Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
Rare Birds Continue To Visit
December 10, 2021
By Steve Grinley
November maintained its reputation for bringing rare birds to our area, and some of that has spilled over into December. Earlier in November, I told you about a wood stork that was spotted in Gloucester and was later seen at Horn Pond in Woburn. As it turned out, those were two different birds.
The Horn Pond bird had an injured foot and was captured and taken to rehab. Meanwhile, a wood stock reappeared in Gloucester! That one appeared quite healthy and continued in the area for a couple of weeks. It was viewed by many birders as the bird spent much time feeding in the marshes near Grant Circle. Rumors of a third wood stork surfaced from Ipswich but details were sketchy. And later in the month, a wood stork was photographed in Fairhaven. Perhaps that one was the Gloucester bird on its way south?
Two rarities that appeared in November are still being seen this month. One is the rufous hummingbird that is still a daily visitor to a feeder in Brookline, at least as of this writing. The other is the European goldfinch that is still being seen in at the Lexington Community Farm.
A yellow-throated warbler has been visiting a feeder in Ipswich since late November. This is more southern species of warbler, so anytime it shows up in Massachusetts is unusual. A Townsend’s warbler, a western species, was also seen last week over the border in Rye, New Hampshire.
Rare flycatchers have been appearing in our area as well. An apparent hybrid of a Tropical/Couch’s Kingbird x Scissor-tailed flycatcher had birders in Dover, New Hampshire scratching their heads in mid-November! Around the same time, an ash-throated flycatcher was observed at Belle Isle Marsh in East Boston. More recently a gray kingbird was discovered in Biddeford, Maine.
Last week, a handsome tropical kingbird was hanging out at Waring Field in Rockport. This bird was viewed for days by many birders as it was hawking insects from various low perches close to the entrance gate. It’s bright yellow chest and belly stood out in the browns and grays of the surrounding foliage.
Less stunning, but still remarkable, was the western kingbird that was very visible for weeks feeding among the robins on Plum Island. It was seen most frequently along the road across from the maintenance buildings. It was first discovered by MaryMargaret Halsey in November. Margo and I last saw the bird on December 4th. The robins are more scattered now, many feeding closer to the Hellcat Trail, so the Western Kingbird, could still be around.
Less rare, but always welcome this time of year, the snowy owls have started to arrived along the coast. Reports from southeastern New Hampshire, Salisbury and Plum Island have come in. Margo and I saw very two very white adult birds out in the marsh on the Parker River Refuge in recent days. Our usual note of caution: please view snowy owls, or any owl, from a distance so as not to stress these birds. Please enjoy them with binoculars, a spotting scope or a zoom camera lens to get “closer” to these beautiful birds!