AMERICAN ROBINS ON ABACO, BAHAMAS – A RECENT AND RARE SIGHTING


I am prompted to write this post after Brigitte Carey, commenting on a photograph of mine of a European robin, commented  “We actually have reports of one single robin on Elbow Cay. We think he was blown off course by the very strong winds we had a few weeks ago. He has been sighted in separate spots on Elbow Cay in the last couple of weeks. Poor guy…he’ll have a lonely life here!”

I wondered what other evidence exists of their presence on Abaco as occasional visitors – the northern Bahamas are not within their usual migratory range – so I did a bit of research

AMERICAN ROBIN DISTRIBUTION MAP

YELLOW – summer-only range

GREEN – all year-round

BLUE – winter-only migration range

I’ve checked various online databases – Avibase, e-bird for example –  for reported sightings. The evidence is that reports are very scarce indeed. Of course that does not necessarily reflect actual sightings, which are presumably more numerous. Overall however, American Robins certainly seem rare enough on Abaco, even though their full range includes nearby Florida. Which is why the recent reports Brigitte refers to are so significant.Fortunately the spotter Michele S put her brief Elbow Cay / Hope Town sighting report onto e-bird: “After a gale, saw two on the lawn in front of the Lighthouse” This was on Sunday 4 March 2012 at 9.30 a.m, and it would seem they were blown over to Abaco during the high winds. Brigitte will be pleased to hear that there were in fact two of them, so loneliness won’t be a problem… Apart from that very recent sighting, there is a recorded sighting on Man-o-War Cay in 1983; and one on Green Turtle Cay in 2008. Avibase suggests no sightings on South Abaco [except perhaps Marsh Harbour]. The species is however included in the checklist for Little Abaco. If any reader has seen an American robin on Abaco, it would be great to know when and where (using the COMMENT box below), and I will add the details to this post.

NEW – 2012 sightings at TC! Thanks to Elwood D. Bracey MD of Treasure Cay for his comments – and please contact him (or use the COMMENT box) if you can help with his valiant quest to reach the magic 200 species seen – he’s on 170 now:  

“As a birder living on Abaco for the past 20 years I’ve seen over 20 robins here, sometimes as many as 6 in North Abaco at once. This year I had 2 in Treasure Cay and 3 in Crown Haven. They appear on average once every other year. While notable I feel they are almost annual… why some years and not others I’m not sure.

Cedar Waxwings, Dickcissels, and Ruby-crowned kinglets are similar. This year we had our first Swainson’s Hawk for the Caribbean at the organic vegetable farm in North Abaco. It’s still here as is the Canada Goose on the #11 hole at TC Golf Course. It’s nice we have these vagrants and makes for interesting birding. I’m trying for a big year in the Bahamas (no one has ever had over 200 species in 1 year and I’m at 170 so far so if anyone has any unusual sightiongs please call me at 365-8305) [RH note: with only 196 recorded Abaco species on Avibase, this may be difficult to achieve...]. There was a pair of Wood Ducks on the TC GC which I missed. I did find 3 Kirtland’s Warblers [RH note: red-listed as 'near-threatened', and only 'rare / accidental' on Abaco] near Hole-in-the- Wall in January. Clean lenses and fast focusing!”

Photo Credits for the above images to good old Wiki

Here’s my own photo of an American Robin in Central Park NYC – I didn’t get very close…

These ARs are exhibited in the Museum of Natural History, NYC

Finally, here are 2 European robins for comparison. They are far smaller than the American version, roughly the size of a vireo

This is the photograph that Brigitte commented on – a robin’s Spring song – that I took a few days ago