Pennsylvania Birdlists Summary 2017

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Compiled by Peter Robinson

The number of birders whose PA Life List is 300 or more stands at 91, the same as 2016. Also the same as 2016, 25 have PA Life Lists of 350 species or more, and 7 are at 375 or more. Barb Haas retained the PA Life List lead with at 391. It will not be too many more years before someone gets to 400 species.
Birders at the 300 mark or more in the PA Life List-Unassisted category remains at 11. The year’s high PA Annual List was Andy Keister’s 299. For county life lists, Andy Keister’s 231 for Montour replaces Allan Schweinberg’s 224 from 2014. There were several new highs for county yearly lists. For Clinton county Carol Hildebrand found 179 species, 11 more than her 168 in 2016. Andy Keister established a new high for Columbia county of 175, surpassing his own 170 for 2015. Evan Houston and Andy Keister tied at 205 for Montour, eclipsing Andy’s 170 for 2015. Andy Keister also established a new high for Northumberland – 169 versus his 137 for 2014. Sam Green found 173 species in Potter county, where the previous high was Chuck Chalfant’s 169 in 2004.

In Venango county Roy Ickes tallied 199 to edge out his 197 in 2015. A number of people mentioned that they have removed Thayer’s Gull from their lists because it is no longer considered to be a separate species. PA birders who have not yet removed Thayer’s Gull from their lists should do so.

Michael Schall did a big photo year and finished with 269 + 2 (White-winged Tern and Black-backed Oriole) which is not far from the top PAlist of species seen for 2017 and will be difficult to match or beat. Are others interested in a species photographed category? Email me at

The following people submitted list information for 2017: Brendyn Baptiste, Timothy Becker, Chuck Berthoud, Gerry Boltz, Bobby Brown, Brian Byrnes, Bruce Carl, John Carter, Dick Cleary, Michael David, Dave DeReamus, Mike Epler, Bill Etter, Devich Farbotnik, Mike Fialkovich, John Flannigan, Ian Gardner, Carl Garner, Sam Greene, Deborah Grove, Greg Grove, Al Guarente, Barb & Frank Haas, David Hawk, Carol Hildebrand, Evan Houston, Roy Ickes, Ryan Johnson, Chad Kauffman, Andy Keister, Dave Kerr, Arlene Koch, Wayne Laubscher, Ron Leberman, Ken Lebo, Geogg Malosh, Zachary Millen, Ted Nichols II, Richard Nugent, Bill Oyler, Thomas Reeves, Dan Richards, Jim Ridolfi, Peter Robinson, Michael Schall, John Snarey, Russ States, Mark Vass, Eric Witmer.


There were votes for a total of 23 species – including three new state records if the PORC accepts the records. With three points for a first place vote, two for second, and one for third, there was a tie for first place. Roseate Spoonbill and White-winged Tern both received 42 points. In third place with 16 points was the Black-backed Oriole, the endemic from central Mexico that was seen by more than 1000 birders.

The Oriole would undoubtedly have received a lot more votes if the ABA had previously accepted a record for that species. There were 6 points for Slaty-backed Gull; 5 points for Swallow-tailed Kite; 4 points for Rufous Hummingbird; 3 points for Tricolored Heron, Cedar Waxwing, Piping Plover, Dickcissel, Willet, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Parasitic Jaeger; 2 points for Stilt Sandpiper, Sabine’s Gull, and Bay-breasted Warbler; 1 point for Ross’s Goose, Black Vulture, Northern Pintail, White Ibis, Black-headed Gull, Snowy Owl, and Bullock’s Oriole.


(New PA life list species, Bird of the Year (BOY), and other comments)

Timothy Becker
BOY: Black-backed Oriole, Roseate Spoonbill

Gerry Boltz
BOY: Black-backed Oriole

Bobby Brown
BOY: Roseate Spoonbill, White-winged Tern, Blackbacked Oriole

Bruce Carl
BOY: Black-backed Oriole, White-winged Tern, Roseate Spoonbill

John Carter
BOY: Parasitic Jaeger, Roseate Spoonbill, Whitewinged Tern
It was a thrilling birding year across PA. My most memorable bird was discovering the Parasitic Jaeger at Prince Gallitzin SP for a Life Bird.

Dick Cleary
BOY: White-winged Tern, Roseate Spoonbill, Blackbacked Oriole New PA Life List species: lack-backed Oriole, Least Bittern, Roseate Spoonbill, Tricolored Heron, White-winged Tern, Sedge Wren, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Northern Goshawk

Michael David
BOY: White-winged Tern, Black-backed Oriole, Roseate Spoonbill
New PA state species: Slaty-backed Gull, Black-backed Oriole, White-winged Dove, Swallow-tailed Kite, King Rail, Roseate Spoonbill, White-winged Tern, California Gull

Dave DeReamus
New PA state species: Roseate Spoonbill, White-winged Tern, Parasitic Jaeger Removed Thayer’s Gull from PA Life List because the AOU now says it is not a separate species.

Mike Epler
BOY: Roseate Spoonbill, White-winged Tern, Slaty-backed Gull. The craziest addition to my lists for 2017 is the Roseate Spoonbill on my PA self-found list. It was not something that I ever expected to see in PA. I certainly never dreamed of finding one.

Bill Etter
BOY: White-winged Tern, Swallow-tailed Kite, Roseate Spoonbill The Swallow-tailed Kite was a long-awaited personal new state bird. The icing on the cake was that it was at Lake Nockamixon, which is my favorite birding location in the state. Perfect!

Devich Farbotnik
BOY: White-winged Tern, Roseate Spoonbill, Black-backed Oriole New PA state species: White-winged Tern, Roseate Spoonbill My numbers don’t include Thayer’s Gull or the European Robin, even though it was accepted by PORC. I’m waiting to see how the ABA votes on it.

Mike Fialkovich
BOY: White-winged Tern, Roseate Spoonbill, Dickcissel The White-winged Tern and Roseate Spoonbill are included in my PA life list, but the Black-backed Oriole is not. Bullock’s Oriole was new for Allegheny County. Common Raven and Cackling Goose were new for Erie County.

John Flannigan
BOY: Roseate Spoonbill, Sabine’s Gull, Bullock’s Oriole New PA state species: Snowy Owl, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Bullock’s Oriole, Roseate Spoonbill, Sabine’s Gull, Clay-colored Sparrow

Ian Gardner
BOY: Slaty-backed Gull, Roseate Spoonbill, Swallow-tailed Kite New PA state species: Slaty-backed Gull, Blackbacked Oriole, Roseate Spoonbill, Swallow-tailed Kite, Barnacle Goose

Carl Garner
BOY: Roseate Spoonbill, Tricolored Heron, Ross’s Goose

Al Guarente
BOY: White-winged Tern, Roseate Spoonbill, Blackheaded Gull It was a great year in Delaware County for me. I established a new personal best with 216 species recorded in Delaware County. I also added 4 new birds to my Delaware Count life list, Black-headed Gull, Mississippi Kite, Whimbrel, and Wilson’s Phalarope.

Barb & Frank Haas
New PA state species: Roseate Spoonbill, Whitewinged Tern, Black-backed Oriole. We have never counted Thayer’s Gull, so did not need to delete it since it is no longer a  separate species according to the AOU.

Carol Hildebrand
BOY: White-winged Tern

David Hawk
BOY: Roseate Spoonbill, Black-backed Oriole

Roy Ickes
BOY: Willet, Stilt Sandpiper, Black Vulture All 3 of my birds of the year are part of the 8 new for Washington County. Although I had seen Willets in 9 other states, I had never seen 14 at one time anywhere!

Ryan Johnson
BOY: Red-headed Woodpecker, Bay-breasted Warbler, Northern Pintail

Chad Kauffman
BOY: Roseate Spoonbill, Swallow-tailed Kite, Snowy Owl

Dave Kerr
BOY: White-winged Tern, Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis

Andy Keister
BOY: Roseate Spoonbill, White-winged Tern, Blackbacked Oriole

Ron Leberman
BOY: Rufous Hummingbird

Ken Lebo
New PA state species: Black-backed Oriole, Roseate Spoonbill

Geoff Malosh
BOY: White-winged Tern, Slaty-backed Gull, Roseate Spoonbill Removed Thayer’s Gull from all Life List totals (state, unassisted, counties) and from Annual Personal Best.

Zachary Millen
BOY: Roseate Spoonbill, White-winged Tern, Black-backed Oriole

Ted Nichols II
BOY: Roseate Spoonbill, White-winged Tern, Black-backed Oriole New PA state species: Red Crossbill, Townsend’s Warbler, Slaty-backed Gull, Black-backed Oriole*, Swallow-tailed Kite, Roseate Spoonbill, Sedge Wren, White-winged Tern, Ruddy Turnstone The Roseate Spoonbill takes the cake as the Cumberland County bird delighted birders by hanging around for so long, and the chance of seeing another species of a big pink bird in Pennsylvania in the wild is incredibly unlikely! The White-winged Tern was a state first, in Tioga county of all places, that delighted birders for several days followed by a state second that was found later in the year in Philadelphia! The Black-backed Oriole was an incredible and forever debatable bird that delighted hoards of birders and could not have had a better group of neighbors to host this long-staying rarity.

Bill Oyler
BOY: White-winged Tern, Roseate Spoonbill, Tricolored Heron New PA state species: Tricolored Heron, Roseate Spoonbill, White-winged Tern, Black-backed Oriole (?)

Thomas Reeves
BOY: Cedar Waxwing

Dan Richards
I don’t really have an opinion concerning the top three birds for the state, but my top three Clearfield County birds this year were Western Kingbird (unassisted), Dickcissel, and a flock of 15 Greater White-fronted Geese.

Peter Robinson
BOY: Black-backed Oriole, White-winged Tern, Roseate Spoonbill New PA state species: Black-backed Oriole, Roseate Spoonbill I removed Thayer’s Gull from my PA Life List since it is no longer considered to be a separate species. I managed to miss seeing a White-winged Tern – twice! I was out of town when one was at Lake Nessmuk, Tioga county, then missed the Tinicum tern by 45 minutes the morning after it was found there.

Joseph Verica
BOY: White-winged Tern

Eric Witmer
BOY: White-winged Tern My numbers for 2017 at the moment are the same as last year. I gained the Roseate Spoonbill but lost Thayer’s Gull. I saw the Black-backed Oriole and the White-winged Tern. I will wait until PORC decides countability, especially with the Oriole. My BOY vote goes to White-winged Tern. I missed the Tioga County bird as I was out of town, tried for it and missed it the first day that it disappeared. I was fortunate enough to see it at John Heinz in the last hour of daylight. I never thought I would get a second chance seeing this one any time soon. It was a bird I have been  dreaming for years of finding along the Susquehanna mixed in with the Black Tern migration.