Bruce Mactavish Published on April 12, 2014
Last week, while checking my emails after supper, I came to one that I should have noticed first. It was from Tony Dunne in Renews. The subject line read “Rare bird in Renews.” When I opened it I nearly fell off my chair.
It showed pictures of a duck on the beach at Renews. It was clearly a common shelduck. This is a European species of duck, common in coastal estuaries in Europe. Recently it has spread to Iceland and is now becoming established as a nesting bird there.
It was on our radar as a potential vagrant to Newfoundland. In fact, one appeared briefly at Quidi Vidi Lake on Nov. 17, 2009. It was a feature of a Winging It column back then. The surprise appearance of such an unusual bird was tempered by the unknown fact about the origin of the bird.
Did it fly to Newfoundland aided by northeast winds prior to its appearance at Quidi Vidi Lake or could it have been an escape from someone’s aviary in Newfoundland? Common shelduck is widely kept by waterfowl hobbyists in North America. If you have the proper permits, anyone can buy their own shelducks. While hobbyists who keep exotic waterfowl certainly do what they can to hold on to their valuable birds, birds can fly the coop.