Nova Scotia

Red-headed duck makes rare appearance in Cape Breton

If the last few weeks are any indication, now is a good time for birdwatchers to spot some of Nova Scotia's reclusive residents. People living in Cape Breton are reporting some unusual sightings, including the seldom seen redhead duck.

'I think I've seen two or three in Cape Breton — maybe four — in 25 years'

Sue King of Whitney Pier, N.S., snapped this photo of the redhead duck. (Sue King)

If the last few weeks are any indication, now is a good time for birdwatchers to spot some of Nova Scotia's most reclusive residents.

People living in Cape Breton are reporting some unusual sightings, including the seldom seen redhead duck.

Sue King from Whitney Pier said she recently came across one of the unique ducks with a blue bill and "bright, yellowy eyes."

Its head was "like a brick-red colour, or a rusty red," King told CBC Radio's monthly Bird Hour in Cape Breton. 

King snapped a photo of the duck swimming in a nearby pond. 

David McCorquodale, Cape Breton University's dean of science, said the ducks are quite rare.

"I think I've seen two or three in Cape Breton — maybe four — in 25 years," he said.

Ian Harte of Louisbourg, N.S., shared his photo of a short-eared owl near his hometown. (Ian Harte)

In the Louisbourg area, the short-eared owl made an appearance, captured on camera by resident Ian Harte.

The owls are listed as a species of special concern in Nova Scotia and are known to breed in the province in the summer.

"I can sometimes go a year or two without seeing one," he said, adding the species is smaller than a barred or great horned owl.

Another unusual sighting — especially for this time of year — was enjoyed by Rod Gale of South Bar and Joan Mills of Prime Brook, who said they each spotted a pine warbler.

Two people in the Sydney, N.S., area have recently seen this type of bird, known as the pine warbler. (CBC/Shift)

In both cases, they caught sight of the little yellow bird in a group of chickadees they were feeding.

Pine warblers are permanent residents of the southern U.S., according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, but breed in southeastern Canada in the warmer summer months.

The Bird Hour is heard the first Monday of every month on CBC Radio in Cape Breton.

With files from Information Morning Cape Breton

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