[CT Birds] Say's Phoebe and other rarities

Stephen Broker ls.broker at cox.net
Mon Sep 12 16:47:46 EDT 2011

 From Steve Broker (Cheshire):

Zeranski and Baptist (1990) list Say's Phoebe as "an accidental fall  
vagrant" in Connecticut.  They continue, "[t]here is one specimen  
record:  an adult female was collected on December 15, 1916, at  
Gaylordsville (New Milford) by E.H. Austin (formerly in the Bishop  
Collection [Auk 38:586]; current location unknown."  The Seventh  
Report of COA's Avian Records Committee of Connecticut identified the  
location of this specimen as the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural  
History, Ornithology Collection.  It was acquired by YPM as part of  
the collection of study skins from Louis B. Bishop.

Zeranski and Baptist also state, "[t]here is a vague and  
uncorroborated sight report by a single observer at Branford in the  
fall of 1980 (AmB 35:159)."  The 1916 specimen and the 1980  
uncorroborated report apparently are the only references to Say's  
Phoebe in Connecticut.

Two essential publications on the occurrence of birds in our state  
are:  (1) Zeranski, Joseph D., and Thomas R. Baptist. 1990.  
Connecticut Birds. Hanover, New Hampshire:  University Press of New  
England, 328pp.; (2) Hanisek, Greg. 2005, 2008. Connecticut Birds By  
The Season, (first published in the January 2005 issue of The  
Connecticut Warbler).  In addition, all sixteen reports (to date) of  
the COA Avian Records Committee of Connecticut are available on-line  
at the COA website, and these are extremely helpful in providing  
further information on the occurrence of rarities in the state.   
Say's Phoebe, for example, is listed as an "ARCC Review Species".   
The ARCC site also has a section called Reporting Rare Bird Sightings  
in Connecticut that is very useful in providing an "outline of what  
one should record for any of the species listed on the committee's  
Review list."

COA has copies of Connecticut Birds By The Season for sale at $5.00  
per copy plus a modest charge for shipping.  Copies can be obtained  
from me at the following address:

Steve Broker (Secretary, Connecticut Ornithological Association)
50 Hidden Place
Cheshire, CT 06410-3723

My e-mail address is:  ls.broker at cox.net.

(I will note that some months ago a friend of mine shared with me a  
photo taken of a bird at Silver Sands State Park, Milford.  The photo  
suggested to me the posture and shadings of a Say's Phoebe, so my  
friend and I went back to Silver Sands the following day, in the  
rain, to try to relocate the bird.  We couldn't.  As a follow-up, I  
sent the photo to several members of ARCC.  The consensus was that  
the bird was not easily identified, but that it most likely was not  
Say's Phoebe.  I became persuaded that it was a Northern Mockingbird  
photographed at a peculiar angle.  I'm well familiar with Say's  
Phoebe from my fairly regular birding in Southeastern Arizona.  I'd  
love to see one in Connecticut.  Given the abundance of new species  
and rarities that have shown up in our state in recent months, who's  
to say what avian surprise next awaits us?) 

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