Birder's Guide

MAR 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Paul Island, and St. Lawrence Island 37 April 2018 | Birder's Guide to Travel Houston, Texas birdingtravel@gmail.com Stephan Lorenz B irders traveling throughout the ABA Area searching for rare birds or the once-in-a-lifetime vagrant species will eventually set their sights on Alaska, especially the remote outposts of the Aleutian and Bering Sea islands. For the past two decades, birders have in- creasingly drifted towards St. Paul, St. Lawrence, and Adak islands in search of Asian migrants, rarities, or a first ABA record. Although these far-flung places in western Alaska require some determi- nation to reach and the birding is often done in inclement weather, the potential rewards are well worth the effort. A few summary statistics outline why ABA birders make the long trek to the remotest corners of the 49th state with many return- ing annually. Alaska has hosted more than 130 species of Asiatic birds. Of these, 58 have been recorded exclusively in Alaska, 42 have been found mainly in Alaska with few records in other parts of the ABA Area, and 30 species occur regularly in other re- gions of the ABA Area. These numbers and following summaries do not include trans- Beringian migrants that breed in Alaska (such as Arctic Warbler, Bluethroat, Eastern Yellow Wagtail) or Alaska specialties (for instance, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Arctic Loon). At least 15 new spe- cies for the ABA Area have been found since 2000 in western Alaska, and there have been more than a dozen second or third ABA records in that time. Birders visiting Adak Island, St. Paul Island, or Gambell on St. Lawrence Island during the fall stand a reasonable chance of observing a species that is not in the latest National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America! For several decades, Attu Island at the western end of the Aleutian Island chain drew birders in search of Asiatic vagrants. But during the past 16 years access to Attu has been difficult at best and birders have migrated elsewhere. The three most acces - sible places that have emerged as vagrant hotspots in past years are Adak Island in the central Aleutians, St. Paul Island in the cen- tral Bering Sea, and the Siberian Yupik village

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