Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

Paul Norwood and his brother Julien (visiting from Paris) found this Northern Wheatear last night (3 May) below O’Connell Bridge on the Japonski side. In addition to the features seen in the photos, Paul mentioned the pale flashing rump was also quite distinctive.

The bird was also observed last night by Kitty LaBounty and Lucy Pizzuto-Phillips. I was unable to find the bird in the area when I looked this morning (4 May).

This is a first report of this species for Sitka. The checklist of birds for Southeast Alaska indicates this species is Accidental in Spring and Very Rare in Fall for this region. Kessel and Gibson’s 1978 Status and Distribution of Alaska Birds lists only a handful of Fall records, 2 from the 1800s and 3 from 1966 and 1967.

Thanks to Paul and Julien Norwood for the report and photos, and Steve Heinl for information regarding their prior occurence in Southeast Alaska.

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