Field Identification of Archilochus Hummingbirds

by Steve N. G. Howell

Hummingbirds present some of the most challenging identification problems in North America. Views of these tiny, fast-flying birds in the field are often frustratingly brief, and many hummingbirds simply “get away” as unidentified – even for experienced birders. Accepting that most of your field encounters with hummingbirds may be this way is an important first step! Fortunately, hummingbird feeders increasingly allow close-range and prolonged studies that are difficult if not impossible to obtain “in the wild,” but then, if you do see a bird well, what do you look for? Females and immatures of different species, and even adult males, often look very similar to one another. Indeed, plumage differences between ages and sexes of the same species can be greater than those between species.

Baird’s Sparrow – Migration, Vagrancy, and Identification

by Jon L. Dunn

Few species are more poorly known as a migrant than is the Baird’s Sparrow Ammodramus bairdii. Most birders will have seen Baird’s Sparrows on their breeding grounds in the northern Great Plains, some may have seen them on the winter grounds, where usually considerable effort is required to get a good view, but only a small number, and even fewer reliably, have seen an actual migrant of this species.

A Hybrid Sandpiper in Newfoundland

by Bruce Mactavish and Ken Knowles

On November 8, 2003 Ken Knowles and Bruce Mactavish were birding Bear Cove on the southeast corner of the Avalon Peninsula. Renowned for vagrant passerines, this site also has a short gravel beach where a build-up of rotting kelp attracts small numbers of shorebirds. Ken had reported seeing a Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the beach and, realizing how late such a record would be in North America, I had to see the bird.

Labrador’s Common Snipe – A review of Canada’s only record of Common Snipe

by Matt Holder and Jeremiah Trimble

The American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) published their decision to regard American populations of Common Snipe as distinct (Banks et al. 2002). What was once the North American subspecies Gallinago gallinago delicata has been elevated to species status G. delicata and given the English name Wilson’s Snipe, while the Old World taxon retains the English and scientific names of Common Snipe and G.gallinago, respectively. As a result of this split, the Birders Journal List of Canadian Birds was updated, and a decision was made to retain the Old World’s Common Snipe on the List based on a historical specimen record from Labrador (Holder 2003). This article provides background and a description of Canada’s first record of Common Snipe.