Monday, December 5, 2011

Rare Birds at Chino Farms

Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory banded and released two "rare" Ash-throated Flycatchers during the fall migration period. A husband and wife team of field ecologists (Dan Small and Maren Gimpel) banded one on November 9th and another on November 30th (pictured at left; photo credit Small and Gimpel 2011). These birds are common west of the Rockies, but they rarely show up in the fall on the East Coast. This species has been documented in Maryland less than 20 times and these are the first to be banded in the state. These individuals are only the 3rd and 4th Ash-throated Flycatchers to be banded on the whole Atlantic flyway.

Birds show up in the "wrong" places from time to time, but there is a theory about the unusually high number of Ash-throated Flycatchers being reported in the East this fall. A bird sightings database run by Cornell University ( recently reported on the numerous sightings and proposed that the record-setting drought in Texas and the southern Great Plains had driven these birds from their usual habitats and that the strong recent southwesterly winds have propelled them further East than is normal.

Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory, under the direction of Jim Gruber, is located at Chino Farms in Queen Anne's County. The observatory and companion field research station is part of Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society. For more information please visit Chester River Field Research Center or contact JoAnn Fairchild Wood at 410-778-7295.

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