In 2015, a Bullock’s oriole, which normally lives on the west coast, ended up in chilly eastern Ontario.
The little bird was found nearly half dead by a bird lover after she was blown off her migration course.
Ray Holland found the Bullock oriole under a tree and took it in to the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre in January 2016.
The little bird was suffering from dehydration, weakness and hypothermia. She was so unused to the cold she lost a tiny toenail to frostbite.
Once she recovered, efforts were made to get her home. But the bird had begun to molt and its return was 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.
In a sad side note, Ray Holland, who found the bird, recently passed away. In his obituary, his love of birds was noted.