On this day in 1872, C. C. Abbott collected a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on Crosswicks Meadow in Mercer County, a few miles below Trenton. Abbott was an all-around naturalist who compiled some of his observations in A Naturalist's Rambles About Home, first published in 1884. Crosswicks Meadow (not far from Trenton Marsh) was one of Abbott's favorite places to visit. The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher specimen was eventually deposited at the Academy of Science in Salem, Massachusetts (Abbott 1887), but it has since been lost.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher has gone on to become one of the most frequently reported rarities in NJ, with 41 accepted records through 2005. Although a quarter of the state's records cover the period from September to December, it is more expected in spring, particularly May. There are no fewer than 20 records for May. Interestingly, the earliest seasonal record is the first one in 1872; there is only one other record for April, a bird that arrived in Cape May 28 April 1990 and remained until 5 May.
Although many NJ Scissor-tail records come from the expected migrant traps like Cape May and Sandy Hook, there are a fair number from inland locations as well. In common with many vagrant flycatchers, most Scissor-tails are one-day wonders (sometimes even five-minute wonders). On the other hand, this conspicuous species should catch the attention of any birder (and many a non-birder) lucky enough to run across it.
Abbott, C. C. 1887. A Naturalist's Rambles About Home. Appleton, New York, NY. 2nd ed.