OTTAWA— A Bullock’s oriole that landed in eastern Ontario in 2015 will finally 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.
Birdlovers 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 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 molt, its return had to be postponed.
The Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre says the oriole’s long-awaited journey home on an Air Canada flight is set to begin on Wednesday 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 says export and import permits and federal laws would have made flying it to the U.S. extraordinarily difficult.
The centre say it worked with the BC Wildlife Rescue Association to secure permits and permission, along with Air Canada, which secured a federal transport exemption.
It says there were even 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.
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.