 0, 1)

2013-29 (7-0): Four; Block Canyon; August 18, 2013; Angus Wilson (R,P).

Photos of all four individuals were provided, offering excellent documentation. These observations were made in waters at depths of 800–1,200 feet and temperatures of 70.1–71.9 degrees F.

Leach’s Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) (++, 0, 2)

2011-28 (7-0): Nine; south of Rhode Island; July 16, 2011; Steven Whitebread (R,P).

2013-30 (7-0): 12; near Block Canyon; August 18, 2013; Angus Wilson (R,P).

Dedicated trips placing observers near the continental shelf break near sunrise have proven this species to be regular in summer off of Long Island, New York, and Massachusetts.

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma castro) (0, 0, 2)

2010-7 (7-0): One; pelagic, Block Canyon; September 10, 2010; Nick Bonomo (I,R), Paul L’Etoile (P), Frank Mantlik (P).

2015-9 (6-0): Two; pelagic, Block Canyon; September 3, 2015; Carlos Pedro (P), Paul L’Etoile (P).

The 2010 observation constitutes the first state record. Found by observers on a pelagic trip out to the continental shelf, it was first seen by Nick Bonomo as it sat on the water in the vicinity of Block Canyon. As the boat slowly approached, this Band-rumped Storm-Petrel took flight and flew directly away from the observers. Nick studied it in detail, while Paul L’Etoile and Frank Mantlik took photos. Nick’s written description of the bird and its flight pattern complemented the still photos taken by Paul and Frank to produce thorough documentation for this report.

Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) (2, 0, 2)

2010-8 (7-0): One; Block Canyon; September 10, 2010; Scott Tsagarakis (I,R), Blair Nikula (I), Nick Bonomo (R), Tom Auer (R), Carlos Pedro (P).

2015-11 (6-0): One; Block Canyon; September 3, 2015; Paul L’Etoile (P).

These records are consistent with recent data from neighboring states, where dedicated trips to deep water near the continental shelf break in late summer have yielded many records of this species from New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts in recent years.

Audubon’s Shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri) (++, 0, 4)

2009-9 (7-0): 26; south of Block Island; August 19, 2009; Doug Wilson (R), Paul L’Etoile (P).

2011-12 (7-0): One; 70 miles south of Block Island; August 20, 2011; Doug Wilson (I,R,P).

2013-26 (7-0): 10; pelagic, 70 miles south of Block Island; September 3, 2013; Paul L’Etoile (P).

2015-12 (6-0): 47; pelagic, Block Canyon; September 3, 2015; Carlos Pedro (R), Paul L’Etoile (R,P), Wayne Munns (R).

The large numbers of Audubon’s Shearwaters involved in three of these records indicate regular occurrence far offshore, but the overall infrequency of records, as well as the possibility of confusion with other small black and white shearwaters, justifies reviewing all reports of this species.

Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) (10, 0, 2)

2011-9 (7-0): One; Old Harbor, Block Island; June 9, 2011; Doug Wilson (I,R,P), Laura Taylor (P), Brent Robitaille (P).

2012-11 (7-0): One immature; Little Compton; October 30–31, 2012; Geoff Dennis (I,R,P).

A few minutes before departure of the 3:00 pm ferry from Block Island, Doug Wilson spotted a Magnificent Frigatebird approaching the boat. He and his high school group were able to obtain photographs and video.

On the morning of October 30, 2012, following the passage of Hurricane Sandy, Geoff Dennis photographed a Magnificent Frigatebird at South Shore Beach in Little Compton. Observations from Dartmouth, Massachusetts, later that day and nearby on October 31 likely pertained to the same bird.

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) (3, 0, 1)

2001-1 (7-0): One; Cox’s Ledge; May 5, 2001; Keith Mueller (I,R,P).

2012-19 (7-0): One; three miles south of Sakonnet Point, Little Compton; July 27, 2012; Michael Schrimpf (I,R,P).

Aboard the Gail Francis cod-fishing boat, Keith Mueller was able to slowly approach and closely photograph a juvenile Brown Booby at Cox’s Ledge. In addition to the photos, Keith submitted a detailed written report.

At 2:40 pm on July 26, 2012, a subadult Brown Booby landed on the bow of the sailing school vessel Corwith Cramer, on an educational research cruise a couple of hundred miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Michael Schrimpf kept detailed notes as the boat traveled north, and by 11:30 am on July 27, their position was in Rhode Island waters, about three miles south of Sakonnet Point. The bird was last seen as it flew off at 7:40 am on July 28, as the ship sailed into Vineyard Sound.

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) (8, 1, 7)

2004-1 A,B (7-0): One; A: Prudence Island; December 13–19, 2004; Matt Rehor (I,R,P). B: Winnapaug Pond, Westerly; December 29, 2004, to January 20, 2005; Jeff Gardner (I), Hank Golet (P).

2008-16 (7-0): One; Palmer River, Barrington; September 18, 2008; Butch Lombardi (I,R,P).

2010-5 (7-0): One; Pawcatuck River, Westerly; June 16, 2010; Kate Pisano (I,P), David Prescott (R).

2010-6 (7-0): One; Trustom Pond, South Kingstown; July 24, 2010; Bob Dewire (I,R,P); Alan Brush, Cam Bertsche, Ruth Waller, and Sylvia Fournier (I).

2011-1 (7-0): One; Prudence Island, and Fort Getty and Beavertail State Park, Jamestown; January 4–5, 2011; Pam Long (I,R), Carol Trocki (I), Heather Hopkins (I), Michelle St. Sauveur (P).

2012-17 (7-0): One; Trustom Pond, South Kingstown; November 20–23, 2012; Jim Murphy (I,R), Dan Finizia (P), Tom Tetzner (P), Shai Mitra (P).

2014-3 (6-0): Three; Trustom Pond, South Kingstown; January 19, 2014; Hans Bucht (I,R,P).

2015-24 (6-0): Two; Providence; December 10, 2015; Peter Green (I,R,P).

Seven American White Pelicans from 2008 to 2015 nearly equaled the nine recorded previously, illustrating the species’s marked increase in the Northeast in recent years.

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) (14, 0, 7)

2011-17 (7-0): One; Galilee, Narragansett; August 30, 2011; Rey Larsen (I,R,P).

2012-12a-e (7-0): Five; Rhode Island coast; October 31 to November 18, 2012; Mike Tucker (I,R), Drew Wheelan (I,R), Wayne Davis (I,P), Jim Sweeney (P), Bruce Kindseth (I,R).

2014-10 (6-0): One; North End, Block Island; June 20, 2014; Christian Amaral (I,R,P).

The 2011 and 2012 records followed tropical cyclones, whereas the 2014 record was likely a bird that moved northward from Long Island, New York, where 10 individuals were recorded that summer (Lindsay and Mitra 2014).

White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) (6, 1, 3)

2011-10 (7-0): One; Weekapaug, Westerly; August 2–10, 2011; Mike Tucker (R), Bob Weaver (P), Mike Resch (P), Keith Mueller (P).

2012-15 (7-0): One; Narrow River, Narragansett; November 9–12, 2012; Neil Anthes (I,R), John McNamara (P), Carlos Pedro (P), Greg Sargeant (P).

2014-11 (6-0): One; Block Island; August 25 to September 30, 2014; Nigel and Cathy Grindley (I,R,P), Don Heitzmann (P).

White Ibises have occurred more frequently in Rhode Island in recent years, a trend also noted in New York State, where at least 12 records have been accepted since 2008 (NYSARC 2020).

White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi) (2, 1, 5)

2005-2 (7-0): One; Weeden Lane, Jamestown; May 2–3, 2005; John Magill (I,R).

2009-4 (7-0): One; Fort Getty Road, Jamestown; May 3–5, 2009; Dan Finizia (I,R,P), Sue Talbot (I,R,P).

2012-6 (7-0): One; Great Swamp Management Area, South Kingstown; April 22–26, 2012; Leslie Bostrom (I,R), Tom Auer (P).

2013-16 (6-0): One; Beavertail Road at Fort Getty, Jamestown; May 1, 2013; Carlos Pedro (I,R,P).

2014-7 (6-0): Two; Middletown; April 26 to May 3, 2014; Wayne Munns (R), Carlos Pedro (R,P), Robert Weaver (P).

2015-5 (6-0): One; Middletown; April 18–27, 2015; Christine Sidler (I), Carlos Pedro (P), Robert Weaver (P).

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) (breeding)

2014-9 (6-0): Two+; Exeter; May 25, 2014; Chris Raithel (I,R,P).

Evidence for this first recorded nesting of Black Vultures in Rhode Island, included mewing noises from the nest and an adult hissing in defense.

Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) (6, 0, 4)

2010-3 (7-0): One; Succotash Marsh, South Kingstown; April 7, 2010; Robert Weaver (I,R,P).

2012-22 (7-0): One; West Kingston and Hopkinton; April 25–29, 2012; Iris Dewhurst (I,R), Lori Bouchard (I,R,P).

2013-11 (6-0): One; Swan Point, Providence; May 15, 2013; Sue Talbot (I,R), Dan Finizia (P).

2015-6 (6-0): Two; Hope Valley, Hopkinton; April 22–24, 2015; Lynn Thompson (I), Chris Raithel (R), Dylan Pedro (P), Don Heitzmann (P).

The observations in April 2012 were from widely spaced sites, but timing was deemed consistent with a single individual.

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) (++, 1, 3)

2005-11 (6-0): One; Misquamicut, Westerly; December 3, 2005; Dan Finizia (I,R,P).

2011-26 (6-0): One; Wakefield, South Kingstown; October 7, 2011; Paul L’Etoile (P).

2014-13 (6-0): One; Narragansett; October 25, 2014; Dylan Pedro (I), Carlos Pedro (R,P), Paul L’Etoile (P).

2015-20 (6-0): One; Trustom Pond NWR, South Kingstown; November 8, 2015; Lori Kurlowicz (R,P).

With four records 2003–2015, Golden Eagle remains rare in Rhode Island, justifying review.

Mississippi Kite (Ictinia mississippiensis) (6, 1, 4)

2003-13 (6-0): One; Swan Point Cemetery, Providence; May 14, 2003; Sue Talbot (P).

2010-13 (7-0): Two; Kent County; 2009 and 2010; Homeowner (R,P).

2011-8 (7-0): Two; Charlestown; May 31, 2011; Dan Finizia (I,R,P), Sue Talbot (I,R).

2011-13 (7-0): One; Potowomut, Warwick; August 24, 2011; Bryan and Sarah Glemboski (I,R,P).

2013-28 (6-1): One; Block Island; June 14, 2013; Brendon Murtha (I,R).

The increase in records since 2010 is notable in view of occurrences of pairs of birds and second-hand reports of breeding in Kent County in 2010.

Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus) (0, 0, 1)

2015-8 (6-0): One; Switch Road, Richmond; August 15, 2015; Wayne Munns (I,R), Barbara Sherman (I), Carlos Pedro (I,P).

Three birders scanning the turf fields for shorebirds saw what at first appeared to be four Turkey Vultures. They noticed one that looked different and realized that it was a Zone-tailed Hawk. Photos documented this first state record for Rhode Island.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) (breeding)

2008-10 (7-0): Three, adult feeding young; Johnston; April, June 2008; Jim Murphy (I,R).

In April, Jim Murphy observed a male and female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker chasing each other in his yard. This noisy behavior lasted a few days. In June, Jim once again heard chattering in the woods, only this time it was a fledgling sapsucker. He observed the young bird being fed by its mother. According to one Committee member this nesting is a long-overdue occurrence. The species has been documented breeding in central Massachusetts, and west of the Berkshire Mountains it is a common breeding species.


Ash-throated Flycatcher, Middletown, Newport, December 12, 2011. © Robert Weaver.

Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens) (6, 0, 2)

2011-22 (7-0): One; Middletown; December 4–12, 2011; Paul Champlin (I,R,P), Rey Larsen (P), Robert Weaver (P).

2014-14 (6-0): One; Sachuest Point, Middletown; November 5–13, 2014; Matt Schenck (I), Mark Pagliarini (I,P), Robert Weaver (P), Carlos Pedro (P).

Paul Champlin found the 2011 bird near Tank Farm 5 in the Newport Naval Complex. It was subsequently relocated at the Saint Columba Cemetery adjacent to the complex. The bird at Sachuest Point in November 2014 stayed for more than a week and was photographed by many observers mostly east of the Park Headquarters.

Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) (++, 1, 5)

2009-10 (7-0): One; North End, Block Island; September 25 to October 4, 2009; Scott Tsagarakis (I), Doug Wilson (R,P).

2010-10 (7-0): One; Weekapaug, Westerly; November 3, 2010; Dan Finizia (I,P), Sue Talbot (I).

2011-21 (7-0): One; Beavertail State Park, Jamestown; November 8, 2011; Jason Colby (I,R,P).

2012-14 (7-0): One; Pardon Gray Preserve, Tiverton; November 1–4, 2012; Jan St. Jean (I,R,P).

2014-19 (6-0): One; Napatree Point, Westerly; June 21, 2014; Tom Auer (I,R,P).

Review of Western Kingbird reports in Rhode Island is warranted, given the small number of records, fewer than several decades ago, and the proven occurrence of Cassin’s, Tropical, and Couch’s kingbirds in adjacent states.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus) (5, 1, 0)

2003-5 (6-0): One; Richmond; June 18–20, 2003; Sarah Carr (R).

Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana) (3, 1, 0)

2003-10 (6-0): One; Heaton Orchard Road, Richmond; September 7, 2003; Dan Finizia (R), Rachel Farrell (P).

Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya) (4, 0, 1)

2011-18 (6-1): One; Ninigret NWR, Charlestown; September 9, 2011; Patrick Blake (I,R).

Patrick Blake observed the Say’s Phoebe from a vehicle at a distance of approximately 50 feet for about 10 minutes. His detailed written report described the bird and its behavior.


Cave Swallow, Point Judith, Washington, December 8, 2012. © Paul L’Etoile.

Cave Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva) (2, 4, 4)

2005-12 (7-0): One; Block Island; November 11, 2005; Shai Mitra (I,R), Patricia Lindsay (I).

2008-13 (7-0): Four+; Napatree Point, Westerly; November 10, 2008; Chris Raithel (I,R).

2010-11 (7-0): Six; Black Point, Narragansett; November 24–27, 2010; Tom Auer (I,R), Carlos Pedro (P).

2012-13 (7-0): Five+; Scarborough Beach, Narragansett; Point Judith, Narragansett; Rhode Island coast; November 1 to December 12, 2012; Dan Finizia (I,R,P), Paul L’Etoile (I,R,P).

2015-18 (6-0): Four; Scarborough Beach, Narragansett; November 14, 2015; Dylan Pedro (I,P), Carlos Pedro (P), Robert Weaver (P).

Enumerating records rather than individuals obscures this species’s tendency to occur in multiples, but this approach emphasizes the species’s overall rarity—occurring in Rhode Island less than annually.

Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis) (++, 2, 1)

2005-1 (7-0): Three+ breeding; Little Compton; June 25 to August 22, 2005; Rachel Farrell (I,R), Bob Emerson (R), Geoff Dennis (P).

2014-12 (6-0): One; Trustom Pond NWR, South Kingstown; September 17–19, 2014; Tom Auer (I), Tom Tetzner (P), Don Heitzmann (P).

Rachel Farrell heard two Sedge Wrens singing in a field on private property, and Geoff Dennis was able to get photographs. One individual was observed repeatedly carrying food to the base of a clump of grass, providing the first confirmed nesting in Rhode Island since the 1940s (R. L. Ferren, in litt.).

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) (5, 3, 3)

2003-3 (6-0): One; Fogland, Tiverton; September 16, 2003; Eben Oldmixon (I,R,P).

2006-7 (6-0): One; Route 3, West Greenwich; May 28, 2006; Dan Cooper (I,R,P).

2008-14 (7-0): One; Slocum, North Kingstown; September 15–29, 2008; Paul L’Etoile (I,R,P).

2012-27 (7-0): One; Block Island; September 30 to October 5, 2012; Sue Talbot (I,R), Dan Finizia (I,R), Scott Tsagarakis (R).

2013-20 (6-0): One; Peckham Farm, South Kingstown; October 19–25, 2013; Carlos Pedro (I,R,P), Rey Larsen (P), Robert Weaver (P).

The recent uptick in records is notable, particularly the inland spring record and the three others at sites away from the outer coast. Historically, the vast majority of records in the Northeast have been from the outer coast, September–October.


Mountain Bluebird, Fort Getty, Jamestown, Newport, November 10, 2012. © Chris Powell.

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) (1, 0, 1)

2012-16 (7-0): One; Fort Getty, Jamestown; November 10–22, 2012; Marcie Lindsay (I), Candy Powell (R,P), Chris Powell (R,P), Multiple Photographers.

Marcie Lindsay found this Mountain Bluebird at the campground at Fort Getty in Jamestown. She called Candy and Chris Powell, who then photographed the bird and notified other birders.

Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) (2, 0, 1)

2011-24 (7-0): One; Burrillville; December 31, 2011; Steve Dziadosz (I,R).

While participating in the Uxbridge Christmas Bird Count, Steve Dziadosz spotted this bird at the top of a cedar tree. The bird was observed for about five minutes at close range, both perched and in flight.

Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) (2, 1, 1)

2008-4 (7-0): One; Genesee Swamp, South Kingstown; April 11–12, 2008; Paul L’Etoile (I,R), Chris Sidler (R,P), Carlos Pedro (R).

While running along the bike path through Genesee Swamp, Paul L’Etoile heard a Bohemian Waxwing call. Daylight was fading, so Paul went back the next day with a few others and they located the bird feeding on rose hips. Chris Sidler provided photographs, and Paul and Carlos Pedro provided written reports. Only the fourth documented record for Rhode Island, and this site is just a few miles from where one was seen on December 22, 2007. Previous records were in 1973 and 1995.

Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) (++, 1, 1)

2012-18 (7-0): Nine; Pascoag, Burrillville; December 24, 2012, to January 11, 2013; Jan St. Jean (I,R,P), Dan Finizia (P), Robert Weaver (P), Alan Straus, (P), Carlos Pedro (P).

Jan St. Jean found seven Pine Grosbeaks in a crabapple tree next to a building on South Main Street, Route 100, in Burrillville. Over the next couple of weeks many birders saw and photographed up to nine birds. Though always irregular, this species formerly occurred more often, sometimes in large numbers.

Hoary Redpoll (Acanthis hornemanni) (11, 0, 2)

2008-1 (7-0): One to two; Bold Point, East Providence; February 19 to March 18, 2008; Luke Seitz (I,P), Ian Davies (I), Greg Sargeant (R,P), Glenn Williams (R), Andy Boyce (R), Matt Garvey (R,P), Linda Croce (P), Dan Finizia (P).

2013-24 (7-0): Two; Little Compton; January 3, 2013; Geoff Dennis (I,R,P).

Found by Luke Seitz and Ian Davies, the 2008 bird (or two birds) stayed for a month, allowing many birders to see the bird and take photographs. Detailed reports were sent by Greg Sargeant, Glenn Williams, Andy Boyce, and Matt Garvey.

Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus) (1, 0, 1)

2010-14 (7-0): One; Second Beach Campground, Middletown; December 18, 2010, to January 31, 2011; Paul L’Etoile (I,R,P), Carlos Pedro (P), Dan Finizia (P).

This Green-tailed Towhee, the second for Rhode Island, was found by Paul L’Etoile at the Second Beach Campground in Middletown during the Newport–Westport Christmas Bird Count.

LeConte’s Sparrow (Ammospiza leconteii) (1, 2, 2)

2003-7 (6-0): One; Napatree Point, Westerly; November 26, 2003; Chris Raithel (I,R).

2006-10 (6-0): One; Avondale Farm, Westerly; November 4, 2006; Carlos Pedro, Scott Tsagarakis, Paul L’Etoile (P).

2009-13 (7-0): One; Sakonnet Point, Little Compton; December 19–23, 2009; Bob Emerson (I), Ed Stedman (I), Geoff Dennis (P).

2012-28 (6-0): One; Tiverton; December 16, 2012; Rachel Farrell (I,R), Geoff Dennis (P).

Increasing in frequency in Rhode Island, following the first record in 1993.

Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) (++, 3, 5)

2003-9 (6-0): One; Block Island; August 19–21, 2003; Christian Nunes (I,R,P).

2008-11 (7-0): One; Block Island; September 30, 2008; Dan Finizia (I,R,P), Sue Talbot (I,R,P).

2011-25 (6-0): One; Little Compton; April 14, 22, 2011; Geoff Dennis (P).

2012-2 A,B (7-0): One; A: Warwick; January 22, 2012; Betty Walsh (I,R,P). B: Oakland Beach, Warwick; February 10, 2012; Sherry Carlson (I,R).

2013-17 (6-0): One; Cox’s Ledge; August 10, 2013; Carlos Pedro (R,P), Keith Mueller (P).

2013-19 (6-0): One; Block Island; October 5, 2013; Sue Talbot (I,R), Dan Finizia (P).

Reports average almost one per year in recent decades.

Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) (2, 1, 3)

2006-1 (7-0): One; Charlestown Breachway, Charlestown; June 2, 2006; Richard Veit (I,R), Carolyn Mostello (I).

2013-9 (6-0): One; Charlestown Breachway, Charlestown; May 11–12, 2013; Tom Auer (I,R), Carlos Pedro (P), Dan Finizia (P), Sue Talbot (P).

2013-10 (6-0): Two; Andy’s Way, Block Island; May 12 to June 2, 2013; Scott Tsagarakis (I,R), Sean Camillieri (I,P), Dan Finizia (P).

2014-6 (6-0): One; Succotash Marsh, South Kingstown; April 12–14, 2014; Carlos Pedro (I,R,P).

These records are consistent with a gradual increase in the numbers and dispersion of the populations breeding on eastern Long Island, New York.

Swainson’s Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii) (0, 0, 1)

2011-7 (7-0): One; Block Island Banding Station; May 22, 2011; Kim Gaffett (I,R,P).

Kim Gaffett reported that, of 50 birds banded at the Block Island banding station, the outstanding highlight was this Swainson’s Warbler, the first record for Rhode Island.

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) (7, 2, 1)

2002-2 (6-0): One; Block Island; November 11, 2002; Bob Emerson (I,R), Dan Finizia (I,P), Sue Talbot (I).

2002-3 (6-0): One; Ninigret Park, Charlestown; December 26, 2002, to January 18, 2003; Carlos Pedro (I), Mike Tucker (P).

2013-1 (6-0): One; Block Island; January 10, 2013; Maggie Komosinski (I,R), Don Mawhinney (I,R,P).

During the 2002 Veterans Day Bird Count on Block Island, Bob Emerson, Dan Finizia, and Sue Talbot found this Western Tanager at the north end of the island. They had good looks through a scope, and Dan got photos. Maggie Komosinski observed the 2013 Western Tanager on Block Island in the area of Dorrie’s Cove Road. Later that day Don Mawhinney independently found and photographed a Western Tanager in his yard about a mile from Maggie’s sighting.

Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) (4, 0, 1)

2008-6 (7-0): One; Charlestown; December 7–19, 2008; Michelle St. Sauveur (I,R,P), Walter Bosse (P), Alan Straus (P), Robert Weaver (P).

Michelle St. Sauveur found this bird at a feeder near the Charlestown Breachway. She took photos of this rare visitor, which stayed for over a week. This record was the fifth for the state and the first since an October 1985 record at a feeder in Tiverton.

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) (8, 0, 3)

2009-12 (7-0): One; Matunuck, South Kingstown; December 12–18, 2009; Linda Gardrel (I), Bob Jones (I), Kathy Patric (I), Chris Sidler (I), Paul L’Etoile (P), Sue Talbot (P), Dan Finizia (P).

2014-5 (6-0): One; Newport; February 21 to April 1, 2014; Bobbi Smith (I), Robert Weaver (P).

2015-3 (6-0): One; Middletown; February 11–19, 2015; Jim Clarkson (I), Don Heitzmann (P), Robert Weaver (P), Carlos Pedro (P).

Whereas all three of these records occurred in winter—which is consistent with the pattern of occurrence in coastal Massachusetts— six of the eight records prior to 2003 occurred in May and the others in September and October.

Identification Accepted but Natural Status Uncertain

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) (0, 0, 0)

2006-8 (0-0-6): One; Charlestown Breachway, Charlestown; August 8, 2006.

The popularity of this species in captivity and the existence of unrestrained individuals as nearby as Block Island at the time of this observation (S. Mitra, pers. obs.) make it difficult to accept individual records as naturally occurring vagrants, even in cases like this, where the bird was wary and showed no bands or tags. That said, Howell et al. (2014) recognized this species as a potential vagrant to eastern North America and urged the preservation of documentation in cases like this where signs of captivity are lacking.

Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera) (0, 0, 0)

2003-12 (0-0-6): One; Tiogue Lake, Coventry; November 25, 2003.

This species is potentially a natural vagrant to Rhode Island, but the Committee was unanimous in judging that the possibility of captive origins could not be excluded in this case.

Reports Not Accepted

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) (13, 0, 0)

2009-6 (2-5): One; Block Island; July 21, 2009.

This report was of a bird seen head-on for a short duration, by a single observer. No photos were obtained. The description focused mostly on the bird being smaller and having shorter legs than the Common Terns nearby and lacked critical details concerning primary and rectrix patterns necessary to exclude Common Tern and other species conclusively. Furthermore, the date would be exceptional in our region, south of Cape Cod, where Arctic Terns have been shown to occur almost exclusively from late May through early July (Mitra 2009).

Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos) (3, 0, 0)

2014-15 (0-6): One; Point Judith, Narragansett; November 28, 2014.

The report of a Yellow-nosed Albatross came from an experienced and reliable observer who has observed thousands of albatross in the southern hemisphere on several trips. The challenge was that the conditions of this observation were extremely poor. The bird was seen through binoculars at a distance of 200 to 300 yards from shore, in rain, fog, and 25–35 mph southwest winds. There were large numbers of gannets in the area, flying out of Narragansett Bay and into the wind. The reported bird was flying with the wind, “engaging in a towering, shearing flight, approaching 75–100 feet of altitude at the high points and skimming the waves at the low point.” Because the observed bird was flying in the opposite direction of the gannets, there was no possibility for direct comparison of the two species’s flight patterns.

Evaluating this report was challenging for the Committee. The credentials of the observer were excellent, and the description was good. However, there were foul weather conditions, a long-distance observation, and the lack of direct comparisons with the Northern Gannets (a species known to be confused with Yellow-nosed Albatross). Non-acceptance was due largely to the conditions of the sighting; however, the Committee recognizes that this record may have been an albatross that “got away.”

Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) (4, 0, 0)

2015-15 (1-5): One; Narragansett; October 19, 2015.

Two observers detected this soaring raptor as they were driving down Route 1 in Narragansett. They pulled over and observed the bird for several minutes and submitted a thorough written report. During Committee review, it was noted that the description also fit a second-year Bald Eagle, a species not considered in the original write-up. Furthermore, the state of molt described would be consistent with second-year Bald Eagle, and not expected in a juvenile Swainson’s Hawk as reported. Although there was some feeling on the Committee that this may have been a good sighting, most felt that there was not enough here to accept the bird as Swainson’s Hawk, a species that has not been recorded in Rhode Island since 1992.

Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) (1, 0, 0)

2010-12 (0-7): One; Wickford; November 22, 2010.

Although possibly correct, this report did not meet the exceptionally stringent standards of documentation required to support such an extremely rare species.

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) (8, 0, 3)

2003-4 (0-6): Two; West Greenwich; August 16, 2003.

The level of detail in this report was not adequate to document what would be an extraordinary occurrence of two individuals in August at an inland site.

Literature Cited

  • Conway, R. A.  1992  Field-checklist of Rhode Island birds, 2nd ed. Rhode Island Ornithological Club Bulletin no. 1. Audubon Society of Rhode Island. 57 pp.
  • Howe, R. H. and E. Sturtevant. 1899. The Birds of Rhode Island. 111 pp.
  • Howell, S. N. G., I. Lewington, and W. Russell. 2014. Rare Birds of North America. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. 428 pp.
  • Lindsay, P. J. and S. S. Mitra. 2014. Region 10—Marine [summer season report for Long Island and New York City]. The Kingbird 64: 366–374.
  • Massachusetts Avian Records Committee. 2019. http://maavianrecords.com/database/ Accessed April 19, 2019.
  • Mitra, S. S. 2011. Tropical Storm Irene in New York State. The Kingbird 61: 293–298.
  • Mitra, S. S., D. Wilson, R. Emerson, R. Farrell, R. Ferren, C. Raithel, and S. Tsagarakis. 2010. First Report of the Rhode Island Avian Records Committee. Bird Observer 38: 275–283.
  • NYSARC. 2013. Report of the New York State Avian Records Committee for 2011. The Kingbird 63: 170–200.
  • NYSARC. 2020. NYSARC Reports and Decisions: Historical List. https://nybirds.org/NYSARC/RecordsSummary.htm Accessed August 19, 2020.
  • Raithel, C. J. 2001. 1999 Report of the Rhode Island Rare Bird Committee. Field Notes of Rhode Island Birds 382: 19–21.
  • Raithel, C. J. 2002. Report of the Rare Bird Committee. Field Notes of Rhode Island Birds 396: 24–26.
  • Reed, T. 2017. Editor’s Notebook/The Changing Seasons: Of Gales, Witches, and Gathering Storms. North American Birds 70: 2–5.
  • Rhode Island Ornithological Club. 2002. Checklist of Rhode Island Birds.
  • Wilson, A, J. Skelly, T. W. Burke, W. D’Anna, S. Kelling, S. S. Mitra, G. Phillips, and D. Sherony. 2005. Changes to the NYSARC Review List. The Kingbird 55: 246–247.

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