British Columbia

2 years later, off-course oriole gets flown back to the West Coast

A B.C. bird that somehow ended up in Ontario returns home to western Canada after two years away.

The bird, which may have been blown off course during a winter storm, has been flown back to western Canada

The sighting of this Bullock's oriole in 2015 drew hundreds of birdwatchers to Pakenham, Ont. (Stu Mills/CBC)

There's getting lost, and then there's being so disoriented you accidentally end up in Ontario instead of B.C.

Such is the tale of a lone Bullock's oriole — a little bird native to western Canada that somehow landed in eastern Ontario in 2015.

Patty McLaughlin, a rehabber at the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre, says goodbye. (Courtesy of the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre)

The bird was first spotted and rescued by an Ottawa-area birdwatcher, who went on to staunchly defend the bird's identity despite claims he'd miscategorized it

In July the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre put out an appeal to the public, asking for a volunteer to accompany the bird on a flight to Vancouver.

Wednesday, the now-famous bird boarded a flight back to the West Coast thanks to Air Canada, which picked up the tab to fly the bird home in a special box in business class.

The tiny traveller was picked up at Vancouver International Airport by the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C.

'Every little life is worth it'

Bullocks orioles are most commonly found in the Interior, but can also be spotted in the Lower Mainland.

According to Laura Evans, a wildlife technician with the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C., no one is quite sure how the bird could have ended up so far east.

The Bullock's oriole en route to B.C. with its official escort and plane crew. (Courtesy of Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre)

"It may have been blown off course during a winter storm, but sometimes after their breeding season ends in the fall months, all their parental duties are over so sometimes they like to wander and check out what else is out there," she said.

Evans says the bird was frostbitten and thin when it was first rescued but is now in good health in their Burnaby wildlife hospital.

"For the next few days we're going to monitor her and see how she adjusts to her new environment, and then when her flight skills, her foraging skills, her waterproofing and everything is in order, then we will start looking for a relief site for her," she said.

A volunteer from the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. meets the wayward oriole at the Vancouver International Airport. (CBC News)

Despite the bird's long trip home, it's likely that she will soon be on the road again. 

"Once the bird is ready for release we'll research where the species is still being seen in the Lower Mainland, because some of the species are starting to migrate down south for the winter," she said.

"We'll look for an appropriate habitat and see if we can find a flock for it to head down south with ... It's a beautiful bird and every little life is worth it."

With files from CBC's The Early Edition