[CT Birds] HeadsUp: Be alert for large swifts and other Hurricane Irene leftovers!

Thomas Robben robben99 at gmail.com
Wed Sep 7 01:57:18 EDT 2011

This is a very interesting cross-post from Marshall Iliff....
Tom Robben,    Glastonbury CT

Subject: Be alert for large swifts and other Hurricane Irene leftovers!
From: Marshall Iliff <miliff AT aol.com>
Date: Wed, 07 Sep 2011 00:34:45 -0400

It has become apparent that Hurricane Irene displaced more than just
seabirds. In addition to the Brown-chested Martin in Cape Chalres, VA, on 28
Aug, which *might* have been related to Hurricane Irene, one other extremely
interesting passerine record has surfaced. Today I saw images of a GREAT
KISKADEE which was photographed aboard a ship in New York Harbor on 28 Aug,
the day of Hurricane Irene's passage. With no other well-documented East
Coast records, this bird does seem likely to have been the result of Irene.
Kiskadees are introduced to and common on Bermuda, so perhaps the storm
displaced a restless bird to New York. Either way, it should remind us to
keep our eyes out and to get out birding this week. [I would not draw a
hurricane connection for the Yellow-green Vireo, especially since it is
molting ad may have been present for some time...but I wouldn't necessarily
rule it out either!]

Of perhaps even more interest, is the fact that I have now heard of four
separate sightings of large swifts on the East Coast in the week following
Hurricane Irene. It seems likely that these all may have been Caribbean
Black Swift, given the track of the Hurricane and the tentative
identification of the Cape May swift as that taxon. These birds may have all
moved back south already, but it would behoove us all to visit known swift
roosts, watch any migrating swifts, swallows, and nighthawks (see below)
carefully, and to generally keep the possibility of a large swift species in
mind when birding. Look up, and be alert!

The sightings I have heard of are as follows:
1. Photographed at Cape May, NJ, 28 Aug 2011:
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S8742057. Very likely a Black
Swift, and presumed Caribbean given storm's track.
2. Glimpsed over the Hudson River, seen form Manhattan, 28 Aug 2011.
Impression was of "large swift"
3. One seen well moving south with nighthawks (!) at Herman Covey WMA,
Hampshire Co., by Larry Therrien, on 1 Sep 2011. I hope Larry does not mind
me sharing this very interesting sighting. See
4. Two seen by a very reliable observer at James Island, Charleston, SC, in
direct comparison with Chimney Swifts, 30 Aug 2011. Suspected of being Black
Swift: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S8754288
Places to check might be any known areas of swift/swallow concentrations
(Great Meadows NWR and Cumberland Farms come to mind), any Chimney Swift
roosts, and any migration spots like Pilgrim Heights, Lot 1 at Plum Island,
or any hawkwatch or ridgeline where nighthawks move. That Larry Therrien's
bird was moving with nighthawks is extremely interesting I think.

Let us all know immediately if you see such a bird. Documenting and
conclusively identifying any large swift will be a real challenge and the
quicker the word gets out the better!


Marshall Iliff

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