OTTAWA — Cave swallows live in Mexico and Texas and eat flying insects, so what one was doing over the Ottawa River in November is a mystery.
Still, bird experts confirm that grainy new photos show the first cave swallow ever to have been sighted in the national capital — and Hurricane Sandy may have blown it here.
Two staffers at the conservation group Nature Canada, Ian Davidson and Alex MacDonald, were the first to see it on Saturday. Local birding expert Bruce Di Labio arrived later for confirmation.
And the bird’s presence in Ottawa, along with the arrival of some 50 cave swallows now visiting Lake Ontario near Hamilton, follows a puzzling recent trend. These birds spend the summer in the deep south but have started making trips north in fall, along the Atlantic coast, before returning south for the winter.
Some of these have been moving inland to the Great Lakes.
“It was at Bate Island, flying over the Ottawa River,” MacDonald said. The cave swallow was flying with a cliff swallow, which is native to Canada but should have gone south long ago.