New Brunswick

Long-billed curlew offers 'mega rare' sighting in Cape Tormentine

Birders from across New Brunswick flocked to Cape Tormentine on Monday to catch a 'mega rare' glimpse of a long-billed curlew.

Shorebird has not been spotted in New Brunswick in more than 100 years, says birder Alain Clavette

Birders from across New Brunswick flocked to Cape Tormentine on Monday to catch a “mega rare” glimpse of a long-billed curlew.

Once word started circulating around New Brunswick’s birding community that a long-billed curlew was spotted in southeastern New Brunswick, Alain Clavette said it is no surprise that so many people turned out to see the rare shorebird.

“There is nobody alive has ever seen one in New Brunswick that’s for sure,” Clavette said.

“Although it is a bird that nests in Canada, it is from the Great Plains, it is though declining. In the last 20, 40 years there has been a big decline in their populations.”

Clavette said the shorebird, which is brown and has a distinctive long bill and long legs, was last spotted in New Brunswick more than 100 years ago.

So, the chance to see a long-billed curlew in New Brunswick in 2014 drew a large crowd of excited birders.

Clavette said he travelled to Cape Tormentine on the weekend soon after the first sighting of the bird. But he left without finding the rare bird.

That changed on Monday after local residents said the bird had been spotted again but in a different location.

Clavette said he saw birders from Saint John, St. George, Fredericton and the Acadian Peninsula in Cape Tormentine, who were all eager to see the bird.

At one point, he said he spotted about 40 people and about 20 telephoto camera lenses all trying to capture an image of the long-billed curlew.

When the sun came out, the birder said there were audible gasps of excitement when the nature-watchers were able to see all of the bird’s colours.

The long-billed curlew is not considered an endangered species. The birds are typically found in central and western North America.

Its bill can reach 195 millimetres in male birds and 140 millimetres in females. 

Clavette said the bird that was spotted in southeastern New Brunswick is clearly lost.

He said it should be migrating to southern California or Mexico at this time of year.

Clavette said the bird was getting a lot of food on Monday and he’s hoping it was consuming enough energy to reconnect with its migration route.

“What is a very exciting story for birders is very often not a very good story for the bird itself,” he said.

“So we’ll leave it at that and hope for the best for that bird.”

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