Rare european bird called a mistle thrush in New Brunswick prompts visitors from all across North America
A Rare European bird has bird watchers across Canada in a right tizzy and flocking to New Brunswick to see for themselves, what is being reported as the first time in Canadian history that a European mistle thrush has been spotted in Canada.
The bird, first seen by New Brunswick resident Peter Gadd, has never appeared anywhere in North America until now.
Gadd and his wife, both avid bird watchers actually belong to a program in which they record citings of rare birds who use their bird feeders and it was upon one such trip around his property that he came across the European mistle thrush.
He says that he knew right away what the bird was, but to confirm, he sent a photo of it to fellow bird watchers who also confirmed the discovery.
“It is somewhat similar to a robin. Being uncertain, I sent a picture to some birders in the province with more experience than I have,” he said Tuesday.
Gadd first noticed the bird on a tree branch on his property and says that in Europe, this bird is quite common but is anything but in North America.
He says that the bird has made itself at home in a tree on his lawn and since news of the bird spread he has had more than 100 visitors, some even from the United States.
“This is the first record of this bird in North America,” he said. “It is somewhat common in Europe and certainly people who have birded in Europe are familiar with it.”
Bird watchers flock to New Brunswick to check out the European mistle thrush
“Some of the people here this morning are doing a big year where they will travel all over North America and see how many birds they can see. They are now up to about 760 birds. Four of those people were here this morning from Tennessee, Michigan, Florida and Iowa,” he said.
He says that the bird is a hearty little bird and should be able to survive winter.
“It’s a tough bird. It made its way across the North Atlantic so it must be a fairly resilient bird.
There isn’t much we can do. We can just hope for the best and make sure it has food.”
So how did a bird that does not live in Canada end up here?
Gadd states that the most likely reason for the bird ending up in North America is that it got separated from its flock and was driven here by strong winds and bad weather.
Gadd says that anybody is welcome if they would like to come and see the rare bird, but it is important that they respect it and keep their distance.
A little bit of background on the European mistle thrush
This little bird is common to Europe, Asia and North Africa, certainly not to North America.
It is a large thrush with pale grey-brown upperparts, a greyish-white chin and throat, and black spots on its pale yellow and off-white underparts.
It is a homely bird, meaning that they will stay where they nest year round for the most part, however, in winter, those who reside in northern and eastern parts will generally migrate to the south where it is warmer.
Males are often referred to as stormcocks, due to their long, loud song.
The European mistle thrush is one of approximately 60 different species of medium to large thrushes, and is the largest in Europe. They can grow to 28 CM with a 45 CM wingspan and can weigh anywhere between 93 to 167 g (3.3 to 5.9 oz).
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca