A rare bird indeed

Lili Duriaux Chavaria banding a Wood Thrush in Nicaragua that was recovered in Pennsylvania several months later. Photo by Georges Duriaux

We learned recently that a Wood Thrush banded by our partners George and Lili Duriaux-Chavarria at El Jaguar Reserve in Nicaragua on Valentine’s Day 2011 was recovered in Bucks County, Pennsylvania on its breeding grounds.  Sadly the bird was killed after flying into a window.  Fortunately, the bird was photographed when it was banded at El Jaguar, making the story that much more poignant.

Just how rare is it for a songbird to be relocated?  In the history of the Bird Banding Laboratory (some 60 years of records), 346,359 individual songbirds (including woodpeckers as well) have been banded initially south of the U.S. (Central and South America or the Caribbean).  Of those birds, only 81 have been recaptured in the U.S. during the breeding season (April-August).  Of those 81 records, only three birds were  Wood Thrushes, including the bird recovered this year. The other two Wood Thrush had been banded originally in April, meaning they were probably already on their way north when banded.  So the Pennsylvania bird is likely the first Wood Thrush banded where it wintered and recovered where it was breeding!

When Lili heard about the recovery she wrote: “Oh, I thought that the bird had been captured, now I realize it is dead. What a pity!  What a chance, isn’t it? To have the pictures?”  This story reaffirms our commitment to understand and promote the connections created by migratory birds that we “share” with other countries like Nicaragua. El Jaguar has been one of Audubon North Carolina's long time partners in Nicaragua, helping with Cerulean warbler surveys and Golden-winged Warbler conservation and monitoring. You can learn more about the work there in the May June issue of Audubon magazine.

posted by Curtis Smalling

Wood Thrush banding at El Jaguar, Nicaragua by Georges Duriaux

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