Birders flock to Salmon Arm

Birders flock to Salmon Arm to catch a glimpse of incredibly rare bird
Ben Bulmer, InfoTel News

The fieldfare has only been spotted in B.C. once before.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Claude Rioux
January 28, 2019

SALMON ARM - It may look like a small brown bird to some, but to birders with a keen eye for the unusual arrival of a fieldfare just south of Salmon Arm is causing quite the stir in twitching circles.

The fieldfare is native to northern Europe and is not supposed to be seen in North America. The bird was first spotted about 15 kilometres south of Salmon Arm in November and has attracted hordes of birders to the quiet rural area since.

Former president of the North Okanagan Naturalists' Club Claude Rioux said the arrival of the bird was very exciting for birders as the species had only been spotted once before in B.C.

"For someone who is really into birding it is like a new discovery. Like an archeologist who has discovered a new dinosaur," said Rioux. "There are birds that hard to spot, but this bird was very unusual."

Ordinarily the bird migrates from Eastern Russia to Western Europe. Rioux said it's assumed the bird was blown off course from northern Russia and found itself in Alaska before continuing its journey down the B.C. coast and stopping in the North Okanagan. The fieldfare has now been adopted by a group of robins who seem to have accepted it, said Rioux.

"It won't be able to find its way back home, [so] it's going to continue living its life with the adopted family of American robins, it can't do much else," said Rioux.

The bird hasn't been identified as male or female but either way does have one problem. "Will he [or she] have a boyfriend or girlfriend in the future? I doubt it," said Rioux.

Terry Robinson lives in the area where the bird was spotted and says since mid-December the quiet dead end rural road where he lives has been inundated with birders. At least a few people turn up daily, said Robinson, usually first thing in the morning and stay for a few hours. And with the exception of a couple of minor intrusions, the birders have been respectful not to trespass on private land.

Rioux said part of the birders' code is to respect peoples property and that most birders follow the code. "Then there are the few that believe rules do not apply to them and the few tarnish the many, like anything," she added.