Pennsylvania Birdlists Summary 2004

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Compiled by Peter Robinson

It was a good year for rarities found in the state that stayed long enough to become additions to state and county life lists.

A Harris’s Sparrow was found coming to a feeder near Sugar Grove, Warren County, on 12/13/03 and it stayed until 1/30/04 or later. On 1/31 another Harris’s Sparrow was reported, this one near the town of Stone Church, Northampton County, and it was seen by many birders until at least 4/11.

Also on 1/31, a small group of redpolls showed up at a feeder in Chalfont, Bucks County, where they stayed until early March.

A Snowy Owl first reported 3/23 in Franklin County was seen until 3/29.

An American White Pelican was found 3/25 in Lawrence County at Black Swamp and was seen until 4/3.

At SGL 56 in Bucks County, a Tufted Duck was found 3/22, was still being seen 3/28, but was not found 4/1.

A male Painted Bunting was first seen 3/7 at a feeder in the village of Saginaw, York County, and it stayed until 4/22. It was seen by about 150 birders.

A Lazuli Bunting spent a few days from 4/25 to 4/29 coming to a feeder in Oakland Mills, Juniata County.

A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was seen in central Lebanon County on 6/9 and 6/10.

Two Mississippi Kites that frequented Bulls Island in the Delaware River, a few miles north of New Hope, Bucks County, were seen flying over the PA shore from 6/19 to 6/27.

A Royal Tern was at Lake Galena, Peace Valley County Park, Bucks County, from 9/29 to 10/1.

Also in Bucks County, a Franklin’s Gull was at Falls Township Community Park from 10/16 until at least 10/19.

A Cave Swallow was found the evening of 10/24 at Chamber’s Lake, Chester County. Six birders who were there at daybreak on 10/25 got to see it for about 45 minutes before it flew off at 7:45 am.

A Black-headed Gull was found near the Tullytown dump on 11/27, and was seen until 12/8.

A California Gull was found 11/29 at Presque Isle State Park and was there until 12/15 or longer.

A Varied Thrush that was first reported 12/11 came to the feeder at the Caledonia State Park office, Franklin County, through the end of the year.

A Gray Kingbird (first state record) was identified 12/13, and was last seen at the Shamrock Christmas Tree Farm, Chester County, near Strasburg, on 12/20.

Another first state record was the MacGillivray’s Warbler that was found during a 12/18 Christmas Count, and was seen again 12/19.

There are 62 birders now whose Pennsylvania life lists are 300 or more, an increase of six.

Ten birders now have PA life lists of 350 species or more, with Devich Farbotnik and Steve Farbotnik joining that group.

There are still seven birders above the 300 mark in the PA Life List-Unassisted category — species found by the individual, or by another person with whom they were birding at the same spot at the same time, but not including “chase” birds.

There are 12 County Life Lists of 300 or greater — 2 for Bucks, 2 for Erie, and 8 for Lancaster County.

There were two lead changes among the County Life Lists. The Carbon County lead is now held by Dave Hawk, and Arlene Koch has Northampton’s highest life list.

There were new annual high species counts for 5 of the 67 counties: Geoff Malosh’s 227 species for Allegheny (an increase of 37 species), Carol Hildebrand’s 143 for Clinton, Michael Schall ’s 153 for Montgomery, Tom Clauser’s 215 for Schuylkill, and Deuane Hoffman’s 171 for Union.

Perhaps the most noteworthy of this year’s county annual lists, which is also Somerset’s lowest, is the 178 species seen in Somerset County by Christopher Payne, age 11. Christopher is off to a great start, with a little help from his birding parents.

Every year the Lists Report becomes a little longer. To help keep the List Report at a reasonable length, the County Annual Lists this year has been changed from “greater than 100 species” to the “top ten lists greater than 100 species” for the county. For next year (the report for 2005) the plan is to raise the threshold for reporting County Life Lists from the current 100 species to 125 species. Even for the counties where there is little opportunity to find waterfowl and shorebirds, a 125 species county life list should not be too difficult to achieve. The birders with county life list entries between 100 and 125 species will have the rest of 2005 to find a few more if they want to do so.

The suggestion has been made to add a new “total ticks” category. “Total ticks” would be the grand total of all species seen in all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. If a person had seen Blue Jay in all counties, they would have 67 “total ticks”. When the PA Birds Listserve was queried a few months ago there were only a few responses, with about half in favor and half not, but let’s try again. Please send an E-mail message, with “Total Ticks” in the subject line, to me at to vote “for” or “against” adding a new total ticks list category.