12-year-old birder spots rare bird in Saskatchewan

A keen-eyed 12 year old birder spotted a Eurasian Tree Sparrow at his bird feeder this May. It's a bird rarely--perhaps never-- seen in Saskatchewan.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow rarely spotted in the province

This Eurasian Tree Sparrow is far from home, spotted in Regina this May. The bird is rarely seen in cooler climates. (Nick Selinger)

Nick Selinger thought it was a day like any other when he went to check on the sparrows at his bird feeder.

But when the 12-year-old took a closer look, one of the sparrows didn't look like the others.

"I saw one of the birds had a black spot on its cheek," Selinger told CBC Saskatchewan's Blue Sky.

He was quite sure it was a Eurasian Tree Sparrow. His birding book confirmed that. Selinger's sighting is the first official sighting ever recorded in the province. The bird has been spotted only a handful of times in Canada.

[I was] excited. When I went to bed that night, I thought did that bird really come here?- Nick Selinger, 12-year-old birder

"[I was] excited. When I went to bed that night, I thought did that bird really come here?"

But it turned out it wasn't just his imagination. The bird has been visiting his bird feeder every day since. 

Now, several other keen bird watchers have come by to visit and catch a glimpse of the sparrow, including bird expert Trevor Herriot, who has been birding with Selinger before.

"He's got great eyes and is sharp as can be."

Selinger says he and the birders have been talking about a new birding reference book, Birds of Saskatchewan, that is just about to head to the printers. A new entry will be added, thanks to his keen eye.

"This sighting might mess them up because it will be a new species."

Selinger says he's been an avid birder for about two years, and it all started with owls and raptors. 

"The birds are fascinating to me."