Birds of Note

Introduction (Please read!)

Since 1992, there has been a Birds of Note section in Pennsylvania Birds. After each issue is published, the records listed there are converted and imported into a word processing document and a database. The database is used in the Notable Records section of the Birds of PA pages on the PSO website. The word processing document is distributed to the Editors of Pennsylvania Birds to aid in their seasonal summaries.

The criteria for inclusion in Birds of Note was that the species was either (1) reported in 5 or fewer counties that season (with some leeway) or (2) a species requiring review by the Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee (PORC). This means some very common species may show up because they are uncommon in that time frame. (For example, Acadian Flycatcher in October or Blackburnian Warbler in December.) Since Volume 17 (2003) the inclusion in this section has become more of a judgement call by the Seasonal Editor rather than a simple quantitative rule.

Rarity records (fewer than ten state records) prior to 1992 have also been added to the database.

Many of the records here have not been accepted by PORC and many were never submitted for review. This list is intended as an overview of what was reported, NOT a definitive record of accepted records in the state.

A year or season without a listing for a particular species does not necessarily mean the species was not recorded in that period. In fact it could mean that it was more abundant than usual — being seen in more than five counties — and therefore not showing up in the Birds of Note section! See the Summary of the Season in each issue for a quick look at highlights and trends.

From 1992 to 2001, the seasons were Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun, Jul-Sep, and Oct-Dec.

In 2002 the periods were changed to Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun, Jul, and Aug-Nov to bridge the changeover to match North American Birds seasons.

Succeeding years are Winter Dec-Feb, Spring Mar-May, Summer Jun-Jul, and Fall Aug-Nov.

NOTE: Please note splits, lumps, and name changes during these years. For instance Sharp-tailed Sparrow is listed as Sharp-tailed Sparrow prior to 1996, and then as Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow and Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow afterwards, and then just Saltmarsh and Nelson’s sparrows after that! Using the SuperID field (see below) can help find all of these records together.


You can search the Birds of Note database online. You can search by species, county, etc.

Search the Birds of Note database

There are four download versions available.

  1. Spreadsheet (3+ Mb)

This downloaded file (birds_of_note.xls) is an Excel (xlsx) file. As of 2023, it consists of over 19,000 rows!

Each record represents one species for one county for that season. It may include multiple sightings from one county.

Each row consists of the AOU_Order, Species, Year, Season, County, Notes, and ID numbers.

Field Definitions

AOU_Order – Current taxonomic order
Species – Currently accepted American Ornithological Society common name
Year – Year of the season in which it was reported
Season – Season in which it was reported
County – County in which it was seen (if multiple counties, there are separate records for each)
Notes – details of the sighting(s) (date, location, observer, etc.)
ID – Number used to identify this species (or hybrid) in the database (NOT the AOS number!)
SuperID – ID number of this species, or of one of the two species involved in a hybrid, or split
HybridID – ID number of the other species in a hybrid

With this file, you can sort by species and county for instance. Or find all of the records of one species in one year, etc.

And even more sophisticated searches if imported into a database!

  1. PDF (Adobe Acrobat format) Download PDF (1+ Mb)

This downloaded file (birds_of_note.pdf) is a document listing one entry per species per season. The format is the same as the entries in the Birds of Note section in Pennsylvania Birds. For instance: All of the records for Whimbrel from various counties for that season.

The records are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically.

  1. Microsoft Word Download DOC (3+ Mb)

Same as PDF, but in Microsoft Word (doc) format

  1. Word Perfect (the best word processing software ever!) Download WPD (2+ Mb)

Same as PDF, but in Word Perfect (wpd) format.