Unusual birds found in annual count
Baltimore oriole may not survive winter
The annual Christmas bird count for Nova Scotia is almost complete, and there have been some unusual finds since Dec. 14.
James Hirtle, who helped complete the Lunenburg survey, said his team's best find was a dull yellow female Baltimore oriole, which usually winters in the southeastern United States.
"[It's] extremely exciting because it's a really hard bird to find during the winter, and it's a bird that's not supposed to be here at all over the winter," he said.
"In all the years I've done this route, which has been about 20 years, we've only ever found one other oriole."
Hirtle and 25 other volunteers braved heavy rain to count birds.
"You're driving along with the window down and if you hear birds you stop and you hop out and you count what's there, and then you hop back in the car between the showers," he said.
Michael King, who completed his survey of Dartmouth in December, was surprised to find a common gallinule — a marsh bird with long toes.
"It's a very reclusive bird. Even in the summertime when they are found, they're usually hiding," he said.
The common gallinule hasn't been seen in Nova Scotia in the wintertime for over 20 years, King said.
These sightings probably happened after the birds got blown off course during migration.
Hirtle said his oriole likely will not survive the winter unless someone feeds it. He has heard of another birder who successfully kept two orioles alive.
"She put out skewers with oranges and grapes and a few other fruits and those two survived the winter," he said.
Volunteers will spend another two days collecting information about the birds. All the information will then be sent to the National Audubon Society and the Nova Scotia Bird Society.