September 22, 2007

Rare Hummingbird Spotted in Wisconsin

BELOIT, Wis. -- Birdwatchers are descending on a rural area near this southern Wisconsin community following the sighting of what is believed to be a green-breasted mango, a type of hummingbird commonly seen in parts of Mexico and Central America.

"It's really just an astonishing occurrence," Chuck Hagner, editor of Birder's World magazine published in Brookfield, said of the bird being spotted this far north.

"It would be rare if this bird showed up on the Mexican border in Arizona," added birdwatcher Barbara Williams of nearby Rockford, Ill.

Bob Domagalski, a record keeper with the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, noted a splash of cinnamon color on the bird's throat Thursday and then caught a glimpse of a blue-green stripe running down its tiny breast as he sought to confirm the type of hummingbird it was.

"Once I saw that, I thought, 'That's it,'" he said.

Domagalski is to serve on the committee certifying the bird's appearance after pictures and reports have been compiled and analyzed.

Mark Korducki of Wauwatosa, who maintains a Wisconsin bird hot line, said hummingbirds are difficult to follow because they're too small to have radio devices implanted.

More birdwatchers are expected to arrive in the area during the weekend.

"It's probably the only chance that birders in North America outside of Texas will be able to see this bird," Domagalski said. "Birders from all over North America will be coming in to see it."

Joan Salzberg noticed the bird about a month ago at a feeder in her yard and in a nearby basswood tree.

"It's so exciting," she said. "Little did I know the treasure that I had."

There's hope that the bird will at least try to return home before it gets too cold for it to survive in Wisconsin.

The state hosted two green-violet ear hummingbirds during the last few years, and their natural range is also Mexico and Central America, Korducki said.

"The first one stayed too long and died," he said. "The second one left on its own. This far out of his range, he (the green-breasted mango) may be too disoriented, but I hope he leaves."