Saturday, October 18, 2014

Rare Birds

There are two rare species I would dearly love to see.  This summer I actually got to see them!  Well, actually they were specimens at the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John.  There they were on a dusty shelf crammed in with lots of other neat bird specimens.  Most people would not know how special they really are. 

The Curlew Sandpiper is very rare in New Brunswick.  There have been less than 15 reports in recent times.  One was found dead on Grand Manan in 1966.  Other reports were from Marys Point and near Sackville.  This sandpiper is a vagrant from the Old World, breeding in Siberia and wintering in Africa, Asia and Australasia.  Occasionally it will stray to the east coast of North America.  It is 8.5" long and has black legs and a decurved bill.  It should be distinguished from our more common Dunlin.  

The Yellow Rail a very rare summer resident and migrant to New Brunswick.  There was a small population of calling birds in the Grand Lake Meadows in the 1990s.  This species prefers wet sedge meadows.  It is 6.4" to 7.6" long and has a short bill and tail.  It is difficult to see because it is very secretive and stays in dense cover.  Its unique vocalizations are of note.  They vocalize on the breeding grounds at night and sound like 2 stones being clunked together.  The sound is a tic-tic for about 5 notes.  Its breeding range extends over the Prairie Provinces through Ontario and southern Quebec and it winters on the coasts of the southern US states and the Gulf Coast of Texas.   

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