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Rare Birds of North America

Rare Birds of North America

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 448
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  • Book Info
    Rare Birds of North America
    Book Description:

    Rare Birds of North Americais the first comprehensive illustrated guide to the vagrant birds that occur throughout the United States and Canada. Featuring 275 stunning color plates, this book covers 262 species originating from three very different regions--the Old World, the New World tropics, and the world's oceans. It explains the causes of avian vagrancy and breaks down patterns of occurrence by region and season, enabling readers to see where, when, and why each species occurs in North America. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, taxonomy, age, sex, distribution, and status.

    Rare Birds of North Americaprovides unparalleled insights into vagrancy and avian migration, and will enrich the birding experience of anyone interested in finding and observing rare birds.

    Covers 262 species of vagrant birds found in the United States and CanadaFeatures 275 stunning color plates that depict every speciesExplains patterns of occurrence by region and seasonProvides an invaluable overview of vagrancy patterns and migrationIncludes detailed species accounts and cutting-edge identification tips

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4807-2
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. How to Use This Book
    (pp. xi-xx)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-42)

    Every species is rare somewhere, or at some time, but how is ‘rare’ defined? For our purposes, we include species for which, on average, only 5 or fewer individuals have been found annually in North America since around 1950, when birding and field ornithology started to become popular. We tried to incorporate all species and records through the June–July 2011 summer season, and in some cases noteworthy later records are mentioned, through to the submission of the final manuscript in November 2012 (newly recorded species from fall 2011 through summer 2012 are discussed in Appendix A).

    The list of...


      (pp. 44-70)

      We consider 14 waterfowl species of Old World origin and 4 of New World origin to have occurred as rare birds in N America. Our understanding of vagrancy patterns among waterfowl is potentially clouded, however, by the fact that many species are widely held in captivity, both publically and privately, and unknown numbers escape. Generally, it is the more attractively colored species that are most popular, and free-flying Mandarin Ducks or Bar-headed Geese are usually dismissed as escapes from captivity, given the low likelihood that they would occur as natural vagrants. Problems arise when vagrancy and escapes both seem possible,...

      (pp. 70-71)

      Small pantropical family of swimming water-birds that, ironically, most often shun the sun and, unlike grebes, do not dive for food. Three species worldwide, 1 in the Americas, which has occurred as an exceptional vagrant to the sw. US....

      (pp. 71-74)

      Small family of marine diving birds that inhabit cold waters of the N Hemisphere, with greatest diversity in the N Pacific; 1 species occurs as a vagrant to N America from E Asia. Long-distance vagrancy is rare among alcids, although Ancient Murrelet has a similar pattern of occurrence to Long-billed Murrelet in interior and e. N America, and both species have even reached W Europe (Haas 2012)....

      (pp. 74-123)

      Some 37 species of pelagic seabirds (including Swallow-tailed Gull and Black Noddy) have occurred as rare birds in N America, with 24 species only in the Pacific region, 10 only in the Atlantic region, and 3 (White-chinned Petrel, Bulwer’s Petrel, Red-footed Booby) in both oceans. These 37 species comprise 29 tubenoses (14 petrels, 9 albatrosses, and 6 stormpetrels), 1 tropicbird, 3 boobies, 2 frigatebirds, 1 gull, and 1 tern (see Table 9, pp. 31–32). Because offshore waters are not well known, we suspect that at least 5 species (Bermuda Petrel, Hawaiian Petrel, European Storm-Petrel, Red-tailed Tropicbird, Black Noddy) are...

      (pp. 124-141)

      These familiar, strong-flying birds are well known around the world, and in general have high vagrancy potential. In N America we consider 6 gulls and 4 terns as rare birds, 2 of which (Swallow-tailed Gull, Black Noddy) are best viewed as pelagic seabirds. Of the gulls, 1 originates in NE Asia (Black-tailed), 1 in W Europe (Yellow-legged), 1 in w. S America (Belcher’s), and 1 in the tropical E Pacific (Swallow-tailed); the remaining 2 species (Kelp and Gray-hooded) may originate in S America and/or Africa. Of the terns, 2 species originate in Eurasia (White-winged and Whiskered), 1 in S America...

      (pp. 141-194)

      A diverse array of species comprises the world-wide group of birds known collectively in N America as shorebirds (and in the Old World as waders). Sandpipers and plovers are the two largest shorebird families, and include many long-distance migrant species; not surprisingly, these families are the best represented among rare shorebirds in N America. We consider 36 shore-birds as rare birds in N America: 24 sandpipers, 8 plovers, 1 thick-knee, 1 pratincole, 1 oyster-catcher, and 1 stilt. All but 3 species originate in the Old World.

      Of the Old World shorebird vagrants, most come from E Asia, with fewer from...

      (pp. 194-216)

      Wading birds as defined here include a variety of species typically associated with marshes, namely herons, storks, cranes, rails, and jacanas. Migratory herons are prone to vagrancy via drift and overshooting, and birds of tropical marshes have demonstrated often spectacular dispersal abilities, presumably linked to the potentially ephemeral nature of their wetland habitats. In N America we consider 18 species of wading birds as rare birds. Of these, the Old World contributes 12 species (7 herons, 2 cranes, 3 rails) and the New World 6 (1 heron, 1 stork, 3 rails, and 1 jacana).

      Identification of herons and egrets often...

      (pp. 217-237)

      These popular families of birds occur worldwide in a variety of habitats. A number of species are long-distance migrants, with others being somewhat dispersive. We treat 7 hawks, 4 falcons, and 4 owls as rare birds in N America. Of these, the Old World contributes 4 hawks, 3 falcons, and 2 owls; the New World contributes 3 hawks, 1 falcon, and 2 owls.

      Of the 9 species we treat, White-tailed Eagle and Steller’s Sea Eagle likely occur from time to time in sw. and w. AK; and White-tailed has occurred exceptionally in the Northeast. The 2 harriers, 3 falcons, and...

      (pp. 237-255)

      These include a diversity of species, most of them often grouped under the title ‘near-passerines’ for their traditional placement preceding passerines in many checklists, but here also including corvids (Howell et al. 2009). In N America we consider 15 such species as rare birds, 9 with Old World origins and 6 with New World origins. The Old World species are 1 nightjar, 2 doves, 2 cuckoos, 1 hoopoe, 2 woodpeckers, and 1 corvid; the New World species comprise 3 doves, 1 cuckoo, 1 quetzal, and 1 kingfisher.

      These 9 species include 6 from E Asia that have reached nw. N...

      (pp. 255-278)

      We consider aerial landbirds as comprising hummingbirds, swifts, and swallows. In the period under review, 8 hummingbirds, 5 swifts, and 4 swallows have occurred as rare birds in N America, 4 of Old World origin and 13 of New World origin. Another 4 species were recorded before the review period: in 1896, Bumblebee Hummingbird occurred in se. AZ and, remarkably, the 1880s to 1890s saw US records (all specimens) of Southern MartinP. elegans, Graybreasted MartinP. chalybea, and Cuban MartinP. cryptoleuca. Finding and documenting further records of these martins are worthy challenges for today’s field observers.

      Of the...

      (pp. 278-402)

      Some 98 species of songbirds, or passerines, have occurred as rare birds in N America (54 of Old World origin, 44 of New World origin). These make up over a third of all species we treat, and their patterns of occurrence are varied. Most of the Old World species are fairly long-distance migrants whereas the majority of New World species are relatively sedentary. Old World groups that are well represented, and prefaced with short summaries, include flycatchers, chats and thrushes, warblers, wagtails and pipits, buntings, and finches. New World groups similarly treated include tyrant-flycatchers and allies, thrushes, and wood-warblers.


  8. Appendices

    • Appendix A: Species New to North America, Fall 2011–Summer 2012
      (pp. 403-403)
    • Appendix B: Species of Hypothetical Occurrence
      (pp. 404-407)
    • Appendix C: Birds New to North America, 1950–2011
      (pp. 408-410)
  9. Literature Cited
    (pp. 411-424)
  10. Index
    (pp. 425-428)