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Orange-billed Nighingale Thrush

July 25, 2010

Saturday’s front page of the RC Journal announce a new visitor — and tourist attraction for the northern Black Hills.  An Orange-billed Nightingale-Trush had been spotted in Spearfish Canyon and birders were flocking here from all over the nation to get in on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

This little number is ordinarily confined to the mountains down in Mexico; there have only been two other recorded sightings in the U.S. and both were in Texas.  One was a dead bird that had flown into a window and the other was caught, banded, released, and never seen again.

Our little buddy is staying around for a bit and is drawing big-time birders in from all over the U.S.  I guess they spot it on a blog, then grab their bird-bag and hop a cab to the airport.  The writer of the Nutty Birder blog caught the show, but had to curtail his activity in order to make other birding commitments in Arizona and points south.  Still, he tells a quick tale of his hunt:

“The bird was first detected on July 10th. I had a very brief view of the bird and heard it singing for about 15 minutes. After a few minutes, the only conclusion that I could come to was an Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush. I listened to the recordings of the song the next day, and they were a perfect match, so I headed back to try for a better look. I walked up and down the canyon countless times without satisfactory looks. On the evening of July 15th, I was finally able to get views of the bird that confirmed it as an Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush in my head. On the 16th, I took photos of the bird after playing a brief recording of its song. It flew in to a close tree the second the recording started. To my knowledge, recordings of the song have only been played 3 times with mixed results. From the morning of the 17th through today, the story is on the South Dakota listserve.”

Grab a plane, check our transient out.

— Margadant

One Comment leave one →
  1. Gunnar Berg permalink
    July 25, 2010 5:21 pm


    As opposed to “birdwatchers”, “birders” are a driven, competitive group of people. I would love to see it, but I’ll take a pass.

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