Rare bird may be lost forever and never able to fly home – Kelowna … – Castanet.net


One of British Columbia's top field biologists says it's possible that a rare fieldfare spotted around Kelowna's Munson Pond could end up spending the rest of its life coming back to the Kelowna area.
"Birds that wander are generally migratory. So they've already got an instinct to move around great distances. And we now know that a lot of what drives birds to migrate is genetic. And sometimes the genetics get a little muddled up," he explained.
Yousif Attia is wildlife ecologist based out of Vancouver, B.C. with 20 years of professional expertise in field ornithology, "I've been watching birds and paying attention to them my whole life."
The fieldfare spotted near Munson Pond between Jan. 10 and 13 and is only the third bird of its species to be recorded in B.C.
"Which is pretty special given that, you know, British Columbia is a heavily birded province," Attia says.
Attia says fieldfare are common in Europe and typically migrate to the Mediterranean for the winter season so seeing one on this side of the world, especially close to the west coast, is a rare event.
"It's a lot of fun to see birds that are in places where they don't belong, you know, there's something un-describable and special about knowing you're looking at a bird that is one in a million really," says Attia.
Most of the records of fieldfare sightings in Canada come from Newfoundland and the Maritimes.
"Some birds are more prone to wandering and maybe go in the wrong direction. So that's very likely what happened to this bird, it may have had an urge to fly somewhere and it was the wrong way," says Attia.
The fieldfare is very similar to the North American robin so Attia speculates that it may have met a group of robins in Kelowna, "as soon as it got caught up with some robins, it felt right at home, you know, they have similar behaviours, feeding on fruit during the winter, that's the same thing it would do in Europe. So it probably doesn't feel all that out of place here."
In fact, it's not outside the realm of possibility that this could be the same bird that was spotted in Salmon Arm in 2018.
"It's not out of the question, that a fieldfare would just stay in North America and pair up with a robin. Maybe it'll find a robin that it likes, whether or not they'll be successful at mating, it'll probably just hang out with robins for the rest of its life. The chances of it getting back across to Asia are quite unlikely."
Attia says he fell in love with bird watching as a young boy and has spent his life studying and working as a field biologist.
"Birds are the most obvious thing out there as far as the natural world goes. You hear them in the morning and see them when they are flying around. No matter where you are in Canada, you'll find a bird easily. You can't say the same thing for mammals. They're fun to watch, they interact with each other and the environment in a lot of different ways."
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