December 2023

Vol. 51, No. 6`

Hot Birds: December 2023

Virginia’s Warbler by Lisa Schibley
Virginia’s Warbler had been documented in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, multiple times in New York, and at least four times on Monhegan Island in Maine, but never in Massachusetts, until Amy O’Neil found one in a community garden in Orleans. She found it too late in the day on October 6 to be chased, but it was relocated the following two days, making numerous birders happy. Lisa Schibley took the photograph.

Tufted Duck by Joe Oliverio
Tufted Duck occurs more or less annually along the Massachusetts coast, especially on Nantucket, but none had shown up in the masses of waterfowl in the western half of the state. Ted Gilliland finally found one on the day before Halloween on the Whiting Street Reservoir in Holyoke. Birders studied it closely without detecting any hints of hybrid parentage. It was still being seen there at press time. Joe Oliverio took the photograph.

LeConte’s Sparrows\ by Ted Gilliland
Massachusetts hosted at least three LeConte’s Sparrows in October. Ted Gilliland came across the first one in Longmeadow on the 4th, apparently the first record for Hampden County. Zachary Peterson and Miles Brengle found the next one on October 10 in Newbury, amid roughly 50 Saltmarsh Sparrows. Dan O’Brien completed the hat trick with one in Quincy on October 26; this was the only one to be relocated by other birders after its initial sighting, reappearing through at least October 29. Ted Gilliland took the photograph.

Purple Gallinule by Trish Pastuszak
Purple Gallinule also provided an October rarity hat trick. Keegan Burke’s October 23 sighting in Orleans was followed immediately by Trish Pastuszak’s bird on Nantucket October 24–27. Although the dates and locations were suspiciously close, the two birds differed in plumage, the Nantucket bird showing extensive purple and the Orleans one virtually none. Matt Altieri’s gallinule in Stow on Halloween had even more extensive purple coloration. Trish Pastuszak took the photograph.

Northern Wheatear by Chris Floyd
Although some of this fall’s rarities vanished just after they were found, a Northern Wheatear at Plymouth Beach put on a bit of a show. Many birders got great looks and photos of it from September 27, when Shilo McDonald noticed it right next to his car, through the evening of the 30th. Chris Floyd took the photograph.

Pink-footed Goose by Peter Gagarin
A trio of Pink-footed Geese have been taking a tour of the Pioneer Valley this fall. They were first noticed by Matt McKenna at the pond on the campus of UMass-Amherst, a location that seems to be a magnet for rare geese. The threesome later spent a week at Tri-town Beach in Whately, made brief appearances in a few other locations, returned to UMass for a while, and finally relocated to Smith College in Northampton, where they were still present at press time. Peter Gagarin took the photograph.

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