The Canadian Press
OTTAWA–A Bullock’s oriole that landed in eastern Ontario in 2015 finally will be flying home to British Columbia–by plane.
The little western bird drew national attention when she arrived in Packenham, Ont. in December, 2015, likely after being blown off her migration course.
Bird-lovers flocked to the area to witness the rare sighting, but Ray Holland found it half-dead under a tree and brought it to the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre in January, 2016.
The female bird was diagnosed with dehydration, weakness, and hypothermia, and also had lost a toenail to frostbite.
A few months later, after the bird had fully recovered, efforts began to get it home.
But because the bird began to moult, its return had to be postponed.
The Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre said the oriole’s long-awaited journey home on an Air Canada flight is set to begin tomorrow morning at the Ottawa Airport.
Bullock’s orioles are found in the southernmost part of B.C. and Alberta, but their main range is in the U.S.
The bird care centre said export and import permits, and federal laws, would have made flying it to the U.S. extraordinarily difficult.
The centre noted it worked with the BC Wildlife Rescue Association to secure permits and permission, along with Air Canada, which secured a federal transport exemption.
It said there even were some offers from people willing to buy a ticket just to escort the bird.
Air Canada employee Dave Starke will accompany the oriole to Vancouver and the airline has secured her a spot in the passenger cabin.
The BC Wildlife Rescue Association will give the oriole time to adapt in an outdoor flight cage, where it will build muscle and acclimatize to outdoor temperatures again.
It’s hoped the bird will be released after a week or so, at which point it will fly itself to the southern U.S. or northern Mexico–its native wintering grounds.