A mind-boggling bird discovery
Since capturing the images, Buckle has become quite popular among the birding community – in this country and beyond.
In his blog about Buckle’s find, American Birding Association editor and social media manager Nate Swick noted the yellow-breasted bunting is a widespread species, breeding across the entirety of Russia and wintering in southern China and southeast Asia.
It was once thought to be quite common but has, in just the last decade, been discovered to be under intense pressure from hunting and trapping on its wintering grounds, and is declining rapidly.
A group of birding enthusiasts run by a birder in New Brunswick – found on Facebook under “Big Day Birding” – named Buckle its Birder of the Week.
“This Chinese passerine also represents a first for eastern North America, with previous records found in western Alaska – a mind-boggling bird,” the group noted in adding photos of Vernon and the bird to its Facebook page.
Buckle said there are several theories about the flight path the bunting could have taken to end up in Forteau.
“It may have come through the route over the North Pole. Bruce Mactavish came up with the theory,” Buckle said of the well-known local bird expert.
Other birders agree with Mactavish, Buckle said.
Buckle said he isn’t sure if the bird can survive in North America. What he does know, however, is that it wouldn’t survive a winter in Labrador.
The last time he saw the bird was supper time Oct. 19. While there had been little wind the previous four days, Buckle said, the wind did pick up that evening.
Even though the bunting has likely moved on, Buckle said spotting such a rare bird has been exciting. A birder for about four years, he said, this latest find has been the highlight of his birding experience thus far.
“Not too many people get to add a new species to the Canadian record,” he said.
Vernon Buckle of Forteau spotted a rare yellow-breasted bunting, never-before seen in Canada, earlier this month. Buckle was named a Big Day Birding’s “Birder of the Week” for the find.