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A First and Second in Pennsylvania

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Apr 20, 2021 | by Adrian Binns

The weekend of April 10-11 was an exciting one for Pennsylvania birders, especially those who track records and lists!  On Saturday morning, April 10, word spread that a Scott’s Oriole was visiting a feeder at an Amish homestead in Lancaster County. The oriole had apparently been present since January 5th but only recently became known to the birding community, as the family didn’t realize what a special bird it was. This was the second record of Scott’s Oriole for Pennsylvania, and more accessible than the first sighting in February 2007. The Amish family generously allowed visitors to park along their lengthy driveway and walk into their yard to see the rare species.

Scott’s Oriole

The handsome male oriole gobbled homemade pineapple-peach jam that the homeowners felt was too old for their family. It was a pleasure meeting the host, Linda King, who was clearly delighted to share her joy with the mainstream birding community. Linda could’ve sold many jars of jam to appreciative visitors from PA, Maryland, Delaware and beyond!

Scott’s Oriole

Scott’s Oriole breed in the semi-arid southwest from Southern California to western Texas with a preference for higher elevation slopes. Most spend the winter in Mexico. They are very much associated with yuccas and agave, from which they feed on the nectar the flowers provide and forage for insects among them.  We see this beautiful oriole on the Wildside Nature Tours Arizona: Sky Island Specialties trip.

Neotropic Cormorant

Excitement continued the next day, Sunday April 11, when a local birder picked-out a Neotropic Cormorant from dozens of Double-crested on the Susquehanna River in Williamsport.

Neotropic Cormorant with 3 Double-crested Cormorants

The Neotropic’s smaller size and triangular white throat patch are distinctive, but the bird could be easily overlooked. I’m glad the birder scanned carefully!  We drove 6-hours round-trip, to see this species in the rain – Pennsylvania’s first record.  Texas is a wonderful place to see the Neotropic Cormorant, including on these Wildside trips: Texas: Rio Grande Valley in Spring,  Texas: Black-capped Vireo & Golden-cheeked Warbler  or Texas: Rio Grande Valley in Fall.

Nearly 450 bird species have been recorded in Pennsylvania, including many exciting records of vagrants, rarities, and firsts. I look forward to experiencing the next one!

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