A mind-bog­gling bird dis­cov­ery

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL - FROM A1

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.

Flight path

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.

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