Date: 7/31/20 4:31 pm
From: Frank Mantlik via CTBirds <ctbirds...>
Subject: [CT Birds] Historic flashback
It was ten years ago tomorrow (8/1/2010) that Dennis Varza saw an unusual raptor fly south past Short Beach, Stratford. It was soon relocated at Stratford Point. It proved to be CT’s first (and only) WHITE-TAILED KITE! Rather than being a “1-day wonder”, it remained in the area for 4 months, and was seen by hundreds of birders, photographers, and the general public.

Here is the account from the 15th report of COA’s Avian Records Committee of CT (ARCC):

WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucorus) The state’s first was found on 1 Aug 2010 at Stratford Point, Stratford (10-17 Dennis Varza*, Bruce Finnan‡, Frank Gallo‡, Julian Hough‡, Scott Kruitbosch‡, Tom Sayers‡, Mark Szantyr‡, Scott Vincent‡, Rick Wiltraut‡, Jim Zipp‡). The bird’s remarkable stay of more than four months allowed several thousand observers to see it and produced a remarkable array of photographs. The bird became perhaps the best-documented individual rarity ever in Connecticut. It spent some time at Milford Point but was most often observed at Stratford Point, a location not always open to the public. Throngs of people were able to see it there because of warden services provided by Kruitbosch through Connecticut Audubon Society. His almost-daily observations were published as an article in The Connecticut Warbler (Vol. 31 Number 1), which featured a deft cover drawing by Mark Szantyr. The only previous sighting in New England was at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, on 30 May 1910. Hough provided the following on age and sex: “While worn outer primaries and the state of molt may have initially suggested a 2nd calendar-year bird, input from experienced birders (Liguori, Clark et al.) indicated a molting adult cannot be excluded, and the bird is best left as ‘age and sex uncertain’. Further research revealed that while many juvenile White-tailed Kites replace much of their plumage in the first fall, according to Clark, they do not replace their black wing coverts, which according to him would still be white-tipped, unlike the adult feathers of the Connecticut individual.”

Frank Mantlik

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