Bird usually found in Europe or Asia makes mysterious visit to Salmon Arm - InfoNews

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Bird usually found in Europe or Asia makes mysterious visit to Salmon Arm

A fairfield, a species of thrush usually found in Europe, Asia or North Africa, is shown in a handout photo. A little bird that's a long way from home is enchanting bird watchers in British Columbia's southern Interior as they get a close look at a creature that usually comes no closer to North America than the shores of Iceland or eastern Russia.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Roger Beardmore
December 20, 2018 - 4:30 PM

SALMON ARM, B.C. - A little thrush that's a long way from home is enchanting bird watchers in British Columbia's southern Interior.

Experienced birders Roger Beardmore and Nan Prittie say the fieldfare, a species of thrush usually found in Europe, Asia or North Africa, has been making itself comfortable with a flock of robins in Salmon Arm.

"How it got here is a complete mystery," Beardmore said during a telephone interview on Thursday.

Some flocks breed in Russia, he said, and a few birds have been known to fly as far east as Alaska before working their way down the west coast.

A single sighting of a fieldfare was recorded in Metro Vancouver in 2003, but this sighting is a first for the Interior and Beardmore said he had to do some research to confirm it.

Prittie spotted the bird as she and Beardmore took part in an annual bird count and because it has colouring similar to an immature robin, neither believed they had seen anything out of the ordinary until carefully studying a picture he snapped.

"It looks like a thrush, it's about robin size and it was hanging out with robins so I thought, well, it might be a redwing," said Beardmore, describing another European species of thrush which is also rare in B.C.

"So I brought up some pictures of a redwing and that wasn't it, but right beside it was a picture of a fieldfare and bingo, it looked just like that," said the retired Parks Canada employee and avid amateur photographer.

The fieldfare was first spotted near Salmon Arm on Dec. 16 and Beardmore said it has been sighted numerous times since by birders who have travelled from as far away as Washington state and Vancouver Island.

It's gregarious, hanging out in large groups in its home habitat, and Beardmore said it's very comfortable in the current wintry conditions.

"The Europeans actually call it the winter thrush so they are quite used to cold climes, there's no problem there," he said.

"This year in particular, it's a mild winter and there's a lot of food available, a lot of mountain ash berries, so it should do quite well."

Beardmore may also be hoping this rare visitor follows the example of a redwing that arrived in Victoria several years ago and then returned at the same time for another two or three years.

"(Fieldfares) are remarkable creatures, there is no doubt," he said.

"It's very exciting for birders."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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