American Birds: 1984

photo: Phil Henderson

[Brown Shrike on Southeast Farallon Island, California]
American Birds 1984. 39(1): 99.

Only a few years ago, few would have believed that several Siberian vagrants would vie for the 'season's best bird,' but this fall's Skylark and Dusky Warbler took a back seat to North America's 4th (and first non-Alaskan) Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) at Southeast Farallon Island, Sept. 20 (PP, fide P.R.B.O.). A heavily-barred immature, it was photographed, measured and banded during its full-day's stay, and a selection of feathers was secured for comparison with specimens. It was wary and vocal. Red backed and Isabelline shrikes (L. collurio and L. isabellinus) seem to have been solidly ruled out, and as of this writing it appears most likely the bird was of the nominate, northeasternmost race (apparently unlike the only North American specimen). Clearly, few of the Siberians capable of reaching Alaska can be called impossible for us. What's next?