January 5, 2009

Yellow-browed bunting spotted in Sweden

More than 400 bird enthusiasts traveled to a Swedish town to see a rare yellow-browed bunting, a perching bird similar to a sparrow, an ornithologist said.

The seed-eating bird, which breeds in eastern Siberia and winters in central and southern China, had never been reported in Sweden before, Expressen reported.

It is a very rare wanderer to western Europe at all, with five sightings in Britain since 1998 along with a few in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the Swedish Ornithological Association said.

The pink-beaked, relatively large-headed bird -- known for its bright-yellow eyebrow stripe -- was first spotted in dry brush in the Stockholm suburb of Norra Jarvafaltet, the excited enthusiasts told the newspaper.

There was a bit of turmoil in the camp, veteran ornithologist Hanrik Waldenstrom told Expressen.

It was very crowded and as soon as the bird or someone else moved, then everyone started running, he said. Fortunately there were no outbreaks of actual violence, but the atmosphere was dramatic, to say the least.

The latest sighting of the bird -- whose upper parts are brown and heavily streaked and whose under parts are white with an orange hue on the flanks and some fine dark streaks -- was recorded Monday, with the bird seen resting in a field north of Stockholm.