Monday, March 29, 2010

Hudsonian Godwit

Sometimes getting a picture of a rare bird is just a matter of "right time; right place." This Hudsonian Godwit just appeared as I was walking around Quidi Vidi Lake in October. I had my Sony point and shoot camera and sat on the bench to fire away. For a long time he remained hidded behind the many ducks in the area, but in time he did finally move out on his own.

When I got home, I searched all of my books to find out what kind of bird this is. I couldn't find anything to match. In January I finally sent it off to a real birder who came back with many questions: "Where did you find it?" "When did you see it?" and more. The birder thought it is a Black Tailed Godwit. In fact, it looks more like a Black Talled Godwit than a Hudsonian. He sent the picture to two other birders who finally decided that it is a Hudsonian. What is the difference?

Well, there are slight differences in the tail bar and in the shape of the beak. The Hudsonian apparently has a slightly greater bend in the beak than the Black Tailed. The other main difference is the origin. The Black Tailed Gotwit is an Eurasian bird that can most often be found in Asia. The Hudsonian is an Arctic bird that is most often found in western North America including Alaska. In either case, the bird was well off course, and I was there to capture its presence and to help document the bird traffic in Newfoundland and Labrador.

If you ever come across a bird that you don't recognize after a fair amount of research, consult with a regional expert. It might be a very important find - like the Pink-footed Goose. It seems that our visitor this year is the first recorded visit since 1995. Bird records are important.

Don't miss out on the Beak display at The Rooms. Free on Wednesday night, you can view a very old and well-maintained collection of birds in the province. Most of the collection belongs to Memorial University. It is a great place to take children. There is even a birder backpack for them to use and identify birds while viewing the large exhibit.

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