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North American birders flock to N.B. tree after rare bird from Europe spotted

MIRAMICHI, N.B. — New Brunswick has a rare visitor from Europe and it's attracting bird lovers from across Canada and the United States.

A European mistle thrush arrived in Miramichi on Saturday, and decided to stay.

"This is the first record of this bird in North America," said Peter Gadd, the man who spotted the bird in a tree on his property.

"It is somewhat common in Europe and certainly people who have birded in Europe are familiar with it," he said.

Gadd and his wife, Deana, are active birders and are part of a program where they record sightings of birds who use their feeders, two days a week, during the winter months.

Gadd said as soon as he saw it, he knew it was something rare.

"It is somewhat similar to a robin. Being uncertain, I sent a picture to some birders in the province with more experience than I have," he said Tuesday. 

Gadd said the small bird has taken up residence in a mountain ash tree on his lawn and the news quickly spread among the birding community, drawing more than 100 people in the first three days.

"Some of the people here this morning are doing a big year where they will travel all over North America and see how many birds they can see. They are now up to about 760 birds. Four of those people were here this morning from Tennessee, Michigan, Florida and Iowa," he said.  

He said anyone wanting to view the bird needs to be respectful and keep their distance.

Gadd said the bird must have gotten separated from its flock and then been driven to Canada by strong winds and bad weather.

He said that species of bird is very protective of its food supply and has already chased off a number of robins. He said it's a hardy bird that should be able to survive the winter.

"It's a tough bird. It made its way across the North Atlantic so it must be a fairly resilient bird," he said.

"There isn't much we can do. We can just hope for the best and make sure it has food."

— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.

The Canadian Press

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