[CT Birds] swallows again

Greg Hanisek ghanisek at rep-am.com
Wed Nov 28 18:41:13 EST 2007

>From Greg Hanisek

11/28 New Haven, East Shore Park - 3 CAVE SWALLOWS, 3 N. ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS, 1 Palm Warbler

The unusually late appearance of N Rough-winged Swallows (in a seasonal context they're rarer than the Cave Swallows) has drawn some inquiries from outside CT about whether we've considered Southern Rough-winged Swallow, a Central and South American species. 

This is a reasonable question when a bird appears well outside its normal seasonal context: Could it be some other mega vagrant?

Mark Szantyr, always on top of such things, did broach the subject when the first N. Rough-winged was reported a couple weeks ago. On my two most recent visits I watched the Rough-wingeds as closely as I could and did not see key features that would suggest the birds might be Southern Rough-wingeds. They lacked the paler rump and rufous-cinnamon highlights on the throat that the literature lists as Southern Rough-wnged features. Nick Bonomo also looked the birds over closely and saw no non-Northern features. I noticed on some video I found on the Web that at least some Southern R-w have a pale nape that results in a capped appearance. The East Shore birds do not show this feature.

Separating these species in all plumages and at all ages apparently can be quite difficult (they were once considered a single species), but our birds offer no suggestion that they're anything other than record-late Northern Rough-winged Swallows.

Very interesting, and as noted before, this location merits as much attention as birders can give it.

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