Rare Bird Alert

Updated every Thursday, the Rare Bird Alert covers the entire state and details where and when rare birds have been spotted. This could be anything from an east coast bird that flew off course to an Oregon bird found in an unlikely location.

Have you seen a rare or out of place bird? Contact Brodie Cass Talbott to report your sighting: bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

*On Monday, March 23, the Oregon Governor issued an order to stay home, with some exceptions. Stay safe, and stay healthy, in these challenging times.

October 22

Wood Sandpiper Oriental Greenfinch
Little Bunting Cassin’s Sparrow
Heermann’s Gull Long-tailed Duck
White-winged Scoter Pelagic Cormorant
Rough-legged Hawk Mountain Chickadee
Photo by Ken/Flickr

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

Oregon’s 2020 fall rarity bonanza continues apace with a jaw-dropping amount of “megas” being reported across the state. It all started with a WOOD SANDPIPER, an old world shorebird, being found at Ankeny NWR on the 14th, for the second state record of that species. Three days later, an Oregon first ORIENTAL GREENFINCH was found in Florence. Another Asian breeder, this is likely only the second record in the lower 48. Both birds have remained, to some extent, being seen on multiple days. Then late on the 20th, a report came in of a LITTLE BUNTING and a CASSIN’S SPARROW both in the same general location west of the Eugene airport. Both birds are presumed second state records, but their provenances are quite different: the Little Bunting came down from East Asia, while the Cassin’s Sparrow breeds in the American SW. Together with the Arctic Warbler, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and LeConte’s Sparrow reported in September, long-time Oregon birders are scratching their heads wondering if there’s ever been a season where so many mega rarities were reported. 

Columbia County had its own second-record this week in the form of a Heermann’s Gull found at Pixie Park near St. Helen’s. 

In the Portland area, uncommon winter waterfowl have been showing up in numbers, the most notable of which was a Long-tailed Duck found on the Columbia River near the I-5 bridge, Multnomah County’s first in seven years. White-winged Scoter and Pelagic Cormorant were also reported from the Columbia River this week. An early Rough-legged Hawk was reported from North Portland. A Mountain Chickadee was also very unexpected at Nadaka Nature Park in East Portland. 

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

October 7

Clay-colored Sparrow Red-eyed Vireo
Red-necked Grebe Lesser Black-backed Gull
Northern Mockingbird Tropical Kingbird
Blue Jay American Redstart
Photo of American Redstart by Dan Pancamo / Flickr

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

Fall migration rarities were hard to find this week. The CLAY-COLORED SPARROW at Oaks Bottom continued into the week, and late Red-eyed Vireo were reported from Company Lake, a breeding location for them. In Clackamas County, a juvenile Red-necked Grebe was reported at Milo McIver along the Clackamas River. 

With gulls returning, a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL in The Dalles was the most notable statewide find. On the coast, a number of our uncommon winter visitors returned, with a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD reported in Gearhart, not far from a TROPICAL KINGBIRD reported ast Sunset Beach, and a BLUE JAY in Tillamook. An AMERICAN REDSTART was reported from Ona Beach, joining the AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER at Bayocean Spit as notable southbound migrants. 

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

September 30

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Parasitic Jaeger
Sabine’s Gull Black-bellied Plover
Common Tern Red-necked Grebe
Surf Scoter Clay-colored Sparrow
MacGillivray’s Warbler Common Nighthawk
Swainson’s Hawk Broad-winged Hawk
Canada Warbler Tennessee Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Magnolia Warbler Summer Tanager
Surf Scoter
Surf Scoter, photo by Scott Carpenter.

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

A SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER stole the show this week, turning up at Fernhill Wetlands for two days. Interestingly, while there are almost a dozen records at Fernhill over the last 20 years, this bird seems to be the first documented record in Washington County since 2008. 

In Multnomah County, the rarities were centered around Broughton Beach, where a storm brought in a host of more sea-going species, including Parasitic Jaeger, Sabine’s Gull, Black-bellied Plover, Common Tern, Red-necked Grebe, and an early Surf Scoter. Elsewhere in the county, the Oaks Bottom Clay-colored Sparrow continued for one more day, and a MacGillivray’s Warbler visited a yard in North Portland. Most surprisingly, perhaps, a single Common Nighthawk briefly visited the Overlook neighborhood in NE Portland. 

In Columbia County a Swainson’s Hawk was photographed perched near Clatskanie, while a Broad-winged Hawk was reported from near Battle Ground in Clark County. 

Statewide rarities continued as well, with a CANADA WARBLER reported in Tillamook County. A bird reported as a Worm-eating Warbler near Salishan ended up being a Phylloscopus old world warbler species, which is rarer still, but likely unidentifiable, and unfortunately has not been refound. Elsewhere, TENNESSEE WARBLER, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, and  ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK were reported in Curry County, while a MAGNOLIA WARBLER and Chestnut-sided were reported at Malheur. Amazingly, the SUMMER TANAGER in Bend continued into the week. 

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

September 23

Leconte’s Sparrow

Yellow-throated Vireo Parasitic Jaeger
Sabine’s Gull Black-necked Stilt
Say’s Phoebe Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black Swift Lapland Longspur
Red-necked Grebe Eared Grebe
Clay-colored Sparrow Arctic Warbler
Leconte’s Sparrow
Say's Phoebe, photo by Mick Thompson

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

With a full slate of interesting birds passing through the region, a YELLOW-THROATED VIREO tops the Portland-area finds as both rarest and least gratifying, never being refound after brief views at Commonwealth Lake on Monday afternoon. This is potentially the sixth state record for that species. Washington County had a number of other notable birds this week including Parasitic Jaeger and Sabine’s Gull at Hagg Lake, which has seen a number of good coastal birds over the last few years. A Black-necked Stilt was found at Jackson Bottom, while a Say’s Phoebe visited a yard in Orenco Station. 

Three adult  Black-crowned Night Herons visited Force Lake in Multnomah County on Wednesday, but only for a few hours. Another was reported vocalizing over Mt. Tabor in the pre-dawn hours. Other fly-over migrants reported this week included a Black Swift in SW Portland and a Lapland Longspur in North Portland. 

A Red-necked Grebe was reported again at Broughton Beach, while an Eared Grebe stuck around for a few days in the Willamette River near Ross Island. Nearby, a Clay-colored Sparrow was found in nearly the identical spot as last year in late September along the Springwater trail abutting Oaks Bottom. 

Birders across the state continue to find rare mirant songbirds, but none more so than an apparent first Oregon record ARCTIC WARBLER. This old-world Phylloscopus Warbler was found at Goose Lake in Lake County, near the California border, only days after Oregon’s most recent first state record Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was found by the same observers at Fields. Quite a feat there! Fields was also the site of a LECONTE’S SPARROW this week, representing a potential sixth state record, four of which are from Harney County.

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

September 16

Calliope Hummingbird Black-bellied Plover
Lewis’s Woodpecker Black-necked Stilt
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler Plumbeous Vireo
Yellow-throated Warbler Tennessee Warbler
Norther Parula Yellow-billed Cuckooo


Brewer's Sparrow, photo by Mick Thompson

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

With multiple wildfires prompting evacuations across the state, and the continuing pandemic, state officials are asking Oregonians to stay close to home, and recommending staying inside to avoid smoke exposure. Please stay safe. 

Normally this time of year would be filled with reports of rare birds coming in, as we enter peak southbound migration. And while we note that Oregon’s historic and heart-breaking fires and ensuing thick, toxic smoke have changed birding for us this week, our thoughts are with the many Oregonians who lost so much to these disasters. The effects of this smoke on the birds themselves seems yet to be fully understood. 

Many birders were content to see what migration brought to their yards, with reports of numbers of warblers visiting feeders and bird baths, and a male Calliope Hummingbird in NE Portland, one of a small handful of fall records for the county. 

A few birders did brave the smoke this week, and a Black-bellied Plover was reported at the Willamette Park mudflats, just across the river from where the Lewis’s Woodpecker continued into the week. Black-bellied Plover were also reported in Clark County. 

A Black-necked Stilt at Jackson Bottom was the notable Washington County shorebird in a quiet week.

The less-smoky areas of the state produced decent numbers of rarity reports, the most impressive of which was an apparent YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER found at Fields in Harney County. If confirmed, this bird will put an end to the drought of first-state records that has lasted almost two years, with the last being the Eastern Bluebirds found in NE Portland. Exceptionally rare across the region, Washington also has one record of Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, from the SE corner of the state in late August. The Malheur area also produced CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, BLACKPOLL WARBLER, and the continuing PLUMBEOUS VIREO

Other great finds statewide include a male YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER in Eugene, and a host of rarities in Curry County including TENNESSEE WARBLER, NORTHERN PARULA, and YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. 

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

September 2

Red Phalarope Whimbrel
Sanderling Acorn Woodpecker
Black-neck Stilt Snowy Egret
Common Tern Canyon Wren
Brewer’s Sparrow Ruff
Hudsonian Godwit Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Broad-winged Hawk Northern Parula
Blackburnian Warbler Summer Tanager
Indigo Bunting


Acorn Woodpecker, Photo by Hayley Crews

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

Fall migration is in full swing, and rarities are popping up statewide. To kick off the report, a  Red Phalarope was reported at Fernhill Wetlands, earlier than they typically visit inland areas. 

On Sauvie Island, a Whimbrel was found on the dike at Racoon Point. Sanderling were seen in Columbia County on Sturgeon Lake, mixed in with a peep flock. Nearby, the Acorn Woodpecker was refound at Oak Island, and reports are trickling in of Sandhill Crane from both Sauvie and across the river in Clark County.

In Multnomah County, the Black-neck Stilt continued into the week at Smith & Bybee, briefly being seen with the continuing Snowy Egret. A Common Tern was also reported at Smith & Bybee on Tuesday.

 A Canyon Wren was reported from Wahkeena Falls, the most western report of this species in the gorge that we’re aware of. 

The TRNWR Brewer’s Sparrow has been surprisingly stationary, still being seen at the same location near the North Entrance a week after first being reported. 

Statewide, a RUFF was reported at the Cove Sewage Treatment Ponds in Union county, where it is a county first. The HUDSONIAN GODWIT found last week at HMSC continued for several days, as did the BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER found at Fern Ridge. 

Just in time for the beginning of raptor season, BROAD-WINGED HAWK were reported in Wallowa County and Baker County, making first records in each. 

A NORTHERN PARULA was found at Tumalo Reservoir in Deschutes County, while a BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER was reported from Goose Lake in Lake county (which may be a first record there). 

Other passerines of note were the SUMMER TANAGER found in Kimberly Oregon (a Grant County first record) and an INDIGO BUNTING found on Steens Mountain in Harney County.

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.