You never know what the spring winds will blow in during bird-migration season. Charlotte birdwatchers have found some treats lately.
Don Seriff, natural resources coordinator with the county parks department, says unusually strong weather systems might be responsible for these recent arrivals since late April:
-- The purple gallinule pictured at right is usually found in Florida and in Georgia's coastal plain. The species had never been recorded in Mecklenburg County and fewer than 10 times in North Carolina.
-- Two common moorhens, one of them injured. The duck-like bird is considered a very rare transient, Seriff says, and had been seen in Mecklenburg only twice, most recently in 1989.
-- Several American bitterns, marsh birds that had been reported fewer than 10 times in the Charlotte region. A least bittern, found at Cowan's Ford Wildlife Refuge near Mountain Island Lake, had been reported only five times in the region.
-- A pair of white-winged doves, spotted in Pineville, became only the second record of the species for this area.
Two hours east of Charlotte, a Cassin’s sparrow became the first record of the southwestern native in the state. A fork-tailed flycatcher, a rare tropical species, was seen in the same area the same week.
More on this to come. Dozens of volunteers from eight counties are scouring the county to compile Mecklenburg's first breeding-bird atlas. "I will have lots of good info and some surprises to share in late June about the local discoveries," Seriff writes.