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A male Red-Legged Honeycreeper was observed at close range on Boca Chita Key
for about ten minutes by Biscayne National Park ranger Toby Obenauer on
Tuesday, March 25 at 11:00 a.m. Obenauer's detailed description of the bird
(iridescent violet-blue body, light turqoise crown, black wings and tail,
red legs, and curved beak), leaves little doubt about its identity.

A group of  South Florida birders, including Larry Manfredi, Robin Diaz,
Mickey Wheeler, Jill Rosenfield, Bruce Purdy, Wayne Forsythe (down from
Hendersonville, N.C.) and yours truly, took a ride out there at 7:30 a.m.
this morning with Manuel Diaz in an attempt to relocate the bird. After
about a half-hour boat ride we arrived on Boca Chita Key, an island just
north of Elliot Key, where the first record of La Sagra’s Flycatcher was
found in December of 1982. The key is 8 to 9 miles offshore.

We were joined by Toby Obenauer and assisted him in doing a bird survey. A
Wilson’s Snipe, Wilson’s Plovers, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine
Falcon, Chuck-wills-widow and Yellow-throated Vireo were some of the better
birds seen. Serendipitously, Larry discovered that he had the “Birds of
Cuba” tape in his backpack. We approached the large Sea Grape tree where
Toby had seen the bird, which is a short distance heading south on the
nature trail on the west side of the key. Larry played the tape and the bird
immediately flew into view. The bird constantly gave its weak nasal note,
chaa, which is suggestive of a gnatcatcher.

Photos, videotape and audiotape of this little jewel will document this
potential first North American record. Larry will post some of the photos
later. The bird’s range includes the island of Cuba, where it could have
been blown in from due to the strong southeasterly winds which have occurred
throughout the month of March. There were no bands on the bird and it was in
perfect alternate plumage. It seemed to favor the two large Sea Grapes in
the area and appeared wild in nature while hopping and creeping amongst the
limbs.

Moet & Chandon Champagne (no French bashing please) served as our
celebratory libation. This will be number 400 in Florida for me pending the
review of this and several other first record birds by the FOS Records
Committee. Now I know how Roger Maris felt with the asterisk on his 61st
homer. There are no tour boats to the key so you will have to be creative to
get out there. I am fairly certain that Larry Manfredi will devise a plan to
get birders out there. Incidentally, there are no bathroom facilities or
drinking water on the key. Life is good………………….. even if you have *’s on
some of your birds.

Paul Bithorn
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Virginia Gardens, Florida
Miami-Dade County








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