Here today, gone tomorrow.
A brown shrike, a bird usually found in East Asia, was spotted by a group of volunteer bird banders in Metchosin on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
“I just started yelling for a minute or so,” says Joachim Bertrands, a Simon Fraser University biology student. “We’re all pretty obsessed with birds, so to realize that a bird made it so far is a pure rush of adrenaline for me.”
This is the first spotting of a brown shrike in British Columbia and the second spotting in Canada. The last time the same bird was seen in Nova Scotia back in 1997.
Bertrands is part of a volunteer group that captures and releases migratory birds. He credits his co-volunteers, Siobhan Darlington, Ian Cruikshank, and David Bell, for helping with the banding process.
They spotted the rare find in Rocky Point Bird Observatory, located within a DND military base that’s off-limits to the public.
The banding process is simple. Volunteers will place a small band on the bird’s leg so future banders will know where it was spotted previously. Additionally, they quickly take key measurements, such as the wingspan and tail length. They also weigh, age, and sex them.
But what has caused this rare sighting? Something called ‘reverse migration’.
“Sometimes these birds have minor errors in their migration instinct,” says Bertrands.
“Strong winds may be responsible for pushing birds away from their route, especially when they are young. They become lost and then end up on another continent.”