New Brunswick

Birdwatching community excited over rare sighting

Maritime birdwatchers are enjoying a rare treat this week with an unexpected visitor arriving in the border area between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia: a black-throated sparrow.

Black-throated sparrow is a long way from its desert home in the U.S. southwest and Mexico

Bird columnist and photographer Alain Clavette captures the black-throated sparrow, far from its desert home. (Alain Clavette)

Maritime birdwatchers are enjoying a rare treat this week, with an unexpected visitor arriving in the border area between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The black-throated sparrow is native to the southwestern United States and Mexico, and is sometimes called the desert sparrow.

What it's doing flying up the Bay of Fundy is anyone's guess.

The black-throated sparrow was first spotted Monday near Aulac, N.B. (Alain Clavette)
The bird was spotted in Maine in the beginning of March, and then Monday, biologist Nicole MacDonald saw one at the Beaubassin field station in Aulac, N.B.

"My coworker and I were driving up after work and after he parked, I spotted a bird foraging on the ground and quickly realized it wasn't one I would commonly see," she said.

MacDonald took pictures as proof and sent them to her friends.

Word travels fast

Soon the entire birdwatching community knew about the sighting.

People came from all over the Maritimes the next morning to see the bird for themselves.

Alain Clavette, CBC's birding columnist, was one of the early risers to show up.

The black-throated sparrow is usually found in the dry areas of the U.S. southwest and Mexico. (Alain Clavette)
"[Tuesday] morning we realized it was kind of sleeping in the sun which is usually a sign of a bird trying to get its energy back up," said Clavette.

"Today it seems to be really, really well."

The bird is the same size as the song sparrows that are native to New Brunswick.

It has black markings on the throat and white lines that form a moustache and a goatee around its face.

The desert bird prefers arid and shrubby areas.

Sometimes during nesting period it will eat insects but most of the time it sticks with seeds.

"That's what the bird is doing here and it's doing fine. It's not going to find a mate here," said Clavette.

"It will either get its bearings and migrate back or will stay here until it perishes."


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