2015 Year Summary

2015 Year Summary


RIARC Number Vote (Accepted-Not Accepted-Natural Status Uncertain): # of birds reported; location; date(s); reporters (I = initial observer, R = report submitted, P = photograph submitted).



2015-1 (6-0): One; pelagic, Cox's Ledge; 14-Jan-2015; Keith Mueller (I,R,P).

This record along with the the next one (2015-2) represent the third and fourth records of Thick-billed Murre photographed and reported in the winter of 2014-2015. Once again, a good photograph of a distant, moving bird from a rocking boat is helpful in determining the ID.




2015-2 (6-0): One; Cliff Walk, Newport; 4-5-Feb-2015; Matt Grimes (I), Robert Weaver (P), Rey Larsen (P), Jack Kelly (P).


This Thick-billed Murre was cooperative enough to hang out just off the rocks at Cliff Walk in Newport for a couple of days. This allowed several birders to see and get close-up photographs of the bird.

This bird is the fourth record of Thick-billed Murre from the winter of 2014-15, and the only one to be seen from land.

PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris)

2015-3 (6-0): One; Middletown; 11-19-Feb-2015 ; Jim Clarkson (I), Don Heitzmann (P), Robert Weaver (P), Carlos Pedro (P).


This male Painted Bunting was reported from a residential neighborhood in Middletown. Several birders were able to see and photograph the bird. A birder reported on 18-Feb "the homeowner told me he hadn't seen the bird for three days, but it showed up promptly. He said that last winter he had a similar (? same) bird arrive in February and linger for about three weeks." It was also reported: "Talking with neighbors, and the postal-delivery woman, we learned that the bird has been around for some time, and has been there this same time the last 2 years." This led to some speculation that this bird may be the same bird that was found and photographed in Newport 21-Feb to 1-Apr-2014.

TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula)

2015-4 (6-0): One; Seekonk River, Providence; 19-28-Feb-2015; Dan Finizia (I,P), Sue Talbot (I).


This female Tufted Duck was found under the Henderson Bridge at the Seekonk River in Providence. It was usually found in a group of Greater and Lesser Scaup, and on one date, it was reported that there was a Barrow's Goldeneye in the group.



WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi)

2015-5 (6-0): One; Middletown; 18-Apr to 27-Apr-2015; Christine Sidler (I), Carlos Pedro (P), Robert Weaver (P).

A White-faced Ibis was reported in the fields around Green End Avenue in Middletown for a little over a week. The bird was found in a group of up to 150 Glossy Ibis. This group was mobile, flying in and out of the fields when disturbed by raptors or a tractor.


SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus)

2015-6 (6-0): Two; Hope Valley, Hopkinton; 22-24-Apr-2015; Lynn Thompson (I), Chris Raithel (R), Dylan Pedro (P), Don Heitzmann (P).

Two Swallow-tailed Kites were observed flying high in the sky above URE Outfitters in Hope Valley. After the birds disappeared from the sky, they were located perched in trees off of Mill Street.

There was some speculation that there may be three birds. Reports seemed to indicate that two birds were observed off of Mill Street while one was seen flying over URE Outfitters. However, a third bird could not be confirmed. Thus, for this record, two birds were accepted, while recognizing the possibility that a third may have been in the area.


BLACK RAIL (Laterallus jamaicensis)

2015-7 (6-0): One; Weekapaug, Westerly; 29-May to 10-Jun-2015; Glenn Williams (I), Phil Rusch (I), Tom Auer (I,Record).

The three birders stopped at a marsh at the east end of Maschaug pond in Westerly on the evening of May 29. They were listening for marsh birds when much to their surprise, one of the calling birds turned out to be a Black Rail. The word went out, and several others were able to hear the bird through 10-June. This record represents the first documented record of Black Rail in Rhode Island since 1988.

A recording of this bird by Tom Auer may be found on the website: xeno-canto, under the number XC247260.




ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus)

2015-8 (6-0): One; Switch Rd., Richmond; 15-Aug-2015; Wayne Munns (I,R), Barbara Sherman (I), Carlos Pedro (I,P).

The three birders got out of the car to scan for shorebirds on the turf when they saw what at first appeared to be four turkey vultures soaring low nearby. They noticed one that looked different, and realized that it was a Zone-tailed Hawk. Fortunately they had a camera ready, and diagnostic photos of this far out-of-place raptor were recorded. This is the first state record for Rhode Island, and certainly an unexpected species in the state.

What may have been the same bird, a Zone-tailed Hawk, was recorded at the Cape May New Jersey Hawk Watch on 23-September.


BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETREL (Oceanodroma castro)

2015-9 (6-0): Two; pelagic, Block Canyon; 3-Sep-2015; Carlos Pedro (P), Paul L'Etoile (P).


The pelagic trip to Block Canyon appears to have taken place on a fine day with fairly calm seas and excellent weather. It looks like excellent viewing conditions, and calm seas that allowed for good photography. This trip produced four records of Review List species:The only previous State record of Band-rumped Storm-Petrel was in 2010, and this trip produced the next record of two birds. These birds were well-photographed providing documentation of this challenging species.

BRIDLED TERN (Onychoprion anaethetus)

2015-10 (6-0): Five; pelagic, Block Canyon; 3-Sep-2015; Carlos Pedro (P), Paul L'Etoile (P).


Right on cue, five Bridled terns were found on this pelagic trip perched on pieces of driftwood. There have been only two other documented records of Bridled Tern in Rhode Island since 2003, and they were both found along the south coast after Hurricane Irene in 2011. BLACK-CAPPED PETREL (Pterodroma hasitata)

2015-11 (6-0): One; pelagic, Block Canyon; 3-Sep-2015; Paul L'Etoile (P).


Another rare find on this pelagic trip was this Black-capped Petrel. This was the fourth state record, and the last since 2010 when one was photographed near the same area on 10-September.

AUDUBON'S SHEARWATER (Puffinus lherminieri)

2015-12 (6-0): Forty-seven; pelagic, Block Canyon; 3-Sep-2015; Carlos Pedro (R), Paul L'Etoile (R,P), Wayne Munns (R).

Audubon's Shearwater has recently been reported about every other year. It is likely a fairly common late summer visitor from the Caribbean area to offshore waters, but birders have to get out on pelagic trips to find them.



LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus)

2015-13 (6-0): One, Scarborough, Narragansett; 3-Oct-2015; Carlos Pedro, (I,R,P), Dylan Pedro (I,R,P), Barbara Sherman (I), Linda Gardrel (I).


This Long-billed Dowitcher was photographed on the grass in front of the pavilion on Scarborough Beach South. In addition to the photographs, the bird was seen and heard in flight as it gave its distinctive "keek" call on several occasions.This record, and the next record (2015-14) are only the third and fourth documented records of Long-billed Dowitchers since 2003.

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus)

2015-14 (6-0): Two, Trustom Pond, South Kingstown; 6-Oct-2015; Rey Larsen (I,R,P).


These two birds at Trustom Pond allowed close-up photos. Although the birds were not heard calling, these photos showed the head, body, and bill shape of Long-billed Dowitchers.This record, and the previous record (2015-13) are only the third and fourth documented records since 2003.

SANDHILL CRANE (Antigone canadensis)

2015-16 (6-0): One; Seapowet, Tiverton; 10-Oct-2015 to 17-Mar-2016; Multiple Observers.

This cooperative Sandhill Crane was reported in the Seapowet area for five months, and was seen and photographed by many birders. This represents the eighth documented record of Sandhill Crane since 2003.



2015-21 (6-0): One; Little Compton; 18-21-Oct-2015, Geoff Dennis (I,R,P).

This hummingbird, and the next one (2015-22) were not identifiable to species, so they were accepted as Selasphorus sp, or Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird.


2015-22 (6-0): One; Little Compton; 19-Oct-2015 to 13-Feb-2016, Geoff Dennis (I,R,P).

This hummingbird, and the previous one (2015-21) were not identifiable to species, so they were accepted as Selasphorus sp, or Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird.

Not Accepted: SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni)

2015-15 (1-5): One; Narragansett; 19-Oct-2015

Two observers spotted this soaring raptor as they were driving down Route 1 in Narragansett. They pulled over and observed the bird for several minutes. They submitted a thorough written report describing the observation. During the Committee review, it was noted that the description also fit a second year Bald Eagle, a species that was not considered in the original write-up. Furthermore, the state of molt described would be consistent with second-year Bald Eagle, and not expected in a juvenile Swainson's Hawk as reported.

Although there was some feeling on the Committee that this may have been a good sighting, most felt that there was not enough here to accept the bird as Swainson's Hawk, a species that has not been recorded in Rhode Island since 1992.



GOLDEN EAGLE (Aquila chrysaetos)2015-20 (6-0): One; Trustom Pond NWR, South Kingstown; 8-Nov-2015; Lori Kurlowicz (R,P).This perched Golden Eagle was photographed at Trustom Pond NWR.

FRANKLIN'S GULL (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

2015-17-1 (6-0): Four; Block Island; 13-Nov-2015; Shai Mitra (I,R,P), Pat Lindsay (I,R).


These four birds were found and photographed on Block Island the day after the cold front and west wind of November 12. This record, and the next Franklin's Gull record, 2015-17-2, were the third and fourth record of Franklin's Gull in Rhode Island since 1995. The other two records were of single birds from 2009 and 2005.FRANKLIN'S GULL (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

2015-17-2 (6-0): One; Quonochontaug, Charlestown; 14-Nov-2015; Dan Finizia (I,R,P), Sue Talbot (I,R), Carlos Pedro (P), Robert Weaver (P).


This immature Franklin's Gull was found at Quonochontaug Breachway the day after four Franklin's Gulls were found on Block Island. This record, and the previous Franklin's Gull record, 2015-17-1, were the third and fourth record of Franklin's Gull in Rhode Island since 1995. The other two records were of single birds from 2009 and 2005.

CAVE SWALLOW (Petrochelidon fulva)

2015-18 (6-0): Four; Scarborough, Narragansett; 14-Nov-2015; Dylan Pedro (I,P), Carlos Pedro (P), Robert Weaver (P).


Four Cave Swallows were reported flying and feeding above the sewage treatment plant outflows just south of Scarborough Beach. This provided opportunities for several good photographs of these birds.


AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

2015-24 (6-0): Two; Providence; 10-Dec-2015; Peter Green (I,R,P).


These two pelicans flew directly overhead as the reporter stood on Eddy Street in Providence holding his camera. Fortunately he was able to photograph the pelicans just as they went over him.

THICK-BILLED MURRE (Uria lomvia)2015-23 (6-0): One; pelagic, 20 mi SE of Block Island; 30-Dec-2015; Keith Mueller (I,R,P).

It was a good day on the water. Out on the Frances Fleet Cod boat to an area about 20 miles southeast of Block Island, several different species were observed. One bird was this Thick-billed Murre that was photographed as it flew by.

ATLANTIC PUFFIN (Fratercula arctica)

2015-19 (): One; 20 miles southeast of Block Island; 30-Dec-2015; Carlos Pedro (I,P), Keith Mueller (P).

An Atlantic Puffin was seen from the Frances Fleet Cod boat in the area about 20 miles southeast of Block Island. It was cooperative enough to be photographed on the water at fairly close range. It is only the sixth documented record of Atlantic Puffin since 2003.