On this day in 1959, a Bell's Vireo was netted by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Schnitzler and subsequently collected by Joseph Jehl, Jr., at Island Beach State Park in Ocean County (Jehl 1960). That bird, an immature female, was found just ten days before another Bell's Vireo was caught and banded a little to the north at Tiana Beach near Shinnecock Inlet on Long Island, New York (Bull 1975). Prior to these records, the only other unequivocal Eastern record was a bird taken on 11 November 1897 in Durham, New Hampshire (Jehl 1960).
There was a gap between this first record and more recent ones, which started in 1994. All four of the recent records come that rarity vortex, Cape May. One of these birds occurred exactly 39 years to the day after the first state record, but the others have come later in fall. One appeared for a few days in October-November 1994; the other two stayed for a month from December into January (one in 1996-1997 and one in 2001-2002).
Bell's Vireo is one of the more uncommon western strays; New Jersey and New York have the most records in the region. There are a number of sight reports, but this species must be identified with care.
Bull, John. 1975. Birds of the New York Area. Dover, New York, NY.
Jehl, Joseph R., Jr. 1960. Bell's Vireo in New Jersey. Wilson Bulletin 72:404. PDF here