This site focuses on these questions

Sept 13: WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD found in CT on Aug 28th! Read this fascinating story at Greg's site....


This Hurricane Irene blog was meant to be helpful for just ONE WEEK to provide REAL-TIME reporting of ALL Atlantic coast storm-birds DURING the "teeth" of the storm, but the storm's winds and flooding killed our electricity and this blog. Without electricity, water and internet for 102 hours prevented us reporting during the most exciting part of the hurricane and its birding aftermath.
Instead of trying to "catch-up" and reconstruct those 102 missing hours from the archived listserv reports, we will instead 1) summarize them, 2) learn what we can from this "experiment" in real-time-hurricane-bird-blogging, 3) request eBird data entry of all hurricane reports, and 4) get ready for the NEXT hurricane this year!

Therefore we will refocus on the latest current map of the NEXT hurricanes and their projected storm tracks.....
Tropical Storms and Hurricanes (and the wind speed probabilities map... Wind Speed Projections ) and prepare again to answer these questions....
What impacts will the next hurricane have on birds on the East Coast of the USA (plus the western Atlantic and maritime Canada)? And how will that be reflected on the twenty main internet bird lists covering that region?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tropicbird discovered in Connecticut!

This White-tailed Tropicbird was discovered exhausted on a road in northwest Connecticut during Hurricane Irene, 50 miles from the nearest salt water....

Go to Greg Hanisek's site for the full fascinating story (and thank you for the photo Greg!)....  Talking Nature with Greg Hanisek » Irene’s Biggest Present

And please enter your Hurricane Irene birds into eBird (and to ARCC or your local state ARC Avian Records Committee).  The eBird team has identified these as the most important species they would like entered into eBird, please.....


SOTE  Sooty Tern
BRTE  Bridled Tern
GBTE  Gull-billed Tern
SATE  Sandwich Tern
LHSP  Leach's Storm-petrel
BSTP  Band-rumped Storm-petrel
HUGO  Hudsonian Godwit

Second priority:

BLTE [definitely elevated numbers]  Black Tern
RNPH  Red-necked Phalarope
REPH  Red Phalarope
inland shorebirds incl. Whimbrel, BB Plover etc.
inland COTE  Common Tern
CATE  Caspian Tern
ROYT  Royal Tern

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Leach's Storm-petrels many miles inland

Here is just one example of the unusual situations created by Hurricane Irene.... a Leach's Storm-petrel fighting the wind over Bantam Lake, CT forty miles inland from the nearest salt water....

Leach's Storm-Petrel on Bantam Lake, CT August 28, 2011.  This photo thanks to Fran Zygmont 
Notice that this nice photograph captures so many of the field marks:  the long angled wings, the slightly forked tail, the feet not projecting beyond tail, the pale bar on the upper wing reaching the leading edge of the wing, and the somewhat divided white rump patch.

Remember that (unlike Wilson's Storm-petrels) this is a very wary open ocean bird which is often hard to attract close to a boat, even 100 miles out on the ocean, and yet here it is on an inland fresh water lake!

And here is a recent map of the Leach's Storm-petrel distribution from eBird....note the paucity of reports from Connecticut, prior to August 28th.....

Thanks to Fran Zygmont for this photograph of this oceanic species far from its normal ocean travels, and for entering this field report into eBird this week (which will soon be reflected as a new little pink rectangle in west central Connecticut)!

the NEXT hurricane(s)


Thomas Robben to ctbirds....       Sep 12

Did you think we were done with hurricanes for the year???

Thanks to all storm-birders for submitting your Irene-bird-reports to BOTH eBird AND your state ARC avian records committee. Thanks for the direct email discussions with most of you CT storm-birders this week.
If you have not done that dual data entry, please do it within the next week or so;  or contact me or Marshall Iliff for assistance doing it.

Our "one-week" hurricane blog (intended to do "real-time" Florida-to-Newfoundland bird reporting DURING the peak of the hurricane, by monitoring all those listservs) was, ironically, knocked down by the storm for 102 hours during the the "best" days of August 28- Sept 1 ....and we have decided NOT to do a detailed catch-up reconstruction of those 102 hours (partly because most of those reports have already "rolled-off" their state bird-listservs [such as CTBirds] into archives, or some into oblivion).

Instead we are....
1)  assembling SUMMARIES of the Hurricane Irene birds at the hurricane blog,

2)  highlighting some of the more interesting sightings, such as Fran Zygmont's INLAND Leach's Storm-Petrel photo...
Hurricane Irene 2011 (and its birds)

3)  learning what we can from this hurricane and this experimental blog, including the best safe LOCATIONS for watching the next storms (thanks to Nick Bonomo and many others),

4)  and looking toward the NEXT HURRICANE by studying this evolving hourly weather map every few days....
Post-Tropical Cyclone MARIA

Thank You and Good Birding,
Tom Robben
Hurricane Irene 2011 (and its birds)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Thomas Robben <>
Date: Sat, Sep 3, 2011 at 12:11 AM
Subject: Fwd: Hurricane Irene redux on eBird
Cc: Marshall Iliff <>, Thomas Robben <>

We have just witnessed an incredible hurricane, with historic bird consequences.  We need everybody's help to capture their observations into eBird, as Marshall Iliff describes below....
There is a lot to be learned from a panoramic Florida-to-Maine-&-the-Maritmes view of what this hurricane did, so please enter your field observations into eBird as soon as possible, within a week or so.
(And additionally do not forget to report to your state avian records committee if your bird is that level of rarity.)
There is really quite an amazing story here, so lets try to document all of it, please.
Tom Robben

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Marshall Iliff <>
Date: Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 5:30 PM
Subject: Fwd: Hurricane Irene redux on eBird
To:,, Steve Mirick <>,,, Thomas Robben <>, Andy Farnsworth <>, Bill Hubick <>, Ned Brinkley <>, Nathan Dias <>, spencer hardy <>

Would welcome cross-posts on this...we really have an opportunity to have all the storm watches in eBird if we act now...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Marshall Iliff <>
Date: Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 5:27 PM
Subject: Hurricane Irene redux on eBird
To: Massbird <>,


With news still coming in for reports from Hurricane Irene, I have posted a tentative summary of some of the news with visualizations from eBird etc. See the story here:
Hurricane Irene redux — eBird

We already have a couple hundred Sooty Tern sightings in eBird but there are many more that we still need to get in the system. Only about half of the tropicbirds are in, so the Delaware, upstate New York, New Hampshire, and one of the New York City sightings still need to be entered. Many Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts finds are yet to be entered as well, and it would be great to be able to see a full picture for any species within the next week or so. So again, please encourage your friends who got out storm birding to help us compile all the sightings in one place.

We are very interested in using eBird to gain a better understanding of this storm, so we invite all birders who got out seeking storm-blown seabirds to please please PLEASE submit those sightings to eBird (whether or not you connected with anyrarities--the negative data is helpful too). We hope to be able to produce an animated summary of Sooty Tern sightings, showing the progression of the storm and where and when sooty Terns appeared. If we can get this together quick enough (it will depend on New England birders making sure all Sooty Tern sightings have been entered with correct times), then maybe the visualization will help us all make better storm birding plans for Hurricane Katia
Post-Tropical Cyclone KATIA

Thanks, and if anyone has questions about how to get their storm birding list into eBird, please get in touch with me directly.


Marshall Iliff

Marshall J. Iliff
miliff AT
West Roxbury, MA
eBird/AKN Project Leader
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Ithaca, NY


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Please enter all your storm bird reports into eBird

Today is September 10th....
The goal is to get all the storm bird reports into eBird as soon as possible.  The purpose of our worksheet here is simply to make sure all reports get entered into eBird,  for Connecticut (CT).....

Click here to view the worksheet of the main hurricane birds reported on the CTbirds listserv August 28-30....
WORKSHEET for Irene Birds for CT, for Aug 28-30

The data in this worksheet is currently being reviewed, adjusted, completed, etc..
Note that all data in this worksheet, including email addresses, was taken from the public CTbirds listserv.

Please enter all your hurricane bird reports into eBird, and send me an email ( so I can indicate that in the eBird status column of this worksheet.  Please also let me know if this worksheet is missing anything important.

Here is a snapshot image showing what part of this worksheet looked like on 9/10, in its latest form....

You can click on this image (and then stretch your computer's window) to enlarge it.....

Here are the most important hurricane birds to enter into eBird.....


SOTE  Sooty Tern
BRTE  Bridled Tern
GBTE  Gull-billed Tern
SATE  Sandwich Tern
LHSP  Leach's Storm-petrel
BSTP  Band-rumped Storm-petrel
HUGO  Hudsonian Godwit

Second priority:

BLTE [definitely elevated numbers]  Black Tern
RNPH  Red-necked Phalarope
REPH  Red Phalarope
inland shorebirds incl. Whimbrel, BB Plover etc.
inland COTE  Common Tern
CATE  Caspian Tern
ROYT  Royal Tern

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Summaries of "Irene's birds"

While I am off researching the listserv archives of all the Atlantic coastal states (to see if my aggregation & reporting process can be automated), several nice summaries of probable Hurricane Irene birds have been published, including...
1) the NEW YORK summary copied in this blog (Hurricane Irene 2011 (and its birds): New York State summary of Hurricane Irene birds),
2) Marshall Iliff's comprehensive EAST COAST summary (Hurricane Irene 2011 (and its birds): Summary of Hurricane Irene's Birds), and now a
3) CONNECTICUT summary by James Purcell, using the CTbirds posts.... Thank you James!....

"Subject: Hurricane Irene birds
From: eyeflight16 AT
Date: Sun, 04 Sep 2011 14:47:53 +0000 (GMT)
I was bored this morning so I thought I would put together a list of all the
species and numbers of birds that we got from Hurricane Irene. I must say that
the list is quite impressive. However, do keep in mind this list isn't entirely
accurate. First of all, I only used reports from CT birds so I could be missing
some birds, and I apologize to anyone if I missed your birds. Second, although
I tried as hard as possible to avoid this, there could be some repeats of birds
seen here. (Example: a Sooty Tern seen at Griswold Point flying west could be
the same Sooty Tern seen flying west at Stratford Point), but I tried to use
logic to get rid of these repeated birds. Also, I know that all of these birds
may not have actually been blown in by the hurricane, such as the Lark Sparrow.
Nonetheless, here are all the rarities from this past week.�

1 White Ibis
89 Black Terns
66 Sooty Terns
1 Long-tailed Jaeger
2 Band-rumped Storm-Petrels
189 Red-necked Phalaropes
5 Leach's Storm-Petrels
11 Royal Terns
8 Caspian Terns
7 Wilson's Storm-Petrels
3 Red Phalaropes
1 Black-necked Stilt
6 Hudsonian Godwits
3 Brown Pelicans
1 Bridled Tern
4 Marbled Godwits
3 Parasitic Jaegers
1 Long-billed Dowitcher
1 Great Shearwater
1 Manx Shearwater
1 American Avocet
1 American White Pelican
1 Gull-billed Tern
1 Lark Sparrow

Wow! What a week for CT birding!�

James Purcell

Friday, September 2, 2011

Copying the archived hurricane bird reports from each state

Since this blog lost its primary goal to be a real-time communications tool DURING the middle of Hurricane Irene (because we lost electricity Sunday morning)  a revised goal for this blog will be to assemble all the Hurricane Irene bird-list field reports together here, for convenience and to prevent any of them from being lost, across all or most of the states Irene touched.

Unless anybody has any objection, several long pages in this blog will copy the exact archived bird list posts covering the Hurricane Irene week, from about 8/26 through 9/2.
The CTbirds archives are the first being experimented with, and you can easily see their work-in-progress by clicking on these links (they are simply long posts in this blog, and artificially stored under the date of 8/22)....

Hurricane Irene 2011 (and its birds): Experimenting with the full text from CT birds list from 8/22-8/28
this long page covers 8/22 through 8/28

Hurricane Irene 2011 (and its birds): Experimenting with the full text from CT birds list from 8/29
and this long page covers 8/29 onwards

You can always return to this blog's "home page" by clicking on the name of the blog at the very top of the screen. These long archived sections are so long that they cannot all fit on one screen, so scrolling down is not enough for you to find all the long pages (actually long posts) which will be coming here. You will have to use the TableOfContents on the right side (all listed artificially within August 22) or click on OlderPosts when you see that at the bottom of your scrolling.

Note that yellow and green background colors are being used to high-light different field reports (using two colors makes it easier on the eye to distinguish two close reports). Red will also be used to flag some key species within these reports. This work has just begun, and is currently incomplete. Extraneous posts which are not related to the hurricane will probably be deleted at the end of this process, which will shorten these long pages.

The goal is simply to capture the full text of all the storm posts for convenient review by birders (and perhaps for scientists and others to possibly use in the future to study Hurricane Irene and its birding consequences).  In some sense these posts are the first raw field reports, and have a value of their own, although your bird reports should ALSO be input to at least two other organizations....

1.  eBird
2.  your state avian records committee (if the bird species is that level of rarity)

Suggestions welcomed.
The next step this weekend is to search for the same kinds of archives from the other Atlantic coastal states.

Day #10 How best to "catch-up" this blog?

OK, we got electricity and water back late yesterday (minus an hour outage today).  Now trying to figure out the best way to "catch-up" this blog, so that it might be useful to anybody, especially since the listserv (the bird lists) posts are "rolling-off" their sites, so now we need to look into the archives to see how much we can retrieve of the earlier reported birds. We were originally hoping to avoid this dilemma by limiting this blog to just ONE-WEEK of real-time hurricane bird reporting (ending on 8/31)....unfortunately the loss of electricity and internet service on sunday morning (8/28) stopped that idea. This leaves us with this question... is any kind of AFTER THE FACT summary worth creating here.  TBD.
I guess its time to look into every one of the coastal bird list listservs to confirm which have searchable archives and which do not.
More later tomorrow.

Summary of Hurricane Irene's Birds

Here is an excellent 9/1 summary of the most exciting bird reports "caused by" Hurricane Irene, written by Marshall Iliff in his excellent post on eBirds at...
Hurricane Irene redux — eBird
This is a direct quotation from Marshall....


Hurricane Irene was a fantastic storm for birding for those that could get out safely to a viewpoint where they could watch for seabirds. As is often typical, the birds in these storms were few, but the ones seen were of very high quality.
Please note that this storm has also been very destructive, with unprecedented flooding in upstate New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and unfortunately, some loss of life. Our hearts go out to those negatively impacted by the storm.
Many of the below birds have yet to be entered into eBird, and if your friends saw some of these birds please ask them to get them into eBird so that the maps start to fill out with the full picture of these birds' occurrence!
  • White-tailed Tropicbird was the headline bird of Irene. In fact, we had predicted this based on elevated numbers offshore this year, writing: "Summer 2011 has been one of the best tropicbird years ever, so Hurricane Irene could carry a significant tropicbird load". Although there are historical records of birds displaced inland as far north as Vermont, never before has a storm produced double-digit numbers of tropicbirds and never before has a live one been observed on an inland lake in the Northeast. At least seven live birds were seen during the storm on 28 August.
  1. One or two adults at Prime Hook, DE, 28 Aug
  2. Three adults at Cape May, NJ, 28 Aug; first Cape May County record
  3. One adult and one immature off Manhattan, Hudson River, New York, 28 Aug
  4. One adult at Quabbin Reservoir, MA, 28 Aug; first Hampshire County record
  5. One at Lake Onota, Pittsfield, MA, 28 Aug; first Berkshire County record (possibly a second bird seen the next day)
And since the storm, an additional several birds have been found dead or dying:
  1. One found moribund (later died) in Rensselaer County in upstate New York 29 Aug or later
  2. One adult found at Rockaway Beach, NY
  3. One (presumed white-tailed, ID yet to be confirmed) at East Marion, NY
  4. One adult found moribund (later died) in Claremont, NH, on 30 Aug; a first state record
This makes for an unprecedented total of 12+ White-taield Tropicbirds i nthe Northeast in conjunction with this storm!
  • Inland Leach's Storm-Petrels were seen at Quabbin Reservoir, MA, as well as coastal birds in a number of places.
  • Band-rumped Storm-Petrels were displaced well northward and to the coast, but were not found inland (as they have been occasionally in the past). The most noteworthy were first from-shore records in Massachusetts (First Encounter Beach, 29 Aug, Nantucket and Tuckernuck Islands on 28 Aug) and Connecticut, and others were seen around New York City as well.
  • Inland Wilson's Storm-Petrels, very rare in hurricanes, were found at Lake Pontoosuc, Pittsfield, MA, on 28 Aug, and found dead in Northampton, MA, 30 Aug (specimen and photos)
  • Brown Pelicans after the storm in Galilee, RI ( photos) and Tuckernuck Island, MA.
  • Magnificent Frigatebirds seen in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New York.
  • Several inland jaegers included a few Parasitics and at least a few Long-tailed Jaegers.
  • A cooperative South Polar Skua was reported from a beach on Long Island, NY.
  • Widespread Sooty Terns inland and coastally from South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. One in Boston was the farthest north and east. Never before has the spread of Sooty Terns been so quickly and easily explored by other birders, and this all thanks to those that have already entered their reports with good notes so that they can be reviewed and accepted. Notice the spread of records on this map of Aug 2011 Sooty Terns -- you can pretty much see where the eye passed and how Sooty Terns occur out to the outer edges of the storm's wind field.
  • Bridled Terns, as expected, were seen in this storm, but only on the coast. We are not aware of any inland Bridled Terns, but birds on the coast or in estuarine bays and harbors were seen in North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Of those states, Bridled Tern is most unusual in Connecticut, the only one lacking pelagic waters (Bridled Tern is rare but regular in deep, warm pelagic waters north to Massachusetts). Compare the map of Bridled Tern occurrences to the Sooty Tern map above, and note how much farther inland Sooties were seen. See the discussion on this topic below.
  • Brown Noddy -- One seen from shore around Charleston Harbor on Friday 26 August. There are very few prior records. See Nate Dias's checklist here.
  • Lingering southern terns in several states for several days after the storm, including Black Skimmers in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island; Royal Terns in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut; and Sandwich Terns in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
  • Widespread Black Terns in record numbers in many places, such as eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire (see Steve Mirick's list below)
  • An unprecedented fallout of Hudsonian Godwits was witnessed, with 193 counted at one site in New Hampshire (see Steve Mirick's list), and other lower numbers at two inland sites in Massachusetts, as well as coastal Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. Most notably, several were seen in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida, where the species is extremely rare in fall. Many other shorebirds "fell out" in the storm, likely a result of the large system 'grounding' birds in overland migration, but possibly also displacing some offshore migrants back to shore.
In addition, at least two GREAT landbirds were seen. One or both may have a storm connection, and aerial insectivores are the landbirds most likely to be transported by hurricanes:
  • A large swift, now believed to be Black Swift (very likely of the Caribbean population, which may represent a species distinct from western North American ones), was seen and photographed at Cape May. Most agree it was not a EuropeanApus swift (e.g., Common Swift), so whatever it is, it will represent a new record for the East Coast (the nearest Black Swift is from Point Pelee, ON). See Tony Leukering's report.
  • A Brown-chested Martin, just about the eighth record for North America, was seen at Cape Charles, VA. See Ned Brinkley's report.

 Here are some great eBird checklists from the storm:
  • 26 August, Charleston Harbor, Nate Dias [Brown Noddy]
  • 28 August, Cape May Point, Tony Leukering et al.'s hourly checklists include oneand then two White-tailed Tropicbirds (photos), possible Black Swift (photos),Black-capped Petrel, etc.]. See the full account with photos here.
  • 28 August, Quabbin Reservoir in western Massachusetts, Marshall Iliff et al. Seetotal list or the epic 16:00-17:00 hourly list [White-tailed Tropicbird, Sooty Tern (photos), Leach's Storm-Petrel, Parasitic Jaeger etc.]
  • 28 August, New York. White-tailed Tropicbird ( photos) etc. off Manhattan. SeeSam Stuart's list.
  • 28 August, New Hampshire. No southern rarities, but a fallout of Hudsonian Godwits and record-high Black Tern counts, along with some displaced seabirds. See Steve Mirick's list.
There is much more to be learned about the storm and its birds as people continue to organize their checklists and enter them in eBird. If you haven't put yours in yet, please do!

Please report all your storm bird sightings BOTH into eBird AND to your local state birding authority (typically your state avian records committee).  It is very important to submit your reports for this storm. Thank you.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day #9 One-hundred hours with no electricity, water, etc

It is 5pm Thursday September 1st and still no electricity, water, etc. in our area of central Connecticut.  It has been over 102 hours since we lost electricity, water, etc.  [shortly after this post electricity was restored]

This blog will be catching-up after electricity is restored, but meanwhile enjoy the excellent summaries emerging such as Marshall Iliff's summary on eBird today....
Hurricane Irene redux — eBird

And PLEASE follow Marshall's request for all Hurricane Irene bird reports to be entered in eBird. This will allow outstanding analyses, such as these maps of Sooty and Bridled Terns seen during this multi-day storm....
Explore Data for Sooty Tern map
Explore Data for Bridled Tern map