New Brunswick

N.B. birdwatchers treated to rare sight

Birdwatchers in New Brunswick are surprised and excited by a rare sighting of an American White Pelican on Miscou Island.
Bird enthusiasts from around the province rushed to Miscou Island to see the pelican. (Steeve Miousse)
Birdwatchers in New Brunswick are surprised and excited by a rare sighting of an American White Pelican on Miscou Island.

It is the first reported sighting of the species in New Brunswick in many years.

Bird enthusiasts from around the province rushed to Miscou Island, known as one of the best spots for bird watching in northeastern New Brunswick, when they heard of the sighting.

When Steeve Miousse heard about the pelican, he hurried to the island and walked along the shore until he saw a bright white spot in the distance.

"It's at least two to three times bigger than our usual gulls that we have here along the shore, so it's quite impressive and imposing as a bird," he said.

White Pelicans are found across the north-central and western United States, and in Canada are usually seen from northwestern Ontario to the interior of British Columbia.

The birds, which have a wingspan of two to three metres, are not normally seen this far away from their breeding grounds.

"It's a very unusual sighting," said Dr. Matt Reudink, a post-doctoral fellow at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., who has been studying the birds for two years.

"In Canada, the farthest east that these birds actually breed is central Ontario, and so this is very far away from the edge of their breeding range," he said.

Pelicans do tend to wander at migration time, Reudink said, but not usually as far as northeastern New Brunswick.

He said he suspects the bird could have gotten a bit off track, but will likely be able to find its way back down south eventually.

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