Second ARCC Report

The Connecticut Warbler, 7(4): 46-51 (Fall 1987)
By Fred Purnell

The establishment of a Rare Records Committee (RRC) for the State of Connecticut represents an important step in the history of field ornithology for the region. Numerous other states have established similar bodies whose role in assessing and preserving evidence for the occurrence of avian rarities is crucial for establishing consistency and completeness of the ornithological record. Obviously the best evidence for the occurrence of a bird species in the State is a specimen. For many years ornithologists were unwilling to grant credence to any reports unaccompanied by a skin. Current restraints (moral as well as practical) against collecting, coupled with the improvement of photographic and sound recording equipment and the sharpening of field skills by an ever greater number of experienced observers have opened the door to the acceptance of new forms of evidence by professional ornithologists. This has given rise to the need for procedures for evaluating and preserving this evidence for future generations of students, in much the way museum collections preserve the specimen record.

In evaluating a submitted report, the members of the RRC are concerned with the adequacy of the evidence supplied by observers in light of the permanent historical record to be maintained. Their aim is to assess the quality of the evidence, written, photographic, and otherwise, in light of what is currently known about avian distribution and the problems of field identification of the species involved. Observers whose reports are not accepted by the RRC should not take this as a judgment that the bird or birds were misidentified or that the observer’s abilities are questioned, but that the report raised problems which could not be resolved, involving either identification or origin. It is the accuracy and completeness of the field report and the rigor and objectivity of the review procedure which distinguish an accepted record from an uncorroborated report.

One of the major aims underlying the establishment of the RRC is to foster an awareness in Connecticut’s field ornithologists of the importance of providing corroboration for their reports of rarities. Careful field notes, sketches, photographs and sound recordings are essential to establishing a record of lasting ornithological value. The initial period of the RRC’s operation has been devoted to several fundamental tasks: acceptance of by-laws governing its operation, developing criteria for an official State List, reviewing historical records, and preparing a Review List of species for which corroborating evidence of future occurrences is desired. At the same time, the RRC has begun the process of evaluating current reports as they have been submitted and eliciting submissions in support of unsubstantiated or insufficiently substantiated reports of historical significance. The RRC’s decisions regarding these initial reports are presented below. Sequence and nomenclature follow The A.O.U. Check-List of North American Birds, 6 th edition. In each case date and location of occurrence are provided, together with the appropriate RRC file number. In the case of accepted records, names of principal observers are given. First state records are so designated; the term “hypothetical” is used to distinguish those records of species for which satisfactory photographic or specimen evidence is still required, in accord with the Committee’s policy regarding the official State List.

Several reports submitted to the Committee are still pending, in some cases awaiting appraisal by outside experts. The RRC reserves the right to reconsider any report, whether initially accepted or not, upon receipt of significant additional evidence. The RRC wishes to express its appreciation to the many contributors who have responded to its requests for information. Particular thanks are due to Jon Dunn for generously providing valuable assistance. The Committee would like to urge all birders to assist in making their Connecticut field observations part of the ongoing ornithological record of the State. Rare Bird Report Forms are available from the Secretary. The time and care taken to prepare a formal report of your observations represent your direct contribution to the future of ornithology in the region.


GREATER SHEARWATER (Puffinus gravis) An incapacitated bird captured at Branford, 9 Nov. 1985, unsuccessfully released, 19 Nov., S. Ramsby et al. (86-11); photos on file.

MANX SHEARWATER (Puffinus puffinus) One seen at Greenwich Point, 17 May 1980, T. Burke, F. Purnell, J. Zeranski (85-5). First accepted state record (hypothetical).

MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) Adult male at Thimble Islands, Branford, 28 Aug. 1979, N.S. Proctor et al. (87-16); photo on file.

TUNDRA SWAN (Cygnus columbianus) One at Hammonasset St. Pk., Madison, 3-6 Nov. 1973, N.S. Proctor, E. Hagen et al. (87-12); photo Am. Birds 28-1 (1974) cover. One adult at Nell’s Is., Milford, 27 March 1977, F. Mantlik et al. (86-13); photo on file.

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (Anser albifrons) Two adults of the Greenland race (flavirostris) at Orange, 14 Dec. 1985 – 12 Jan. 1986, N.S. Proctor et al. (86-6); photo on file. One adult of the same race on Connecticut R., S. Windsor, 13 Jan. 1986, C. Taylor et al. (86-5).

KING EIDER (Somateria spectabilis) One female and an immature male at Sherwood Is. St. Pk., Westport, 8 Dec. 1985 – 4 Jan. 1986, F. Mantlik et al. (86-8).

BARROW’S GOLDENEYE (Bucephala islandica) One adult male at Guilford Harbor, 4 Feb. 1985, N.S. Proctor (86-2). An adult male at City Point, New Haven, 20 Dec. 1986, R. English et al. (87-7).

GOLDEN EAGLE ( Aquila chrysaetos) One immature at Essex, 30 Dec. 1984 – 16 Feb. 1985, F. Mantlik, C.Z. Wood et al. (85-24).

SWAINSON’S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni) Light-phase adult at Hammonasset St. Pk., Madison, 11 Sept. 1985, D. Varza, R. Schwartz et al. (85-35); photos on file. First accepted state record.

GYRFALCON (Falco rusticolus) One immature at Storrs, Mansfield, 12 Dec. 1986, L.R. Bevier (87-18).

AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana) One at Silver Sands St. Pk., Milford, 4-5 Sept. 1984, D. Varza et al. (85-27).

SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER (Calidris acuminata) One juvenile at Veterans’ Park, Norwalk, 15-16 Oct. 1985, F. Mantlik et al. (86-9); photos on file. The bird was banded and released on the 16 th. First state record. Cover photo CW 6(2), Pg. 15-17. (Dates as reported in Field Notes CW 6(2), p. 21, incorrect.)

CURLEW SANDPIPER (Calidris ferruginea) One adult in alternate plumage at Milford Pt. 14 May 1981, F. Mantlik (86-14).

RUFF (Philomachus pugnax) Immature male at Guilford Sluice, 15 Aug. 1976, E. Hagen, A. Jenks (87-13).

RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus lobatus) Five birds at Sandy Point, West Haven, 18 Aug. 1985, M. Szantyr et al. (85-15); photo on file.

RED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus fulicaria) One individual at Stratford, 7 Oct. 1985, D. Varza, S. Bushinski (85-22).

POMARINE JAEGER (Stercorarius pomarinus) One light-phased adult at Sandy Pt., West Haven, 5 Aug. 1985, A.H. Bledsoe, S.J. Ruoff (85-26). First accepted state record (hypothetical). Previous reports of this species not yet evaluated by the Committee.

LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus fuscus) Winter-plumaged adult in New Haven, 15 Nov. 1985, M. Szantyr (86-4).

ROSS’ GULL (Rhodostethia rosea) Adult in basic plumage in West Haven, 11-22 April 1984. Found and identified by D. Varza and R. Schwartz. Report provided by A.H. Bledsoe (85-4); photos on file. First State record.

GULL-BILLED TERN (Sterna nilotica) One in Madison, 4 Oct. [1985, but reported as 6 Oct. in CW 6(2): 21 (1986)] (hypothetical). Photographic or specimen evidence of this species’ occurrence in Connecticut still needed.

BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Columba fasciata) One in East Haven, 7 Nov. 1982, C. Taylor et al. (85-9). One at Portland feeder, Dec. 1984 – March 1985, S. and J. Mitchell et al. (85-8). First accepted state records (hypothetical).

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica) One with a flock of five Mourning Doves at Milford Point, 23-25 Nov. 1973, R. English et al. (87-6). First accepted state record (hypothetical).

CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW (Caprimulgus carolinensis) One in Westport Nature Center, 14 May 1982, T. Rochovansky et al. (87-11).

BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER (Picoides arcticus) One female on the Chester-Killingworth town line, 4 Jan. 1987, K. and C. Mason (87-17).

WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis) One at Stratford Point, 28 Sept. 1985, D. Varza, C. Trichka (85-20). One at Lighthouse Point Park, New Haven, 7 Oct. 1985, R. English, N. Currie (85-21).

SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus forficatus) One adult at Hammonasset St. Pk., Madison, 11 Oct. 1983, J. Zickefoose et al. (85-29).

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax) One at Larsen Sanctuary, Fairfield, 7 Sept. 1984, C.J. Trichka (85-2). One at Thomaston, 16 Feb. 1985, P. Carrier et al. (85-31).

SEDGE WREN (Cistothorus platensis) One bird at Hammonasset St. Pk., Madison, 6 Sept. 1985, C. Taylor et al. 85-25). One at Bradley Int. Airport, Windsor Locks, 19 May 1986, T.I. Crossman (86-16).

NORTHERN WHEATEAR (Oenanthe oenanthe) One at Hammonasset St. Pk., Madison, 5-10 Sept. 1985, R. English et al. (85-13); individual was banded and released on 9 Sept., photo on file. One at Westport, 28-30 Sept. 1986, R.L. Soffer et al. (86-18).

TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE (Myadestes townsendi) One adult at Bethel, 12 and 24 Nov. 1983, T. Lofgren (85-7). First accepted state record (hypothetical). A 1939 sight record has not yet been evaluated by the Committee.

BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Dendroica nigrescens) One male in Waterford, 4-30 Oct. 1967, G. Bissel, R. Dewire, H. Gilman (87-5). First state record (hypothetical).

HERMIT WARBLER (Dendroica occidentalis) One at East Rock Park, New Haven, 1-3 May 1977, R. English et al. (87-8). First state record (hypothetical).

YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Dendroica dominica) One at Osbornedale St. Pk., Derby, 17 May 1986, W. Stoddard (87-3).

PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Prothonotaria citrea) One singing male in Redding, 1 May 1986, M. Szantyr (86-17).

BLUE GROSBEAK (Guiraca caerulea) One male in Avon, 8-18 May 1985, J. Carville et al. (85-23).

GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE (Pipilo chlorurus) One at feeder in Orange, 7 Feb. 1983, L. Schlesinger (85-6). First state record (hypothetical).

CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (Spizella pallida) One bird in Stratford, 8 Sept. 1985, D. Varza (85-19).

HARRIS’ SPARROW (Zonotrichia querula) One in South Windsor, 27 Dec. 1986, P. Lescault, P. Kitchin (87-4).

YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) One immature male at feeder, Milford, 16-26 April 1985, J. Calabrese et al. (85-16).

BREWER’S BLACKBIRD (Euphagus cyanocephalus) One male at feeder, Westport, 2 Jan. 1981, T. Rochovansky, N. Voldstad (87-10). First accepted state record (hypothetical).

BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus major) Two females at Lighthouse Point, New Haven, 7 Oct. 1985, R. English et al. (85-14). First accepted state record (hypothetical). Photographic evidence of the species’ occurrence in the state has subsequently been provided.

HOARY REDPOLL (Carduelis hornemanni) One female in Norwalk, 13-14 March 1978, F. Mantlik (86-15); photo on file.

UNACCEPTED RECORDS (Identification Questionable)

ARCTIC LOON (Gavia arctica) One in basic plumage at Merwin Point, Milford, 16 Nov. 1980 (85-32).

EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis) One in basic plumage in Woodmont, West Haven, 2 Mar. 1987 (87-9); photos on file.

NORTHERN GANNET (Sula bassanus) One over Long Island Sound off Stratford, 3 Nov. 1985 (85-18).

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) Flock of 15 or more in Poquonock, Windsor, 19 Mar. 1987 (87-14).

WHITE-TAILED EAGLE (Haliaeetus albicilla) A bird collected in Branford, 29 Mar. 1934. Specimen apparently lost. Identification questionable (86-12).

GYRFALCON (Falco rusticolus) One gray-phase bird at Lighthouse Point, New Haven, 21 Nov. 1986 (87-1)

RUFOUS-NECKED STINT (Calidris ruficollis) One adult in alternate plumage in Guilford, 25 Aug. 1975 (87-15).

LONG-TOED STINT (Calidris subminuta) One in New Haven, 11 Sept. 1983 (85-38); photos on file.

SOUTH POLAR SKUA (Catharacta maccormicki) One on Long Island Sound from Bridgeport ferry, 19 Aug. 1983 (87-37); photos on file.

FRANKLIN’S GULL (Larus pipixcan) One in East Haven, 9 Sept. 1982 (85-28).

WHITE-WINGED TERN (Chlidonias leucopterus) One in New Milford 13 May 1979 (85-3).

BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans) One in Naugatuck, 14 Oct. 1977 (85-1).

ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cinerascens) One in Bethany, 6 Oct. 1984 (85-10).

CONNECTICUT WARBLER (Oporornis agilis) One male at birdbath, Rowayton, Norwalk, 9 May 1987 (87-19).

BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus melanocephalus) Two males, one female flocking with two Rose-breasted Grosbeaks at Portland Meadows, 2-3 Sept. 1985 (85-12).

HENSLOW’S SPARROW (Ammodramus henslowii) One at Bridgeport Airport, Stratford, 7 Oct. 1985 (85-17).

UNACCEPTED RECORD (Origin Questionable (identification accepted))

COMMON SHELDUCK (Tadorna tadorna) One male at Westport, 17 Jan. – at least 17 May 1987 (87-2); photos on file.

Submitted July 21, 1987
Fred Purnell, Acting Chairman

Committee Members for 1987:
George A. Clark, Jr., Chairman, Tom Burke, Fred Sibley, Mark Szantyr, Clay Taylor, Dennis Varza. Alternates: Louis Bevier, Buzz Devine, Richard English, Ed Hagen.

Frank Mantlik, Secretary
17 Seabreeze Pl., Norwalk, CT 06854