Date: 7/16/17 5:53 pm
From: Ned Brinkley via va-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: Re: [Va-bird] The Next Fifteen (Bird) Species for Virginia?
Thanks, indeed!

And thanks for Bob Ake for reminding me that Lesser Goldfinch was missing
from the second sentence - I completely forgot about that great bird.

On Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 8:57 PM, Bill McGovern <bmcgovern...> wrote:

> Ned:
> Ned, this is an amazing document--it must have taken weeks to compile
> the data, with countless re-writes!
> Thanks! I will keep it at the ready!
> Bill
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: va-bird [mailto:va-bird-bounces+bmcgovern=<cox.net...>] On
> Behalf Of Ned Brinkley via va-bird
> Sent: Friday, July 14, 2017 6:06 PM
> To: VA-BIRD <va-bird...>
> Subject: [Va-bird] The Next Fifteen (Bird) Species for Virginia?
>
> Virginia’s Next 15 Species?
>
> Every 10 years or so, I ask regional birders to help predict Virginia’ s
> “Next 20 Birds.” Ten years after the publication of the Gold Book (2007),
> many of the predicted species have now been detected and documented in the
> state, including Red-billed Tropicbird, Smith’s Longspur, Crested Caracara,
> Dusky Flycatcher, Townsend’s Solitaire (one report from Northern Virginia
> had not been accepted), Brown Noddy, Calliope Hummingbird, Roseate
> Spoonbill, Northern Lapwing, Ancient Murrelet, and Violet-green Swallow.
> Other species that were not predicted, mostly because their patterns of
> occurrence in the East were very weak, were nevertheless welcome additions
> to our avifauna: Zone-tailed Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Bulwer’s Petrel,
> Brewer’s (Timberline) Sparrow, Lucy’s Warbler, Brown-chested Martin, Lesser
> Sand-Plover. And of course, those great rarities no one saw coming have
> knocked our socks off, even if we might have missed them ourselves: Terek
> Sandpiper, White-crowned Pigeon, Violet-crowned Hummingbird. (In the
> business of predicting new species, being wrong is extraordinarily
> enjoyable.)
>
> Perhaps because pelagic trips are so few off our Commonwealth, Bermuda
> Petrel was not predicted to be detected, even though tracking devices
> indicate that these rare birds do transit the state’s waters routinely, and
> North Carolina birders have documented at least 31 there since 1993. But
> sharp-eyed Tom Johnson found one at sea far east of Rudee Inlet and managed
> to get good images from a research vessel, for Virginia’s first.
>
> Virginia has now added so many species with moderate to strong occurrence
> patterns in the East at this point that in predicting the next set of
> birds, I have limited the list to 15 rather than 20 species.
>
> Below are consideration of the various “groups” of birds (seabirds,
> raptors, passerines, etc.), with notes on the likelihood of occurrence of
> new species based on records from surrounding states as well as Canada
> (Ontario eastward) and Bermuda. The records mentioned for potential new
> species are not exhaustive by any means, just an indication of context for
> possible Virginia appearances.
>
> SEABIRDS
>
> Not all seabirds are seen from boats, but because Virginia has so few
> pelagic trips these days (1-2 per year lately), only one seabird is
> predicted to be among the Next 15 Birds added to the state list.
>
> North Carolina has multiple records of Black-bellied Storm-Petrel,
> Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel, European Storm-Petrel, and Cape Verde Shearwater,
> while Georgia and South Carolina each have a record of Red-footed Booby (as
> does Nova Scotia). Records of Zino’s Petrel and White-chinned Petrel off
> North Carolina are essentially singular in the western North Atlantic,
> though Maine has a record of the latter. None of these birds above seem
> likely to be recorded in Virginia unless more pelagic trips are undertaken,
> though researchers might well encounter any of them. Masked Booby is
> recorded almost annually now off North Carolina, with single recent records
> from New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York, and I predict that
> Virginia will soon add that species, probably from a research vessel
> studying marine mammals.
>
> Lesser Frigatebird might have already occurred in Virginia; photographs of
> the Wythe County frigatebird from 1988 look very much like a Lesser to my
> eye. No measurements were taken of that bird, unfortunately. In North
> America, the species is known from Michigan, Maine, Wyoming, and California.
>
> Tufted Puffin, as well as other Pacific alcids, now have open seas in the
> higher latitudes in late summer, making plausible more Atlantic records in
> addition to Maine’s (and England’s) recent records. Long-billed Murrelet
> (two records each from North and South Carolina, three from Florida, and
> about seven each in there Midwest and Northeast) could occur on an inland
> Virginia lake in October/November, but inland records in North America have
> plummeted in recent years.
>
> We’d love to see an Arctic Loon (Ohio, Vermont, Colorado; possibly a few
> more) but far more likely is Yellow-billed Loon (Maine, Massachusetts,
> Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana, with multiples from New York, Tennessee,
> Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and many in the Great Plains and
> Rockies)which makes my Next 15 List. If one is hoping to add new seabirds
> via “splits,” then Scopoli’s Shearwater and Madeiran Storm-Petrel would be
> the next likely additions for Virginia (these are currently treated as
> types of Cory’s Shearwater and Band-rumped Storm-Petrel). Both have been
> observed off Virginia in recent years. Barolo Shearwater, recorded a few
> times off Massachusetts and Nova Scotia, seems a long shot off Virginia;
> the species apparently forages in very deep waters and would potentially be
> seen only by researchers.
>
> WADERS
>
> Western Reef Heron has been photographed in New York, New Hampshire,
> Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, with others in the Caribbean,
> and it seems a good candidate to occur in Virginia some day, though records
> are still few and far between. Scarlet Ibis—hardly known in the United
> States except as escapees or released birds in Florida, with one found
> breeding in South Carolina in 2001—was recently reported in western
> Virginia with photographs, but the record is not accepted.
>
> WATERFOWL
>
> Pink-footed Goose! The Northeast has a lot of recent records, with the
> southernmost to Maryland (three records) and Delaware (at least two). Just
> a matter of time for Virginia then! Less likely, by far, would be a Tundra
> Bean-Goose (records from Nova Scotia and Quebec) or Lesser White-fronted
> Goose (W. L. Sladen reported one in Maryland many years ago), or Masked
> Duck (multiples in Florida, singles in North Carolina, Maryland, Georgia,
> Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Wisconsin), or Smew (New York,
> Rhode Island, Illinois, Ontario), or Common Shelduck (records increasing in
> the Northeast, with records south to Delaware). Mottled Ducks, introduced
> to South Carolina, do not seem to be straying northward much, but Ontario
> has a record, and the species has strayed in North Carolina as Lake
> Mattamuskeet, so it should be looked for. See a funny-looking waterbird?
> Take a photo!
>
> RAPTORS
>
> Neighboring states have records of Snail Kite (North Carolina has had one,
> South Carolina two recently), Short-tailed Hawk (Georgia, Alabama; and
> Michigan!), Eurasian Kestrel (Florida, Massachusetts, Nova Scotia,
> Bermuda), Eurasian Hobby (Massachusetts), Red-footed Falcon (Massachusetts;
> sight record at Cape May). Cape May has a possible banding record of Hen
> Harrier, plus a sight report of Eurasian Sparrowhawk, to whet one’s
> studying. None of these make the Next 15 cut, but any could occur!
>
> CRANES AND RAILS
>
> Virginia already has a record of Paint-billed Crake, and there are few
> other rare rails we might add, though Corn Crake comes to mind (old records
> from Maryland, New Jersey, New York, recent Maine record, and a suggestion
> from Back Bay NWR’s first manager Romey Waterfield that he might have seen
> one there many years ago!). Pennsylvania and Texas have records of Spotted
> Rail, so almost anything in that family would be imaginable; Delaware and
> Georgia and Bermuda have records of Purple Swamphens, and New York has a
> record of Azure Gallinule, though some of these records are not favored by
> local committees.
>
> SHOREBIRDS
>
> This is a huge group of species, mostly migratory, but many that have not
> yet been reported in Virginia have weak patterns of vagrancy in the East.
> None of the following would make the cut: Southern Lapwing (Florida,
> Maryland), Wood Sandpiper (New York, Rhode Island, Delaware, Bermuda,
> Newfoundland), Great Knot (Maine, West Virginia), Broad-billed Sandpiper
> (New York, Massachusetts), Common Snipe (Newfoundland, Bermuda, and maybe
> Maryland), Gray-tailed Tattler (Massachusetts), Surfbird (Pennsylvania,
> twice in Florida, Maine, at least four times in Texas), and Greater
> Sand-Plover (Florida).
>
> More likely would be European Golden-Plover (Delaware, twice in New
> Jersey, Maine, many times in Atlantic Canada), Little Stint (multiples for
> New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, with singles
> for Rhode Island, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ontario….we need not continue),
> Spotted Redshank (North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut,
> Massachusetts several times, ditto Ontario, with singles in Ohio, Indiana,
> Wisconsin, Kansas, Texas….), Pacific Golden-Plover (New York, New Jersey,
> Maine, Florida, Delaware, Vermont), and Common Ringed Plover (North
> Carolina, Massachusetts, New York, Maine, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland many
> times, Ontario). Of these, Little Stint and Pacific Golden-Plover seem most
> likely to be among the Next 15 Birds.
>
> GULLS & TERNS
>
> Certainly among Virginia’s Next 15 should be Slaty-backed Gull, now known
> from dozens of records in the Northeast and Midwest, with other records
> from Pennsylvania (two) and North Carolina. There have been reports already
> in Virginia of Ross’s Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, and Ivory Gull, not
> currently accepted, but those could be probably the next most likely gulls
> to be found, with single records of Ross’s from Maryland and Delaware the
> closest to Virginia. Equally likely, perhaps, is Kelp Gull (Maryland,
> Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, with many more from
> the Gulf Coast states), but far less likely would be Belcher’s Gull
> (Olrog’s Gull? Florida has three records), Gray-hooded Gull (New York,
> Florida), and Gray Gull (Louisiana) could reach us. Large-billed Tern (old
> records from New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, Bermuda) seems a pipe dream, but
> Whiskered Tern (two in New Jersey, one of those shared with Delaware) less
> so - though freshwater habitats near the coast in Virginia are sadly very
> limited in recent years. Cayenne Tern is not recognized in the United
> States as a distinct species, but it’s certainly a plausible visitor to the
> state; it has been photographed as close as Dare County, North Carolina.
>
> PIGEONS & DOVES
>
> Band-tailed Pigeon, an irruptive and migratory species, should be among
> Virginia’s Next 15, with oddly no reports from Maryland or Delaware but
> records from North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York,
> Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Ontario,
> Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois and many more from Ontario and parts
> farther west. Inca Dove seems less probable but still possible, with
> records from Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland (but
> still none from the Carolinas), while European Turtle-Dove (Florida,
> Massachusetts) would be a shocker in Virginia.
>
> OWLS & NIGHTJARS
>
> With the warming of the planet, visits from Northern Hawk Owl, Great Gray
> Owl, or Boreal Owl seem less and less likely every year; records stop at
> about the latitude of New York City or north of it for these birds, but
> there is an odd report, not substantiated, of a hawk owl from West
> Virginia. Antillean Nighthawk, with two North Carolina records (and one
> from Louisiana), seems possible, but far more likely would be Lesser
> Nighthawk, recorded in New Jersey (twice), West Virginia, and many times in
> the Gulf Coast states. Lesser gets my vote.
>
> SWIFTS & SWALLOWS
>
> Hurricanes have produced (or been associated with) records for Common
> Swift in Massachusetts and Black Swift in New Jersey (and both have been
> seen in Bermuda after storms), and these are possible in Virginia, but the
> records are not yet numerous enough to get the nod. Virginia has recorded
> most if not all likely swallows and swifts; an addition to the Virginia
> avifauna from either group of aerialists would be a remarkable rarity,
> possibly from the Caribbean or Mexico but perhaps from Europe. Records of
> Alpine Swift from the Caribbean suggest that these powerful long-distance
> migrants can clearly survive the trans-Atlantic crossing.
>
> HUMMINGBIRDS
>
> Records of Violet-crowned and Magnificent Hummingbirds from the Virginia
> mountains are truly remarkable, but consider that Virginia is almost
> surrounded by records of Mexican Violetear (reported once in Virginia but
> without photographs; records from West Virginia, Maryland twice, New
> Jersey, Maine, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, etc.), and we still lack
> an Anna’s Hummingbird record (3x in North Carolina, 2x each in
> Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Ohio). Both should be on the Next 15
> list. Likewise possible are Broad-tailed Hummingbird (North Carolina,
> Delaware, New Jersey, many times in Georgia), Buff-bellied Hummingbird
> (multiples for both Carolinas and for Georgia), Blue-throated Hummingbird
> (Georgia, Louisiana), Costa’s Hummingbird (Alabama, Florida, Michigan),
> White-eared Hummingbird (Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan), and Berylline
> Hummingbird (Michigan again!), or perhaps a Bahama Woodstar/Sheartail
> (Pennsylvania), Amethyst-throated Hummingbird (Texas, Quebec), or
> Green-breasted Mango (North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Wisconsin)?
>
> The non-passerines don’t have many more other groups that would provide a
> likely vagrant, though New York has a record of Williamson’s Sapsucker, and
> Pennsylvania has some tantalizing older records of Black-backed Woodpecker.
>
> PASSERINES
>
> Although Virginia has made up some ground lately and added Dusky
> Flycatcher (and has a nice photographic record of Tropical/Couch’s
> Kingbird, probably Tropical), the Next 15 will almost certainly include a
> few new flycatchers, my guesses being Hammond’s Flycatcher, which is known
> from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Alabama, Nova Scotia, and
> Massachusetts (four times!), and Tropical Kingbird, with three in North
> Carolina, one in Maryland, two each in Delaware and Pennsylvania, three in
> Massachusetts, one in Maine; the latter species has nested in Florida now,
> and records from Gulf Coast states are increasing. Couch’s Kingbird
> (Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Michigan) and Cassin’s Kingbird (three
> each Massachusetts and Ontario, plus two in New York, many in Florida)
> would be next in line, but less likely, with Thick-billed Kingbird
> (Ontario, Texas) a dream-on sort of vagrant, and Great Kiskadee (New York,
> South Carolina, recently to South Dakota!) slightly less so. Gray
> Flycatcher (Massachusetts, Delaware, North Carolina, at least twice each in
> Ohio, Louisiana, Ontario) seems very likely to appear in Virginia, but
> records are not quite numerous enough to put it on the Next 15. The same is
> true for those streaky enigmatic Sulphur-bellied, Variegated, and Piratic
> Flycatchers, any of which could appear in Virginia, most likely in fall on
> the coast: records of vagrants are widespread but thin on the ground. A
> silky-flycatcher like Phainopepla (not a flycatcher, of course) would
> brighten birding in Virginia, but records of vagrants only reach Ontario,
> Wisconsin, and Massachusetts.
>
> Of the other passerine groups, thrushes, warblers, blackbirds, and finches
> are more likely than vireos or smaller taxonomic groups to produce new
> records, but White Wagtail is worth a mention: though there are only about
> nine U. S. records east of the Mississippi, three are from the Carolinas.
> Yellow-green Vireo also merits honorable mention, with records from
> Florida, South Carolina, and Massachusetts but many more from coastal Texas
> through Alabama.
>
> Of the thrushes, it is tempting to imagine a Fieldfare or Redwing in
> Virginia, but both are still represented by only a sprinkling of records in
> the Northeast. North American wood-warblers are more likely: Virginia’s
> Warbler would be especially appreciated in Virginia (Maryland, West
> Virginia, New York, Rhode Island, Maine, Georgia, with many more in the
> Midwest), but a Hermit Warbler (multiples for Connecticut, New York,
> Massachusetts, one for Maine), Grace’s Warbler (New York, Ontario,
> Illinois), or Red-faced Warbler (Georgia, Louisiana) would be fine, as
> would a Painted Redstart (New York, Massachusetts, Alabama, Ohio, Ontario,
> twice in Wisconsin). Unlikely, surely, is Golden-cheeked Warbler: single
> vagrants have made it to California, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Florida.
>
> Among sparrows, we still await our first Cassin’s Sparrow (North Carolina,
> New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, and many more) and Golden-crowned
> Sparrow, for which there are perhaps two-dozen records from Maryland to
> Maine, a similar number in the nearer Midwest, and singles from South
> Carolina and Tennessee. Both make my Next 15.
>
> In the blackbird family, a stealth vagrant, Western Meadowlark seems
> likely enough to get a vote for the Next 15, with multiples documented in
> North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, etc. The slowly expanding
> Bronzed Cowbird, with a record north to South Carolina, could be a
> contender. Of the orioles (as a group, very much on the rise as vagrants in
> fall/winter), Scott’s Oriole (North Carolina, South Carolina, New York,
> Pennsylvania, Kentucky) and Hooded Oriole (Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama,
> twice in Ontario) would be most likely, if not more likely than the
> meadowlark and cowbird, but there are far-flung records of Altamira Oriole
> (Mississippi) and Audubon’s Oriole (Indiana) and now Black-backed Oriole
> (Pennsylvania, Connecticut). We can dream. Finally, a Brambling or
> Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch or Eurasian Tree Sparrow could pop up at a feeder
> in winter, as there are increasing patterns beyond the West/Midwest for
> all. Georgia and Massachusetts have single records of McCown’s Longspur,
> and Tennessee has three; this bird seems unlikely to make the cut to me.
>
> We would be remiss in neglecting records from Bermuda, which is closer to
> us than is Chicago! There, Arctic Warbler, Dark-sided Flycatcher,
> Ferruginous Duck, Booted Eagle, White Tern, Eurasian Dotterel (a 2015
> record from Ontario provides some hope!), Caribbean Martin, Common
> House-Martin, among other gems. For veteran birders in Virginia, one of
> these species has probably been seen, if distantly, at Craney Island, way
> way back. Hmmmmm….
>
> So what does this give us for our list of the Next 15 Birds?
>
> Masked Booby
> Yellow-billed Loon
> Pink-footed Goose
> Pacific Golden-Plover
> Little Stint
> Slaty-backed Gull
> Band-tailed Pigeon
> Lesser Nighthawk
> Mexican Violetear
> Anna’s Hummingbird
> Hammond’s Flycatcher
> Tropical Kingbird
> Cassin’s Sparrow
> Golden-crowned Sparrow
> Western Meadowlark
>
> Most of these have been on previous rounds of “Next 20 Birds,” though not
> the Pink-footed Goose or Yellow-billed Loon. If one had to pick five more?
> A hummer, a flycatcher, a shorebird, a gull, and an oriole!
>
> Why do this exercise every decade or so? Careful study of the birds that
> are in front of us is greatly enriched when we are aware of all
> possibilities, even remote ones, and critically identify the birds we see,
> rather than logging the species we know to be most likely. Perhaps our
> state lacks records for Western Meadowlark because most of us assume all
> meadowlarks we see are Easterns? And perhaps we should pay more attention
> to plovers with rings or with gold tones above? When we study birds closely
> and we eliminate vagrants from consideration, we affirm these
> identifications more definitively, confidently. Naturally, we don’t have
> time to study every meadowlark we see to rule out Western, but when birding
> is slow, why not look and listen to them for a few minutes, or hours?
> They’re really beautiful birds to study for a good while, every now and
> then. And when we study birds closely, we learn not just about plumage and
> vocalizations but also about habits, habitat, and ultimately their status
> and distribution where we are birding. Part of picking out something new
> and unusual is learning the variation in the plumages, calls, and behaviors
> of the birds that are not unusual. We sometimes see aberrant plumages or
> even hybrids when we’re looking at each bird carefully, but often we learn
> a new vocalization or see a new behavior. Some describe bird identification
> as “educated guessing,” but careful birding can have a very high degree of
> accuracy, of course. Having a few silent meadowlarks recorded on our lists
> as “Eastern/Western” can remind us to spend more time looking and
> listening. We also benefit from knowing what birders in surrounding regions
> are seeing, as our planet changes and birds respond to these changes; we
> continue to witness profound shifts in bird populations, and this
> witnessing puts us in closer touch to our planet and our fellow species.
> And we can communicate what we see to members of our own species, perhaps.
> Finally, there is the particular thrill of seeing something we’ve never
> seen before, or never seen in our local area, and sharing the discovery
> with others.
>
> Ned Brinkley
> Cape Charles, Va.
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