New York State Avian Records Committee

a committee of the New York State Ornithological Association

Annual Report - 1984


Reports to the NYSARC should be submitted to:
Mr. Steve Sibley, Secretary
The New York State Avian Records Committee,
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology,
159 Sapsucker Woods Road,
Ithaca, New York 14850

A number of errors and inconsistencies in past reports of the NYSARC are corrected below. As noted at the end of this report, membership of the Committee changes with this report as well.

As in past reports, the term "documented" means that there is a report on file for an observation. The term "substantiated" means that material evidence accompanies the documentation. Only those persons who have submitted reports to the NYSARC are acknowledged in the summary below, regardless of how many observers actually were involved. Most reports since 1978 which have not been reviewed by this Committee are omitted from summaries of a species' status in New York.

1955 Accepted Report

Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus). 1955-1-A adult, Lake Kan-ac-to, Town of Webb, Herkimer Co., 18 March 1955 (JMCP), photograph on file. This becomes, historically, the eighth record from New York (see below).

1981 Accepted Reports

Thayer's Gull (Larus thayeri). 1981-44-A immature (Basic I plumage), town of Onondaga, Onondaga Co., 17 Dec. (FGS). A very few Thayer's Gulls are found almost every winter in the Oneida Lake Basin Region, usually along the Oswego River. Its identification is sufficiently difficult, and its numbers so small, that the Committee desires to review all reports from New York State. This report was delayed by problems in duplicating it for circulation within the Committee.

Northern Hawk-Owl (Surnia ulula). 1981-53-A one, Town of Ohio "in a bog near Route 8," Oneida Co., Dec. [day not given] (DWC), photograph on file. This is about the 42nd report from New York State; it was delayed in Committee by the sketchy details, submitted second-hand, that accompanied the photograph.

1983 Accepted Report

Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa). 1983-40-A one found shot near Massena, St. Lawrence Co., 5 Feb. (PAD), photograph on file. This bird was sent to Cornell University for rehabilitation, where it died; its remains were destroyed in autopsy and not preserved. This is the only substantiated record from New York during the winter of 1982/ 83.

1984 Accepted Reports

Northern Gannet (Sula bassanus). 1984-34-A immature found dead, Oswego, Oswego Co., 3 March (GM), specimen at Rice Creek Biological Station, SUNY Oswego. This report follows several late 1983 sightings reviewed in our previous report; there are about 40 records from upstate New York, but only six are substantiated.

Ross' Goose (Chen rossii). 1984-2-A,B one, Henderson Pond, Town of Henderson, Jefferson Co., 25 March to I April (LBC, DWC). This is the second record from New York, coming only a year after the first; none are substantiated.

Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis). 1984-40-A one, Town of Knox, Albany Co., 15 May (KPA). There are about 100 reports of this species from New York, most made before 1930. This is only the fifth report in the last decade.

Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis). 1984-43-A one, Chappaqua, Westchester Co., 6 June (BW), photograph on file. This is the 20th record from New York.

Wilson's Plover (Charadrius wilsonia). 1984-17-A one (?female), Great Kills National Recreation Area, Richmond Co., 7 June (AM). This is the 29th record from New York, the last in 1978.

Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus). 1984-20-A-C nesting pair, Sandy Pond, Oswego Co., 21 May to 25 July (FGS, DWC, JJB), photographs on file. This species last nested at this upstate locality in 1959, and is now sporadic here; there are only four other records from upstate New York in the last decade.

American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana). 1983-31-A female, Hogan Pt., Town of Greece, Monroe Co., 12 May (RGS). There are about 17 prior records from upstate New York.

Thayer's Gull (Larus thayeri). 1984-8-A immature (Basic I plumage), Fulton, Oswego Co., 19 Jan. (FGS). 1984-23-A,B,C immature (Basic I plumage), Fulton, Oswego Co., 28 Jan. (FGS, DWC, BJS), photographs on file. See the comments under the 1983 accepted record above.

Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri). 1984-12-A,B adult, Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, Seneca Co., 21 April (LC, PJM). This appears to be the earliest record for New York by two days. This species is rarely reported upstate during the spring migration, when it is especially similar to the Common Tern (Sterna hirundo.) Nonetheless, the NYSARC will not review future reports of this species.

Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa). 1984-24-A one, North Road ("Helena road"), St. Lawrence Co., 21 Jan. UMCP), photograph published in High Peaks Audubon Newsletter 12:15 on file. 1984-25-A. St. Regis Indian Reservation, Franklin Co., 21 Jan. (JMCP), photograph published in High Peaks Audubon Newsletter 12:16 on file. There are perhaps 100 reports of this species from New York, of which about two-thirds have satisfactory details. Most records come from winters when irruptions occur, as was the case for these reports. Other reports from the winter 1983/84 may be found in our previous report and below under 1984 records not accepted.

Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus). 1984-5-A adult, Snake Swamp, Town of Oswego, Oswego Co., 3-15 Feb. (LDH), photographs on file. This is the 21st record from New York State, the previous in 1979.

Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus). 1984-44-A female, Irvington-on-Hudson, Westchester Co., 17 Dec. (LRS). The Committee has seen several reports of extralimital birds with insufficient detail to preclude aberrant Hairy Woodpeckers (Picoides villosus), which rarely show either back-barring or flank-barring, or both, and which may become dark-stained during the nesting season. The brief description of this bird is entirely consistent with birds from eastern North American populations of this species, which has been recorded in New York away from the Adirondacks on about ten prior occasions.

Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis). 1984-38-A one, west spit Little Sodus Bay, Fairhaven, Cayuga Co., 23 Sept. (MSR). This is only the fourth record from the Oneida Lake Basin Region, and about the 22nd from upstate New York.

Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus). 1984-22-A one, Derby Hill, Oswego Co., 28 April (FGS). Seen and heard with a group of American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) at a time when juveniles of the latter are absent, this bird is far from populations on the Hudson River and the isolated colony in Ithaca. All observations of this species outside of known nesting areas should be submitted to the NYSARC for review.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea). 1984-45-A one, Croton Point, Westchester Co., 15 Dec. (BW). This latest record (the first for Dec.) from New York follows a season of exceptional numbers nesting in the lower Hudson Valley, and others were reported elsewhere in New England during the early winter.

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe). 1984-46-A-D immature, Town of North Elba, Essex Co., 28-29 Sept. (GTC, RKH, POT, CSL). This is the 22nd record from New York and the tenth upstate.

Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica dominica). 1984-16-A,B pair at nest, South Cairo, Greene Co., 6 June to 1 July (DNM, DEE), nest in American Museum of Natural History. 1984-35-A pair at nest, Allegany State Park, Cattaraugus Co., 9-21 July (WD'A), nest in Buffalo Museum of Science. 1984-26-A two, Hamburg, Erie Co., 1 May (LH & RDL). Full details of these first nesting records from New York may be found in The Kingbird Vol. 34: 221. There are about 40 prior records from upstate New York, and it is found almost annually in migration on Long Island.

Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra). 1984-18-A female, Canastota, Madison Co., 11 May (DWC). 1984-21-A female, Martisco, Onondaga Co., 27 May (FGS). There are about 25 previous satisfactory records from upstate New York; it is found on Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley in the spring of most years.

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris). 1984-13-A adult male, Town of Preble 3 mi. s. Tully, Cortland Co., 5-6 May (DWC, FGS), photographs on file. This is the 12th record from New York, and the sixth upstate.

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus). 1984-14-A one, Point Peninsula, Jefferson Co., 14 May (J&MT). Although this species is found most falls on Long Island, there are only about a dozen prior records from upstate New York.

Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus). 1984-47-A,B one, Essex, Essex Co., 6-14 Dec. (JP, GC, JMCP). It is not known if the remains of this bird, salvaged from a local cat, were preserved; this is about the 13th record from New York.

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla). 1984-11-A-D male, Town of Pleasant Valley, Dutchess Co., 13-27 March (EP, MEV, JWK, MCK), photographs on file. Full details of this first state record appear in The Kingbird Vol. 34: 214; it becomes the 428th species to have been recorded from New York. Many other Bramblings were found at widely scattered points in the United States and Canada during the winter 1983/84. The distribution of records of this and of other Palaearctic species suggests a Siberian origin for this bird. This was the eastern-most bird reported, although there are earlier records from western Massachusetts and New Jersey.

1962 Report Not Accepted

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla). 1962-1-A one, Tupper Lake Village, Franklin Co., 6 April. This report, whose submission was prompted by the 1984 record above, illustrates the importance of a central repository for reports especially well. The original sketches and notes for this observation have been lost during the intervening years, and this report now is a recollection from more than 20 years ago.

1977 Report Not Accepted

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga). 1981-32-A one, Middle Line Island, Nassau Co., 23 July. Although this bird may have been this species, the Committee felt that the circumstances of the observation and the lack of unanimity among its observers, as noted in the account published in The Kingbird (Vol. 28: 3-4; 1978), precludes its admission to the state list on the basis of this report.

1981 Report Not Accepted

Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus). 1981-43-A, B one, Derby Hill, Oswego Co., 23 Nov. See below.

1982 Report Not Accepted

California Gull (Larus californicus). 1982-26-A subadult, Mecox Bay, Suffolk Co., 1 Sept. Great care is required to identify vagrant subadults of this species, and observers even should consider the possibility of hybrids, especially Lesser Black-backed x Herring Gull, which could be similar in appearance.

1983 Reports Not Accepted

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea). 1983-30-A immature, Plattsburgh, Clinton Co., 3-4 Sept.

Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus). 1983-32-A one, Shelter Island, Suffolk Co., 30 Dec. See below.

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea). 1983-23-A one, Lake Sagaponack, Suffolk Co., 18 Sept.

MacGillivray's Warbler (Oporornis tolmiei). 1983-39-A 'female," Fredonia, Erie Co., 29 Oct. Although this bird was trapped and measured in hand, it escaped before it could be photographed. One of the measurements used to separate it from the Mourning Warbler (Oporornis Philadelphia) was taken "incorrectly," and can never be verified independently. This is one of the few American birds that may be unidentifiable out of range under field conditions, especially in the fall.

1984 Reports Not Accepted

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma castro). 1984-36-A one, Hudson Canyon, 26 May. This report also was evaluated by David S. Lee, North Carolina State Museum, who also feels that this suggestive report is sufficiently atypical to preclude its acceptance as a New York record.

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor). 1984-41-A one near Plattsburgh, Clinton Co., 5 June.

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus). 1984-5-A one, Charlotteville, Schoharie Co., 12 Jan, 1984-29-A one, Webster, Monroe Co., 5 April.

"Harlan's" Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis harlani). 1984-32-A one, Perinton, Monroe Co., 6 May. Current data on variation and distribution of this form suggest that even under the best conditions (which did not apply to this report), one can regard vagrant birds only as "showing the characteristics of this race." Nonetheless, any future observations of "Harlan's" Hawk from New York should be submitted to the NYSARC.

Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis). 1984-28-A one, Basket Rd., Monroe Co., 31 March.

Merlin (Falco columbarius). 1984-7-A one, Bond's Lake, Niagara Co., 8 Jan.

Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus). 1984-1-A one, New Lebanon, Columbia Co., 7 Jan. 1984-6-A one, village of Lisbon, St. Lawrence Co., 13 Feb. Most Gyrfalcon reports seen by the NYSARC are too brief to exclude other raptor species. Also, free-flying Gyrfalcons wearing jesses occasionally have been seen in New York. Identification of this species is further complicated by various falcon hybrids deliberately produced by falconers and which have been found loose in New York on at least two occasions. One of these hybrids eventually was traced to a Missouri falconer!

Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis). 1984-30-A one, Webster, Monroe Co., 20 May.

Thayer's Gull (Larus thayeri). 1984-6-A immature, Montauk Pt., Suffolk Co., 14 Jan. 1984-48-A,B,C immature, Westport, Essex Co., 17 May.

Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii). 1984-10-A adult, Elmira, Chemung Co.,4 May.

Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa). 1984-9-A one, LaFargeville, Jefferson Co., 28 Jan. This bird was seen in silhouette at great distance from a rapidly moving car by four experienced observers who had just seen this species in Canada; all simultaneously made the identification, but were unable to view the bird more closely. Most observers have experienced similar situations when they confidently identify a bird based on a fleeting view. Each observer must decide whether to submit such observations to others formally or informally. While there may be more value in documenting such an observation when you know of other similar sightings, the NYSARC is unlikely to find them acceptable as formal records, as in this case.

Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus). 1984-42-A,B male, Castleton-on-Hudson, Rensselaer Co., 26-27 Aug.

Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius). 1984-19-A immature, Fredonia, Erie Co., 11 Aug.

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana). 1984-27-A male, Lansing Village, Tompkins Co., 16 May.

Blue Grosbeak (Guiraca caerulea). 1984-33-A pair, Steuben City, Steuben Co., mid-June.

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris). 1984-39-A one, Trumansburg, Tompkins Co., 16 May.

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus). 1984-15-A one, Webster, Monroe Co., 30 April.


The following errors of commission or omission have crept into past reports. For each error, the citation gives the Volume and Page where the report was originally published. In addition, some years have report numbers that either were not reviewed, were unused, or are still pending a decision by the NYSARC.

1979 report (Vol. 29)

Purple Gallinule: filed as 1978-10, not 1978-11 (p. 122).

Sabine's Gull: filed as 1978-29, not 1978-19 (p. 122).

1980 report (Vol. 30)

White-faced Storm-Petrel: observed 19 Sept. 1979 (p. 202).

American Flamingo: filed as 1979-5 (p. 202).

Sabine's Gull: filed as 1979-42, not 1979-36 (p. 203).

1982 report (Vol. 32).

Brewer's Blackbird: filed as 19 81-47, not 1981-42 (p. 232).

1983 report (Vol. 33).

N. Gannet: filed as 1981-54, not 1981-46 (p. 247).

Ivory Gull: filed as 1981-51, not 1981-43 (p. 247).

Tanager sp.: filed as 1981-52, not 1981-44 (p. 249).

Hoary Redpoll: the several reports from Pompey, Onondaga Co., begin with number 1982-3, not 1982-2 (p. 249).

1984 report (Vol. 34)

Piping Plover: observed 14 Sept. 1983 (p. 218).

American Avocet: delete record 1983-27 (p. 218); it is a duplicate of 1982-40 with an incorrect date, re-evaluted through an error by the Committee. (Both reviews resulted in identical evaluations.)

Western Kingbird: report 1983-34 was submitted by David J. Messineo, not DS, and the bird was seen in Chenango, not Chemung Co. (p. 219).

With this report Paul DeBenedictis resigns from the NYSARC to assume editorship of The Kingbird. In seven years of service, it has been his great pleasure to see the growth in acceptance of the NYSARC and in the quality of reports submitted to it; it has been equally difficult to have had to turn down reports felt to be correct, sometimes submitted by good friends, because of inadequate details. The committee accepts with sadness the resignation of Thomas H. Davis, for reasons of health. We welcome Drs. F. G. Scheider and Barbara J. Spencer as their replacements.

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

Contributors: Kenneth P. Able, Lester J. Badenoek III, James J. Bardsley, Lysanne Cape, Geoffrey Carleton, Lee B. Chamberlaine, G. T. Chase, Richard Clements, Juanita Cook, Jack P. Cook, Robert H. Cornell, Dorothy W. Crumb, Willie D'Anna, Thomas H. Davis, Paul A. DeBenedictis, Charlcie Delehanty, Victor Emanuel, Diane E. Emord, Robert K. Hagar, John Hanyak, Lynn D. Hemink, Deborah Jones, Morgan Jones, James W. Key, Mary C. Key, William E. Kreuger, Charlotte S. Ladwig, Lucile H. & Robert D. Leonard, Warren L. Lloyd, David N. Magne, George Maxwell, P. J. Milburn, Charles W. Mitchell, Arthur Morris, David & Linda Murray, Maurice C. Noyes, John Parke, Eleanor Pink, John M. C. Peterson, Gilbert S. Raynor, Margaret S. Rusk, F. G. Scheider, Dominic F. Sherony, Robert G. Spahn, Barbara J. Spencer, Langdon R. Stevenson, David B. Strong, Patricia O. Tarkowski, Susan J. Tavano, Joann & Michael Tetlow, Helen H. Terry, Marion E. Van Wagner, Berna Weissman.

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