Spotters looking for rare bird sighted in Oak Bay

Spotters looking for rare bird sighted in Oak Bay

A Female Pine Bunting Photo: Maury Swoveland — B.C. Rare Bird Alert)

A Female Pine Bunting (Photo: Maury Swoveland — B.C. Rare Bird Alert)

Bird watchers are on the lookout after an extremely rare sighting in Oak Bay earlier this week.

The bird was spotted in Uplands Park on Monday and was posted to a crowd-sourced identification site called E-Bird. Members identified it as a common Lapland Longspur.

A couple of birders from Victoria’s Rocky Point Bird Observatory disagreed and after posting it to the American Bird Association’s “What’s this bird” Facebook page they found out from others from across the globe that it was a Pine Bunting — an extremely unexpected visitor.

Ann Nightingale of the Rocky Point Bird Observatory says they are found in Asia and usually migrate to the Mediterranean in the winter, but can be blown off course or get confused.

“Its the first time it’s been spotted south of Alaska, it’s very significant,” said Nightingale.

Birders are looking to confirm the sighting and Nightingale says if they are able to it would be great news for Greater Victoria.

“I’m guessing fewer than 20 people have seen on in North America, people from all over would come if there was a chance they could spot it,” said Nightingale.

She says it would be a great tourism boom, and similar incidents have occurred in the past. She points to the spotting of the Red-Wing in the spring of 2017 in Victoria and the Citrine Wagtail in Comox a few years earlier.

The public is encouraged to keep an eye out for the visitor.

“What they [the public] should do is go online and listen to what it sounds like, they may have a chance of picking it up, there is still a possibility of seeing it in Victoria,” said Nightingale. “Really it’s the facial pattern, brown and tan on the face.”

Anyone who may have spotted the bird or is looking for more information can contact the  Rocky Point Bird Observatory here


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