Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lark Bunting

On this day in 1956, R. Grant, Quinton Kramer, Irving Black, Donald Kunkle and others found a female Lark Bunting in a flock of House Sparrows at Cape May Point (Kunkle 1959).

This was the first of five accepted NJ state records, three of which come from Cape May County. The second state record was a bird collected at Island Beach State Park, Ocean County, in 1962 (Warburton 1968). The only non-coastal record comes from Piscataway, Middlesex County (Hanson 2007).

Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the few Lark Bunting records for NJ is how tightly grouped they are in time. Dates range from 27 August to 18 September. When one expands the scope of one's inquiry to other states, however, other possibilities begin to appear. Birds have overwintered at feeders in both New York (Levine 1998) and Massachusetts (Veit & Petersen 1993), and both states have a few spring records. Massachusetts' "fall" range of Lark Bunting records ranges from July to early December (Veit & Petersen 1993). All of this suggests that NJ's distinct pattern of occurrence may in fact be an artifact of a small sample size.

Warburton, Mabel. 1968. Lark Bunting in New Jersey. Wilson Bulletin 80:495. PDF here

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