New York State Avian Records Committee

a committee of the New York State Ornithological Association

Annual Report - 1980                                                              The Kingbird, Fall 1981


The New York State Avian Records Committee received 78 reports during 1980, representing 49 records of birds. These figures are comparable to last year. This year, 36 of the records were accepted, one is an escape from captivity, 11 were not accepted, and one was filed without formal review by the Committee. In addition, a report pending from 1978 has not been accepted, and two reports from 1979 have been accepted. Inadequate documentation remains the primary factor that causes the Committee to find reports unacceptable.

With Thomas H. Davis’ reappointment to the Committee, its membership remains unchanged from last year. The Committee finds that after four years of operation, the “want” list of species to be reviewed as presented in The Kingbird, Vol. XXVII, No. 2, pgs. 73-74, is ready for revision.

The Committee adds the following two species to the New York State list based on previously published reports:

FIELDFARE (Turdus pilaris), one, Larchmont, Westchester Co., 3-12 Feb. 1973 (Kingbird 23: 83-84; 1973). This well documented record is not substantiated by photographic or specimen evidence. There are several more recent records of this species from eastern Canada.

REDWING (Turdus iliacus), one, Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Queens Co., 20-24 Feb. 1954 (Wilson Bulletin 71: 382-283; 1974); the NYSARC has been unable to locate the photographs mentioned by Bull (1974). The Committee can find no basis for the allegation that this bird escaped from captivity. It is a common breeder and long distance migrant in Iceland, and has strayed to the New World on at least one subsequent occasion (American Birds 35: 147, 1981).

The following species are deleted from our earlier “want” list because we can find no fully satisfactory record from within New York State; any report of them would represent a potential addition to the State list:

Anhinga Caracara Common Ground Dove Brambling
Trumpeter Swan Greenshank Lewis' Woodpecker Brewer's Sparrow
Amerian Flamingo Mew Gull Fork-tailed Flycatcher Golden-crowned Sparrow

White-fronted Goose and Sabine’s Gull are deleted because they now appear to occur annually, though in very small numbers only. The remaining changes either are additions to our former list or else are changes from category 3) to category 4) below.

The NYSARC will review reports for any of the following:
1) any species new to New York State
2) any addition to the list of species proven to nest within New York State
3) the following species and identifiable forms from any locality within New York State: Yellow-billed Loon; Arctic Loon; Western Grebe; Yellow-nosed Albatross; Audubon’s Shearwater; Black-capped Petrel; Scaled Petrel; South Trinidad Petrel; Leach’s Storm-Petrel; White-faced Storm-Petrel; Red-billed Tropicbird; White-tailed Tropicbird; White Pelican; Brown Pelican; Brown Booby; Magnificent Frigatebird; Wood Stork; White-faced Ibis; White Ibis; “Black” Brant; Barnacle Goose; Fulvous Whistling-Duck; Cinnamon Teal; Smew; Black Vulture; Swallow-tailed Kite; Mississippi Kite; Swainson’s Hawk; Gyrfalcon; Sandhill Crane; Yellow Rail; Corn Crake; Lapwing; Wilson’s Plover; Long-billed Curlew; Whimbrel (white-rumped race only); Eskimo Curlew; Bar-tailed Godwit; Wood Sandpiper; Great Skua; South Polar Skua; Long-tailed Jaeger; Ivory Gull; Thayer’s Gull; California Gull; Arctic Tern; Sooty Tern; Bridled Tern; Common Murre; Common Puffin; White-winged Dove; Hawk-Owl; Burrowing Owl; Great Gray Owl; Boreal Owl; Gray Kingbird; Scissor-tailed Flycatcher; Ash-throated Flycatcher; Say’s Phoebe; Black-billed Magpie; Brown-headed Nuthatch; Bewick’s Wren; Sage Thrasher; Fieldfare; Redwing; Mountain Bluebird; Townsend’s Solitaire; Wheatear; Bell’s Vireo; Swainson’s Warbler; “Audubon’s” Warbler; Black-throated Gray Warbler; Townsend’s Warbler; Painted Redstart; “Bullock’s” Oriole; Brewer’s Blackbird; Western Tanager; Black-headed Grosbeak; Painted Bunting; Hoary Redpoll; “Spotted” Towhee; Green-tailed Towhee; Lark Bunting; LeConte’s Sparrow; Baird’s Sparrow; Bachman’s Sparrow; Harris’ Sparrow; Smith’s Longspur; Chestnut-sided Longspur.

4) the following species when observed away from downstate New York (including established nesting areas on the lower Hudson River): any species of shearwater, petrel or storm-petrel; Gannet; Great Cormorant; Louisiana Heron; Yellow-crowned Night Heron; Tufted Duck; Common Eider; Black Rail; Purple Gallinule; American Oystercatcher; Black-necked Stilt; American Avocet; Piping Plover; Marbled Godwit; Curlew Sandpiper; Gull-billed Tern; Roseate Tern; Sandwich Tern; Royal Tern; Black Skimmer; any alcid; Chuck-will’s-widow; Western Kingbird; Yellow-throated Warbler; Boat-tailed Grackle; Summer Tanager; Blue Grosbeak; “Ipswich” Sparrow; Sharp-tailed Sparrow; Lark Sparrow.

5) the following species when observed away from the Adirondacks: Spruce Grouse; Black-backed Three-toed Woodpecker; Northern Three-toed Woodpecker; Gray Jay.

The Committee also will review reports which represent significant deviations from established patterns of seasonal occurrence within New York State. Because such records are difficult to summarize concisely, observers should consult Bull (1974, 1976). The Committee considers any report four weeks before early arrival or four weeks after late departure dates as summarized therein to be significant deviation from the norm.

Two minor procedural changes have been adopted during the past year: reports will now be catalogued by year of receipt, regardless of the year in which they were submitted; and reports to the NYSARC will be acknowledged by postcard upon receipt by the Committee. As in previous years, reports in the summary that follows are credited only to the persons who submitted them, regardless of the number of observers involved. We repeat our request that contributors submit original reports, as processing of reports by the NYSARC sometimes has been hampered when the only materials available to us are copies.

1907 Accepted Report

WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola). 1980-35-A. specimen, Gaines, Orleans Co., 10 Oct. 1907 (PDeB). The details of this first New York record are published in American Birds Vol. 34: 231; 1980. The Committee has attempted to ascertain the possibility that this is a mislabeled specimen. Our results are equivocal. The Milton S. Ray collection, from which this specimen comes, contains no other birds with similar labels; we would appreciate any further evidence that might corroborate the origin of this specimen.

1979 Accepted Reports

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus). 1980-10-A-B. adult, Scottsville, Monroe Co., 22 Dec. 1979 (SMS, JDS), photographs on file. This bird is unusual both as to date and locality; a photograph is published in American Birds Vol. 34: 270, 1980.

SOUTH POLAR SKUA (Catharacta skua skua). 1979-33-A. two, one light morph, one dark morph, 40 and 60 miles south of Montauk Point, Suffolk Co., 2 Jun 1979 (PDeB); photographs of light morph bird on file. A third Skua seen this date resembled the light morph bird but could not positively be assigned to species. This is the first substantiated record of this species from New York.

SABINE’S GULL (Xema sabini). 1979-54-A. immature, Dunkirk Harbor, Chautauqa Co., 1 Dec. 1979 (BC); photograph on file. See the accepted report for 1980 below.

BRIDLED TERN (Sterna anaethetus). 1980-4-A,B. one present 15 to 17 Sept. 1979, Shinnecock Inlet, Suffolk Co., (GSR, BJS). This is the fourth report from New York State; it was associated with the passage of hurricane “David” on 6 Sept.

SOOTY TERN (Sterna fuscata). 1980-2-A,B. three adults observed 6 Sept. 1979, two found dead 7 Sept., Shinnecock Inlet, Suffolk Co. (GSR). These add to the number associated with hurricane “David” and noted in our previous report.

SANDWICH TERN (Sterna sandvicensis). 1980-3-A. adult, Lake Sagaponack, Bridgehampton, Suffolk Co., 7 Sept. 1979 (GSR). This, like the previous two species, was associated with the passage of hurricane “David”; see the 1980 accepted reports below.

WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis). 1979-39-A-C. two, town of Pleasant Valley, Dutchess Co., 20-21 Sept. 1979 (BV, MEV, EP). Although annual on Long Island, this species is very rare upstate, from where reports now will be reviewed by the NYSARC. This report, previously filed without formal review, is all the more remarkable in that two birds are involved.

1980 Accepted Reports

RED-THROATED LOON (Gavia stellata). 1980-27-A. one, Lake Colby, Franklin Co., 2 July 1980 (DRG). A flightless bird in basic plumage, as is typical of birds that over summer along the Atlantic coast, is very unusual as to locality and date. The NYSARC will not review future records of this species.

AUDUBON’S SHEARWATER (Puffinus lherminieri). 1980-29-A,B. one, ca. 80 mi. S Montauk Pt., Suffolk Co., 29 and 30 Sept. 1980 (THD, BJS), photographs on file. This bird was associated with warm, Gulf Stream waters, where it now appears that this species is to be expected.

LEACH’S STORM-PETREL (Oceanodroma leucorrhoa). 1980-21-A, B. singles at approximately 40 and 45 mi. south of Montauk Pt., Suffolk Co., 7 June 1980 (FGS, PDeB). Both birds were seen in company with Wilson’s Storm-Petrel by most participants of the Federation’s June pelagic trip. This is the first well documented report for this species within New York since fall 1976.

GANNET (Morus bassanus). 1980-33-A-C. immature, Lake Ontario off Hamlin Beach, Monroe Co., 6 Oct. 1980 (AFC, CC, RGS). There is no ready explanation for the appearance of this marine species on Lake Ontario; most prior records are from the same time frame.

GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo). 1980-31-A. adult in alternate plumage, Lake Ontario off Oklahoma Beach, Webster, Monroe Co., 14 Apr. 1980 (RGS). A Double-crested Cormorant was present for direct comparison. This is about the fourth upstate record and the second from Lake Ontario.

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus). 1980-41-A. immature, Rye, Westchester Co., 22 Sept. 1980 (DWC). This bird had been reported from the area for some time prior to this observation. It is the 11th record from New York State.

WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi). 1980-23-A. two adults, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens Co., 6 June 1980 (PDeB). These birds were molting out of alternate plumage, and probably represent the same individuals reported in 1979. They were first reported 6 April this year. This is the fourth record for New York.

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (Nyctanassa violacea). 1980-26-A. adult, Pleasant Point, town of Mexico, Oswego Co., 24 June 1980 (FSG). A well documented upstate report. The bird was first found the previous day.

WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (Anser albifrons). 1980-8-A-F. up to13 adults, Braddock’s Bay, Monroe Co., 7-16 Mar. 1980 (PDeB, FGS, RGS, AC, DS, WLL). 1980-11-A. adult, Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area, Erie Co., 13 Apr. 1980 (RFA). 1980-45-a-C. immature, Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Queens Co., 30 Nov. to 5 Dec. 1980 (BJS, FGS, THD). The description of the last bird suggests flavirostris; the others evidently were frontalis. This species appears to be regular within the state in small numbers, perhaps more frequent in spring than in fall, and will no longer be reviewed by the NYSARC.

SWAINSON’S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni). 1980-25-A. adult light morph, Derby Hill, Oswego Co., 24 May 1980 (FGS). This is the third record from Derby Hill and about the seventh from New York State.

SANDHILL CRANE (Grus canadensis). 1980-17-A,B. adult, Derby Hill, Oswego Co., 26 Apr. 1980 (FGS, DWC), photographs on file. It is not unlikely that this report pertains to the same bird which produced the previously unaccepted reports from this locality in 1978 and 1979; none was seen in 1981. This is the 15th well documented report from New York State.

MARBLED GODWIT (Limosa fedoa). 1980-36-A. one, town of Hamlin, Monroe Co., 9 May 1980 (RGS). An upstate report, where the species now appears to occur almost annually.

STILT SANDPIPER (Micropalama himantopus). 1980-37-A. adult in alternate plumage, town of Hamlin, Monroe Co., 18 May 1980 (RGS). This is the fourth well documented spring record for upstate New York State.

THAYER’S GULL (Larus thayeri). 1980-48-A. immature, near False Point, Montauk, Suffolk Co., 7 Dec. 1980 (BJS). This report is as convincing as any sight observation can be, and appears to be the first documented observation of this species in New York away from the environs of Lake Ontario and the Niagara River.

SABINE’S GULL (Xema sabini). 1980-24-A. immature, Onondaga Lake, Onondaga Co., 14 Sept. 1980 (FGS). It is now clear that Sabine’s Gull, most immatures, occurs regularly though rarely within New York during the fall. The NYSARC no longer will review reports of this species from New York during the fall (Sept. to Dec. inclusively) period; spring reports should be submitted for review.

BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE (Rissa tridactyla). 1980-28-A. immature, El Dorado Shores, Jefferson Co., 6 Sept. 1980 (MAS). Kittiwakes occur regularly on Lake Ontario in the fall and occasionally are found elsewhere in upstate New York. This report is early but not unprecedented. Experience with this species elsewhere suggests that occasional birds may appear almost anywhere at any time of the year. It will no longer be reviewed by the NYSARC.

ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea). 1980-20-A,B. adult, 6 to 10 mi sse Montauk Pt., Suffolk Co., 13 and 23 Aug. 1980 (DWC, BJS). This appears to be the fifth well documented report from New York State; it is still uncertain in which state three birds were seen during the Federation’s 20 May 1978 pelagic trip.

SANDWICH TERN (Sterna sandvicensis). 1980-19-A,B. two adults, Shinnecock Inlet, Suffolk Co., 9 Aug. 1980 (FGS, PdeB). There were unconfirmed reports of this species, now almost annual on Long Island, in the area for much of the summer; local tern colonies should be watched for possible breeding birds. Excepting a first nesting record, the NYSARC no longer will review reports of this species from Long Island and adjacent waters.

THICK-BILLED MURRE (Uria lomvia). 1980-46-A. one in worn alternate plumage, Tobay Beach, Nassau Co., 13 July 1980 (BJS); photographs on file. This species is regular off Long Island in winter but most unusual in mid-summer.

GREAT GRAY OWL (Strix nebulosa). 1980-1-A. one, Guilderland, Albany Co., 21-22 Jan. (RLM); photograph on file. 1980-18-A,B. one NY Route 3 near junction of Route 104B, town of Mexico, Oswego Co., 10 Apr. 1980 (FGS, DWC); photograph on file. The latter, very tame bird was hit by a motor vehicle and placed in the care of Mary and John Forness in Cuba, NY, for rehabilitation. Though emaciated on arrival, it recovered and is still being held pending permission to release the bird in Canada. These are the only well documented reports to follow the great flight of 1979.

BLACK-BACKED THREE-TOED WOODPECKER (Picoides arcticus). 1980-34-A,B. female, Hamlin Beach State Park, Monroe Co., 12 Oct. 1980 (SH, RGS). This report away from the Adirondacks is particularly noteworthy in that there were no indications that the species staged an irruption during the winter season.

SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Muscivora forficata). 1980-16-A. adult, Fort Tilden, Queens Co., 30 June to 4 July 1980 (THD); photographs on file. This is about the 16th record from New York State.

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon). 1980-7-A. one, DeWitt, Onondaga Co., 27 Jan. 1980 (FGS). This bird is particularly noteworthy as an upstate winter record in no way associated with a Christmas Bird Count.

TOWNSEND’S WARBLER (Dendroica townsendi). 1980-38-A. first (?) year male, Braddock Bay State Park, Monroe Co., 20 Apr. 1980 (RGS). This is the ninth record from New York and the second upstate.

PAINTED REDSTART (Myioborus picta). 1980-6-A-D, one, Dansville, Livingston Co., 6-20 Jan.1980 (DWC, PDeB, TGS, THD); photographs on file. Full details of the first New York record appear in The Kingbird 30: 65-66, 1980.

BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus major). 1980-22-A,B. female, Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Queens Co., 6 June, 1980 (FGS, PDeB). 1980-40-A,B. two females, 13 Oct. to 30 Nov., with a third present on the last date, Cow Meadow Park, Freeport, Nassau Co. (THD, BJS); photographs on file. 1980-42-A. male, Greece, Monroe Co., 29-30 Oct. 1980 (RGS); photographs on file. The first report is accepted as this species, as opposed to Cassidix mexicanus, on a probability basis only. It and the next record come from an area where nesting may be anticipated, and from which there are as yet unreviewed reports of birds seen feeding young in 1981. The NYSARC will no longer review reports from Long Island excepting a first well documented nesting record. The last report is the first upstate record; its identity was confirmed by Dr. Robert K. Selander of the University of Rochester. A photograph appears in American Birds 35: 181, 1991.

1978 Reports Not Accepted

SANDHILL CRANE (Grus canadensis). 1978-32. Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, Seneca Co., 31 Oct. 1978. Remarks about the other 1978 reports of this species not accepted, apply equally to this report.

1980 Reports Not Accepted

RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD (Phaethon rubricauda). 1980-9. Central Park, Manhattan, 13 Mar. 1980.

FERRUGINOUS HAWK (Buteo regalis). 1980-32. Hilton, Monroe Co., 3 May 1980.

STILT SANDPIPER (Micropalama himantopus). 1980-37 (part). Hogan Pt., Monroe Co., 18 May 1980.

CALIFORNIA GULL (Larus californicus). 1980-14. Kendall, Monroe Co., 7-8 June 1980.

BLACK GUILLEMOT (Cephus grylle). 1980-43. Webster, Monroe Co., 6 Dec. 1980.

BLACK-HOODED PARROT (Nandayus nenday). 1980-44. Pair with young, Silver Lake, Westchester Co., 8 June 1980. Identity accepted but a clear escape from captivity and not (yet) established as a feral population.

HAWK-OWL (Surnia ulula). 1980-5. Town of Hammond, Cayuga Co., 1 Jan. 1980.

RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus rufus). 1980-30. Elizabethtown, Essex Co., 3-13 Sept. 1980. The NYSARC agrees that this well published report (Kingbird 31:2-3, 1981) is of a Selasphorus hummingbird and, as such, is an addition to the New York State list. The photograph we have examined shows a bronzy-backed, “female”-plumaged bird, contrary to the published and written descriptions. That it is a Rufous Hummingbird is a supposition only. Birds in this plumage are indistinguishable in the field from Allen’s Hummingbird, which now also is known to exhibit long distance vagrancy. Future reports of birds of this complex from New York may be expected; every effort should be made to mist-net such birds and an outermost tail feather should be plucked and retained to corroborate the bird’s identity if it cannot be retained as a specimen.

HUTTON’S VIREO (Vireo huttoni) 1980-12, Brighton, Monroe Co., 6 May 1980.

WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana). 1980-39. Irondequoit, Monroe Co., 6 May 1980.

LeCONTE’S SPARROW (Ammospiza caudacutus). 1980-13. Newfield, Tompkins Co., 17 May 1980.

HARRIS’ SPARROW (Zonotrichia querula). 1980-15. Dutch, Chemung Co., 23 June 1980.


A winter report of Black Guillemot from Long Island has been filed without formal review. With the addition of South Polar Skua, Wood Sandpiper, Fieldfare, Redwing and Painted Redstart, the New York State list now contains 423 species. 

Respectfully submitted,

Paul DeBenedictis, Chairman
Dr. Robert F. Andrle
Dr. Kenneth P. Able
Dr. Thomas H. Davis, Jr.
Dr. Robert O. Paxton

Literature Cited:

Bull, J. 1974. Birds of New York State. Doubleday/Natural History Press, NY. 635 pp.
----, 1976. Supplement to Birds of New York State. Federation of New York State Bird Clubs, Inc. 52 pp.


Karen L. Allaben-Confer, Robert F. Andrle, John Bandfield, Geoffrey Carleton, Janet Carroll, Carolyn Cass, Betty-Ann Chapman, Anne F. Clarridge, Dorothy W. Crumb, Thomas H. Davis, Jr., Paul DeBenedictis, Jeffery R. Dodge, Daniel R. Gray III, Kevin C. Griffith, Nicholas S. Halmi, Sandra Hazen, Wilifred I. Howard, Warren Lloyd, Robert L. Marx, Veronica A. Miller-Dardenne, John M. C. Peterson, Eleanor Pink, Gilbert S. Raynor, F. G. Scheider, Jeanne D. Skelly, Sharon M. Skelly, Robert G. Spahn, Barbara J. Spencer, Dan Strong, Mary Ann Sunderlin, Bertha Vandenburgh, Marion E. VanWagner.


Top of Page

NYSARC_HomePage AboutNYSARC AnnualReports&PastRecords CommitteeMembers Gallery_of_Rarities HowToReport OtherRecordsCommittees ReportForm SpeciesToReport