Sixth Report of the Avian Records Committee of Connecticut
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Report of The Connecticut Rare Records Committee
Connecticut Warbler 16: 1-25, 1996
Mark Szantyr, Frank W. Mantlik, and David F. Provencher
This sixth report comes three years after the fifth (Clark and Bevier 1993), and the committee recognizes with deep regret the delay and frustration this has caused the observers who dutifully reported their sightings of rarities. While a large backlog has been processed, a number of difficult cases remain pending. Our aims are not diminished, and rarities enthusiasts will find much of interest in this report.
The committee's principal aim is to provide a complete and accurate record of rare birds seen in Connecticut. All reports, including original field notes, photographs, tape recordings, descriptions, and members' comments on each record are archived at the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Those people preparing local bird reports, regional books, identification papers, or summaries of distributional records will find these files of great value. Since the accuracy of these publications depends on the integrity of the committee and the decisions it makes, we sometimes take longer to decide difficult reports, preferring to get them right and avoid reversing our decision, thereby creating a need to correct other publications. While this is not the reason for the past backlog, it should explain why some reports take longer to reach a final decision. More information about the Rare Records Committee and how it works can be found in an article elsewhere in this issue of The Connecticut Warbler.
The committee depends on observers to submit their reports of species on the Review List-these are species marked with an asterisk on the Connecticut Ornithological Association's Field Checklist-and any species new to the state. The most recently published state list contains 390 species and is available from the Connecticut Ornithological Association (314 Unquowa Rd., Fairfield, CT 06430). Please note that Black Vulture and Common Black-headed Gull have been removed from the Review List and that Western Kingbird has been added. Please read Mark Szantyr's appeal for rarities reports (The Connecticut Warbler, Vol. 15 (3):101-102). Submit written reports along with any photographs or sound recordings to the Secretary, Mark Szantyr, 2C Yale Rd., Storrs, CT 06268.
This report contains 103 records of 68 species reviewed by the Connecticut Rare Records Committee (hereafter CRRC or the committee). The committee accepted about 65% of all records reported here. The records span dates from 1959 to 1995, although most (74) are from 1992 to 1994. Significant records in this report include the following:
1st - Pacific Loon, Bridled Tern, and Ash-throated Flycatcher
1st & 2nd -Razorbill, Mountain Bluebird
2nd - Gray Kingbird, Black-throated Gray Warbler, and Chestnut-collared Longspur
3rd & 4th - Le Conte's Sparrow
4th - Townsend's Solitaire and Tufted Duck
Some species formerly designated as Hypothetical on the state list (i.e., species supported only by written details of accepted sight records) now have that designation removed based on photographs deposited with the CRRC. These are Tufted Duck, Arctic Tern, Bohemian Waxwing, and Black-throated Gray Warbler. For the first three species in that list, the records presented here are the first formally reviewed by the committee. These species had been admitted to the state list based on the published materials at hand to the committee when it first put together the official state list. Over the next few years, the committee expects to formally review the previous sight records for these species and others with older records.
STATE LIST AND REVIEW LIST
This report provides details on six additions to the Connecticut state list, which now stands at 392. Monk Parakeet is formally added to the state list in this report along with the five species listed above. In addition to recent reports for White-faced Ibis, Cinnamon Teal, Mississippi Kite, and Sabine's Gull, older reports of four other potential first state records are currently under review. Some of the species new to the state list in this report were already included on the most recent checklist published by the committee (August 1994); the recent records for Pacific Loon and Mountain Bluebird were not included on that list.
This report continues the format of previous reports. In the case of accepted records, only observers who submitted reports are listed with the original finder listed first and followed by an asterisk. Observers who submitted a photograph are acknowledged with "" following their names. Hyphenated numbers (e.g., 92-24) following the observers are CRRC file numbers. The species are listed in order according to the A.O.U. Check-list (1983) and supplements. Records are listed chronologically. Each record lists the locality (including town), date(s) of occurrence, and observers as noted above.
Several people helped the committee with its decisions in this report. We offer our appreciation to Davis Finch, Les Tuck, and, especially, Bruce Mactavish for help in resolving a difficult record. Linda Pearson and Alison Olivieri provided valuable information on the Monk Parakeet to the committee. George Clark and Fred Sibley gave assistance with the specimens in their care and offered sage advice. Jon Dunn and Paul Lehman settled some particularly knotty identification issues. Members and former members who voted on the records in this report are: Louis Bevier, Polly Brody, Milan Bull, Tom Burke, George Clark, Bob Dewire, Richard English, Ed Hagen, Jay Kaplan, Frank Mantlik, Dave Provencher, and Mark Szantyr
The committee greatly appreciates the time and effort expended by the following people who submitted reports on rarities (thank you for your patience!): Ralph Amodei, Jim Bair, Margaret Barker, Charles Barnard, Jr., Louis R. Bevier, Lysle Brinker, John W. Bova, Thomas R. Baptist, Alan H. Brush, Tom Burke, Paul Carrier, George A. Clark, Jr., Roland C. Clement, Kenneth M. Corey, Mary Ann Currie, Neil Currie, Arnold Devine, Patrick Dugan, Carl Ekroth, Richard English, Jeff Fengler, Joseph Ferrari, Davis W. Finch, Shawneen E. Finnegan, Larry Fischer, Valerie Freer, Sam Fried, John Gaskell, Hallett R. Gates, Jr., Bill Gaunya, Henry Golet, Geoffery A. Hammerson, Mr. and Mrs. F. Paul Haney, Greg Hanisek, Ted Hendrickson, John Himmelman, Robert Holland, Julian Hough, Frederick Ianotti, Elsbeth Johnson, Jay Kaplan, Thomas Kilroy, Jr., Betty Kleiner, Gil Kleiner, Brian Kleinman, Rebecca T. Kling, Tom Koronkiewicz, Steve Kotchko, Rachel Lawson, Paul Lee, Paul E. Lehman, William R. Liedlich, Gordon Loery, Robin Magowan, Merle S. Malthauer, Frank W. Mantlik, Curtis Marantz, Joyce Marshall, Bill Martha, Stephen Mayo, Todd McGrath, L. J. K. Morabito, Joseph Morin, Sandra S. Munson, Nancy Olmstead, Russ Naylor, Bryant Northcutt, Brian O'Toole, Cathi Pelletier, Noble S. Proctor, David F. Provencher, Ray Schwartz, Richard Soffer, Dori Sosensky, Geoffrey Styles, James S. Tierney, Julio de la Torre, David Tripp, Lyle Whittlesey, Dale Wierzbicki, William R. Van Loan, Jr., Lisa C. Wahle, Robert Winkler, Chris Wood, Jeff Young, Susan Yurkus, Joseph D. Zeranski, and James Zingo.
Hammonasset = Hammonasset Beach State Park, CW = Connecticut Warbler, AFN = Audubon Field Notes, AB = American Birds (the successor of AFN), NASFN = National Audubon Society Field Notes (the successor of AB). Months of the year are shortened to their first three letters.
PACIFIC LOON (Gavia pacifica). One observed from shore off West Haven 12 Nov 1992 provides the first record for Connecticut (G. Hanisek*; 92-24; Figure 1). The species is added to the state list designated as hypothetical.
The sole observer studied this bird for over twenty minutes as close as fifty yards. Unfortunately, the bird was not relocated the next day. The detailed description and experience of the observer, especially with the species in the East, were convincing evidence for the committee. First state records receive close scrutiny before acceptance, and single observer sight records must measure up to even stricter criteria. All but one member accepted the record; the dissenting member accepted the record as pertaining to Arctic or Pacific Loon.
Pacific Loon and Arctic Loon (G. arctica) were again recognized as separate species only recently (AOU 1985). The familiar name to North American birders, Arctic Loon, is now restricted to forms breeding principally in Eurasia. The chief characters thought to separate Pacific Loon from Arctic Loon in juvenal and basic plumage are absence of white flank patches and presence of a dark ventstrap in pacifica. Also, pacifica often show a chinstrap, which is absent in arctica (Reinking and Howell 1993). The observer of the Connecticut bird specifically noted a lack of white flank patches, but did not note a chinstrap or whether a ventstrap was present or absent. Because the chinstrap and ventstrap may be very difficult to see in the field, it is not surprising that these features were not noted (see Hanisek 1996, in this issue).
The occurrence of Pacific Loon in our region is verified by a specimen from Long Island (Bull 1974), but no specimen of Arctic Loon is known from anywhere along the East Coast. There are numerous sight records of unspecified Arctic/Pacific loons from nearby Massachusetts (over 40) and Rhode Island (over 25) mainly from October to March; however, Connecticut has had only a couple of reports pertaining to the species pair, none of which has been accepted even as Arctic/Pacific until the current record. The disparity in sightings with our neighboring states is difficult to explain. On the one hand, Pacific Loons prefer oceanic waters, which Connecticut lacks, but on the other hand, several records from New Jersey are for large, deep, inland reservoirs. The winter of 1992-1993 saw two Massachusetts reports of arctica/pacifica. The Massachusetts Avian Records Committee has accepted previous reports only as Arctic/Pacific Loon (Petersen 1995).
EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis). An alternate plumage bird was on the Five Mile River, Darien, 26 Jun 1993 (R. T. Kling*, W. R. Van Loan, Jr.; 93-16), and an immature was at Greenwich Point Park, Greenwich, 3-4 Sep 1993 (J. W. Bova*; 94-28). Most Eared Grebe reports in Connecticut are from January to April; the June record reported here is one of few, if any, for that month in the Northeast.
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos). An adult stopped briefly at Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, 3 Oct 1992 (D. F. Provencher*, V. Freer, M. Barker; 92-21). Three observers saw two birds flying over Hammonasset, Madison, 18 Feb 1994 (John Gaskell*; 94-8). An alternate plumage adult was at Sherwood Island State Park, Westport, 17 Jun 1994 (R. Winkler*, R. Soffer, C. Barnard, Jr.; 94-19).
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus). An immature was present at Milford Point, Milford, 30 Jul 1993 and was believed to be present through 10 Aug (T. Kilroy Jr.*, S. Mayo; 93-19). Sightings from nearby coastal marshes suggest this bird wandered somewhat during its stay in Connecticut.
GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (Anser albifrons). An immature was at Westport 2-10 Dec 1994 (C. Barnard, Jr.*, J. Young; 95-3). The committee did not make a subspecific determination for this individual, although the bird did show some of the characters of A. a. flavirostris, which breeds in Greenland.
The bird was reported as the Greenland race based on its orange bill color, but the committee cautions that bill color is widely misinterpreted and is not the best means of identifying this subspecies of White-fronted Goose. Other subspecies in North America show "orange" bills. Further, many observers uncritically assume that the Greenland race is the most likely, when that is not necessarily the case; the midwestern race, frontalis, is also known from the East. Kaufman (1994) has suggested that the Greenland race is perhaps quite difficult to separate in the field from other races in North America and has perhaps been over reported. Other characters shown by the Greenland race are its darker, browner head and neck, more extensive black mottling on the underparts (adults) or diffusely spotted and more uniformly dusky underparts (immatures), and larger size; the bill is also darker, somewhat yellow-orange. Unfortunately, these characters are most useful when viewed in comparison with a White-fronted Goose of another subspecies, a comparison unlikely in the field here in the Northeast. Perhaps also driving these subspecific identifications is the widespread opinion that Greenland birds are of "wild" origin, and thus "countable," whereas others are likely escapes. While the natural occurrence of North American races of White-fronted Goose in the Northeast is somewhat problematical, many individuals are probably "wild" birds.
TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula). An immature male in first alternate plumage was at Greenwich Harbor, Greenwich, 24 Mar-early April 1992 (L. Brinker*, L. R. Bevier, B. Northcutt; 92-10; Figure 2). This bird is believed to be the same individual that first appeared at Rye, New York, from 25 Dec 1991-Feb 1992 (AB 46:241). This bird returned again in the next two winters, but no reports have been submitted to the committee for the succeeding winters.
With this record the hypothetical designation for this species in Connecticut is dropped; there are three previous sight records from 1956 to 1975 (Zeranski and Baptist 1990). These older records have not yet been formally reviewed by the committee. The Tufted Duck is commonly held by aviculturalists, and it is possible that some birds seen in our region have escaped from captivity. In most cases, the exact nature of the occurrence cannot be proved. Nevertheless, a pattern of natural vagrancy seems apparent for this abundant, migratory Eurasian duck.
HARLEQUIN DUCK (Histrionicus histrionicus). A female was observed actively feeding with Oldsquaw off Penfield Reef, Fairfield, 28 Feb 1992 (C. Barnard, Jr.*; 92-15). The committee expressed concerns about the described head pattern, which indicated that the only white marking on the head was the small, round, white spot over the ear coverts; no white was seen in the lores or chin. One member's comments noted that in their experience the pattern was within the range of variation seen on female Harlequin Ducks. Thus, the committee was persuaded to accept the record.
The eastern North American population of Harlequin Duck is endangered and has declined since the last century (Goudie 1989). Wintering populations are rare and local south to Rhode Island at coastal rocky headlands pounded by rough surf; the species is very rare south of there and in Long Island Sound.
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE (Bucephala islandica). A male was off Burial Hill Beach, Westport, 10 Mar 1993 (C. Barnard, Jr.*; 93-7). A male was on the Connecticut River at Enfield 6 Mar 1994 (C. Marantz; 94-7), where up to two were reported present from 23 Jan 1994 onward (CW 14:113); the committee received only the report from Marantz. Up to two or three, including both sexes, have spent the previous four winters at this locality, but reports for preceding years have not been received. Even though the species is of regular occurrence in the state, the committee encourages observers to submit reports for all sightings.
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus). A single bird was observed flying over a residence in Cromwell 14 Nov 1990 (J. Morin*; 91-15). Two birds were flushed off carrion in Kent 11 Jun 1991 (J. Maynard*; 91-27). Two were seen soaring with Turkey Vultures over New Milford 20 Feb 1992 (N. Currie*; 92-6).
The number of Black Vultures seen in western Connecticut has increased in recent years with most reports from New Milford and Kent. Its occurrence in summer has led to speculation that the species may soon be discovered breeding in the state. Wintering birds in those towns likely have been sustained, in part, by the New Milford Landfill. It will be interesting to see if the recent closure of this landfill will affect the status of this species in Connecticut. The committee no longer reviews reports of this species in Connecticut.
SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni). A light phase individual was well described by two experienced observers at the Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch, Greenwich, 12 Oct 1991 (J. de la Torre*, J. Ferrari; 91-23). The bird was presumably an immature based upon its description.
SANDHILL CRANE (Grus canadensis). An immature was at the Hardings Farm fields in Lyme 14-26 Dec 1991 (H. Golet*; 92-8).
AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana). One in basic plumage was seen by two observers on Griswold Point, Old Lyme, 2 Nov 1992 (D. F. Provencher*, T. Hendrickson; 92-28). The bird was searched for unsuccessfully the following day during a nor'easter.
CURLEW SANDPIPER (Calidris ferruginea). One described as being in basic plumage was studied at Broad Brook Reservoir, Cheshire, 25 Oct 1965 (D. W. Finch*; 91-11). A bird in juvenal plumage was at Milford Point, Milford, 14-20 Sep 1988 (S. Fried, F. Mantlik; 91-10).
The Cheshire bird remains the only record for Curlew Sandpiper away from the immediate coast in Connecticut. This record was not published in Audubon Field Notes for that season but was published in Zeranski and Baptist (1990) with the dates 23-25 Oct. The report in the committee's files from D. Finch (via R. English) only indicates the bird's presence on 25 Oct.
The Milford record is significant as one of few reports of juvenal plumage Curlew Sandpiper in the Northeast and the first for Connecticut. This bird was viewed by many people, but sadly, only the slide without written notes and the description by one committee member were submitted. At least one member felt that the image in the slide was unidentifiable, and it is the written evidence alone that accurately describes the plumage to age. This shows that photographs alone may be insufficient to document a sighting.
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus lobatus). One in basic plumage was seen at Milford Point, Milford, 3 Sep 1990 (S. E. Finnegan*; 90-25). Sightings of this species in Connecticut are rare and usually the result of coastal storms. This sighting, however, was not weather related.
COMMON BLACK-HEADED GULL (Larus ridibundus). An adult in basic plumage was in Torrington 26-27 Nov 1990 (D. Tripp*; 91-30). One molting into alternate plumage was at Sandy Point, West Haven, 21 Feb 1992 (C. Pelletier*; 92-11). One in basic plumage was at the South Cove causeway, Old Saybrook, 28 Feb 1992 (J. Kaplan*; 93-6). A bird completing its molt into alternate plumage was at Woodmont 2 Apr 1994 (R. Naylor*; 94-13).
The Torrington record is the first for inland Connecticut and one of very few inland in New England. Common Black-headed Gulls have increased significantly in the Northeast and now are reported annually in Connecticut with multiple individuals occurring, usually in the company of Bonaparte's Gulls. A small wintering population has become established near Providence, Rhode Island. The committee no longer reviews reports of this species in Connecticut.
LITTLE GULL (Larus minutus). An individual molting into definitive alternate plumage was reported from Oyster River Beach, West Haven, 2-20 Apr 1994 (Russ Naylor*; 94-12). Up to three other birds reportedly joined this individual, but no details on these were submitted to the CRRC. Little Gull occurrence in Connecticut has become annual in the spring with peak being late March to early April.
ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea). An alternate plumage adult was at Sandy Point, West Haven, 27 Aug 1994 (A. Devine*; 94-37). The bird was roosting in a group of about two hundred Common Terns and several Forster's Terns. Despite the fact that the observer did not note the wing pattern in flight, considered most useful for identification by the committee, the photographs and written description from this experienced observer were adequate for acceptance.
With this record the hypothetical designation for this species in Connecticut is dropped. Although previously accepted to the state list based on several sight records and lost specimens seen by reputable ornithologists in the past, this is the first formally reviewed and accepted record for Connecticut. Zeranski and Baptist (1990) summarize a number of unreviewed reports. In addition, the committee has in the past attempted to determine the identity of a trunk specimen (a skinned body in alcohol without legs, wings or neck) reported to be this species in the Peabody Museum at Yale University (YPM 1586; West Haven, 22 Sep 1961). To date, no authority has been able to identify this specimen.
Although Arctic Terns breed as close as Massachusetts, the status of this species in Connecticut remains an enigma. The scarcity of Arctic Tern reports in Connecticut is perhaps explained by its movements. Following breeding, some birds move north while most migrate southeast towards Africa, and thus away from Connecticut, before heading south to Antarctica. All reports in Connecticut, and perhaps especially fall reports, should be treated with extreme scrutiny and should be carefully documented. Some features of Arctic Tern identification will be discussed in a forthcoming article in the Connecticut Warbler (Provencher and Szantyr in prep.).
BRIDLED TERN (Sterna anaethetus). An adult was at Falkner Island, Guilford, 27 Jun 1992 and, presumably the same bird, 13-16 Aug 1992 (J. Zingo*; 92-18). These sightings are treated as one record. Excellent photographs of the tern in flight were obtained (Zingo 1993) and indicate an individual showing characters of the race melanoptera, with entirely white outer tail feathers as well as extensive white on the next two tail feathers from the outside (Olsen and Larsson 1995).
This is the first record for Connecticut. The Bridled Tern is casual in the Northeast, where most records are associated with hurricanes or tropical storms, unlike the record above. Notably, the same summer as this record, a Bridled Tern was reported off Cape May, New Jersey, on 12 Sep, and single Sooty Terns (Sterna fuscata) were at Great Gull Island, New York, 12-27 Aug (AB 47:72, 1993) and Scituate, Massachusetts 31 Jul (AB 46:1121, 1992). These sightings suggest that some phenomenon, perhaps related to a gyre of the Gulf Stream, was drawing these warm-water species close to the coast.
DOVEKIE (Alle alle). A basic plumage individual was seen by two observers at Hammonasset, Madison, 12 Nov 1990 (N. S. Proctor*; 90-23). The bird was discovered following the passage of a coastal storm.
THICK-BILLED MURRE (Uria lomvia). One in basic plumage was photographed off the Stonington breakwater 27 May 1973 (B. & G. Kleiner*; 91-7). Although the identification had mild endorsements by Davis Finch and Les Tuck (older, brief letters), some members were not convinced the photographs adequately eliminated Common Murre and requested the opinion of Bruce Mactavish of Newfoundland. The committee voted to accept based upon his written reply, noting Thick-billed features such as the shape of the bill, shape of the head (domed crown and bump on forehead), the blackness of the upperparts, the dark face pattern, and the black extending into the sides of the breast.
RAZORBILL (Alca torda). An immature was present in the outfall of the Millstone Nuclear Power Station, Waterford, during a nor'easter 16-17 Dec 1992 (D. F. Provencher*; 94-26). Although no photographs were obtained, the committee accepted the record unanimously based on the detailed description from close views by an experienced observer. Three observers saw an adult in basic plumage flying westward over Long Island Sound off Griswold Point, Old Lyme, 7 Mar 1993 (D. F. Provencher*; 93-25).
These are Connecticut's first and second accepted records for this alcid, which is added to the state list designated as hypothetical. Several previous sightings have either lacked any description whatsoever or have been described inadequately. Razorbill sightings in southern New England waters have increased in recent years, with, for example, 100+ off Point Judith, Rhode Island, 21 Dec 1991 and 546 there 5 Jan 1992 (AB 46:237, 1992).
BOREAL OWL (Aegolius funereus). One was at Sperry Park, Middlebury, 12 Jan-24 Feb 1992 (A. Devine*, T. R. Baptist, F. W. Mantlik, L. R. Bevier; 92-9). This species is very rare anywhere south of the boreal forests. However, the winter of 1991-1992 saw a modest irruption of Boreal Owls into the Northeast, and armed with this knowledge the finder was specifically searching for it. For more on the status of Boreal Owl in Connecticut and this bird in particular see Devine and Smith (1994).
Although this bird delighted many people, future discoveries may be kept secret if unethical birding behavior, such as shaking the roost tree or climbing adjacent trees for better views, is reported again. We can all enjoy rare birds and protect them from harm if birders conduct themselves according to rules of common sense and courtesy.
ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cinerascens). One was in Stamford 20 Dec 1992-15 Jan 1993 (T. W. Burke*, T. R. Baptist, F. W. Mantlik; 93-2; Figure 3). This is the first accepted record of this species for Connecticut. The documentation was detailed and conclusively ruled out other possible vagrants such as Dusky-capped or Brown-crested Flycatcher. This bird was seen well by many observers, but sadly the committee only received reports from three people!
WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis). One was in Stratford 28-29 Sep 1994 (J. Kaplan; 94-25).
SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus forficatus). An immature was found at Barn Island State Wildlife Management Area, Stonington, 3 Jun 1993 (D. F. Provencher*, F. W. Mantlik; 93-18). The bird was actively feeding low in brushy edges of one of the WMA impoundments and was observed by a number of birders later in the day.
GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis). One was at Greenwich Point Park, Greenwich, 18-22 Nov 1992 (B. O'Toole*, A. Devine, L. Brinker, J. Bair; 93-1). This is only the second record for Connecticut, the other being of one photographed in Old Lyme 9-10 Oct 1974 (Zeranski and Baptist 1990).
SEDGE WREN (Cistothorus platensis). One or two were heard singing predawn by seven observers at Peat Swamp along Route 4, Goshen, 18 May 1990; many subsequent observers found up to 3 singing territorial males and one or more females through at least 8 July, with evidence of breeding (L. R. Bevier*, R. Naylor; 90-19). One was heard and seen by a single observer in a New Milford pasture 6-18 Jun 1993 (Chris Wood*; 93-17). Although the observer reportedly photographed and tape-recorded this bird, the committee does not have copies of those materials in its files.
TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE (Myadestes townsendi). One was found and photographed along Stillson Road, Southbury, 18 Dec 1993-10 Feb 1994 (M. Ann Currie*, N. Currie, R. Naylor, R. Schwartz; 94-1). This is the fourth record for Connecticut; an old report from Hartford (c. 1937) has not yet been reviewed by the committee.
NORTHERN WHEATEAR (Oenanthe oenanthe). One was at Hammonasset, Madison, 20 Sep 1990 (S. Fried*; 90-26). One was seen by three observers at Bluff Point Coastal Reserve, Groton, 19 Sep 1993 (B. Kleinman*, J. Marshall, G. Styles; 93-22). Yet another was at Hammonasset, Madison, 17-18 Sep 1994 (C. Marantz; 94-36). This latter report was seen by many observers, and yet only one person submitted documentation to the committee. The 1990 record at Hammonasset consisted only of a photograph without written notes of the observation. Such submissions are very difficult for the committee to evaluate. Please write and submit field notes for all rarities reports.
MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD (Sialia currucoides). A female was at the "Guilford Sluice," Guilford, 4 Dec 1994-4 Feb 1995 (T. Koronkiewicz*, N. S. Proctor, L. R. Bevier; 94-32; Figure 5). A first basic male was in Sandy Hook 18 Dec 1994-23 Jan 1995 (N. Currie & L. Fischer*, P. Brody, J. Hough, P. E. Lehman, S. E. Finnegan, R. Naylor; 94-35; Figure 6).
These constitute the first and second records for Connecticut and only the fourth and fifth for New England. As further example of the species' winter influx into the Northeast, a group of three birds were in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and one wintered as far north and east as Newfoundland, that province's first (NASFN 49:122).
VARIED THRUSH (Ixoreus naevius). One male frequented a feeder in Killingworth 15-25 Jan 1994 (R. Naylor; 94-5). The owner of the property this bird visited was most helpful to birders, allowing many to enjoy this beautiful thrush-many thanks to the Gumbards.
BOHEMIAN WAXWING (Bombycilla garrulus). A flock of up to twelve birds was seen and photographed as they fed on apples in Goshen, 14 Feb-15 Mar 1994. Over 100 observers came from far and wide to see them (N. S. Proctor*, C. Marantz, R. Naylor, F. W. Mantlik, B. Martha, L. Whittlesey; 94-6). A photograph was published (CW 14:116).
Although this species had been accepted to the state list based on numerous sight records, this is the first formally reviewed and accepted record for Connecticut. The hypothetical designation is removed based on the photographs on file with this record. These birds were part of a widespread invasion by the species into the Northeast, including the largest invasion into New England on record, with 3000+ in Massachusetts alone (NASFN 48:174-175, 184). There apparently were two previous specimen records for the state, but their present whereabouts are unknown; at least thirteen published sight reports also exist (Zeranski and Baptist 1990).
LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus). One was seen by numerous observers at Nod Brook Wildlife Management Area, Simsbury, 18-22 Mar 1986 (J. Kaplan; 95-2). One was at Pine Creek Open Space, Fairfield, 18 May 1992 (C. Barnard, Jr.*; 92-14). This species has become even scarcer in recent years.
BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Dendroica nigrescens). One immature male was seen by numerous observers at Byram Park, Greenwich, 29 Nov-14 Dec 1994 (J. D. Zeranski*, J. W. Bova; 95-1). This is the second record for the state, and the hypothetical designation for this species on the state list is now removed based on the photographs submitted with this report. The diagnostic mottled blackish-gray throat, bold dark cheek patch, and yellow supraloral spot are clearly visible in the photos. The wide white malar stripes were misinterpreted by some observers as a white throat, thus leading them to identify this bird as a female.
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Dendroica dominica). One was in Woodbury 30 May 1994 (R. Naylor*; 94-11). Another was at Mirror Lake on the campus of the University of Connecticut, Storrs, Mansfield, 9 Nov 1994 (G. A. Clark, Jr.*, B. Gaunya; 94-29). The Storrs bird was a first for northeastern Connecticut.
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea). One female was seen by several observers along the Mill River at East Rock Park, Hamden, 30 Apr 1994 (R. Naylor; 94-10). There are several records for this locality.
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra). One was at the Branford Supply Ponds, Branford, 24 Apr 1994 (J. Himmelman*; 94-16).
BLUE GROSBEAK (Guiraca caerulea). One male was seen by six observers just east of Storrs along the Nipmuck Trail, Mansfield, 9 May 1993 (D. Wierzbicki*; 93-11). A female said to be accompanying this bird was not accepted, the description being insufficient for the committee to evaluate the identification.
PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris). One male was at a feeder in Old Lyme late Oct 1989-5 Apr 1990 (H. R. Gates, Jr.*, F. W. Mantlik; 90-8). The birding community was not notified until 7 Feb 1990; it was then seen by dozens of observers, and constitutes the second record for Connecticut (for first, see CW 3:21-22). One male was present the entire day at a feeder in Watertown 6 May 1993 (Mr. and Mrs. F. P. Haney*; 93-10). Some committee members had questions regarding the origin of Painted Buntings in Connecticut; however, these sightings fit a general pattern of occurrence for this species in the Northeast.
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (Spizella pallida). One was seen by six observers at Station 43 Preserve, South Windsor, 8-10 Oct 1991 (C. Ekroth*, J. Kaplan, T. McGrath; 91-26). One was seen by a single observer at Millstone Point, Waterford, 23 Oct 1992 (David F. Provencher*; 92-27).
LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus). One was seen by dozens of observers in a farm field off Crook Horn Road, Southbury, 22 Oct 1994-24 Jan 1995 (W. R. Liedlich, R. Naylor; 94-31). Although initially reported as an immature, nothing in the descriptions of this bird allowed the committee to confidently age this bird. Most individuals of this species probably are not identifiable to age in the field after juvenal plumage is molted in late summer. Occasional streaks on the underparts are sometimes seen, indicating immaturity; no streaks were seen on the underparts of this bird, however.
HENSLOW'S SPARROW (Ammodramus henslowii). One was seen by three observers at Hammonasset, Madison, 9 Nov 1991 (J. Kaplan*; 91-25). One was seen by three observers at Griswold Point, Old Lyme, 8 Nov 1992 (D. F. Provencher*; 92-26).
LECONTE'S SPARROW (Ammodramus leconteii). One was at Hammonasset, Madison, 7 Oct 1992 (D. F. Provencher*; 92-25). One was in a farm field off Crook Horn Road, Southbury, 12-17 Oct 1994 (M. Ann and N. Currie*, G. Hanisek, C. Marantz, R. Naylor; 94-23). These are the third and fourth records for Connecticut.
CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR (Calcarius ornatus). A male in alternate plumage was well described from the short-grass field adjacent to the runway at the Sikorsky Airport, Stratford, 7 Jun 1994 (G. Hanisek*; 94-15). This is the second record for Connecticut. Interestingly, the first record also was from Stratford, a specimen taken there 29 Aug 1968 (Bulmer 1970). A second longspur reported 7-8 Jun 1994 at the same time and place as the present record was tentatively identified as a Lapland Longspur, C. lapponicus (CW 15:29). While the description from one observer of this bird better fit juvenal plumage Horned Lark, another observer's did appear to describe a longspur but not Lapland. This would be an extraordinary date for that species south of Canada, adding further suspicion to the identification. The description of the nape and wing "without obviously richer color" in fact better matches female Chestnut-collared Longspur and would seem to eliminate Lapland, which always shows reddish brown on the greater wing coverts. The committee did not review this second bird.
YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus). A male was at a birdfeeder in Niantic 5 Mar 1991 (N. Olmstead*; 91-5).
BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus major). A bird described as an adult male was seen and heard at Greenwich Point Park, Greenwich, 31 Mar 1993 (P. Dugan*, 93-12). Details of the vocalization as well as the date of the occurrence support the identification as Boat-tailed Grackle. Some concern was expressed, however, that the observer did not attempt to eliminate Great-tailed Grackle, Q. mexicanus, which has occurred in the Northeast (see account below under "Records not Accepted" for more cautions regarding this species).
SPECIES ACCEPTED TO STATE LIST, population established
MONK PARAKEET (Myiopsitta monachus). This species is accepted to the state list based on a population that seems to have grown from a core group established in Fairfield county since the early 1970s (L. Pearson in litt.). The species now nests at numerous localities along the coast from Darien to West Haven and inland to Danbury. The total statewide population is around 400 individuals today, but the exact number is very hard to determine due to the nomadic nature of this species. The population is increasing and new nesting colonies are being found regularly. The population of Monk Parakeets in Connecticut appears to meet all of the criteria for introduced species established in the ABA Checklist fourth edition (DeBenedictis et al. 1990)-a more-or-less contiguous population exists that survives normal mortality and nest failure, produces offspring that maintains or increases the population level, and is not directly dependent on human support.
The American Birding Association (ABA) recently added this species to its checklist of North American birds based on populations in Florida and Texas (Birding 26:96). In that report, the ABA checklist committee questioned the status of other populations, including those in New England, stating that they were sustained by human assistance, e.g. feeding. The Connecticut committee disagrees with that opinion, citing a careful review of this species in Connecticut by Olivieri and Pearson (1992), who indicate that Monk Parakeets are thriving and expanding here and are not dependent on humans for food any more than are, for example, Northern Cardinal or House Finch, which in New England are both comparatively recently established breeders that probably took advantage of bird feeders to survive winters. While bird seed is the predominate food in winter, these parrots have been seen feeding on frozen fruits, plant buds, and grass in winter. The diet and breeding times are similar to those reported for a colony near Chicago (Hyman and Pruett-Jones 1995). Juveniles are first seen in Connecticut colonies usually in July. Monk Parakeets apparently survived eradication efforts in Connecticut in the early to mid-1970s. A comparison of the numbers reported by Niedermyer and Hickey (1977) with those in Olivieri and Pearson (1992) for the early 1970s shows that the Connecticut population was likely underestimated in those years as reported in the earlier study.
While the committee is uneasy with a generalization that this species is now "officially established," members agree that the Connecticut population is similar to other populations in the United States. In some ways, the Monk Parakeet is probably more self-sustaining in the state than are Bobwhite and Ring-necked Pheasant, which rely on restocking in parts of their range within the state. Further study is needed on population growth and diet of the Monk Parakeet in Connecticut.
RECORDS NOT ACCEPTED, identification questionable.
MANX SHEARWATER (Puffinus puffinus). The sparse details provided for a report from Long Island Sound off of Stonington 15 Jul 1993 (93-21) did not satisfactorily eliminate other possible members of this genus such as Audubon's Shearwater, P. lherminieri, or Little Shearwater, P. assimilis. There is one record of Manx Shearwater in Connecticut, a sight record of a single bird seen from Greenwich Point 17 May 1980 (Purnell 1987).
WILSON'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanites oceanicus). A report of a storm-petrel on the Connecticut River near its mouth near Old Lyme on 10 Aug 1991 (91-16) lacked sufficient details to certainly eliminate other storm-petrel species, although it was agreed that Wilson's is the most likely.
LEACH'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanodroma leucorhoa). Two birds were reported on 12 Nov 1990 off of Meigs Point, Hammonasset, Madison (90-24). Most committee members felt that the details provided did not convincingly eliminate other storm-petrel species, especially considering the extreme wind conditions under which the observation was made. The date of 12 Nov also would be the latest date on record for this species in Connecticut and an extremely late date for New England.
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens). The committee agreed that an immature frigatebird was seen at Menunketesuck, Waterford, 6 Aug 1990 (91-1). (Editor's Note: Menunketesuck is in the town of Westbrook not Waterford) Immature Fregata are notoriously difficult to identify (see Birding, 26:402-415), and the committee decided that the details provided did not satisfactorily eliminate other members of this genus. Lesser Frigatebird, F. ariel, has been photographed in Maine (AOU 1983). There are approximately three accepted reports of F. magnificens from Connecticut, and unlike other tropical seabirds, these occurrences are not exclusively associated with tropical storm systems.
FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor). Four were reported at Lordship Marsh, Stratford, 30 Aug 1994 (94-21). While the timing of this sighting is consistent with the northward wanderings of this southern species, the description provided does not convincingly eliminate other more likely duck species. There is one accepted record of this species in Connecticut; three were present 16-29 May 1987 in North Stonington (Clark 1989).
TUNDRA SWAN (Cygnus columbianus). At least four swans were reported from Camp Harkness, Waterford, on 14 Feb 1993 (93-5). The observer eliminated Mute Swan, C. olor, by the details provided but did not address other swan species. The difficulty of swan identification is underrated, and field observers are cautioned to double check any non-Mute Swan. Both Whooper and Trumpeter Swans, C. cygnus and C. buccinator, recently have been seen in Connecticut under circumstances that suggested the individuals were escaped birds. Trumpeter Swans have recently been introduced into central North America, and these birds or their offspring have been reported from the East Coast. Also, Whooper Swan is kept in captivity in the our region. The possibility of vagrants of both these species, however, should not be discounted.
KING EIDER (Somateria spectabilis). A female eider reported off Meig's Point, Hammonasset, Madison, 1 Jan 1991 (91-3), was not described sufficiently to eliminate the similar Common Eider, S. mollissima. Details of head pattern and shape should be carefully noted on female and immature eiders to identify this rare winter visitor to Connecticut waters.
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus). The committee felt that a report from Sherwood Island State Park, Westport, 8 Apr 1992 (92-17), while probably correct, offered no description of the bird and was distant enough from usual localities for this species in the state that it was warranted to require at least some basis for the identification. This species is increasing rapidly in Connecticut. This increase has resulted in the species being removed from the CRRC Review List as of our meeting in January 1995.
AMERICAN SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus). A report from Barlow Cemetery Road, Woodstock, 14 Mar 1991 (91-12) was accompanied by no description of the bird seen. The committee could not accept such a report. It is noted, however, that a Swallow-tailed Kite reportedly was seen over Falmouth, Massachusetts, later the same day as the Connecticut report (AB 45:416). The Connecticut sighting was published tentatively as a Swallow-tailed Kite (CW 11:129).
EURASIAN KESTREL (Falco tinnunculus). A female kestrel reported from the Quaker Hill Hawk Watch at the Audubon Center in Greenwich on 1 Sep 1993 (94-4) was insufficiently described to positively identify this very rare vagrant. Even if identification had been possible, the question of origin was raised by a number of members. F. tinnunculus has been reported once in Massachusetts, three times in Alaska, twice in New Jersey, and once in New Brunswick.
GYRFALCON (Falco rusticolus). The committee received a report of a bird over Interstate 91 in New Haven 9 Nov 1993 (94-3). The bird apparently was seen without optical aids and from a moving vehicle. The details provided were considered insufficient, and concerns were raised concerning the circumstances of the observations. Identifying falcons in flight can be tricky. Not only does one have to consider the varying sizes and plumages of the "standard" fare, but a careful observer must also be aware of the possibility of escaped falconer's birds and the extent of experimental hybridization being carried on between commonly kept species used by the falconry community
BLACK RAIL (Laterallus jamaicensis). One was reported seen in daylight in a saltmarsh channel along Leete's Island Road, Guilford, 30 Jun 1994 (94-17). The account of this bird did not eliminate other possible rails, in particular the precocious chicks and juvenile rails which are also all black and which begin to appear at this time of year. Further, the committee was wary of the fact that the observer did not use optical aids and had not previously seen Black Rail. The flight noted did not eliminate the weak flutter flight of young rails, and Black Rails are very rarely seen flying. Committee members also wished that there had been follow-up, perhaps after dark, to confirm this sighting. Black Rail is a rarely encountered visitor to Connecticut and its secretive nature makes documenting and assessing its actual numbers quite difficult. Any and all sightings of this species are interesting and should be reported promptly as the species is an historical and potential breeder in the state.
RUFOUS-NECKED STINT (Calidris ruficollis). A bird described as "in pre-breeding plumage" was reported at Milford Point, Milford, 18 Jul 1992 (92-16). The committee felt that the description did not eliminate other more regularly occurring Calidris and did not meet standards sufficient to support a first state record. Stint identification is extremely difficult at best; detailed plumage descriptions as well as descriptions of structure are critical. Even with photos, confirmation of this identification can be difficult. Observers are asked to remember that Sanderling, C. alba, can be unnervingly similar to Rufous-necked Stint, especially as Sanderling molts out of alternate plumage. While the observer had considered this, nothing in the description eliminated Sanderling, and thus forced the committee not to accept the report.
LITTLE STINT (Calidris minuta). A juvenile was reported from Hammonasset, Madison, 22-27 Aug 1992 (92-20). Another, also a juvenile, was reported from Milford Point, Milford, 22-23 Aug 1992 (95-4). As stated above, stint identification is extremely difficult and thus requires careful documentation and very critical observation of plumage characters as well as bill structure and primary extension. Even with close scrutiny, not enough is known about exceptionally bright plumages of more common species such as Semipalmated Sandpiper, C. pusilla. The committee felt that the details in both of these reports were insufficient to support the identification as Little Stint and that even the slide documentation of the Hammonasset bird did not support the identification. It was also noted that the timing of these sightings was earlier than expected for a juvenal plumage Little Stint, for which documented occurrences in North America are from September. There is no accepted record of Little Stint from Connecticut.
PARASITIC JAEGER (Stercorarius parasiticus). A bird described as a juvenile "dark morph" jaeger was reported off Meig's Point, Hammonasset, Madison, 10 Jan 1992 (92-1). The committee agreed that the details of the sighting did not convincingly eliminate other jaeger species nor did it eliminate other possible pelagic species. In addition, the date of occurrence was highly unlikely for a jaeger. Pelagic bird surveys conducted by Manomet Observatory, Massachusetts, during the winter have never recorded any jaeger species in New England waters (Veit and Petersen 1993).
MEW GULL (Larus canus). One bird was reported from Milford Point, Milford, 30 Aug 1991 (91-18). The description did not eliminate other likely gull species or support the identification as Mew Gull. Even the exact age of this bird was not clear from the description. Gulls exhibit a wide range of variation in late summer due to molt and wear that causes bleaching and fading as well as unusual plumage patterns. Such odd individuals are sometimes difficult to identify.
THAYER'S GULL (Larus thayeri). A first-winter gull reported as this species was photographed near the Housatonic River in New Milford 15-16 Jan 1991 (91-14). The committee reviewed this material at length and concluded that the plumage was within the range of heavily pigmented Iceland Gull, L. glaucoides. In particular, the primaries and tertials were not typical of Thayer's Gull and better fit Iceland Gull. Further, the inner wing and tail pattern were not clearly discernible in the photographs; the pattern in these areas is essential to identification of first-winter Thayer's. This is a difficult identification problem that is addressed in the excellent article by Zimmer (1991). There is one accepted sight record of Thayer's Gull for Connecticut (Bevier and Clark 1990).
ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea). Three were reported from the sand bar off of Milford Point, Milford, 20 Aug 1991 (91-17). The committee felt that the descriptions did not conclusively rule out Common Tern, S. hirundo. The descriptions of bill color and upperparts color from the two submitted reports were contradictory and caused concern over the total identification. Likewise, several key field marks were not noted. Most members agreed that difficult identifications based on one or two field marks should be avoided. Some features of Arctic Tern identification, especially the difficulty of assessing the underparts color, will be discussed in a forthcoming article in the Connecticut Warbler (Provencher and Szantyr in prep.).
RAZORBILL (Alca torda). Two birds were reported from Fisher's Island Sound near Middle Clump 11 Mar 1993 (93-9). The committee feels that while the description of the bill seemed consistent with A. torda, other descriptive plumage characters did not definitely separate these birds from other black and white alcid species. Considering the views, reliance on the bill features seemed questionable. Some additional concern was raised about whether or not these birds were in Connecticut waters because of the proximity to the boundary with New York.
NORTHERN HAWK OWL (Surnia ulula). A bird reported as this species was seen 10-14 Mar 1992 in the vicinity of Falls Village (92-7). Although a lengthy report, the portion describing the bird itself did not note any of the tell-tale head markings of Hawk Owl; thus, the committee was unable to identify the bird beyond "raptor species." Some members also expressed concerns that during the winter of 1991-1992 virtually no Hawk Owls ventured south of their more northern haunts. Northern Hawk Owl is a very rare winter visitor, with just five reported occurrences in Connecticut.
GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes aurifrons). One was reported from Fisher Meadows Nature Trails, Avon, 9 Jan 1992 (92-2). The bird was looked for but not refound. The committee found this report interesting but was hesitant to accept a record of a species that is largely non-migratory and previously unrecorded from anywhere near Connecticut or the Northeast. Such an extraordinary sighting was even more difficult to accept based only on a single observer report. A xanthic form of Red-bellied Woodpecker (M. carolinus), a common woodpecker in Connecticut, is known (see photographs, AB 29:683 and 29:46) and might conceivably be seen in Connecticut. This form is amazingly similar to Golden-fronted Woodpecker, even showing yellow on the crown, and could account for the Avon sighting. Unfortunately, even though the tail pattern was well-described, other features necessary for a definitive identification were not noted.
THREE-TOED WOODPECKER (Picoides tridactylus). A woodpecker reported as a female of this species was reported at Harwinton 15 Jun 1993 (93-14). As intriguing as this report is, the details of the observation, including well-described plumage characteristics, do not conclusively eliminate Hairy Woodpecker, P. villosus. Hairy Woodpecker is variable and some plumages, including juvenal plumages, can closely approach that of Three-toed Woodpecker. The date of the sighting is more consistent with juvenile Hairy Woodpecker than Three-toed Woodpecker, whose occurrence in neighboring Massachusetts is confined to winter and early spring. There are no accepted records of Three-toed Woodpecker for Connecticut.
SEDGE WREN (Cistothorus platensis). One was reported from a wet meadow at the Benton Hill Fen, Sharon, 8 May 1990 (90-17). The committee felt that this report, though probably correct, was far too meager to certainly eliminate other wren species, especially Marsh Wren, C. palustris. The observer neither described nor noted any character or vocalization conclusive or diagnostic for Sedge Wren. The locality, habitat, and date, especially in a year when other Sedge Wrens were found in northwest Connecticut, all are supportive. Nevertheless, there must be some indication of how the bird was identified for the committee to accept a report.
NORTHERN WHEATEAR (Oenanthe oenanthe). An untitled sketch, presumably submitted as a Northern Wheatear, was reviewed as that species for a bird seen at Hammonasset, Madison, 14 Nov 1991 (92-5). The committee could not accept this record as it was not accompanied by any details; in fact, the report never even named the species it was intending to document. The committee asks that along with field sketches and photographic evidence, a written testimony concerning the sighting be submitted. Further, the committee can only review sightings assigned to a particular species.
TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE (Myadestes townsendi). Two reports were rejected. One was from Hammonasset, Madison, 6 Oct 1992 (92-23) and another was from Newtown 12 Mar 1993 (93-8). The committee felt that the details of the Hammonasset sighting did not eliminate other more common species, including Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos. In this case, the observer appeared to have identified the bird mainly on the basis of behavior without the corroboration of field marks; the behavior described was not diagnostic. The Newtown sighting, though probably correct, was made under difficult viewing conditions. This indicated the details were uncertain, and thus, the identification was questionable. No optical aids were used in this sighting. There are only three accepted records and a fourth unreviewed record of this western species for Connecticut, all from late November through February.
REDWING (Turdus iliacus). Two birds were reported on a lawn in Woodstock 7 Aug 1992 (92-22). Based on the details and photographs seen by members, the committee concluded that identification was likely an error. In fact, the committee unanimously concluded that the photographs show juvenal plumage American Robins, T. migratorius. Very few of us would have any trouble identifying a common bird like a robin in adult plumage, but the committee warns that juvenal plumages of common birds are unfamiliar to many observers. In this case, the notes and photographs made subsequent identification possible, thus illustrating the importance of carefully describing and photographing a bird thought to be a rarity.
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea). A male was reported from North Beaver Dam Pond in the Taconic section of Salisbury on or about 23 April 1993 (93-15). The committee felt that even though this species is becoming more regular in spring, the lack of descriptive details for this sighting did not allow for full evaluation. Please note that the timing of this report coincides perfectly with dates of documented occurrence in Connecticut.
PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris). One was reported in Old Greenwich 2 October 1991 (91-20). The details provided stated the bird was a female but did not eliminate other more expected species. The description of the bill as large and pale also seemed wrong for Painted Bunting.
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (Spizella pallida). Two reports were rejected. One was from Sherwood Island State Park, Westport, 27 September 1992 (93-3), and another was from Stratford 26 October 1993 (93-23). The Westport report lacked sufficient descriptive details of the bird to allow the committee to accept the identification. Further, the observation was brief and the observer unfamiliar with the species in question. The written details for the Stratford report did not support the identification, and the photographs submitted with this report depict, in the committee's opinion, a Chipping Sparrow, S. passerina. Although most field guides mention the rump pattern as a key field mark separating Clay-colored and Chipping Sparrows, a careful description of the face and head pattern, noting the presence or absence of a dark line through the loral area, is more helpful and reliable for identification. The photographs of the Stratford bird clearly show a dark line in the loral area (among other things), indicating the bird was a Chipping Sparrow.
BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus major). A report of a male at Lordship Marsh, Stratford, 4 July 1992 (92-13) was not accepted after much debate concerning the possibility of Great-tailed Grackle, Q. mexicanus, a species of tropical and sub-tropical America once known in the United States only from southern Texas. The Great-tailed Grackle is rapidly expanding northward and has been recorded in Illinois, Ohio, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. While the timing of the Stratford report is consistent with other records of Boat-tailed Grackle in Connecticut, any sighting of a "large-tailed" grackle here should be documented sufficiently to eliminate Great-tailed until more is known about its pattern of vagrancy. The observer did not note eye color, head shape, or call notes which would help separate these two species of grackle. It is noteworthy that Boat-tailed Grackles have occurred at the Lordship Marsh both prior to and subsequent to this report. Most recently, a male and two females apparently attempted to nest at this location during the summer of 1995 (report under review). For a cautionary note on the identification of Great-tailed Grackle in the Northeast, see Bevier (1994).
RECORDS NOT ACCEPTED, natural occurrence questionable (identification accepted).
BARNACLE GOOSE (Branta leucopsis). One was seen on the Housatonic River south of the Shepaug Dam, Southbury, 2 February 1992 (92-3). Another was seen at the Fairfield County Hunt Club, Westport, on 20 October 1994 (94-34). Every spring and fall, we receive at least a few reports of Barnacle Goose. Usually these are birds seen with large, migrating flocks of Canada Geese, B. canadensis. The Barnacle Geese in these instances usually show no sign of having escaped from captivity and exhibit all the wariness of wild geese. Why do we question the origin of these individuals? Barnacle Goose is commonly kept in captivity and is commonly known to escape from captivity. Captive waterfowl, after having been out in the "free world" for a time, revert to very wild behavior and may follow wild flocks of geese on their migratory movements. The Barnacle Goose has occurred naturally in North America as demonstrated by a pair shot in the late fall of 1981 on the coast of Newfoundland, the male banded in Spitsbergen north of Norway. Nevertheless, because we are not able to conclusively prove the wild origin of this very popular aviary species, we are forced to regard all occurrences of doubtful origin.
ROBIN (Erithacus rubecula). An "English" Robin spent the winter of 1959-1960 at a bird feeder in West Cornwall (93-13). This bird was captured and banded and the identification was confirmed. This species has never been recorded in North America in other than a captive condition. In fact, this species is relatively sedentary, with the British Isle population undergoing only very limited seasonal movement. The committee believes that, based on the complete lack of history as a vagrant, and our inability to rule out a captive origin for this individual, our best recourse is to not accept until such time as a pattern of vagrancy may develop. The committee would like to encourage observers to document any occurrences of exotic species. This information can prove useful in future evaluation of the avifauna of our state.
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Mark Szantyr, 2C Yale Rd, Storrs, CT 06268
Frank W. Mantlik, 261 Chestnut Hill Rd, Norwalk, CT 06851
David F. Provencher, 43 Branch Hill Rd, Preston, CT 06360