Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bohemian Waxwing

On this day in 1962, a Bohemian Waxwing was found in Princeton, Mercer County. The bird stayed until the 9th and was seen by many; NJ's second and third records followed quickly, with another bird at Riverton in Burlington County on 17 March, and one at Flemington Junction in Hunterdon County 10-22 April.

As one might surmise from this cluster of records, the winter of 1961-1962 was a good one for Bohemian Waxwings. Like many winter irruptive species, the best cue to look out for them in NJ is their presence in nearby states. They sometimes appear in small numbers along the coast in a flight year (Sandy Hook and Island Beach are good places to check), but they can turn up anywhere.

A somewhat amusing footnote to the first state record is that the sighting was written up in the New York Times by an unnamed author. This brief note is worth seeking out if you want a lay person's view of birding in the early 1960s. The waxwing is referred to as "jaunty and resplendent," and the roll call of other winter irruptives reported in that season included, "Red-breasted nuthatches, redpolls, browncapped (or arboreal) chickadees and pine grosbeaks" (Anon. 1962). Even making allowances for the arboreal chickadees, it sounds like the winter of 1961-1962 was not a bad time to be a birder.

Anonymous. 1962. Bohemian Waxwing Is Spotted in Jersey in Rare Appearance. New York Times February 27, 1962, p. 35.

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