Saturday, May 17, 2014
Although never as exciting as finding a "real" rarity, coming across a seriously out of range bird that is surely an escapee from someones aviary, is nonetheless interesting, and worth noting. Using the example of the Silver Pheasant population in Nanaimo, BC, one never knows when introduced exotics will begin breeding on their own in the wild, and perhaps even establish a lasting population.
While driving to a survey site on Kamp Rd, East of Agassiz, BC on the morning of May 13, 2014, I spotted an unusual bird running alongside the road. With one quick view, I had no idea what it was so I stopped and hopped out with a camera. The bird then emerged atop a pile of sawdust in a blueberry field about 50 feet off the road. Now having a clear view of the bird, I was even more surprised. A Northern Bobwhite! Really? This is an eastern species, that does not wander much out of its range. And although there are a couple of small populations east of Ontario, there are none that I know of anywhere close to the upper Fraser Valley, although there was apparently a small population of introduced birds on the Fraser Delta at some point, but they were supposed to have died out many decades ago.
So, where did this bird come from? Generally, birds like this originate from a person who keeps exotic birds as pets, breeds them for sale, or for use in the training of hunting dogs. I have seen many Chukar over the years on Vancouver Island that were lost by dog trainers, but a Northern Bobwhite in BC is a first for me.