British Columbia

Birders flock to B.C.'s North Coast to see rare grey-tailed tattler native to Asia and Australia

Birders from all over B.C., descended on the North Coast last week to catch a glimpse of a bird that rarely makes an appearance in Canada — the grey-tailed tattler. 

It's unclear how the bird got there, but experts guess it was pushed over the Pacific Ocean by a storm

The bird, which is native to Asia and Australia, was spotted by Joachim Bertrands and Christian Kelly near Kitimat, B.C, on June 23. (Joachim Bertrands)

Birders from all over B.C., descended on the North Coast last week to catch a glimpse of a bird that rarely makes an appearance in Canada — the grey-tailed tattler. 

The grey-tailed tattler is similar in size to a crow, and its body is similar to a sandpiper. They've got yellow feet and long beaks and a distinguishing white eyebrow.

The bird, which is native to Asia and Australia, was spotted by Joachim Bertrands and Christian Kelly in Minette Bay near Kitimat, B.C, on the evening of June 23. 

They contacted a rare bird expert in Vancouver, who called in local bird enthusiast Walter Thorne to confirm the sighting. 

Dozens of avid birders showed up in Kitimat B.C., to see the grey-tailed tattler. (Joachim Bertrands)

He was in Minette Bay in less than an hour snapping photos and recording audio of the bird's call to send to Vancouver for confirmation. 

"It was confirmed within the hour that that really was truly the grey-tailed tattler," Thorne told Daybreak North guest host Wil Fundal. 

"And then the excitement began."

Thorne guesses the bird ended up in B.C. after a storm pushed it to this side of the Pacific Ocean, but it's impossible to know for sure.

"It's been thriving," he said. "It looks healthy."

Tattler draws attention

The rare bird sighting drew dozens of serious birders from all over the province to Kitimat last week, including six people who flew in from Vancouver, one from Victoria and another from Kelowna. 

Others came from closer communities, such as Prince George and Hazelton.

The grey-tailed tattler is similar in size to a crow and its body is similar to a sandpiper. (Joachim Bertrands)

Though birding is a relaxing pastime for many, it is serious business for others; Thorne said he's recorded over 300 species of birds that he's seen in B.C., and the top birder in the province has seen 446 species. 

"This particular one of course was for those that are super keen," Thorne said. 

"So, normally in these events when something like this so rare shows up, you just get hundreds of birders. All of a sudden, you've got a forest of scopes and tripods and recording equipment."

He said the bird could leave the area in search of other grey-tailed tattlers or it could stay the entire summer. However, no one has seen it since Friday.

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