February 2024

Vol. 52, No. 1

Twenty-sixth Report of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee

Marshall J. Iliff, Peter Crosson, Sebastian Jones, and Jeremiah Trimble

Following a flight line that many seabirds take, this Red-footed Booby rounded the northwestern tip of Cape Ann close to shore on October 4, 2022, establishing a first state record. Photograph by Suzanne Sullivan.
Following a flight line that many seabirds take, this Red-footed Booby rounded the northwestern tip of Cape Ann close to shore on October 4, 2022, establishing a first state record. Photograph by Suzanne Sullivan.

For its 26th report, the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee (MARC) evaluated 117 records involving 52 species. The committee accepted all those records. This report covers records from 2021 and 2022, with a few especially notable records from 2023 also included. New records during that period added an impressive seven species to the state list: Siberian Sand-Plover, Common Redshank, Cape Verde Shearwater, Short-tailed Shearwater, Steller’s Sea-Eagle, Red-footed Booby, and Virginia’s Warbler, which brings the state list to 518 species.

Other highlights from this report include the second state records for Mountain Plover and Willow Ptarmigan—both previously known only from specimens from more than a century ago. Additional highlights include the state’s fifth Pacific Golden-Plover, third Vermilion Flycatcher, fourth accepted Western Meadowlark, sixth Swainson’s Warbler, and first Black-headed Grosbeak since 2010. There was a notable influx of three juvenile Wood Storks in November 2021 and an unprecedented—but not unexpected—influx of White Ibises in spring 2022. Additional context is provided for these and other selected species below.

eBird/Clements v2021 eBird/Clements v2023 Notes
Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) American Goshawk (Accipiter atricapillus) split from Eurasian Goshawk
Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis) Western Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis) lump of Cordilleran and Pacific-slope Flycatchers
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) eBird/Clements split
Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos) Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos) eBird/Clements split
Lesser Sand-Plover (Charadrius mongolus) Siberian Sand-Plover (Anarhynchus mongolus) eBird/Clements split

Table 1. Species with changes to species limits (and names) since the last published MARC report; those marked “eBird/Clements split” involve changes not yet adopted by the AOS. Several additional species have had minor changes to English names or scientific names. See the MARC website or eBird for the full state list with current nomenclature.

Species taxonomy, nomenclature, and sequence follow the eBird/Clements Checklist (v2023), which closely follows the seventh edition of the American Ornithological Society (AOS, formerly American Ornithologists’ Union) Check-list of North American Birds (AOU 1998) and its supplements, up to and including the two published (Chesser et al. 2022, Chesser et al. 2023) since this committee’s last report in 2021. Table 1 shows taxonomic changes to the Massachusetts state list since 2021; note that three species have been split by eBird/Clements but not the AOS, which results in minor changes in nomenclature. Other differences between eBird/Clements and AOS can be seen on the eBird taxonomy page (eBird 2023a). One statistical consequence of recent taxonomic changes is that the Hadley record of Empidonax difficilis from 10/23/2019 to 12/2/2019 (2019-076) is no longer the first state record, because one banded at Manomet Bird Observatory, Plymouth, 11/10/2006 (2006-038; Rines 2008)—which previously referred to either Pacific-slope (Empidonax difficilis) or Cordilleran Flycatcher (E. occidentalis)—is identifiable to the species level (as Empidonax difficilis) now that Pacific-slope and Cordilleran have been lumped.

The list of species reviewed by the MARC (the Review List) is available at Please check the Review List to send evidence of records that are not listed in our Searchable Database—even in this Information Age we often do not receive sufficient information for many records. The MARC strongly encourages written submissions even when photographs are available.

The statistics in brackets for each species or taxon show the number of records accepted in this report followed by the total number of accepted records. Note that some species have a large number of reports that the MARC has yet to review (e.g., Scissor-tailed Flycatcher). Below, we present data for all records covered formatted as follows: Record identification number, count of individuals, location, range of observation dates, original observers, and observers submitting documentation. We credit the discoverer with an asterisk (*). We indicate whether the evidence provided was photographic (ph), video (v), audio (au), or a written description (†). We indicate v.o. for various observers; several others also saw the bird and supported the identification. We use m.ob. for many observers; many people in addition to the listed observers provided much additional documentation for the bird to eBird/Macaulay Library. When records from other regions are cited, all are discoverable in eBird unless otherwise stated (eBird 2023b).

Currently the tallies of total records do not account for records that the MARC has decided pertain to the same bird. We plan to correct this and adjust these tallies in 2024.


Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis) [3 records accepted in this report, 16 total]

  • 2021-049: 1 at Salt Pond, Falmouth, Barnstable, 7/15/2021 [Amy Roberts* (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2021-048: 7 at Lucy Vincent Beach, Chilmark, Dukes, 7/30/2021 [Jim Shoemaker* (ph)].
  • 2022-058: 1 at Town Beach Road Marsh, Richmond, Berkshire, 6/16/2022 [Zach Adams* (ph), v.o.].

First accepted to the state list from a 2008 record, this species continues to be a regular vagrant in recent years, with most records of short-staying birds or flocks from April 29 to August 4; the Berkshire record was a county first.

Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) [9, 34]

  • 2021-088: 4 at Longmeadow Flats, Longmeadow, Hampden, 12/11/2021 [Jeremy Spool*, Meghadeepa Maity* (ph)].
  • 2021-091: 1 at Shaw Road, Fairhaven and Mill Road, Fairhaven, Bristol, 12/14/2021 to 12/17/2021 [Dan Mckinnon*, m.ob.].
  • 2021-092: 1 at Stanley Park, Westfield, Hampden, 12/16/2021 to 12/18/2021 [Frank Bowrys* (ph)].
  • 2021-096: 1 at 2236 Riverside Avenue, Somerset, Bristol, 12/21/2021 [Jim Sweeney* (ph), m.ob. (ph)].
  • 2022-003: 2 at Connecticut River, Hadley (Mitch’s Way and Hadley Bridge), Hampshire, 1/4/2022 to 1/11/2022 [Mary McKitrick* (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2022-005: 1 at Duxbury High School area, Duxbury, Plymouth, 1/12/2022 to 1/16/2022 [Emily Szczypek* (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2022-017: 4 at Longmeadow Flats, Longmeadow, Hampden, 3/6/2022 [Ted Gilliland* (ph)].
  • 2022-018: 1 at Bolton Flats Wildlife Management Area, Worcester, 3/6/2022 to 3/17/2022 [Valerie Burdette* (ph)].
  • 2022-069: up to 4 at Northampton area (various sites), Hampshire, 3/7/2022 to 3/14/2022 [Ted Gilliland* (ph), m.ob.].

The MARC considered 2021-091 and 2021-096 to pertain to the same individual based on details of the plumage and bill.

Brant (Black) (Branta bernicla nigricans) [1, 5]

  • 2021-116: 1 at Fort Phoenix State Reservation, Fairhaven, Bristol, 3/13/2021 [Nick Tepper* (ph), Neil Dowling* (ph)],

This individual was likely the same one seen at the same location December 4, 2020 (2020-107); the MARC will formally consider this question.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) [1, 4]

  • 2021-100: 1 at Sesachacha Pond, Nantucket, 12/23/2021 to 1/13/2022 [Skyler Kardell* (ph), m.ob.].

Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus) [2, 10 since 2017]

  • 2021-103: 2 at Miacomet Pond, Nantucket, 12/31/2021 to 1/19/2022 [Trish Pastuszak*, Ginger Andrews* (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2022-021: 2 at Onota Lake, Pittsfield, Berkshire, 3/16/2022 [Gael Hurley* (ph), m.ob.].

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) [3, 33]

  • 2022-010: 1 at Long Pond Road, Harwich, Barnstable, 1/23/2022 to 2/21/2022 [Sue Finnegan* (ph)].
  • 2022-011: 1 at Mashpee Pond, Attaquin Park, Mashpee, Barnstable, 1/26/2022 to 2/6/2022 [Mary Keleher* (ph)].
  • 2023-073: 1 at Lake Pearl, Wrentham, Norfolk, 1/15/2023 to 3/5/2023 [Josh Bock* (ph), m.ob.].

Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) [1, 2]

  • 2022-033: 1 at the intersection of North Sturbridge Road with Osgood Road (42.175398, -71.998809), Worcester, 4/30/2022 [Meaghan Keefe* (ph)].

A stunning second state record, documented with photos and video as it scurried off the roadside in full white plumage. This species has a pattern of vagrancy to the Northeast and Atlantic Canada in late April and May; Massachusetts has just one prior record, a specimen from Manchester, Essex, on May 10, 1859. At the same time as the 2022 sighting, there were rumors of one to three others nearby. Although these second-hand and third-hand reports on Facebook were never substantiated, they suggest the possibility of a small regional invasion.

Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) [2, 19]

  • 2021-069: 2 at Cohasset Cove, Scituate, Plymouth, 10/31/2021 to 11/3/2021 [Liam Norton* (ph)].
  • 2021-094: 1 at Marblehead Neck Causeway, Essex, 12/16/2021 to 4/22/2022 [Alex Damiano*, Jeremy Dominguez* (ph), m.ob.].

The Marblehead bird was considered to pertain to a returning individual also present at the same location January 11, 2021, to April 18, 2021 (2021-022; Iliff et al. 2021).

White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) [3, 31]

  • 2022-043: 1 at Putnam Farm Conservation Area, Orleans, Barnstable, 5/20/2022 [Mark Faherty* (ph)].
  • 2022-059: 1 at High Head, Pilgrim Heights, Truro, Barnstable, 6/19/2022 [Sam Minsky*, Ben Dzedzic*, Eliot Dzedzic*, Ross Sormani* (ph)].
  • 2022-064: 1 at Fort Hill, Eastham, Barnstable, 7/14/2022 [Julie Santo* (ph)].

Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) [1, 44]

  • 2021-066: 1 adult female banded and measured at 34 Clearwater Road, Brookline, Norfolk, 10/28/2021 to 1/3/2022 [Matt Garvey* (ph), Sue Finnegan, Alex Burdo, m.ob.].

Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica) [2, 21]

  • 2021-051: 1 at Cutler Park Reservation, Norfolk, 8/4/2021 and 8/14/2021 [Harmony Wu*].
  • 2021-086: 1 at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge–Concord Unit, Middlesex, 12/7/2021 to 12/8/2021 (found dead on 12/8/2021) [Candyce Plante* (ph)].

Although the Purple Gallinule at Great Meadows was rumored to have first appeared in late November, the MARC was able to confirm its presence only on December 7 and 8.

Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) [1, 11]

  • 2022-065: 2 at Hardings Beach, Chatham, Barnstable, 5/25/2022 [Rob Ritchey* (v)].

Pacific Golden-Plover (Pluvialis fulva) [1, 5]

  • 2021-056: 1 at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm, Newbury, Essex, 9/25/2021 to 9/28/2021 [Suzanne Sullivan*, John Keeley* (ph), m.ob.].

Birders are getting better at identifying this species, which was recognized as distinct from American Golden-Plover (P. dominica) only in 1993. This molting adult was the first to be widely enjoyed and represents the second record for Essex (first in 2002) and the fourth in Massachusetts since 2013, with records now from April, July (2), August, and September.

Siberian Sand-Plover (Anarhynchus mongolus) [1, 1]

  • 2023-002: 1 adult at South Cape Beach State Park, Mashpee, Barnstable, 8/14/2023 to 8/22/2023 [Mary Keleher* (ph), m.ob.].

The specifics of this find were chronicled in Bird Observer (Keleher 2023) this past October. Remarkably, photos of Siberian Sand-Plovers in nearly identical plumage from Anacosti Island, Quebec, on July 30, 2023, and Napatree Point, Rhode Island, on August 5, 2023, must pertain to the same individual given the regional rarity of the species and the potential for highly variable plumage at this season. Prior to this year, Rhode Island had the only well-documented record from New England. Note that we follow the eBird/Clements taxonomy in splitting Siberian Sand-Plover (A. mongolus) from Tibetan Sand-Plover (A. atrifrons); AOS still treats both taxa within Lesser Sand-Plover (Charadrius mongolus). This bird was identifiable as Siberian by its well-defined white forehead patch; in contrast, A. atrifrons has a fully dark forehead in breeding plumage.

Wilson’s Plover (Anarhynchus wilsonia) [1, 19]

  • 2022-051: 1 at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Morris Island, Barnstable, 5/26/2022 [Joey Negreann* (ph)].

Along with Siberian Sand-Plover and Mountain Plover, we follow the eBird/Clements taxonomy (Rasmussen et al. 2023) in using the genus Anarhynchus, which reflects new information about relationships among the smaller plovers. We expect the AOS to adopt this new genus in 2024.

Mountain Plover (Anarhynchus montanus) [1, 2]

  • 2023-001: 1 at Long Beach Conservation Area, Barnstable, 7/21/2023 to 7/25/2023 [Natalie Donofrio* (ph), m.ob.].

Donofrio found this bird while monitoring Piping Plovers on a Cape Cod beach, and thankfully it was accessible to birders who enjoyed it for its five-day stay (Donofrio, Teltser, and Salett 2023). Most incredibly, what was likely the same individual was found at Stone Harbor Point, New Jersey, on August 9, 2023.

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) [1, 1]

  • 2022-075: 1 at Minimoy Island, Barnstable, 7/17/2022 to 7/21/2022 [Josh Davidson* (ph), v.o.].

First recorded in North America from Newfoundland in 1994; all other records for the hemisphere came from that province except for one in the Caribbean, on Guadeloupe, January 15–28, 2020. But on July 4, 2021, an adult at Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, Michigan, became the first Lower 48 record—followed just two weeks later by the Cape Cod bird. Some have suggested that the same individual, moving approximately due east toward the coast, may have accounted for both records. The plumage of the two birds looks similar enough that this hypothesis seems most plausible given the extreme rarity of this species. Unfortunately, access to the Minimoy Island site is restricted and this sighting was not released publicly, so only a few birders were able to see this bird.

Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) [1, 4]

  • 2021-067: 2 at First Encounter Beach, Eastham, Barnstable, 10/28/2021 [Marshall Iliff*, Jeremiah Trimble*, m.ob. (ph, v)].

Franklin’s Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan) [4, 38]

  • 2021-075: 1 at Race Point, Provincetown, Barnstable, 11/12/2021 [Pete Morris*, Brendan Fogarty* (ph)].
  • 2021-081: 1 at Race Point, Provincetown, Barnstable, 11/20/2021 [Peter Flood* (ph)].
  • 2022-053: 1 at Race Point, Provincetown, Barnstable, 5/28/2022 [Blair Nikula* (ph)].
  • 2022-063: 1 at Longmeadow Flats, Longmeadow, Hampden, 7/25/2022 [Ted Gilliland* (ph)].

Sooty Tern (Onychoprion fuscatus) [1, 16]

  • 2020-116: 1 at Surfside Beach, Nantucket, Nantucket, 8/6/2020 [Burton Balkind* (ph)].

This bird was found moribund and later succumbed, but was apparently disposed of and not preserved.

Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) [3, 22]

  • 2022-054: 2 at Dowses Beach, Osterville, Barnstable, 6/1/2022 [Nancy Villone* (ph)].
  • 2022-056: 2 at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet, Barnstable, 6/7/2022 [Joey Negreann* (ph)].
  • 2022-057: 2 at Nauset Beach, Orleans, Barnstable, 6/11/2022 [Keegan Burke* (ph)].

The majority of MARC members voted to treat these records as pertaining to the same wandering twosome, although there is nothing conclusive to lend certainty to that treatment.

Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) [1, 32]

  • 2020-117: 1 at Gooseberry Neck, Westport, Bristol, 11/8/2020 [Marshall Iliff* (ph)].

Cape Verde Shearwater was recently split from Cory’s Shearwater and differs in its smaller size, darker plumage, and slimmer bill that is grayish rather than yellowish. This state first was also the second documented record for North America and was found east of Chatham, Barnstable County, on August 12, 2022. Photograph by Nick Bonomo.
Cape Verde Shearwater was recently split from Cory’s Shearwater and differs in its smaller size, darker plumage, and slimmer bill that is grayish rather than yellowish. This state first was also the second documented record for North America and was found east of Chatham, Barnstable County, on August 12, 2022. Photograph by Nick Bonomo.

Cape Verde Shearwater (Calonectris edwardsii) [1, 1]

  • 2022-076: 1 east of Chatham (41.670066, -69.860951), Barnstable, 8/12/2022 [Jeremiah Trimble*, Peter Trimble*, Ian Davies*, Julian Hough*, Nick Bonomo* (ph)].

This remarkable discovery by a group of intrepid pelagic birders (Trimble et. al. 2022) represents just the second well-documented record for North America, following one off Cape Hatteras on August 15, 2004. There have been a few other potential sight records, so it is clear this is a species to watch for carefully.

Short-tailed Shearwater is an extremely abundant bird in the Pacific but has only recently been conclusively documented in the Atlantic, possibly as birds have moved through the ice-free Northwest Passage in recent years. Photograph by Peter Flood.
Short-tailed Shearwater is an extremely abundant bird in the Pacific but has only recently been conclusively documented in the Atlantic, possibly as birds have moved through the ice-free Northwest Passage in recent years. Photograph by Peter Flood.

Short-tailed Shearwater (Ardenna tenuirostris) [1, 1]

  • 2017-065R: 1 at Race Point, Provincetown, Barnstable, 10/14/2017 [Peter Flood* (ph), Kate Sutherland].

The MARC previously reviewed four records from Race Point in fall 2017: August 17 (2017-066), September 23 (2017-063), September 24 (2017-064), and October 14 (2017-065) (Williams and Trimble 2018). Although the MARC did not endorse any at the time, we “agreed to seek out further expert opinions on this and other reports of this species with the intent of voting on this record again.” Thankfully, Peter Flood provided the MARC detailed analysis of the last of these sightings, with measurements of the bill details that allowed verification using criteria from a new identification paper by Bob Flood and Ashley Fisher (Flood and Fisher 2019) that provides diagnostic proportions to eliminate Sooty Shearwater. Note that Flood and Fisher (2019) publish all four Race Point records as Short-tailed and include the August 17 photo as well. The other three sightings will need rereview by MARC. There are almost no accepted records for the North Atlantic, though evidence is growing that the species occurs at least occasionally, with two other records from the western Atlantic: July 7, 2000, at Sanibel Island, Florida, and November 7, 2023, over Lake Ontario at Derby Hill, New York. Flood and Fisher (2019) also cite several records from the South Atlantic that give context for these North Atlantic records, and eBird has an accepted record from France, August 7, 2020.

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) [3, 10]

  • 2021-071: 1 at Horn Pond, Woburn, Middlesex, 11/4/2021 to 11/5/2021 [Jeffrey Thomas* (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2021-072: 1 at Annisquam River and various Cape Ann spots, Essex, 11/7/2021 to 11/21/2021 [Joe De Haan* (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2021-082: 1 at Egypt Lane Ponds and nearby Fairhaven spots, Bristol, 11/29/2021 to 12/3/2021 [Carolyn Longworth* (ph)].

Although at least four records from before 1963 have yet to be reviewed (Veit and Petersen 1993), Wood Stork is always a five-star rarity in the state. The presence of three hatch-year individuals at different sites in November and December means 2021 accounts for more records than any other year, although 2013 and 2019 each had two records. Note that the Horn Pond bird was sickly and was taken into wildlife care on November 5. There is a possibility that the Bristol County and Cape Ann birds pertained to the same individual, but the MARC considers them more likely to pertain to different individuals.

Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) [2, 8]

  • 2021-053: 1 at Nickerson Rock Park, Quincy, Norfolk, and Savin Hill Cove, Boston, Suffolk 8/22/2021 [Mike McWade*, m.ob. (ph)].
  • 2022-002: 1 at Baxter Road, Siasconset, Nantucket, 1/2/2022 [Jeremiah Trimble* (ph), m.ob.].

Both records conclusively eliminated less likely frigatebird species. The August 2021 bird was remarkably seen in Nova Scotia August 15 and along the New Hampshire coast August 19–21, so birders had been hoping this individual would drift south to Massachusetts—and it did!

Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) [1, 1]

  • 2022-077: 1 at Halibut Point State Park, Rockport, Essex, 10/4/2022 [Suzanne Sullivan* (ph), Meghan Sullivan*].

With records of Brown Boobies surging over the past decade we have also seen an increase in Masked Booby and have dreamt of a Red-footed Booby for the state. The ever-vigilant Suzanne Sullivan was the one to find this one, which flew southward at close range past Halibut Point while one of her party was taking a bio break! As of November 2023, there are just three other records north of the Carolinas: one in deep water far off the Nova Scotia coast September 22, 2014; one photographed sitting on an inland farm field by a cranberry grower in Burlington County, New Jersey, and posted to Facebook May 1, 2023 (Davis 2023); and one tired bird on a beach in Hancock County, Maine, on July 12, 2023.

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) [4, 36]

  • 2021-059: 1 at Race Point, Provincetown, Barnstable, 10/9/2021 [Peter Flood*, Blair Nikula* (ph)].
  • 2021-064: 1 at First Encounter Beach, Eastham, Barnstable, 10/28/2021 [Amy O’Neill*, m.ob. (ph)].
  • 2021-065: 1 at Race Point, Provincetown, Barnstable, 10/28/2021 [Peter Flood* (ph)].
  • 2021-073: 1 at Jetties Beach, Nantucket, 11/11/2021 to 11/14/2021 [Richard Veit*, m.ob. (ph)].

It is worth remembering that as recently as 2011 there was just one accepted record for the state, with two more mentioned in Veit and Petersen (1993), and the surge over the past decade shows no signs of abating. Good seawatching conditions on October 28, 2021, produced two on Cape Cod that were individually identifiable as different birds.

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) [2, 33]

  • 2021-054: 1 at Sesachacha Pond, Nantucket, 9/4/2021 to 9/8/2021 [Nick Butterini*, m.ob. (ph)].
  • 2022-024: 1 at Revere Beach—south end, Suffolk, 4/3/2022 [Nick Diaco*, Kelly Song*].

White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) [11, 20]

  • 2021-050: 1 at Dudley Pond, Wayland, Middlesex, 7/30/2021 [Melissa Mee* (ph)].
  • 2021-105: 1 at Heard Farm Conservation Area, Wayland, Middlesex, 8/16/2021 to 8/17/2021 [Ron Schlegel*, David and Tim Swain (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2021-052: 1 at Oak Top (private), Dighton, Bristol, 8/18/2021 [Joel Eckerson* (ph)].
  • 2022-027: 1 at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet, Barnstable, 4/11/2022 to 4/18/2022 [Josh Jones* (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2022-066: 1 at Ellisville Harbor State Park, Plymouth, Plymouth, 4/17/2022 [Joy Burns* (ph)].
  • 2022-067: 1 at Bluefish River Marshes, Duxbury, Plymouth, 4/17/2022 to 4/19/2022 [Tofer Carlson* (ph)].
  • 2022-106: 2 at Fort Hill, Eastham, Barnstable, 4/20/2022 to 4/23/2022 [Elizabeth Creasey*, m.ob. (ph)].
  • 2022-031: 1 at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Middlesex, 4/26/2022 [Sam Bloch* (ph), v.o.].
  • 2022-032: 1 at Christian Herter Park, Boston, Suffolk, 4/26/2022 to 4/27/2022 [Ted Bradford* (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2022-034: 1 at Peggotty Beach, Scituate, Plymouth, 5/5/2022 to 5/13/2022 [Ellen Anderson*, v.o. (ph)].
  • 2022-068: 1 at Sailors Home Pond, Quincy, Norfolk, 8/2/2022 to 8/5/2022 [K. Rawdon* (ph), m.ob.].

The MARC had reviewed and accepted just nine records prior to this year, so an influx of eight records from mid-April to August 2022 almost doubles the accepted records to date. Although many historical records still need to be reviewed, this year’s increase was by far the biggest one-year surge. It is not unexpected given that this species has shown a substantial increase in numbers in the mid-Atlantic states, with first nesting records for both Maryland and New Jersey in 2020 and with the New Jersey population surging to hundreds by 2022. The 2021 individual was an interesting saga: a first summer bird with a distinctive pattern of white and brown feathers was involved in all three Massachusetts sightings, and it was also noted in Nova Scotia August 3–5, 2021. In addition, the bird was found in Rhode Island shortly after the Bristol County sighting on August 18, when it was seen flying south at 6:36 am. The bird had probably left Middlesex County that same morning of August 18, because it had been seen up until almost dusk the previous evening in Wayland.

White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi) [1, 34]

  • 2022-026: 1 at Labor in Vain Road, Ipswich, Essex, 4/17/2022 to 5/1/2022 [Sandy Weatherall*, Andy Sanford* (ph)].

Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) [4, 25]

  • 2022-023: 1 at Buckskin Path, Centerville, Barnstable, 3/27/2022 [Hans Holbrook*].
  • 2022-028: 1 at High Head, Pilgrim Heights, Truro, Barnstable, 4/16/2022 [Liam Waters*, m.ob. (ph)].
  • 2022-040: 1 at Pequot Road, Mashpee, Barnstable, 5/18/2022 [Mary Keleher* (ph), Ashley Keleher].
  • 2022-044: 1 at Bearberry Hill, Truro, Barnstable, 5/22/2022 [Vin Zollo*, Dan Burton* (ph)].

Steller’s Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) [1, 1]

  • 2021-090: 1 adult at Shaw Cove Boat Yard, Dighton, Bristol, 12/12/2021 to 12/20/2021 [David Ennis* (ph), Jonathan Eckerson (ph), m.ob. (ph)].

This remarkable state record was discussed in depth by Schibley and Iliff (2022). Any questions of provenance were simplified because its arrival path from native range was clear. Individually identifiable based on details of its wing pattern, the eagle was first noted on the Denali Highway, Alaska, on August 30, 2020, then in Texas on March 7, 2021 (probably but not certainly the same bird), and then in Atlantic Canada (Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick) in summer 2021, before appearing in Massachusetts and then Maine December 31, 2021, to February 14, 2022. The bird’s peregrinations around eastern Canada continued in 2022 and 2023, although it has yet to stray into the United States again.

Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus) [1, 3]

  • 2022-070: 1 immature male at Paine’s Creek Beach, Brewster, Barnstable, 10/21/2022 to 10/26/2022 [Mark Faherty* (ph), m.ob.].

The young male Vermilion that Mark Faherty found was a huge crowd-pleaser on Cape Cod, marking the first documented record for Barnstable and third for the state, although there are two credible sight records the MARC has not reviewed: October 7, 1961, in Barnstable and October 22, 1954, at Plum Island (Veit and Petersen 1993). All five records have occurred between October 7 and 26, and most other East Coast records are also from October, though there are a small handful from spring or that have overwintered farther south.

Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens) [2, 34]

  • 2021-078: 1 at Belle Isle Marsh, East Boston, Suffolk, 11/15/2021 to 11/16/2021 [Moss Lynch*, m.ob. (ph)].
  • 2021-087: 1 at Weir Hill Farm, Hingham, Plymouth, 12/7/2021 to 12/21/2021 [Sally Avery* (ph), m.ob.].

Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus) [2, 6, plus two accepted as Tropical/Couch’s]

  • 2021-076: 1 at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet, Barnstable, 11/13/2021 to 11/17/2021 [Megan Miller* (ph, au), m.ob. (ph)].
  • 2021-085: 1 at Waring Field, Rockport, Essex, 12/6/2021 to 12/8/2021 [Sam Heinrich* (ph, au), m.ob.].

Two Tropical Kingbirds, both confirmed by audio recordings, were found in fall 2021. This species continues to be found with much increased regularity; that is presumably due in part to observer awareness and modern photography. The Waring Field bird marked a new species for well-watched Essex County.

Gray Kingbird. November 12, 2022. Barney’s Joy Road, Dartmouth. Photograph by Emily Turteltaub Nelson.
Gray Kingbird. November 12, 2022. Barney’s Joy Road, Dartmouth. Photograph by Emily Turteltaub Nelson.

Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis) [1, 4]

  • 2022-071: 1 hatch-year at Barney’s Joy Road, Dartmouth, Bristol, 11/11/2022 to 11/20/2022 [Jeff Offermann* (ph), m.ob.].

With this crowd-pleaser found by Offermann, Bristol County joins Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket among counties with accepted records for Gray Kingbird, although two older specimens from Essex and Middlesex and a photographed bird in Dukes have yet to be reviewed.

Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii) [2, 15]

  • 2021-060: 1 at Fort Hill, Eastham, Barnstable, 10/16/2021 to 1/10/2022 [Tom Marvel*, m.ob. (ph)].
  • 2022-072: 1 at Ocean View Farm Reserve, Dartmouth, Bristol, 11/13/2022 to 11/27/2022 [Dan Burton* (ph), Jim Sweeney, Vin Zollo, m.ob.].

The 2022 bird means that Fort Hill joins Manomet Bird Observatory as the state hotspot for the species, with four records each, although Manomet has the advantage of regular mist netting efforts. All 15 accepted records have accumulated since 2005.

Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) [2, 8 since being added to review list]

  • 2022-055: 1 at Fitchburg Airport, Fitchburg, Worcester, 6/6/2022 to 6/8/2022 [Jon Skinner* (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2022-061: 1 at Orange Airport, Orange, Franklin, 7/19/2022 [Bill Lafley* (ph), v.o.].

Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) [4, 32]

  • 2021-070: 1 at Halibut Point, Rockport, Essex, 11/3/2021 [David Young* (ph)].
  • 2021-083: 1 at Mount Tom State Reservation, Hampden, 12/4/2021 [Derek Allard* (ph)].
  • 2022-014: 1 at Lime Kiln Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Sheffield, Berkshire, 2/27/2022 to 2/28/2022 [Kyron Hanson* (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2022-015: 1 at Sutherland Woods area, Lexington (Yelle home), Middlesex, 3/1/2022 [Henrietta Yelle* (ph)].

Townsend’s Solitaire had just four records up to 1990 (Veit and Petersen 1993) but has been found almost annually since 2004 (all but six years); Halibut Point is the state hotspot, logging its fourth accepted record in 2021. Most solitaires have occurred in eastern Massachusetts—13 from Cape Cod and 8 from Essex County alone—but county firsts for Hampden and Berkshire make for three from the western portion of the state with one previous from Worcester County.

Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius) [1, 21]

  • 2022-012: 1 at Elm Road, Falmouth, Barnstable, 1/30/2022 to 2/3/2022 [J. Hughes* (ph), v.o.].

Hoary Redpoll (Acanthis hornemanni) [1, 13]

  • 2022-020: 1 at 44 Hale Street, Newburyport, Essex, 3/10/2022 to 3/11/2022 [Joe Teixeira*, Margo Goetschkes (ph), Steve Grinley (ph)].

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) [1, 4]

  • 2021-074: 1 at Honey Pot, Hadley, Hampshire, 11/11/2021 to 1/13/2022 [Sara Griesemer*, Janice Jorgensen*, Marcia Merithew*, Sara Hills*, Susan Emerson* (ph, au), m.ob.].

Although there are many older reports for this species, no documentation has been located. Because of this lack of information, all accepted records are recent, with this one providing the first accepted for Hampshire County and the first one that was widely seen by birders. The three prior records were from single dates.

Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii) [3, 16]

  • 2021-104: 1 at Spring Street, Marion, Plymouth, 12/23/2020 to 2/27/2021 [iNaturalist user tcb771* (ph), Kelly Burke* (ph), Moe Molander (ph), Carol Molander (ph)].
  • 2021-097: 1 female at Hill Street, Whitinsville, Worcester, 12/19/2021 to 1/27/2022 [Justin Lawson* (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2022-016: 1 female at Chez Ess-Why, Northbridge, Worcester, 3/4/2022 to 3/5/2022 [Mary Ess-Why* (ph)].

The Whitinsville and Northbridge birds were just a mile or so apart and in the same plumage, so the MARC considers both records to pertain to the same individual.

Swainson’s Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii) [1, 6]

  • 2022-035: 1 at Middlesex Fells Reservation, Middlesex, 5/6/2022 [Sage Levy* (ph), m.ob. (ph)].

This bird was widely seen for a Middlesex first, thanks to the prompt report by Levy. Except for one at Wing Island, Barnstable, September 6–10, 2015, all of the state’s records fall from May 4 to June 6 and half have been seen on May 6.

Virginia’s Warbler (Leiothlypis virginiae) [1, 1]

  • 2023-005: 1 at Putnam Farm Conservation Area, Orleans, Barnstable, 10/6/2023 to 10/8/2023 [Amy O’Neill*, m.ob. (ph)].

With records on all sides of Massachusetts—from Albany, New York, on December 10, 2016, Rhode Island on October 8, 2006, New Hampshire on April 29, 2021 and December 5–7, 2023, and Maine—a stunning four from Monhegan Island, two in spring and two in fall—this bird had to be the state’s most overdue species. Amy O’Neill was sharp to notice the bird in community gardens and got the word out so that dozens could share in the thrill of this state first.

MacGillivray’s Warbler (Geothlypis tolmiei) [2, 17]

  • 2021-058: 1 at South Monomoy Lighthouse, Barnstable, 10/8/2021 [Valerie Bourdeau* (ph), v.o.].
  • 2021-063: 1 at Fort Hill, Eastham, Barnstable, 10/23/2021 [Tim Spahr* (au)].

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) (Setophaga coronata auduboni) [8, 15]

  • 2012-161: 1 at Upper Boat Meadow Conservation Area, Orleans, Barnstable, 11/28/2012 to 12/2/2012 [Peter Trimble*, Sue Finnegan (ph), Marshall Iliff (ph)].
  • 2017-143: 1 at Pochet Island, Barnstable, 2/18/2017 [Keenan Yakola* (ph)].
  • 2017-144: 1 at Morris Preserve, Somerset, Bristol, 11/7/2017 to 11/8/2017 [Jim Sweeney* (ph), Jonathan Eckerson (ph)].
  • 2017-146: 1 at Race Point fire road, Provincetown, Barnstable, 11/15/2017 [Sue Finnegan* (ph), John Pratt* (ph)].
  • 2018-086: 1 at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Middlesex, 6/10/2018 to 6/11/2018 [Jake Turin* (ph), Robin Gurule*, v.o.].
  • 2018-087: 1 at Tonset Road, East Orleans, Barnstable, 12/18/2018 [Jeremiah Trimble* (ph)].
  • 2019-157: 1 at Millennium Park, West Roxbury, Suffolk, 11/17/2019 to 12/1/2019 [Marshall Iliff* (ph), m.ob.].
  • 2022-007: 1 at The Bogs, Mattapoisett, Plymouth, 1/15/2022 [Jim Sweeney* (ph)].

The committee fell behind in its reviews of this well-marked subspecies, which may yet deserve full species status. We caught up in this report, though the 15 accepted state records to date are just part of the picture. We welcome well-documented records for this and other rare subspecies, especially those on the MARC Review List.

Black-throated Gray Warbler (Setophaga nigrescens) [1, 21]

  • 2021-057: 1 at Chestnut Hill Reservoir, Chestnut Hill, Suffolk, 10/4/2021 to 10/6/2021 [Ryan Doherty* (ph), m.ob. (ph)].

Doherty has been working his Chestnut Hill Reservoir patch for more than a decade, and this warbler was one of the site’s best rarities, representing a first for Suffolk County and cooperating well for the masses in its three-day stay.

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) [5, 26]

  • 2021-045: 1 at Sterling Road, Princeton, Worcester, 1/11/2021 to 3/20/2021 [Eileen Potter*, Valerie Burdette (ph)].
  • 2021-077: 1 at Manomet Bird Observatory, Plymouth, 11/13/2021 [Megan Gray*, v.o. (ph)].
  • 2021-079: 1 at Squibnocket Farm Road, Chilmark, Dukes, 11/18/2021 to 1/2/2022 [Allan Keith*, Bob Shriber (ph)].
  • 2022-006: 1 at Pond Village, Truro, Barnstable, 1/13/2022 [Cathy Skowron*, Ross Sormani (ph)].
  • 2022-074: 1 at 947 Cranberry Highway, Yarmouthport, Barnstable, 1/9/2022 to 2/8/2022 [Holly Lemieux*, m.ob. (ph)].

For 2022-074, the exact start date is not certain but was believed to be around January 9.

Black-headed Grosbeak. May 20, 2022. Pembroke Road, Manomet. Photograph by Lisa Schibley.
Black-headed Grosbeak. May 20, 2022. Pembroke Road, Manomet. Photograph by Lisa Schibley.

Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) [1, 4]

  • 2022-042: 1 adult male at 31 Pembroke Road, Manomet, Plymouth, 5/20/2022 to 5/23/2022 [Jim Kowalski* (ph), Lisa Schibley (ph), m.ob. (ph)].

This cooperative adult male was available for viewing only on its last day but was seen by a number of birders. Although Veit and Petersen (1993) include 21 records, the MARC review has accepted only four, and this report was the first since 2010. Most records are in fall, so this spring record was unusual, though the earliest state record was documented November 30, 1957, to May 9, 1958.

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) [3, 45]

  • 2021-080: 1 adult male at Mashpee, Barnstable, 11/19/2021 [M. Brecher* (ph)].
  • 2021-089: 1 adult male at Timber Way, Sandwich, Barnstable, 12/11/2021 to 1/30/2022 [Evie Dewar* (ph), fide Mark Faherty].
  • 2021-095: 1 adult male at Jonathan Way, Sandwich, Barnstable, 12/18/2021 to 2/26/2022 [Claudia Gale* (ph), fide Mark Faherty].

Changes to review list: Black-headed Grosbeak is added to the species eligible for expedited review via the eBird acceptance process; see Garvey and Iliff (2013) for details.

Corrigenda: Two MARC numbers need adjustment: the not-accepted Eared Grebe at Harding’s Beach, Chatham, Barnstable, 3/26/2011, uses record number 2011-068 (Garvey and Iliff 2013), but that number was also published for a Townsend’s Solitaire at Jackson Point, Madaket, Nantucket, 10/21/2011 to 10/22/2011 (Garvey, Trimble, and Iliff 2014); the solitaire is assigned a new number: 2011-105. Also, the Tufted Duck at Long Pond, Barnstable, 1/10/2020 to 2/2/2020, uses 2020-024 (24th report; Williams et al. 2020), but that number was also published in the same report (24th report; Williams et al. 2020) for the Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii) at Race Point, Provincetown, Barnstable, on 4/19/2020; the Yellow-billed Loon is assigned a new number: 2020-118.

Thanks to: Chris Dalton, who has helped develop a new system to keep the MARC in sync with the ongoing surge of new records from eBird and other sources. And of course, Ryan Doherty, who continues to serve as the webmaster for the MARC. We also wish to thank Peter Crosson for his service as MARC Secretary in 2021–2022. Sebastian Jones has joined as the new MARC Secretary. Jim Sweeney and Wayne R. Petersen provided helpful editorial comments that improved this article.

Literature Cited

  • American Ornithologists’ Union. 1998. Check-list of North American Birds, seventh edition and supplements. Lawrence, Kansas: Allen Press.
  • Chesser, R. T., S. M. Billerman, K. J. Burns, C. Cicero, J. L. Dunn, B. E. Hernández-Baños, R. A. Jiménez, A. W. Kratter, N. A. Mason, P. C. Rasmussen, J. V. Remsen Jr., D. F. Stotz, and K. Winker. 2022. Sixty-third Supplement to the American Ornithological Society’s Check-list of North American birds. Ornithology 139:ukac020.
  • Chesser, R. T., S. M. Billerman, K. J. Burns, C. Cicero, J. L. Dunn, B. E. Hernández-Baños, R. A. Jiménez, A. W. Kratter, N. A. Mason, P. C. Rasmussen, J. V. Remsen Jr., and K. Winker. 2023. Sixty-fourth Supplement to the American Ornithological Society’s Check-list of North American Birds. Ornithology 140 (3):ukad023.
  • Clements, J. F., P. C. Rasmussen, T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, A. Spencer, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2023. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2023.
  • Davis, Amy. 2023. Red-footed Booby. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  • Donofrio, N., J. Teltser, and M. C. Salett. 2023. Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus) Found on Long Beach, Cape Cod, Is the Second Record for Massachusetts. Bird Observer 51 (5):332–335.
  • eBird. 2023a. The eBird Taxonomy. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Accessed December 10, 2023.
  • eBird. 2023b. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Accessed December 2, 2023.
  • Flood, R. and A. Fisher. 2019. Identification of Short-tailed Shearwater in the North Atlantic Ocean. British Birds 112:250–263.
  • Garvey, M. P. and M. J. Iliff. 2013. Seventeenth Report of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee. Bird Observer 41 (6):352–363. Expanded web version, with additional content and images:
  • Garvey, M. P., J. R. Trimble, and M. J. Iliff. 2014. Eighteenth Report of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee. Bird Observer 42 (6):347–357. Expanded web version, with additional content and images:
  • Iliff, M. J., J. Johnson, and J. Trimble. 2021. Twenty-fifth Report of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee. Bird Observer 49 (6):407–427. Expanded web version, with additional content and images:
  • Keleher, M. 2023. Finding the Lesser Sand-Plover (Charadrius mongolus): The First State Record for Massachusetts. Bird Observer 51 (5):328–331.
  • Rines, M. 2008. Twelfth Annual Report of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee (MARC). Bird Observer 36 (2):90–98. Expanded web version, with additional content and images:
  • Schibley, L. and M. J. Iliff. 2022. Steller’s Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) Visits Massachusetts for a First State Record. Bird Observer 50 (1):6–22.
  • Trimble, J., P. Trimble Sr., I. Davies, J. Hough, and N. Bonomo. 2022. A Cape Verde Shearwater (Calonectris edwardsii) in Massachusetts: A First for the State and Second Fully Documented Record for North America. Bird Observer 50 (5):324–330.
  • Veit, R. R. and W. R. Petersen. 1993. Birds of Massachusetts. Lincoln, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Audubon Society.
  • Williams, S. M., J. Johnson, and M. J. Iliff. 2020. Twenty-fourth Report of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee. Bird Observer 48 (6):385–406. Expanded web version, with additional content and images:
  • Williams, S. M. and J. Trimble. 2018. Twenty-second Report of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee. Bird Observer 46 (6):376–391. Expanded web version, with additional content and images:

blog comments powered by Disqus
Bird Observer logo

Our mission: to support and promote the observation, understanding, and conservation of the wild birds of New England.

Bird Observer supports the right of all people to enjoy birding and nature in a safe and welcoming environment free from discrimination and harassment, be it sexual, racial, or barriers for people with disabilities.
© Copyright 2024 by Bird Observer, Inc.